LOOK­ING BACK: DAVE EGAN

Dave Egan, some may say, has a po­lar­is­ing per­son­al­ity, but his ded­i­ca­tion to the Dou­glas Shire can­not be de­bated, as Moya Stevens dis­cov­ered

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

Dave Egan’s early years were spent in Gor­don­vale, liv­ing with his grand­mother and even­tu­ally go­ing to board­ing school at St Au­gus­tine’s. The mates he made there stood him in good stead in years to come.

“I used to spend my hol­i­days with my friend Bob Crim­mins at his par­ents’ house in Moss­man,” Dave said, “and Bert Crim­mins, Bob’s fa­ther, was the lo­cal un­der­taker.

“Bert taught me to drive and it was with him I saw my first dead per­son,” he said.

“Old Mrs Crees had passed away and Bert asked me to come along to help him with things – and I was only about 15.”

It was his reg­u­lar vis­its that made Dave see Moss­man as a good place to set­tle once he had fin­ished his panel beat­ing ap­pren­tice­ship in Cairns.

In 1963 at 20 years old, Dave took up lodg­ings at the Post Of­fice Ho­tel with two other young men, War­ren Jenk­ins and Johnny Lan­caster. Dave started work­ing for Marano’s at Miallo as a welder and af­ter eight years he con­tin­ued his trade at the Moss­man Sugar Mill.

“I started worked dur­ing ‘the slack’ (the off sea­son for har­vest­ing and pro­cess­ing sugar) when they were ex­tend­ing the plant and putting in a new boiler,” he said, “but when the sea­son started, the mar­ried men got the jobs first.”

Dave took on var­i­ous jobs dur­ing the sea­son in­clud­ing driv­ing the de­liv­ery truck for Jack and Newell’s Gen­eral Store and pick­ing fruit in Shep­par­ton.

Work at the Mill con­tin­ued and when Dave was even­tu­ally em­ployed through the sea­son, he was to be found be­hind the wheel of a Ley­land Beaver truck which col­lected bins from around the district and brought them back to the Mill for pro­cess­ing.

The Mills used to har­vest cane for some of the grow­ers and pro­vide trans­port.

“On our busiest day I did 13 runs of 20 ton bins from Rocky Point – that was 26 trips.”

Dur­ing this time Dave pur­sued his sport­ing pas­sions, rugby league and basketball.

“We used to play basketball on courts that are now the li­brary carpark in Mill Street and when the wet weather came we would play in the Shire Hall.

“I seemed to be able to jump higher and slam dunk in the Hall whereas there was no way I could do that on the as­phalt out­side.

“I think I made the Mill’s day when I re­signed be­cause I was very in­volved with the union move­ment,” Dave said, “as I was Shop Ste­ward for the 30-plus trades­man at the time.”

“I did an Am­bu­lance course and got a job at the Ather­ton Am­bu­lance Sta­tion so I left the Mill and Moss­man for a time.

“I had learned the bar trade when Mr and Mrs Dob­bins owned the Ex­change Ho­tel, where I had moved my lodg­ings to, and worked for them dur­ing the sea­son.

“Jenny Bald­win taught me all about how to serve and bot­tle beer – which is a bit of an art.

“The Dob­bins had sev­eral ho­tels, one in Ma­reeba, one in Tully and of course, the Ex­change, and I would be sent wher­ever I was needed.

“I was in Tully so long I ended up play­ing rugby there un­der the coach, Ray Laird, who later played for Aus­tralia.”

While in Ma­reeba, Dave met his fu­ture wife Glo­ria and they took up man­ag­ing ho­tels in Mackay, Babinda and even­tu­ally took the lease on a ho­tel in Be­mer­side, just north of Ing­ham.

By the mid ’70s the Moss­man Sugar Mill was ex­pand­ing and the then chief engi­neer, Bill Harper, asked Dave if he was mar­ried.

“Ap­par­ently he thought that if I was mar­ried I would be bet­ter be­haved,” Dave laughed, “and went back and I stayed for about 10 years.”

In the mean­time Dave and Glo­ria built a river-side home in Moss­man and started a fam­ily.

Dave’s em­ploy­ment at the Mill came to an end again, and he and Glo­ria took the lease of the Shell Ser­vice Sta­tion at Craiglie for a short time and was of­fered the lease of the Cal­tex sta­tion at South Moss­man.

“One of my school mates, Bernie O’Shea, was the Cal­tex fuel dis­trib­u­tor and he of­fered me a rea­son­able deal so we took it.”

The busi­ness of run­ning a ser­vices sta­tion is very de­mand­ing and was en­croach­ing on fam­ily life with chil­dren, Ash­ley and Jus­tine, so af­ter seven years they sold the lease and Dave pur­sued an­other line of work.

“For four years I had the mail and bread de­liv­ery con­tract for north of the Dain­tree and I drove up there three days a week de­liv­er­ing both mail and bread to all the res­i­dences up to and around Cape Trib.”

One of the strong threads through­out Dave’s life is his in­volve­ment in and com­mit­ment to the Moss­man com­mu­nity. He had been an of­fice bearer for the lo­cal football, basketball and bowls clubs, and worked tire­lessly fundrais­ing for them.

In the early ’90s when Dave was elected to Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil. “I ended up on the Coun­cil for 14 years, Deputy Mayor for 10 years, and among the projects that give me some pride are the un­der­ground­ing of power in Front Street, the es­tab­lish­ment of Ge­orge Davis Park, the new Shire of­fices and the Bike Strat­egy.

“Oh, and I also fought hard to en­sure there was no flu­o­ride in the town wa­ter sup­ply.”

Dave was pres­i­dent of the North Queens­land Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion and the North Queens­land Lo­cal Au­thor­ity Waste Man­age­ment Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee. He rep­re­sented Dou­glas on the North Queens­land River Im­prove­ment Trust and was the North Queens­land rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the Trusts’ State body.

“We kept the se­ri­ous is­sues such as ghost net­ting, plas­tic bags and tyres per­co­lat­ing in their minds,” he said.

“I de­cided to let go of the ropes back in 2008 but I feel strongly about pol­i­tics and I would con­sider go­ing back on to Coun­cil as I be­lieve I still have a lot to of­fer,” he said.

Dave con­tin­ues to con­trib­ute to the com­mu­nity through his in­volve­ment with The Sharks Rugby League Club, the Show So­ci­ety and the Moss­man Bowls Club and he main­tains an in­ter­est in The Ex­change Ho­tel.

“I still play pen­nant bowls and love the op­por­tu­nity to meet peo­ple and rep­re­sent the district,” he said.

“I have had a much longer life than I thought I would have – there must be some­one ‘up there’ look­ing af­ter me.”

I de­cided to let go of the ropes back in 2008 but I feel strongly about pol­i­tics and I would con­sider go­ing back on to Coun­cil as I be­lieve I still have a lot to of­fer

Dave Egan

Dave Egan. In­set: The Alex Rally Shield, 1998 - Alan Al­mond, Dave Egan, David Burke and Nick Bianco

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