Home' Hunter Its People : Hunter-Glory Days June 2012 Contents THE HUNTER
John Cootes, 1970
90. Shark attack spawns
Merewether first surf life saver: DeceMber,
Kurri Kurri coalminer Edward Nolan almost certainly wished the
“honour” hadn’t fallen to him, but he was the man responsible
for the setting up of the Hunter’s frst surf life saving club,
Nolan was swimming in the area known as “Ladies” when he
was attacked by a shark in October, 1907, and although he survived
he had his arm torn off. The attack provided the impetus for the
setting up of Merewether on December 16, 1907, quickly followed
by Newcastle in January, 1908, fve days later Stockton, then
Newcastle South, renamed Cooks Hill in 1911. These four clubs were
the foundation members of the Northern District Surf Bathing
Association when it was formed in 1918, now the Hunter Branch of
the SLSA, which has 13 clubs stretching from Tea Gardens-Hawks
Nest in the north to Catherine Hill Bay in the south.
It has been estimated that since 1907 more than 30,000 people
owe their lives to Hunter district life savers.
Surf life saving in the Hunter is also responsible for another
service that has grown into a Hunter icon, the Westpac Rescue
The service began in 1975 as part of the life-saving movement
dedicated solely to surf rescue and coastal observation during
summer months, but by 1981 it had begun 24-hour-a-day, year-
round operations, and separated from surf life saving in 1991.
It is now a world-class aeromedical search and rescue
operation that operates four aircraft, undertaking more than
1400 missions each year across the Hunter, New England, North
West, Central Coast and Mid-North Coast regions. The area covers
approximately 132,000 square kilometers and includes 1.2 million
people, and on the back of community support, no-one has ever
had to pay to be airlifted from an emergency.
91. It's official:
A water-skiing legend
bruce cockburn naMeD legenD of his sport:
The winner of Australia’s frst individual gold medal at a world trick
water-ski championship, at Copenhagen in 1969, Charlestown’s
Bruce Cockburn was inducted into the Australian Water Ski and
Wakeboard Federation Hall of Fame in March last year - and named
an offcial legend of the sport.
Cockburn dominated Australian water skiing in the 1970s and
represented Australia at world championships from 1968 to
1977, adding two silver medals to his gold. He won the NSW and
Australian men’s opens from 1969 to 1976, with injury breaking
his run in 1977, and won the tricks eight times, the jump seven
times and the slalom four times at the Australian titles from 1967
to 1979. With water skiing one of two demonstration sports at the
1972 Olympics in Munich, Cockburn competed to be seventh in
men’s slalom, fourth in fgure skiing and ffth in the jump. He was
inducted into the Australian Sports Hall of Fame in 1985 and in
1996 the International Water Skiing Hall of Fame.
At the same ceremony where Cockburn was named a legend,
Garry Barton was inducted into the hall of fame. The Hunter
barefoot skier was an Australian and world pioneer of his sport
and from 1967 to 1972 was recognised as number one in the world.
He was the Australian overall barefoot champion in 1969 and 1970
to 1972 and has been an international coach for countries including
USA, Canada, Italy and Sweden. He was Australian team coach in
Lake Macquarie’s Peter Wellham is another bare-foot skier who
won the world jump title in Canberra in 1984, during the 1980s
held four world records and was rated in the top 10 in the world
from 1982 to 1994.
92. Masters of the wind
nathan outteriDge wins worlD title after
breaking back: January, 2008
Wangi sailor Nathan Outteridge was on his way to the top. The
winner of three consecutive junior world sailing titles in 2002,
2003 and 2004, it was obvious he was going to be one of the
Then, in January, 2005, the 19-year-old was driving to
Melbourne to race when his car hit a tree near Albury. His back
was broken. There were doubts he would ever
walk again, let alone sail. There was a nine-hour
operation, a month in bed, a body brace from hip
to shoulder for three months, then learning to walk
again. It took the best part of a year to get back on
Two years later, in 2008, he won his frst 49er
class world sailing title. Next year he won it again.
And again in 2011, the same year he won the
world title in the Moth class. And again this year,
becoming the frst person to win four 49er world
crowns. Five world titles. Rarely has a comback
been so complete, so glorious.
But the fates can be cruel as well as kind.
Wedged between his world titles was the 2008
Beijing Olympics where he and crewmate Ben
Austin were racing their 49er for gold, and just
300 metres from the fnish of the last race they
capsized, the gold ripped from their grasp.
Outteridge will get the chance to atone for that
catastrophe when he and new crew Iain Jensen
start as strong favourites in the 49er class at next
month’s London Olympics.
While world champions are usually something of
a rarity, at Lake Maquarie there seems to be one
hanging off every mooring.
The Australian Yachtsman of the Year in 1993/94,
Chris Nicholson is another remarkable success
story. He has won three 49er world titles (1997, ’98,
’99), plus three 505 world championships, as well as
being a two-time Olympian and skipper of around
the world racing yachts.
Other sailing world champions from the Hunter
include Outteridge’s 49er crew Ben Austin, Chris
Nicholson’s brother Darren, Jacqueline Ellis, Dean
Blatchford, Gary Bruniges, Glenn Coulton and Doug
93. The store,
by any name
newcastle co-operative opens:
Its offcial name may have been the Newcastle
and Suburban Co-operative Society Ltd, but to
generations of Hunter people, it was simply “The
First opened on August 13, 1898, in rented
premises with two employees, The Store became
the largest retail co-operative in the southern
hemisphere, saw the Hunter through two world
wars and the Great Depression and had a
stranglehold on Newcastle retail until the 1960s.
At its peak in the 1970s it had almost 100,000
members - an estimated one in four Hunter
families were represented - 1450 employees, 15
retail outlets and 11 service stations.
Its Christmas window displays and procession
foats were legendary, and at “divvy” times - it
paid a dividend back to its members in April and
October each year - police had to be called to direct
traffc around its Hunter St West headquarters
as 10,000 to 12,000 people would go through the
store in a day.
The Store was a huge concern. It sold food,
clothing, hardware, furniture, home-delivered
groceries, fruit and vegetables, bread and milk - in
early days by horse and cart, having a stable of
150 horses at one stage - owned what was at one
time the biggest bakery in Australia, had a catering
service, lottery offces, barber shop, travel service,
hospital, medical and funeral funds, insurance
company and credit union, service stations, ran
social clubs, sporting clubs, held an annual ball
and its Store on Stage theatrical group raised big
money for Hunter charities.
With the rise of suburban supermarkets and
a drop in interest in the co-operative ethos, the
83-year-old enterprise closed on Friday, April 10,
fr John cootes Debuts for
australia: June, 1969
An immediate personality because of his calling,
Fr John Cootes became the frst Roman Catholic
priest to play international rugby league when he
was selected for Australia’s tour of New Zealand
in 1969, making his Test debut against the Kiwis on
June 1 and scoring a try in Australia’s 20-10 victory.
Selected for Australia from Western Suburbs,
Newcastle, he went on to play seven Tests in
1969 and ’70, scoring six tries. His last match for
Australia was the fnal of the 1970 World Cup,
considered one of the most violent matches in
league history, where he scored a try in Australia’s
12-7 victory over Great Britain.
Maitland-born and Newcastle educated, Cootes
played rugby union for Lazio in Italy in 1966 while
he was studying theology in Rome. On his return
to Newcastle he began playing league for Wests
in 1967, scoring three tries in their 1970 grand
fnal win over Maitland. By the time he fnished
playing in 1973 he had represented Newcastle,
NSW Country, NSW and Australia and won Country
Player of the Year in 1969.
Eventually Cootes left the priesthood, opened
a chain of furniture stores and became a sports
commentator, in 1979 replacing John Singleton as
host of Channel 10’s Saturday Night Live program.
He is still managing director of John Cootes
Furniture Warehouses and lives in Newcastle.
95. The show must
hunter’s first agricultural show:
Agricultural shows have always been a big social
occasion in the Hunter, and in the mid 1800s when
Maitland was the major settlement in the region,
agriculture was of prime importance.
In 1843 the Hunter River Agricultural Association
was formed and its frst livestock and agriculture
show was at West Maitland’s Albion Inn in May,
1844, with a schedule that included wine, tobacco,
wheat, cattle, sheep and pigs. Shows were held
annually until 1847 when the association folded,
and it wasn’t until 1859 that the Hunter River
Agricultural and Horticultural Association was
reconstituted, believed to be the oldest continuing
regional agricultural association on mainland
Compared to Maitland, Newcastle’s show is a
newcomer, debuting on May 17, 1902.
The Newcastle Morning Herald of the day
headlined the show as “a splendid success” and
said “the attendance was very large, the exhibits
varied and interesting and the display of live stock
The Store, 1903
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