BOOKLET BROUGHT BACK MEMORIES OF FNQ IN WWII
I have just read the excellent ‘Port Douglas & Daintree – Discover Paradise’ insert in The Weekend Australian, 29/30 April. It brought back memories of a trip to Mossman in December 1944 which I described in the attached letter to my parents.
Camp was the RAAF flying boat base in Cairns where I served in No 41 Squadron (Mariner flying boats) from September 1944 to July 1945.
When weekends in camp became unbearable we often explored the area – day trips to Green Island, Kuranda, swims at Yorkeys Knob, weekends at Innisfail (for the lunch at Paronella Park) and this more adventurous and memorable one to Mossman.
Little could I have foreseen the development over 70 years later and that some of these destinations would be world famous tourist attractions.
I have been back to FNQ three times since then, the first in 1979 when the main attraction in Port Douglas was Mocka’s Pie Shop.
The last was a cruise on Pacific Princess in 2005 when it anchored off Port Douglas and berthed at No 8 wharf Cairns which was used by the RAAF and I knew well as RAAF maintenance headquarters in WWII.
I hope that this account may be of sufficient interest to your readers to be worth publishing:
PORT DOUGLAS AND MOSSMAN IN 1944 10 December 1944 “I have just returned with two mates from weekend leave at Mossman, a small sugar town about 50 miles up the coast from Cairns. It turned out to be one of the most interesting trips I have ever done.
We went by Hayles Service Car and passed miles of cane farms with narrow gauge train lines branching out into the cane fields. The road winds through the bush at first before coming out on the edge of the Coral Sea which it follows along sandy beaches for another 20 miles. After a stop at a small roadhouse for morning tea, we passed through more bush until, six miles from Mossman we detoured into the old, abandoned mining town of Port Douglas with derelict rusty roofed houses and empty shops.
On arrival in Mossman at 11.30am we booked into the Queens Hotel. After a good dinner we set off for the local swimming hole only 400 yards out of town in Mossman gorge. There is a beautiful crystal pool surrounded by thick tropical scrub and in the cool water it seemed as if camp never existed.
On Friday night we went to the Children’s Fancy Dress Ball in the town hall. Next morning we spent a fascinating few hours outside the hotel listening to the old local characters telling stories. One 90-year old bullocky had us in fits telling how his humpy had burned down and all he had left was his pet cockatoo. When the shops closed at 12.30 the main street was deserted and only the chugging of the sugar mill engine broke the silence.
We learned that on Saturday night there was a dance and euchre party so one of my more cheeky mates rang the hospital to see if there were any off-duty nurses who would partner us. He asked to speak to Sister Robinson on the off chance that there was a nurse of that name. Instead the matron answered the phone and did she give him a flea in the ear. Anyway we went but it was a pretty tame affair.
The return trip was beautiful travelling in the big open car with small islands just off shore. Even though the road was dusty, bumpy and winding I was pleased that I did not get carsick.
So in the words of the travelogue ‘as the sun sinks slowly in the west this is James Fitzpatrick saying farewell from marvellous Mossman’.”
Les Sullivan (RAAF 1942-1945, 1952-1974), Burwood, Vic
caravan park/camping ground manager, and licensed club manager have been dropped from the 457 list and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that Australians and permanent residents should be able to fill these positions.
The same goes for fast food outlets, coffee shops and bars that only offer a limited food service – is the level of expertise required so high that they need to be sponsoring overseas chefs, cooks and managers?
Bearing in mind that this is not a cheaper option than employing locally.
With occupations that have been reduced from a four-year to a two-year visa, such as a hotel, café or restaurant manager and cook/pastry cook, it’s about supporting employers to train up locals to fill the skills gaps in the workforce.
There’ll be more information about a new training fund arrangement in next week’s Budget.
For those who say there just isn’t the workforce available locally, they’ll still be able to access overseas workers and these changes don’t affect the Working Holiday Maker visa program.
There is also an unprecedented focus on youth employment through the Youth Jobs PaTH program.
PaTH (Prepare-Trial-Hire) is all about better preparing young people for the workforce, and encouraging employers to take on a young person as an intern or an employee through improved support and incentives such as wage subsidies.
Warren Entsch MP, Federal Member for Leichhardt