Home' Hunter Its People : Hunter-Glory Days June 2012 Contents 44
57. World's fastest man
Ken Warby sets World Water speed record:
On October 8, 1978, Newcastle’s Ken Warby set what is now one
of the oldest records in the annals of sport - he went to Blowering
Dam, near Tumut in NSW, in his home-made boat Spirit of Australia
and became the frst man to average more than 500 km/h on
water. Warby fashed both ways over a measured kilometre at an
average 511.1 km/h, a touch over 317 mph, a record that two men
have died trying to match.
Warby had already become the world’s fastest man on water in
1977 when, behind the wheel of his hydroplane powered by two
second-hand Westinghouse J-34 jet engines, he set an average
speed of 464 km/h on the dam.
Warby is the only man to drive, design and build a boat to a
water speed record.
He now lives in the US while Spirit of Australia is on display at
the Australian National Maritime Museum.
58. John Denver brings
neWcastle entertainment centre opens: June,
“John Denver,” The Newcastle Herald said in its preview of the
Newcastle Entertainment Centre offcial opening on June 20,
1992, “sings the kind of songs that send chills up and down the
spine.” Denver was “spine-chilling” that night before 250 specially
invited guests in a capacity crowd of 5200 as the centre offcially
opened its doors.
Denver had planned to tour Australia late in 1992, but put his
tour forward to do the offcial opening. Tickets for the show sold
out in three days, with 2500 tickets going in the frst two-and-a-
Although the Denver concert was the offcial opening of the
centre, it had already been “blooded”, in use for the Newcastle
Show, six home games of the Newcastle Falcons and the frst music
show at the venue, a George Thorogood concert that attracted
Since opening the venue has hosted concerts by the likes of
Cher, Fleetwood Mac, Pearl Jam, Usher, Pink, John Farnham, Katy
Perry, The Highwaymen, the Grease spectacular, circuses, ice
shows, school spectaculars, basketball, tennis, boxing, gymnastics,
indoor motorcross, exhibitions, conventions and functions.
59. A man of the people
doug Walters century on test debut: december,
Doug Walters is looked on almost mythically as an Australian
cricketer, a man of the people revered almost as much for his
legendary drinking, cigarette smoking, card playing and humour as
his enormous cricketing ability.
But it was his cricketing prowess that was to the fore when, just
before his 20th birthday, he made his Test debut for Australia in
Brisbane against Mike Smith’s England side in 1965.
The laconic Walters, raised on a Dungog dairy farm and selected
from the bush for NSW when only 17, belted 155, and if that wasn’t
enough to make his mark, smacked another 115 in his next Test in
His sparkling Test debut was upstaged the following year when
he was conscripted for two years’ national service in the Australian
Army and missed a tour of South Africa, not returning to the Test
arena until 1968 against India, when he averaged 127. Later that
year he missed the frst Test against the touring West Indians but
in the remaining Tests scored four centuries, including 242 and 103
in one Test, becoming the frst batsman to score a century and a
double century in a single Test.
Walters played 74 Tests for Australia scoring 5357
runs at 48.26, and taking 49 wickets at 29.08.
Dennis Lillee described him as “the coolest man
60. Birth of a legend
andreW Johns runs on for Knights:
It was a wet and wild Saturday night on April 17, 1993,
with the Newcastle Knights playing Gold Coast at
Tweed Heads, when coach David Waite threw the
switch on one of rugby league’s most illustrious
Injured fullback Robbie O’Davis had to come off at
half time and the coach turned to reserve Andrew
Johns and asked him if he had ever played fullback.
“Yeah, heaps of times,” he said. He had never played
fullback in his life.
That was the start for Johns, who went on to
captain the Knights, NSW and Australia, become the
youngest and frst two-time winner of the Golden
Boot award for the world’s greatest rugby league
player (1999 and 2001), was picked as halfback in the
NRL’s team of the century, won the Dally M award
as league’s best in 1998, 1999 and 2002, was voted
MVP in the 1995 World Cup fnal at Wembley and
played in two Newcastle premiership-winning sides,
in 1997 and 2001, the latter when he was captain and
won the Clive Churchill Medal as the best player on
the park. Any other accolades league had to offer
during his career, he probably picked up as well.
After three appearances as a run-on reserve
in 1993 he had his frst full start with the Knights
the next year against South Sydney - leaving no
doubt about his future with a man-of-the-match
performance and a record points tally of 23 for a
player on debut.
Point-scoring records, State of Origin heroism,
grand-fnal glory, virtually every award and honour
his sport had to offer . . . it all came to Johns before
a neck injury against Canberra ended his 249th and
last game for Newcastle, one short of being the frst
Newcastle player to reach 250 frst-grade games.
On Tuesday, April 10, 2007, after scans on his
injured neck, he announced his retirement and on
Sunday, April 22, a crowd of 25,524 farewelled him
at a Newcastle-Broncos match at EnergyAustralia
Stadium, and the eastern grandstand was named in
61. Half is good
John hipWell debuts for australia:
When the great Australian rugby union scrum half
Ken Catchpole suffered a career-ending injury
against New Zealand in 1968, the man who stepped
into the breach was the son of a carpenter, born in
Mayfeld and educated at Waratah and Wallsend.
An explosive runner and aggressive tackler,
John Hipwell, a product of Waratah Rugby Union
Club where he was coached by another great
Newcastle footballer, Cyril Burke, went on to make
the Australian scrum half position his own, touring
the UK in 1968, South Africa in 1969, France in 1971
and England and Wales in 1973, where he took over
the captaincy for the match against England at
Twickenham. He went on to captain Australia nine
times in an international career that spanned 14
His longevity was particularly stunning as he was
badly injured in a Test against Wales in 1975. There
were doubts he would return to the international
game, but three years later he was back, playing
three Tests against New Zealand.
His fnal international call-up was a further three
years away, when selected for the 1981/82 tour
of Britain and Ireland, playing three Tests before
fnishing against England in January, 1982, at 33
years of age with 36 Australian caps.
Hipwell was awarded an Order of Australia Medal
in 1982 and in 2006 was among the second set of
inductees into the Australian Rugby Union Hall of
62. Top jockey
robert thompson rides Winner 3323:
When Cessnock jockey Robert Thompson steered
Promised to victory at Port Macquarie on July 28,
2008, he broke the record for the most winners ever
ridden by a jockey in Australia.
After breaking the 3322 mark set by Jack
Thompson, Thompson was called into the steward’s
room. “I had no idea what for,” he said at the time,
“but the chief stipe Bill Fanning said ‘I should fne
you for not giving a wave after that win’.”
The record victory was a long time coming for
Thompson, who left school at 14 and became
apprenticed to his grandfather, Normie Collins Snr,
and scored his frst win on It’s Regal at Wyong on
March 8, 1973, at just his eighth race ride. It was
more than 20,000 rides later that he notched his
63. Hunter film hit
release of young einstein:
There is no doubt Young Einstein is the most
successful movie ever primarily flmed in the Hunter,
with estimates of more than $100 million in box-
offce takings world wide.
It starred Cardiff’s Yahoo Serious - he changed his
name from Greg Pead by deed poll in Newcastle in
1980 - who also directed, co-wrote and co-produced
the flm about a man who split the beer atom
(to give it bubbles) and invented rock ‘n’ roll and
surfng. The flm’s takings of more than $13 million in
Australia still see it sitting at number 15 among the
nation’s all-time successes, coincidentally one spot
behind another movie mostly flmed in the Hunter,
Tomorrow When The War Began.
But while Tomorrow made about $3 million
outside Australia, Young Einstein made more than
$11 million in the US alone, and made number one
in countries including Britain, taking images of
Wollombi valley, Fort Scratchley, Newcastle City Hall
and Newcastle Post Offce around the world.
64. A race of legends
Ken tubman Wins first redex trial:
It is hard to imagine now how completely Redex
Trial fever gripped Australia back in 1953 - 187
cars trying to conquer 10,500 km of murderous
Australian outback, at the time the second-longest
trial ever staged in the world.
Australians hung on every word of newspaper
and radio reports over 14 days as cars driven by
such luminaries as “Gelignite” Jack Murray, Jack
Brabham and radio star Jack Davey, crashed,
rolled, blew up engines, got lost, broke axles, hit
kangaroos, crossed fooded creeks and had crew
members go mad through dust and heat.
At the end of it all the triumphant driver was
a pharmacist from Maitland, Ken Tubman, with
navigator John Marshall, who he had met over a
few beers at Maitland Golf Club, and their Peugeot
203. Amazingly, they won by just 25 seconds after
10,500 kilometres of mayhem.
A sign of the interest in the rally was the crowd
of 50,000 at Sydney Showground to see the cars
off on August 30, with a further 150,00 lining the
streets to Hornsby. By the time Tubman fnished
the race at 11.05 pm on September 12, it had
entered the mythology of automotive history
in Australia. The victory caused a sales rush on
Peugeots, and every new model in Australia was
sold within a week.
Tubman went on to become one of the best
known rally drivers on the world stage, in 1970
winning the second Special World Cup Rally from
London to Munich.
Tubman was a pharmacist in Kurri Kurri before
moving to Maitland in 1952 where he became a
partner in a pharmacy in High St, remaining there
until his retirement in 1982. He died in 1993.
Maitland City Council named Ken Tubman Drive
in his honour in 1988.
Ken Warby, 1978
Andrew Johns, 1993
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