BOOKLET BROUGHT BACK MEM­O­RIES OF FNQ IN WWII

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

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

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