Jim Schwalbach Morrow 2
Hi guys! I ended up doing five years in, and consider myself very lucky, every ship I drafted to (Melbourne, Melbourne, Melbourne, ad infinitum.) immediately untied itself the minute I stepped (or was carried) over the gangway and sailed jauntily overseas. I spent more time tied up in the bedroom than my ships spent tied up alongside. For a while I thought I was a cruise ship passenger, a total surprise then when I was told I was supposed to work and the men in the nice white uniforms weren’t the serving staff. Not many shore postings and even then I’m sure one of them went to Olongapo for a month. My best was Harmen in the ACT, my job was on the top secret communications equipment; I had to ensure they had seed and open up the coop so they could have a fly around.
I was injured (mascara ran and chipped a nail, a horrible day) in Cyclone Tracey in ’74 and had to get medevaced out to Penguin. A year and a few operations later I got out finally having reached the lofty heights being promoted to Archbishop. The idea? Work on newfangled things called computers, but I never made it.
The weekend I got out I met an instructor in a programme for Corrective Services in NSW.
Before pussers my sports were rock climbing, caving, bush-walking and so on. I was offered a job as their rock climbing instructor and spent years dragging eight crims at a time through every scrap of bush all over the state. It was a great job, very physical and demanding. It was also a little risky, stabbed once, beaten up twice and bludgeoned unconscious three times, and that was the other instructors at a Christmas party. To add a little fun we also were part of the Riot / SWAS teams; we worked on the big Long Bay Christmas riots of ’78 and ’79 (I think). My job was to get the teams over the walls and as a shooter, taking down the ones trying to climb out of the goal in the confusion. The rule was a warning shot to the head, then politely ask them to stop.
When the programme closed I did NSW Bush Search and Rescue and spent a long time again tramping through the bush, on cliffs and so on helping the stupid get home. Or into a wood box if they were terminally dumb. There is surprisingly a lot of them out there, though numbers do tend to self-regulate in a downward direction.
I started my own business doing school camps for up to 250 kids during the week and adult groups on weekends. Shaky at first as I have the business sense of slightly soiled Y fronts, however, it soon became successful despite my efforts and a great time in my life. Started white water rafting guiding doing big rivers such as the Franklin in Tas, Herbert in Qld and Nymboida/Gwyder in NSW.
I sold the business and; Bored! Joined Australian Himalayan Expeditions looking after their gear worldwide and acting as trouble shooter, if we had a problem in Nepal it was my job to fix, usually by creating a bigger mess in Peru, then covering that by organising a disaster in Pakistan, soon hidden by the coup in Bolivia. Spent more time on planes than on my wife (No 1). The wife wasn't as comfortable and the airlines did supply better quality meals and alcohol, went through a large passport once a year, sometimes I used mine. Travel certainly broadens the mind, mine expanded to encompass duty free bourbon and cigarettes and is still expanding. The way to tell if you are travelling too much is being recognised by customs on your way through Sydney airport, though it turned out to be my Dad.
I had developed a good rep in the business and set out freelance guiding outdoor adventure tours around the world. Moving to Thailand I started a climbing school at Aow Phranang (Princess Beach) in the SW near Phuket as home base. Good choice, as it‘s a nude beach for backpackers. Divorced wife No.3 and as then for years I only went out with girls that I'd first met on the beach. Spent six months of the year off somewhere else working on contact. Worked mostly in Nepal as a trekking/mountaineering/rafting guide, but also worked in India, Tibet, Pakistan and Mongolia (once) also contracted to a yank company doing special tours finding rare snow leopards, saw two in about fifteen treks, one was about two k's away behind a ridge and the other wasn't as convenient. I travelled more in this job than pussers, worked in the U.S. climbing, rafting and ski touring, the Sub-continent, China, South America, Asia and in the Antarctic stopping scientific parties going into crevasses by showing remarkable restraint every time they pissed me off. Yes I know it’s a blizzard and visibility is down to 3 inches with 100 mph winds, but surely you’re paid to get us across the crevasses, tottering ice towers and avalanches as we haven’t had a shower in two days!
My time in Thailand came to end when the cliff I was climbing on decided gravity wins after all and fell down with me attached to it. Luckily after 10 meters I was stopped from going any further when my head was introduced to some large, hard rocks. Fortunately there was no damage to the rocks, though I was pretty stuffed. 3 years of rehab before I could work again, though the drooling and gibbering continue. My first job after; teaching climbing in the Blue Mountains.
Married no. 4 and been up here in Cairns for a few years now, but not long ago all the operations done in Penguin fell apart and I am now TPI from Vets Affairs and retired. If any of you blokes had surgery at Penquin you know it was the finest care lack of money could not buy. To qualify the doctors had to be able to spell MD, with only 4 attempts allowed. The original ops were done by Naval surgeons, they might have been OK at navels but shouldn’t have been allowed to touch any other part of the body, especially mine. The specialist up here reckoned the surgeries were done by a moonlighting drunk dentist with palsy and hiccups. In the dark, on a bad day.
I still do a bit out and about, I run a backpackers sharehouse and take the guests out into the bush whenever they're interested, if not I do a lot of solo trips. About once a month do rare animal tours searching for tree kangaroos and other amazing stuff, and for the last 20 years have been fire dancing and have a troupe of four girls that do shows in clubs, weddings, at parties and so on. Funnily enough, never done a cremation! Now, due to my health, my role is really to supervise the shows, keep em safe and drink as many of the free drinks as possible.
Now I only perform at one charity show each week at one of the local Backpacker hostels. From the money raised we built and staffed a school in a small Nepalese Village and then built an orphanage. The day before the kids were due to move in the big earthquake hit and it all fell down, it has been rebuilt and the kids back in the orphanage . It’s probably the thing outside family I am most proud of. I discovered late in life a talent for drawing and have been doing well selling everything I draw to art conna, conesu, people who like pictures, as long as they fit the criteria, ie; have big wallets/small brains.
I have had a great life, and there is only two things I would change; choices of wives who all wanted me to settle down, er, no! And that bad habit of waking up in some shithole third world hospital desperately trying to remember who I am and covered in plaster could bugger off as well.
The best thing I have ever achieved though is my daughter and only child, she is seven and a great kid, alas, she lives in England with her Mum (No 4), so contact isn’t as often as I like.
I have a Facebook page; Jims Sharehouse S, if you want to see more of what I am up to now, and of course if anyone from the 34th (even you Marks blokes if you have learnt how to use a knife and fork and promise not to molest the cats) are welcome to stop over with me in Cairns if you want a holiday in the glorious tropics. Bring Bourbon.