Happy in Wonga par­adise

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - LOOKING BACK -

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.”

Pic­ture: MOYA STEVENS

Jack Boyd to­day (above). In­set: Jack in Viet­nam

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