FitzSimons yarns with Port Macquarie

FORMER Wallaby lock turned author and journalist Peter Fitzsimons brought his trademark red bandana to Rydges yesterday to captivate an audience with stories from his playing days and off the field.

Fitzsimons was in town for an Enterprise Training Company business breakfast, and spun tales freely about a variety of 

subjects.

He played just the seven Tests for Australia, and never scored a try, but Fitzsimons prefers to look at his career a different way.

“I’d much prefer to say David Campese and I played 108 Tests between us,” he said.

“I’d like to think I would have played more bar for a very bad personality clash I had with one [former coach] Alan Jones.”

He also clashed with officials. Fitzsimons’ unique achievement is being one of just two Aussies to be sent off in a Test against the All Blacks.

“I stand before you as one who has suffered his fair share at the hands of referees,” he said.

A good friend and former rugby teammate of Port Macquarie-Hastings mayor Peter Besseling, he first came to Port Macquarie in 2000 to interview French resistance fighter Nancy Wake.

“She was this amazing woman,” Fitzsimons said.

“Basically, she was a modern-day Joan of Arc. An extraordinary woman.”

He met her on April 13, 2000, but he said it could have been the same day in 1946.

“It was like the Second World War was just over,” he said.

“I had this 89-year-old lady showing me a bayonet scar from her right wrist down to her right elbow that she’d got from a German soldier.

“And she’d killed him for his trouble.”

He also touched on the business theme of the morning.

“I love that thing where you start from nowhere, you build it up and it all goes well,” he said.

“I’d love to be standing here with a far better business resume than I actually do.”

He was recognised in the 2011 Queen’s birthday honours list, as a member in the general division, for his services to literature.

In a generous gesture, the red bandana man donated $10 from each of yesterday’s sales of his book, Eureka: The Unfinished Revolution, to the Red Shield Appeal.

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