Happy in Wonga paradise
Known by many as a storyteller and jokester, Jack Boyd took on a serious tone when telling of life experiences to
Originally from South Australia, Jack Boyd has travelled extensively for both work and pleasure and these adventures, from war to cyclones, often form the basis for his many stories and jokes.
Starting out life in the Adelaide Hills, his family lived on an orchid in Balhannah but soon moved to Adelaide where Jack finished his schooling.
“I am the youngest of five children and living on the outskirts of Adelaide meant that us kids had access to some wide open spaces,” Jack explained, “and my brother and I would go out with our ferret to catch rabbits and sell them to the local butcher.”
After completing Year 11, Jack sat with dozens of others for the Commonwealth Bank exam, was offered a job and quickly learned the skills of a bank teller.
“After working for the bank for about nine months, I was asked to take up a posting in Alice Springs which was only a town of about 2000 people then,” he said.
“I took the 11 hour flight (which was my first time in a plane) to Alice – it was a great adventure for a 17 year old.”
After working in Alice Springs for two years, Jack was conscripted into the Army and spent nine months training.
“We helped clear and set up Shoalwater Bay Training Base and trained with troops from the UK and USA,” he said.
Jack was soon off to Vietnam where he drove trucks, transporting food, troops and ammunition.
“I saw enough of war to know that it’s awful,” he said.
He served his two years and returned to his bank job, this time posted to the central branch in Rundle Street.
“Then, in 1973 I was asked to take up the position of Agency Liaison Officer for the Northern Territory,” Jack explained, “which meant moving to Darwin and travelling to all the missions, stations and settlements to check on the bank’s agencies.”
Jack was only 25 years old at the time but having spent time in Alice Springs, he understood the Territory, and having spent a year in Vietnam, could handle the tropics.
He recalls one experience, near the WA border, that was truly rare – a small tribe of Aboriginals wandered in to a mission and it was the first time these people had seen whites.
Then Christmas 1974 arrived and with it came Cyclone Tracey.
“I hunkered down at a girlfriend’s place at Fanny Bay and we ended up in the bathroom – the only part of the house still standing,” Jack said.
“Once Tracey had swept over us, I walked back to town and couldn’t believe the devastation – the town had been obliterated.”
“Part of the bank building was still standing and I stayed upstairs with 19 of the original 150 staff and we kept things going until April ’75 when I returned to Adelaide.”
Very soon after Jack’s return, he met Lorraine, a Port Augusta girl and the woman he married three months later.
“It wasn’t that we had to get married in a rush – it was just that we were in love,” he laughed.
By 1977, Jack and Lorraine, now with first son, Michael, were keen to get out on their own, so Jack left the bank and they bought the general store at Poochera, a town of 100 residents on the Upper Eyre Peninsula.
They had the telephone exchange, the post office as well as the general store and within 18 months daughter Kasey was born.
After a few years there, they went looking for a motel to buy.
“Lorraine’s family had been in the accommodation business, and I knew that’s what she really wanted to do,” he said, “and we ended buying an 18 room motel on Kangaroo Island – the Sorrento Motel.”
They worked hard, had fun and enjoyed living in such a remote and beautiful location.
“Our third child, Russell turned up and Lorraine was kept really busy,” Jack said, “but we expanded the place to 27 rooms and I got elected chairman of the KI Tourism Board.”
As people who have run accommodation houses know, there are always funny stories about guests.
“I remember the night of a wedding we hosted, finding the bride and best man, naked in the spa, at 2am,” Jack said.
“Apparently the groom got drunk and the best man stepped in – that’s what best men are for I guess.”
The children went to boarding school in Adelaide for their secondary education and Jack and Lorraine continued to build their business until one day in 1999, a man came in and made them an offer on the motel they couldn’t refuse.
“We moved back to Adelaide and formed partnerships, buying several metro, suburban and country hotels.
In 2003, their daughter moved to Cairns “for the adventure” and Jack and Lorraine visited many times.
“We fell in love with the place – the weather was so good for our health, so we bought 1.25 acres at Wonga and settled here in 2007,” Jack said.
They remain the consummate hosts, entertaining their many friends and visitors at their home.
“Although Lorraine and I miss family and friends in South Australia, we just love our little slice of paradise at Wonga.”
Jack Boyd today (above). Inset: Jack in Vietnam