* a collection of stories and memories, in no particular order, from the life and times of John Clarke, who served as a policeman in the Australian Police Force, a great practical joker, he also had a great affinity with people and wildlife, was a champion swimmer, snooker player, loved golf, still loves fishing and is also an artist. I hope you enjoy his recollections - cheers, karin (his daughter)
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When we went to Port Macquarie, we took our peacocks with us in the car, as well as some chooks and guinea fowl, but due to complaints from the neighbours, made to Sgt Plain, I had to give them away to Sea-Acres Tourist Park at Shelly Beach, Port Macquarie (now known as Sea Acres Rainforest Centre - click here to see their website)
We lived in the 'lock-up' at Port Macquarie (where the prison cells were attached to the house we lived in) and our yard was where the Police Station now stands, right on the River.
Sally (my wife) used to feed up to a dozen prisoners at a time, and got paid a few cents for each meal. I think it was $0.50c for brekky, $0.70 cents for lunch and $1.00 for tea. They used to get good meals, the same as what the family (us) ate.
Iin those days, there were only 5 Police Officers stationed at Port Macquarie on General Duties and 2 on Highway Patrol. I had the phone from 5pm each day to 8am the next morning (on call every night) and would be called out to accidents, etc. every night.
It was very tough, as many nights I was up most of the night up the Cooperabung and Kundabung Mountains between Kempsey and Port Macquarie, doing terrible accidents and then had to work 8am-5pm during the days. I used to get time off for this but when they brought in payment for overtime, they extended the shifts at Port from 8-12midnight to save paying me, and I then only had the 'phone after midnight, which wasn't so bad.
I joined a group of Jewy (jew fish) fisherman at Port Macquarie and spent a lot of time with Bunny Coates, Ron Whiting, Tom Clark and Garry Rae, fishing for jewies off the breakwall. We used to catch quite a lot, between 25lb and 76lb - beautiful fish.
We used to play heaps of practical jokes at Port Macquarie - tacks in the Highway Patrol boots, wet toilet paper bombs in the high tree outside the Police Station door, released by string bungers let off in the toilet, etc, and heaps more.
I was on the volunteer Jet Rescue Boat as a driver and did 80 odd rescues on the Hastings River Bar and when we left Port, had a big send-off at the RSL and the Port Council presented us with an inscribed briefcase in appreciation.
I started marine fish keeping at Port Macqurie and had 3 beautiful tanks of fish. Once, one broke in the middle of the night and we were up all night cleaning up saltwater.