Farewell to Graham

GRAHAM John Mack, also known as Macca, Mr Mack or CC, was born in Richmond, Victoria, on September 11, 1944, the eldest son of Jack and Gwenneth Mack.

He grew up with his two younger brothers, Doug and John.

Living on the family farm and attending Ungarie Primary School, the boys had to do all the normal chores that fell to country boys.

On one occasion, Graham and Doug had to paint the water tank with tar, and Graham decided it would be a good idea to give himself a coating.

His mother then had to spend ages washing him in kerosene. It was a miracle that he went on to father five children.

Once when his mum and dad were away, Graham had some mates over for a night’s entertainment.

Later in the night somebody spotted bright eyes in the long grass.

The fox was quickly dispatched in a flurry of gunfire from the young sharp-shooters. Morning revealed the bullet riddled body of Mum’s cat, oops.

Graham later attended Yanco Agricultural College as a boarder but this experience did not produce any fond memories and he was only too pleased to go back to the farm.

Returning home, he worked around the area doing seasonal work for a few years.

Then the opportunity arose to move to Sydney and he jumped at the chance.

He worked at various jobs, including driving a truck and delivering coke – not the black stuff you drink but the black stuff you used to put in the fire in the olden days.

While in Sydney, Graham boarded with his father’s sister, Aunty Eileen, who became a second mother to both Graham and later his wife, Lois, and a grandmother to their children – Daniel, Rebecca, Erin Grace, Lucas and Aaron.

Many times, while living there, Graham was returning from a night out at the same time that Aunty Eileen was getting up to prepare breakfast.

He organised his life so well, that he moved Lois into a boarding house across the road from Aunty Eileen’s.

For the first week he walked her home, the second week he watched from the front gate while she crossed the road. From then on he just waved goodbye.

He met Lois, the love of his life, in 1970 and she became the child bride on May 6, 1972.

The residences of the young Mack family quickly became a meeting place of all their young mates: Drummond, Barney, Squirt, Louie, Biff, Quinney, Laurie, Snorey, Beaver, Sav and Good-O.

These are friendships that have stood the test of time, some from more than 40 years.

Friends he made as a young man continue to be in contact, although separated by long distances.

All of these friends were proud to call him a mate.

Some of them travelled great distances to honour and farewell him: Louie from Brisbane, Laurie and Jenny from the Gold Coast, Snorey from Ballina, Quinney from NSW Central Coast, Shirley and Howard from Harden and Porly and Lynne all the way from Bog Hollow.

As a young man, his passion for motorbikes began and this continued as a life–long passion.

During the years he was the proud owner of a Triumph, Honda 500, Honda 750 and lastly an 1100 Yamaha.

Fondly remembered were many trips to Cullen Bullen and Tooma.

Riding near Tooma once, talking to Drummond and Snorey, his front wheel got caught in a rut in the dirt road that steered him off the road and down a hill into the scrub.

He was proud of the fact that he never dropped the bike and he never stopped talking, although some of the conversation cannot be repeated.

When on trips away, his Super8 movie camera was never far away, he obviously fancied himself as a Stephen Spielberg.

Once, in an attempt to get some great action shots, Graham and Lois lay down in the middle of the road with the camera at ground level.

Four mates rode their bikes up the hill straight at the camera, peeling off at the last minute.

Then they rode back downhill cutting across in front of the camera – great action.

Wait a minute! I can hear another engine! Doesn’t sound like a bike!

Realisation that coming down the hill towards the still-prone cameraman was a truck!

Quick, evasive action was needed and a cool drink or two required to calm the nervous cameraman and his assistant.

Family holidays, sometimes with the caravan, always with the camera, included trips to Green Patch, the Snowy Mountains, South West Rocks, Golden Gully and St Alban’s.

Many a day was spent bushwalking in national parks, including a three-day walk on the famous Six-Foot Track in the Blue Mountains.

Green Patch was the scene of Bec’s infamous bird-feeding, when she was too scared to have the lorikeets feeding off her hand.

She had to crouch down while Dad covered her with a beach towel and sprinkled bird seed over it. The birds seemed to enjoy their moving, squealing feed table.

After spending many years in Sydney, 16 of them working for Reckitt and Coleman, and living at Ashfield, Guildford, Westmead and Greystanes, Graham and Lois packed up the family in 1988 and moved from Sydney to Yangan – from one bustling metropolis to another.

The family then spent 16 years at Yangan Cash and Carry; a seven-day-a-week business that meant the whole family could not go on holidays together.

Christmas Day and Good Friday became their rostered days off.

It is amazing how many happy memories they packed into 24 hours of precious family time.

His escapes from the shop included his 13 years as a proud supporter of Warwick Rugby Union Club, the Water Rats.

Graham served the club in many capacities including treasurer and team manager.

To this day, many young men of Warwick still refer to him as Mr Mack.

Some of the road trips with the Water Rats are still spoken of in awe.

A career highlight came late in life when he became a semi-trailer driver, at first carting swingers and squealers in an old Volvo he affectionately called Milo.

When asked why, he replied “because it’s not Quik”.

Graham’s last employment was with Wickham Freight Lines and he took great pride in this and thoroughly enjoyed his time with them.

He got great satisfaction from this job and often referred to it as “being paid for a hobby”.

As a father and husband, Graham was kind and generous, always offering support to his family.

He was a man who made sure his family was taken care of, even if it meant he had to sacrifice something important to him.

He is extremely proud of their achievements.

His children have all learnt that “Dad was young once” and did a lot of the things they have tried to get away with.

The Spud Cannon made by Aaron and his mates was discovered by Graham, who immediately suggested improvements to make the thing more dangerous than it already was.

Graham’s second son, Lucas Graham, gave him great delight when he became a husband and father, presenting the world with a daughter.

She was a granddaughter for Graham to cherish, soon to be followed by a sibling who would carry on the family name.

On a recent trip helping his son, Daniel, to move house, they were trapped by floodwaters at Dingo.

After the long and harrowing drive battling floods all the way, Graham was exhausted and just slept where he sat on the lounge at the truck stop.

A total stranger noticed him and remarked to Daniel “they don’t make them like that any more”.

Graham was enormously proud of the men and woman he has gently moulded his children to become.

Let us remember, above all, a man to whom his family meant everything.

Lois and their children and grandchildren were constantly in his thoughts as they should be in our thoughts as we say farewell to “a good bloke”.

He has gone to be with his daughter, Erin Grace, who has waited a long time for a cuddle from Daddy.

Rest in Peace.

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