THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT ... KYM ROWLEY
From devastation to degustation
FORMER Army engineer and manager of the Port Douglas Combined Club Kym Rowley has gone from picking up the pieces after Cyclone Tracy virtually wiped Darwin off the map to pouring pints.
But his great fascination can be found a world away.
“I’m sure I was a Chinese person in my last life - I just love the people and the place so much,” he said.
Kym has been fascinated by China and the Chinese people ever since he can remember and has travelled to the country six times already and will be going on a three-week backpacking journey of “his adopted country” in December.
He was first bitten by the travel bug while he was in the Army and in the Engineering Corps.
“Like a lot of army people we got to move around a lot inside Australia and overseas and for some it proved pretty tough but I embraced it,” Kym said.
’But after 21 years I couldn’t advance any further and so I decided to get out and try my hand at something else and here I am living and working in paradise.”
Having made the rank of WOI ( Warrant Officer First Class) and working in the Engineering Corps where he was involved in demolition, bridge building and road building his job took him New Guinea, on the Indonesian border, where they ran the department of works for the PNG government.
“New Guinea was a fantastic place and I was thrilled to be working there and the opportunities it gave to us all,” Kym said.
“It was also quite an odd situation because we were the Australian Army but we were running the country’s Department of Works at the time but it really was a great time in my life and I was met with many challenges - fantastic - best two years of my life.”
On returning to Australia he then spent time working on projects in Sydney, Melbourne and Townsville.
Then the biggest day of his life seized him when he and his team were called to Darwin on Boxing Day after Cyclone Tracy smashed the town on Christmas Eve in 1974.
“I had never seen devastation like it ever before and I don’t ever want to see it again - the town was flattened,” Kym said.
“After the initial shock we had plenty of work to do as everything needed to be rebuilt - the roads, bridges and reroofing the few remaining houses and of course the body removal.”
Seventy one people were killed in what was Australia’s worst ever cyclone and of the 30,000 people who lived there at the time, many never returned.
Kym and his team remained in Darwin for three months helping to rebuild the shredded town before returning to Sydney.
It was then he decided to try his hand at running golf clubs. He was already the secretary of the army golf club and began managing other clubs in Sydney and on the Sunshine Coast.
He found he had a skill for this and he loved to play the game himself and can be found most Saturday mornings at the Sea Temple Golf Course.
In the meantime he has travelled to Europe on a number of occasions, the US and Canada and of course his beloved China.
But it was now time to get serious and get work to fund his travel addiction.
A friend of his who had been employed as the manager of the Tin Shed rang Kym 18 months ago to see if he would be interested in being interviewed by the club’s committee for the job because his wife had fallen ill.
“It was sad news to learn of my friend’s illness of course but I decided to have the interview seeing as I was in Cairns anyway and then I drove to Port and was then told I had the job,” Kym said.
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