Recently, our Hunter Member Geoff HODGSON arranged for the presentation of our OBE award to former colourful policing identity Geoff WRIGHT. In this gathering Geoff HODGSON, Dave KANE, Neill SCARR, Ross CLARK, Bomber HORE, John SCOTT and Geoff MINTER are depicted in a friendly scrum at
the Newcastle Knights headquarters, with Geoffrey John WRIGHT OBE in his red shirt. Most of those gathered there are about to receive a similar RFPA honour.
Any Hunter region crook who met up with these formidable fellows in the 1980’s and 90’s probably had an all expenses paid holiday at Cessnock or Maitland.
Former colleagues Ted MURRAY (Dareton) and Kevin PARSONS (Illawarra) would remember those days well.
September Day Trip to Fort Scratchley
Today we had 45 attend Fort Scratchley near Nobbys, and had our eyes opened to how OH&S
applied to gunpowder, hobnail boots and smouldering silk in the rifled barrel of an 80 pound coastal
gun. Those present agreed that our tour guides and Fort caretakers had a fabulous presentation and
opened up our thinking when we considered that the Japanese landed 34 shells on Newcastle on 8
June 1942. As the RSL motto goes, the price of freedom is, indeed, eternal vigilance. The fort had
been in full operation until 1972, and still stores major armament, mainly for ceremonial situations.
Frank CARTER, Ross SOUTHERN and our ‘own’ Frank WILLIAMS showed us around, so we
reciprocated with an outside bbq, with the weather remaining perfect. Whales were observed from
our vantage point. The lucky lizard raffle was ‘drawn’ by FW, whose aim (for a Fort Official) was
dreadful. He missed the attendance sheet seven times before piercing the entry of Rob BARTLETT,
who had just finished cooking our sausages, steaks and onions. A fitting reward indeed, with a
bottle of the famed Lizard Liqueur to take home. We had another draw, with Frank being successful
on the third throw this time, and another worthy winner in sous-chef Al CRUMPTON, who had also
worked hard. Al won a very large bottle which had been surplus to bbq requirements.
Lee RANKIN and Kevin NOWLAND finished up with butter up to their elbows and lettuce all over the
floor, but they did their best, and we were full at the end.
As a thank you gesture, we donated next month’s lizard drink to the Fort team. We’ll see (or maybe
hear) if the famous drink reacts with cordite or whatever else they have stored away.
A guided tour of Fort Scratchley can be arranged on 02 49293066, apparently any day other than a
Tuesday. We were just lucky.
Find out what a ‘disappearing gun‘ really is, and what happened to ships which attempted to leave
without paying their dues to the Harbour Master in the 19 th Century.
What an interesting day!
Our 2023 AGM was a great day out at Club Macquarie. 32 were in attendance, and Returning Officer (and birthday boy) Ron McSPORRAN presided over the branch’s annual event Tuesday 8 August.
Ken SCHNEIDERS came for the first time and was made welcome. Bob McFARLANE and Rene and Chris MARKERINK have come along a few times and are settling in. Amongst our apologies were Ted and Beth OLDFIELD (Beth in Maitland Hospital today) and Esma KANE, who reckons she will be right for Port Stephens Hunter Retired Police Day on September 7 at Muree Golf Club.
Our Vale list included two Local stalwarts: Terry SEERY was a long term RPF/RFPA Branch official and Police Bank director until his health failed him several years ago, and Richard FACE was the longest serving
NSW politician at the time of his retirement from office in 2003 after 31 years as the Member for Charlestown. Richard’s funeral is tomorrow (Wed 9 August at Pettigrews, Murray Dwyer Crescent Mayfield West at 12 midday).
Both men had unblemished records in NSWPF, Terry working his way into Communications management, and Richard achieving a personal aim driving around in Mini Cooper S’s and the big Ramblers of the early 70’s. Jim POWER recalled early days at school and in the STP with Richard, but was unwell today and couldn’t be with us.
Both Terry and Richard are sorely missed and will be well remembered.
The pic shows Bob GRAY, Di HUTCHESSON, Returning Officer Ron McSPORRAN, Al CRUMPTON, John HURLEY and Lee RANKIN. Missing from the elected lineup are Rob BARTLETT and Ian LOVELL.
Juan MAHONY’s magnificent tome ‘The Diggers View – WW 1 in colour’ was displayed (and sold) by Mike STEPHENS, who lives near Juan and he will bring more copies next time.
Our chefs Matthew and Kristie threw the darts of destiny into the attendance list (a wobbly process at best; they need to stay with their day jobs) and after missing the A4 about ten times, spearing it on three
occasions into the ‘apologies’ column (sorry Marg VERO, Anita WORTH and Chris CARR) and all the margins, they finally pierced Thommo’s entry, and Al won the lucky door prize of a bottle of Lizard Liqueur, marketed by Kurri TAFE as Dragon’s Mirage. Great prize for a non-drinker. I reckon SWILKSy will invite himself over for a sip or two, and that will be it.
When the AGM core business came around, our Returning Officer Ron McSPORRAN declared all positions vacant, noted the good number of people in attendance, thanked the outgoing Committee for their work in the previous years, and then re-installed all of them.
Our next event looks like being an exploration of the wartime defences at Fort Scratchley, and a meal in their bistro. Less than 100 metres from the fort’s entry, a Japanese shell breached the front wall of a
house in Parnell Place in 1942, showing all that we were at considerable risk of being occupied by foreign forces, and raising the anxiety level to the extent that many locals were recruited into the Defence Forces
All are welcome to our meetings.
Don’t forget next Tuesday’s (AGM) meeting, 8th August 2023, and meal at Club Macquarie. Socialising is from 11am.
With great sadness, we heard yesterday that our Veteran Member Richard FACE passed away after
his battle with debilitating issues. Many will remember Richard for his lead role in the Police
Remembrance Day commemorations. Bagpipes in Newcastle’s Cathedral were a stirring presence
and added meaning to the solemn purpose of this day. Still others (maybe a little older) will
remember The Honuorable J. Richard FACE MP, Member for Charlestown from 1972 for the next 31
years. Some even older Members will recall being spoken to sternly by Constable FACE, emerging
from the squeezed position in the notorious Morris Cooper Ss he loved driving.
Our condolences go to Gaye and Richard’s family, and to our Member Anita. May Richard Rest in
On a different note, Tony HONOR has a contact who would like to show us through the Fort
Scratchley subterranean fortress. An experience not to be missed, we are told. Some of us have
family members who were there in the 1940s, and indeed when Newcastle was shelled by enemy
submarines. This was a place designed to protect us from an attack from the sea, and all persons
wanting to know the facts about how the Fort was run and see the conditions under which our
Servicemen and Servicewomen worked to deliver us the life we have enjoyed since, need to join in.
We will negotiate with Tony’s mate for time and date, but meanwhile your suggestions and thoughts
about attending should be delivered to IHL so we can plan.
As a prelude to our annual Xmas in July visit to the Kurri Kurri TAFE here are several pics from happier times (2017).
The history of our lucky door prize for the 2023 event is captured on winemaker Geoffrey’s big whiteboard [to rival that of former MP Ros KELLY]. Here he shows the origin of Lizard Liqueur from Mudgee in 2009. We have watched this drop’s progress since about 2012, and last year it was released for sale. We have a bottle to give away on 11 July to a lucky Member or Visitor. Be there!
The small band of tasters [L to R] on 2017 visit depicts Yvonne BRACKEN, Bob GRAY, Tom ROBERTS (can’t paint for nuts), Cyril HUTCHESSON, Dracula CRUMPTON making a withdrawal from the wine bank (who let him in there?) the late Jack BRACKEN, Geoffrey the Winemaker, Ian PARK, Clelia PARK just visible in red, Col CURRY and Gael CURRY and another anonymous taster.
This might be the last location in the Hunter Valley where wine tasting and antipasto are still free to the consumer.
Excellent wines are on sale at the lunch at very reasonable prices. We agree to promote this merchandise as a quid-pro-quo for school principal Desley’s regular welcome to RFPA visits and the amazing work of her hospitality students.
Our ‘between’ meeting at Tea Gardens today became a little more formal than usual, with several apologies being of note. John CAREY was travelling to Gunnedah for his late wife Crona’s funeral on Friday. Esma KANE was not up to the trip, and we have a few locals in hospital, Kenny EDWARDS in Maitland Private, Paul BOWHAY in JHH and Neil SCHOLES in the Mater. Best wishes to them and a few visits have been meaningful. Paul has had legal work done for him as arranged by Al CRUMPTON, and his visit by Tom CONNERTON on Saturday afternoon was appreciated.
We welcomed Bob and Fay Macfarlane for the first time, and Neil DICK and partner as recently connected to the Hunter Region Branch.
RFPA President Paul WYNNE and his partner Sandy BENSON were welcomed to the meeting, and Paul spoke of his knowledge of our guest speaker, who is a member of Parramatta The Hills Branch, or which Paul is the Chair.
Our first order of business was to present Tea Gardens retiree Len TOPPING with his OBE certificate. Len had to convince us that he was really 80, as the seaside and country lifestyle appears to be agreeing with both Len and Lorraine. Kevin MARR, another local RFPA member came along to see young Lennie ordained. Kevin is a very straight and strong 92 year old, who was apparently happy to mix with young people over a meal and a drink.
Now, the main event; we were at Palm Lake Resort for Russell OXFORD’s renowned presentation on the Jamie GAO murder in 2014, and subsequent legal proceedings which left the notorious ex-police Rogerson and McNamara in gaol without the possibility of parole. The remarks of the sentencing judge made it clear to the world that the murder was of the highest degree of callous execution for potential monetary gain. Having seen this presentation, it is hard to imagine how anyone could harbour sympathy for such a cold-blooded murderer as Rogerson.
We had 57 attend and sample the hospitality at Palm Lake after the meeting. There was plenty of positive feedback, and Russell indicated that he would be prepared to come again and walk us through serious crimes from the investigators’ viewpoint. We are aware that he is in demand and has engagements at Macarthur RFPA and Brisbane and Northern Suburbs RFPA in the near future, and will wait.
The pics show some of us in the theatrette waiting for the Apple -v- Windows tussle to resolve itself on screen, Len receiving his OBE, and Russell OXFORD with Paul WYNNE, Hunter Chair Ian LOVELL and Russell’s former workmate from Parramatta, Roger DYER, who supervised his driving up the M1.
Finally, thanks to Chris GOODE from Palm Lake for his expertisde.
Last Monday after the CoM meeting I visited Bob and Gael DREW at RNS Hospital, Ward 7E, and
renewed my acquaintance with fellow investigator Bob, from our days at Maitland Division
Detectives office. Bob worked for a few years as a stock investigator at Maitland, and then later for
another 30 in the New England area. He was the Crime Manager at Armidale when he retired in 2005. Bob has worked his farm at Duraka (Tamworth) since then and has been busy for many years
with cattle and horses. He has been a ‘greencoat’ (ringmaster) at the Royal Easter Show for about
30 years and was recently awarded Life Membership of the Royal Agricultural Society in respect of
his amazing and lengthy service to the rural community whose lives’ work is on display at Homebush
in April every year. Just to keep himself really busy, Bob has been the Clerk of the Course for
Tamworth Jockey Club longer than anyone could remember when we visited the Tamworth Cup
meeting on the previous Friday. The TJC conducted a fundraiser for Bob the night before the Cup,
and why, you ask?…….
About a month ago, Bob was working stock at home on his best horse, when the horse was spooked
by a passing car, jumped sideways over a fence onto a level well below the fence line, and rolled on
top of Bob, who, like every good horseman would do, had stuck like glue. Even such a violent and
unexpected move hadn’t dislodged him. Worse was to become evident though, almost straight
away. Bob couldn’t feel or move his legs or arms. He got a free fast ride in a helicopter to RNS, and
is still there.
The good news is that after several very difficult weeks of not knowing what was going to happen,
Bob’s legs are responding slowly to the expert rehabilitation he is receiving, and one arm had also
begun to respond. It’s going to be a long road for Bob and Gael, and a probable complete change of
lifestyle. He’s a strong man with a determination which will get him through the treatment and back
to Tamworth as soon as circumstances permit. Knowing Bob, and listening to him talking about the
future with his wife, I have every reason to believe his hard work (backed up by his medicos on
Monday) will deliver a much better result than he thought was going to be the case a couple of
weeks ago, when nothing worked.
Anyone with some time to spare on a visit to the St Leonards area would be able to cheer Bob up a
bit with something a bit more refined than ‘hospital’ food. Bob says that food is great, and the care
he is getting is fantastic, but he seems to like a ‘treat’ from the outside world. He did say that even
though he really likes a beer, that would get in the way of his rehab, and he would not appreciate
falling again. So the standard operating (Welfare) procedure of smuggling medicinal grog into
hospital for RFPA members should be abandoned for a while.
All the best old mate. We are with you. 0407920066 will reach Bob’s room, and with some
assistance, he may be able to talk with you for a few minutes between treatments, if you can’t get
there in person.
Muree Golf Club Tuesday 11/4/23
HUNTER REGION BRANCH meeting at Raymond Terrace 11 April.
The regular school holiday traffic jam made the M1 look like Parramatta Road on Tuesday, but it didn’t stop 36 of us from turning up at our meeting at Muree Golf Club. Some couldn’t make it at the last minute, and we wish Doug CHESTER, Jim POWER and Barry LEACY a speedy return to health. Ron McSPORRAN was under the big operating light as our meeting commenced. You’ll be back soon Ron, and you’ll be able to see us.
Det Supt Wayne HUMPHREY and Insp Rob POST came as guests and the interaction with our former Police was interesting. The recent stabbing of two police, and the shooting of the offender at Wickham last week was used by Mr HUMPHREY to explain the bodycam devices and their value to present-day policing. All recalled our original opposition many years ago to any form of ‘live’ camera equipment, but times have moved on.
The old Traffic men (there were no old traffic ladies there on the day) gave PTS213 a good examination, as many commented that there was ‘no way’ they could fit into the apparently small cockpit of the BMW. Several former investigators, quick off the mark, observed that the same fellows complaining about the BMW used to ’fit’ into a Mini Cooper at one time, but maybe not now.
Esma KANE was unable to attend after the passing of a young mother and child following a difficult birth. Our hearts go out to you and your family Esma.
At a recent visit, The Hon. Richard FACE, our longest serving NSW politician, and former Newcastle Traffic officer, was presented with his Veteran Member Certificate, andGordon GORTON was kind enough to deliver and present Frank TRACEY’s OBE at his home recently. Best wishes to the both of you, and a big ‘thank you for your service’ from the Hunter Region Branch members.
Some of our newer Members/Associates have familiar names. The RFPA membership drive is now aiming at wives and partners of former Police, and so far we have snared Maureen GRAY, Glenda LOVELL, Vicki RANKIN, Chris CARR and Chris BARTLETT, who had been regular guests, but now have a say in what’s going on. Welcome ladies!
Some of us are off to the Tamworth Cup next Friday, and we are open to any inside information so that we can boost the Branch’s coffers, with the money going towards the Bob DREW benefit being run by the Tamworth Jockey Club.
Twenty members with umbrellas braved it through the carpark of the Argy Hotel for lunch and a get-together today.
New Member (as of today) Nigel PRICE, formerly of the ACT Police, but living at Mount Hutton now, joined us after enjoying Ozzie the Mozzie in January. Ted and Beth ODLFIELD made the half day trip from Greta. After some discussion, Lee RANKIN secured Muree Golf Club for our next meeting on Tuesday 11 April. Beth informed us that she was saving up for the between meeting at Tea Gardens Hotel on Tuesday 9 May (petrol was dear, she mentioned) where we hope to induct another Veteran and encourage some other locals to induct him properly. We are coordinating the starting time with the arrival at Tea Gardens Wharf of the Nelson Bay Ferry, to ensure the Port Stephens residents have a good day ‘over the pond’.
The venue for our June meeting (13th) is likely to be in the Eastern Lake Macquarie area [TBA], and our Christmas in July is all finalised for Tuesday 11 July at Kurri TAFE. Desley has provided a great deal, including, of course, the traditional winemaker’s tour or morning tea alternative, followed by the great food we always enjoy at the Region’s number one hospitality and catering school.
Great food and a good gathering for such a miserable (weather) day.
We had a great day at Cookabarra, Bob’s Farm, on Valentine’s Day. Mark VAUGHAN and Glen JENKINS eventually ‘came out’ and enjoyed ‘barra’ and a beer with us. Many more such days planned, and in the planning.
On Tuesday 14 March we have a ‘between’ meeting organised for the Argy Pub. Our talent scouts have been before us, and say the renovations and meals there are first class. See you there 11am.
Xmas in July (Tues 11th) is finalised at the Kurri Kurri TAFE again. Desley has provided a great menu, the winemakers need us to help them out on the day, and the coffee and cake experts can indulge themselves for a while as we learn how to make wine (again.) Be there by 11 to0 take full advantage of the extras.
We rotate amongst local area venues as determined by the Members on advice from our Social Committee; Al CRUMPTON, Bob GRAY and Lee RANKIN. They all have considerable eating and drinking expertise.
We have retained the December event (Xmas Dinner) at Belmont 16 Foot Sailing Club, and the July non-event at Kurri Kurri TAFE (Xmas in July)
We have a meeting on the second Tuesday of even numbered months at 11-30am and a ‘non-meeting’ or get together on the second Tuesday of each odd numbered month.
We normally have about 35 in attendance, with some 80 for Xmas Dinner.
NEXT MEETING HUNTER REGION BRANCH
We’ve conned Nick ARENA into opening his brilliant multi-purpose establishment ‘Cookabarra’ on
his regular rest day, Tuesday, 14 February, just for our RFPA/PANSW Associates meeting. Nick is a
former Farmer of the Year, with his barramundi, vegetable and herb farm at Bobs Farm operating as
a sustainable and self-contained enterprise. He raises barra in a series of huge tanks and is only too
pleased to show us around the operation and get an idea of how it’s done. Last time we visited (in
2017 from memory) we nearly lost our favourite Chaplain of the time when Roger FOLETTA thought
he would hand feed a giant barra cruising around a tank. Accelerate, tsunami, ‘snap’ and some un-
chaplain-like words followed. The first aid skills of Cyril HUTCHESSON saved Roger. It was like Cyril
had his old ambulance with him.
Roger later said Grace and the meeting and meal went ahead. I spoke to him recently (in retirement
now) and invited him to Cookabarra. He politely suggested we find another Chaplain..
Put the day aside if you can. Even if you don’t like barra, the menu and bar list are extensive. In
negotiating with Nick, I had to guarantee 20 starters. At our last gathering (‘between’ drinks and
snack at Ozzie the Mozzie) all present suggested they will be there. It would be good to snare some
Port Stephens locals and make it a big number. Have a look at the menu on the website (see below
reference) and don’t worry about the prices. We are still negotiating and a hefty subsidy applies on
the day as well.
Everybody (except the Rev Roger) though the last visit was not to be missed.
Cookabarra Restaurant & Function Centre
476c Marsh Road, Bobs Farm New South Wales 2316
Australian Corrections Day
Friday 20 January was Australian Corrections Day and an open day was held at the recently commissioned Shortland Unit of Cessnock Correctional Centre. The event was arranged by the son of our latest Veteran Member, Tony HONOR, Senior Corrections Officer Nicholas HONOR.
After a guided tour of the spectacular and apparently airtight facility, demonstrations of Specialist Operations work at the site were given. A drug dog showed all present that you shouldn’t have contraband on your person; some very substantial and fit young men demonstrated cell entry and the gear they use to do such things and others showed off the food production industry they conduct (including inmate meals and commercial products). All guests were offered ‘Correctional Biscuits’ which were very edible and a bbq and coffee.
Noted in the crowd were Fire and Rescue and NSW Police Force reps, one of whom was a retained firefighter as well as a HWP operator.
Soon-to-be RFPA Member and OIC Cessnock Police Station Chief Inspector Michael GORMAN was there and was given the website links for his Membership application.
As a final event, Tony HONOR, resplendent in his RFPA shirt bought recently from Beth at Albury, received his OBE (Veteran) Certificate.
A great day was had by all, as the rain held off for the outside activities.
My thanks to Nick HONOR for the invitation to attend.
Office bearers for 2022/3:
Chair and Secretary: Ian LOVELL
Treasurer and Welfare Officer: Alan CRUMPTON
Committee Members and Social Committee: Bob GRAY, Lee RANKIN, John HURLEY and Di HUTCHESSON