Cairns North Queensland Three men with a dream
I made some good friends while working in Cairns, the ones that I remember most who are embedded into my mind, Maureen Dwyer, Jack and Dore I never knew there surname, Morris Watts and Wendy, Bill Shardlow and Fay, they will be mentioned as I write. There are others but I don’t remember their names, I also met my wife in Cairns on a ferry to Green Island. We have since parted thankfully, but in Deprivation to our Son Lance. Il tell you why in another chapter.
My time in Cairns was from May 1965 to January 1966 the eight months was an exciting time in my life, arrived in Cairns ... with two bloke’s I met in Sydney, Bill Shardlow and Sidney, a New Zealander. We drove from Sydney in my FC Holden Station Wagon Sdn., my pride and joy, I will tell you about my experiences in Sydney in another chapter, the trip to Cairns was a experience on its own, crossing rivers on Floating Punts, The burning of the cane before harvest, cane was cut by hand those days, the men would come from a hard day’s work covered in black suit, as we got closer to Cairns every local Queenslander we met were saying they are burning tonight, that meant burning the sugar cane, the fires were spectacular. The first night we arrived in Cairns stuffed and tired from the long trip, in the early hours of the morning, somehow we slept in the car three men and our luggage , I don’t know how, not knowing where we were, but somewhere on the strip that runs along the beach, woken by two Cop’s in a traffic patrol car checking us out, people were going to work, and the city was waking up, the climate was great very tropical and a experience I have not had before, I drove around the town to get familiar with the layout as you do when arriving in any town or City, you have never been in before. Bill is a great bloke, like a father figure, an educated man, i always think of him as someone who could talk to the Queen, an intellectual, or the poorest man on the street without any education what so ever.
We found a Caravan Park some were out of town, the caravan was old and musty but cheap, Bill was the negotiator, and this was the case in other situations, he was also the oldest, he found us all a job with Frank Fransen, the biggest painting contractor in the northern hemisphere. We started work with him painting the raw timber to be shipped to Weipa on the Northern tip of Queensland, as there was a Bauxite Mine starting up there. It was hot and boring, but a job I was thank-full for, it led us to better work as time passed. Bill and I continued on Painting and he was sent to Weipa to paint the Men’s living quarters. Bills girlfriend Fay came up from Sydney, the three of us acquired an old wooden Home on Stilts, it was a great place to live, so fay and me stayed there and waited for Bill to return, we never got up to any hanky panky, although it entered my mind. But my motto is you never play up with your mate’s girl, when Bill returned we continued on painting with Frank Fransen. Painting was not my trade so frank negotiated with the Painters and Decorator’s Union to get me a Union ticket, and a small badge i treasured for years.
A few experiences I had whilst painting, using a Spray Gun and not knowing how to use it properly, on the roof of a Warehouse, the spray gun blocked I was trying to fix it and suddenly it worked and sprayed paint all over my face, one of the workers in the ware house came to my rescue, it was Morris Watts, we became very good friends from then on, his nick name Mo we hung out in the bars, hotels, swimming pool, he was such a great bloke to be around, he had a girlfriend Wendy, she was a special lady, and suited to him. Mo lived at the local caravan park with Wendy, and on his Birthday he had a party and invited all the kids from the park, that’s the kind of man he was he gave them party hats and goodies, I had a misfortunate falling out with Mo due to a misunderstanding, we were at a Hotel having a few drinks , then I told Mo I was going home, walking along the street I met a couple of other mates and they persuaded me to have a drink with them, this I did , and then Mo turned up at this hotel, he must have thought I was lying to him or whatever, from then on he avoided me, it was a stupid mistake. We met up years later about 1970, he had moved to Perth with another Lady, they were friends from Sydney where he lived before going to Cairns, i was, walking down the street in Victoria park, western Australia and there was Morris, well what a surprise , he was the last person I expected to meet, and it all ended just as suddenly, as I went to his flat, he wasn’t home so i left a message under the door , I called his lady Wendy, as Wendy was the one he was with in Cairns. Wow Sue was livered, she didn’t want to know me, and I was not welcome, Mo understood, but Sue never forgave me, stupid bitch, so this ended my friendship with Mo. a stupid mistake on my part. I believe he should have stayed with Wendy as I believe they were more suited, Wendy was a great Lady, she would not have taken it seriously, who was the better person. Love can be blind. I met this Lovely Lady Maureen Dwyer, it was on one of my days to Ellis Beach north of Cairns, there was a beauty competition being held on the beach and I was fortunate enough to be there swimming on this special occasion, Maureen won first prize, she was a honey, this Lady has never left my life thoughts to this day, a few days later at the Cairns Swimming Pool, where I’d go every day after work and on weekends. Maureen was there in the pool, so I moved closer to her and said hello Maureen, she was surprised I knew her name , she looked just as lovely as the first time I saw her, chaperoned by someone who just lay on the grass, he didn’t go in the water, this was ok by me, with many meetings at the pool, eventually we started holding hands under the water while we talked, we had so much in common, the meetings lasted with-out her Family knowing for sometime, as she was over protected from her father, he was the Manager of the Airport, me being a commoner with a beard well the two didn’t mix, also I’m not of his religion but that didn’t worry Maureen, we would visit the local radio station friends of her, she took me to the Yacht Club where she a member and sailed a ”Heron, they snubbed me like I was a leper, I didn’t feel welcome, but she hung out with me, I would go to her catholic Church but I was uncomfortable, as I had never been to a church in my life. I loved that girl and I believe her family were becoming aware of our frequent meetings, we never had sex but this was always on my mind, Eventually the Father sent her back to Hobart Tasmania to marry a male she must have been going with before they moved to Cairns. I asked her to run away with me but she declined as her father would have disowned her, this worried her very much, in my eyes he was a real Prick as I believe he destroyed two people’s lives, I never stopped loving her, and I believe she felt the same about me. I met up with her again in 1968, I had married and went to Tasmania shearing my Wife came with me, we lived in a caravan, going to Hobart I found Maureen by calling many Dwyer’s, an Aunty of hers told me to go to this block of Units, this I did and knocked on every door, eventually some Male answered the door, I said is Maureen Dwyer here he said no there is no Maureen Dwyer here, because she was married to him and had his name, then a sweet voice called out Ian!! It was Maureen she recognized my voice, I felt I still loved her, she said they are going to a party and invited me, but he called her aside and squashed that, Maureen has never left my thoughts, maybe just as well I didn’t go to that party, I believe she would have left him, and I was in Tasmania with my Wife and a small baby, that was the last time I saw Maureen. If you read this Maureen don’t feel sad just remember the good times you have had in your life, yes I feel sad but life must go on.
My Life was in Danger - I lived to tell this story
When the wet season started, I was laid off as most of the casual workers were, I hung around Cairns looking for other work but it wasn’t to be. Staying in a Guest House room with a Share kitchen, wasn’t my most likable situation to be in, I met this Jerk there I didn’t know at the time my life was to take a dangerous road and was about to change dramatically. I knew him as Harry Burt, later I found out his real name to be Henry Jonn Burt, it started with me looking in the local paper for a job, and one was advertised near Bowen on the “Roylan Cruises” for a deckhand, sometimes I’d go to the hotel and have a beer with this jerk HB I told him about this job I was going to apply for, he said to me he knew these people “Roylan Cruises” and would put a word in for me, so I waited for a few days and nothing eventuated, he said he would contact them again so he told me, then he came to me with a story they wanted a deposit 20 pounds and I had the job, and they would let me know when to go there, a few more days passed, and me getting anceous I asked him to get in touch with them again when i should go to Bowen, he comes back to me and says the deposit was not enough and they wanted more money, me being gullable and trusting people those days i gave him some more money, I found out later this was a big Con on his part, read on, then he comes to me and says he also had a job with them as a Skipper a couple of years before. Eventially he tells me we both have a job and to go there, so we head off in my car, on the trip it was hot no air condition, there were small pools of water on the side of the road as we drove, I was a fast driver and as we sped past them I’d say the next one. This went on all the way as I don’t like turning back, eventually we arrived at Townsville, he said he knew the town and as it was late, suggested we camp in the Station wagon, he guided me to the Warf it was empty of ships or people dark and creepy, I Parked the Car at the back of the sheds with his directions. He said he would ok to sleep on the front seat, as I had a mattress in the back, I was laying there and almost asleep, he was shuffling around in the front and woke me, something told me to put my head towards the back of the car with my feet facing the front. Lucky for me I did this, the reason I will explain later, the next day we drove around Townsville had breakfast and headed on our way to Bowen. Arriving at Bowan we went to the Hotel and had a beer, I was Stuffed as I drove all the way and it was stinking hot. Tired I decided to go to the room to have a sleep we shared a room two single beds, his suggestion, I thought nothing of this, when I worked in the Shearing industry this is how we lived, in shared rooms so it was normal for me to share a room, when I dosed off I was lying on top of my bed in my underpants, he was having a shave, that was the last thing I remember, the next thing my head was exploding, it felt like it was exploding from within, what was actually happening he was bashing me with a large Coke bottle, they said he came downstairs and bought it after I had gone to my room, this all came out in the court case, I can remember vaguely wrestling with him, but I didn’t know it was him at the time, I must have gone in and out of continues, I can remember him saying my neck might be broken and I must lay very still, then I had another explosion in my head, I started to call out, he was talking to me, he said some one tried to kill me, I half believed him, and said I thought it was you, and I remember saying he could not kill me, and he agreed with me as he must have tried, he said someone had bashed me up, and the Doctor was outside, I was so confused and I remember saying to him I thought it was you as I regained my senses a little, he said no it was someone who came into the room, he said he would go and get the Doctor he was outside and I must lye very still, I did this and waited for the Doctor, half believing him as I was very confused. The Doctor never came it seemed like hours, then I started to call out, the Publicans Daughter Royle Luca came into the room, and she was horrified, apparently I was lying on a pillow covered in blood, she yelled out my goodness, and went for a Doctor , Terry Ferguson the local detective came, I remember vaguely them helping me into an Ambulance, they kept me in Hospital and it was two weeks before I could just see out of one eye. My head I could not recognize it, black and blue, swollen like a pumpkin. He the prick Harry Burt was picked up, driving my car South the Police arrived at a bridge just ten minutes before he arrived, north of Mackay and he almost talked his way out of it as the police didn’t have all the information, but they took him in for further questioning, and the truth came out. On recovering a little and having to check out of Hospital, Terry Ferguson arranged for me to stay at this Returned Servicemen Resort, big blocks of units with social facilities, it was funded by someone who left his station to this cause and all the profits were used to run this RSR
Harry Burt was left to sweat it out in a Cell, mosquitoes eating him alive, waiting for me to recover and have a Court case.
Royle's invited me to sleep with her one night,with two Siamees Cat crawling all over us, but it was worth it, she had loan me her car and it happened when i returned it, she was a Darling, i think she felt sorry for me as i wasn't a pretty site.
To be continue..........