Bill McLaren: a link to our past | tribute

Familiar pose: Bill McLaren was renowned for his work in relocated native animals, particularly snakes.

Familiar pose: Bill McLaren was renowned for his work in relocated native animals, particularly snakes.

The McLaren family stretches back to 1826 and involves some of Port Macquarie’s earliest history, including the beginnings of the oyster industry.

Bill McLaren was one of those links to our past. He passed away on August 22, 2017.

He was aged 81 years. He leaves a legacy of recorded history, model boats, stationary and outboard engines for his family to deal with.

Bill was born in the family home in Waugh Street, Port Macquarie on November 10, 1935 delivered by his uncle Dr Nicol McLaren. He was the youngest of five children born to Mary and Dick McLaren, having four sisters Lois, Gwen Elaine and Fay.

He became a scout cub at seven years old, then Sea Scouts until he was in his 20s. He was also prominent in church circles at St Thomas’ as a church warden. He was also, for many years, responsible for ‘pumping’ the church organ.

His first job was with the Forestry Commission in Wauchope for ten years. He married Barbara Southey on January 3, 1959. They were married for almost 59 years.

He transferred to the Department of Main Roads as a pay clerk until 1964, then his love of fishing and the water saw him take on his father’s oyster leases.

Due to a back injury in 1954 caused by a Bren gun being dropped on him during National Service training, he was forced to retire from working on the oyster lease in 1980.

He turned to community work joining the SES as an assistant flood controller for the Hastings area. During many floods he towed caravans from parks to high ground.

Many fishing trips were enjoyed with mates and family and saw competitions for the largest and most fish caught.

Bill’s love of the outback took the family caravanning on many shooting, fishing and cray bobbing expeditions, so many a meal of fish, craybobs, wild pig, kangaroo, emu, rabbit, duck and emu eggs were enjoyed. Also many pet lambs, piglets and more were brought home to the menagerie.

Bill was a historian especially with boats, local and family history.

Racing speed boats, go carts and bicycles were a special love, then onto vintage boats, cars and tinkering on old outboard and stationary engines which filled a 30 foot carport and double garage.

Bill was a historian especially with boats, local and family history.

Many years were spent with the Maritime Museum, Douglas Vale historic Homestead and FAWNA.

Bill was the local snake catcher relocating many snakes, bringing some home only to be locked out of the house by Barbara.

He rescued many birds and animals bringing them home for Barbara to rehabilitate and then releasing them.

Bill and Barbara traveled many miles to take part in old boat regattas in their trusty wooden clinker boat ‘MelKirDan’ – named after the grandchildren Daniel, Kirra and Melanie. They went from Bribie Island, Lake Macquarie, Sydney Harbour, Eucha and Goolwa.

Bill was instrumental in running ten old boat regattas in the Port Macquarie area with more than 30 vintage boats attending each regatta.

Bill McLaren was known to love a joke and was respected by everyone who knew him.

He will be missed by his family, including wife Barbara and daughters Sue Garrett and Wendy McLaren, his grandchildren Daniel Garrett, Kirra McLaren and Melanie Cooper, his great grandchildren Jade, Joshua, Sonny, Avayah, Tilly, Imahni and Levi and many friends.


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