Robert Speight H45
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undercon.gif (293 bytes)Awaiting reminisces.
Bob's brother Peter sent an informative email on Bob's behalf earlier in the year, but Bob has now recovered from his carpal tunnel operation and can not only type, but now has his own computer on the net.  Bob writes in an email dated 21NOV2000:

My sincere apologies for not getting to this sooner, but letter writing is not high on my list of skills these days.  I  have only recently purchased my first computer and the learning process is extremely slow.  I have read many of the stories on your ATS web site and they are all very interesting and varied.  I feel I should add my bit to the exercise seeing as so many others have made the effort.  I have a photo here somewhere which I shall post to you as I don't have scanning facilities.  

I left WRE about two weeks after receiving my indentures and returned to my home town of Renmark where I worked on the fruit harvest for several months.  I then found a job as a welder with a local engineering firm who were the pioneers in the houseboat industry both from a building and operating perspective.  The tourist industry was the target for this industry and many enjoyable times were spent on boats over the nine years I was there.

In 1968 I married my wife Diana (recently celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary) and we have two daughters, Cindy 29 and Mandy 26.  Currently we have four grand children - two boys and two girls all living locally, the eldest being five years.  

We had a big flood in the Murray River in 1974 and the houseboats literally wore me thin by the end so I started my own engineering business in early 1975.  Initially I was building complete houseboats until the demand for the aluminium pontoons we were making became so great, we specialised only in pontoons for some ten years or so.  

I built my own factory in Renmark and employed several welders and apprentices throughout these busy years. Apprentices then were just as much a pain as I guess we were, but smoking pot was not high on activities at WRE like it seemed to be with my lads.  Eventually high interest rates slowed the houseboat industry down and I wound my business back to a more sedate level and decided to get rid of as much stress as possible.  This meant reducing staff to leave only me and no one else to argue with.  

For the past ten or twelve years, I have been building aluminium punts and dinghies on my own and still enjoy the work today.  My brand name is RIVERMATE and they are mostly marketed locally in SA and in Mildura in Victoria.  Occasionally I have to visit Adelaide on business and generally it's only a one day trip which is enough to last me for a few months.  I guess the country blood is still as strong as ever.  

Leisure activities these days are involved with travelling around various parts of Australia in our Nissan Patrol, towing an off-road camper trailer & boat wherever possible.  I try for two months at a time usually in winter and have found some wonderful places off the beaten track. The Kimberley region of W.A. and the top end of N.T. are great places to visit and forget the rest of the world exists for a few weeks.  

Complete retirement is not high on my list of priorities at present as I'm having a pretty good mix of work and play at the moment.  I am looking forward to the reunion in January, and if it's anything like last time, it will be a great event.  See you all there.

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