1974 to 76 – jackeroo (sheep and dairy cattle) What began as occasional fishing trips to a rural property became regular visits & then staying to help on the farm.
‘75 – printer’s assistant My first paid employment. Mainly cleaning ink trays, collating & guillotining.
’77 to ‘79 jackeroo/caretaker (beef cattle & sheep) Back on the farm, i knew enough to help with shearing, fencing, etc & then i became caretaker whenever the farmer’s family went away. Elsewhere, a few months on a 400,000 acre (161,874 hectare) ‘station’ with 60,000 cattle and 20,000 sheep. They gave me a horse, blind in one eye, who would regularly fart and then bolt. He did know a lot more about cattle mustering than i did. Then to a smaller ‘station’, where i learnt to dig telegraph pole holes – 5′ 6″ deep and 3′ wide (1.7 m deep & 0.9 m wide) – with a crowbar and shovel. (Learnt a lot about snakes, too.)
‘77 – yardhand (equipment hire) Actually employed as a ‘counter sales assistant’ – however the dodgy manager put me to work asphalting the storage yard. His (dodgy) truck’s axle broke when i drove it to fetch a load of asphalt & that was the end of that.
‘78 – electricians T/A Installing lighting in a big new shopping mall.
’78 to ’84 – busker (guitar) It took me 90 minutes to simply open the guitar case, the 1st time out. However, from then on i’d always make at least enough to pay for my lunch and that day’s public transport.
‘79 – landscape gardener So, my girlfriend’s dad was developing an old brickworks & attached parkland. Don’t actually remember too much, except operating a backhoe with no brakes and learning greenkeeping.
‘79 – furniture restorer Employed by a ‘colourful’ kiwi. He made a living mostly buying/re-selling 2nd hand goods, which he did attempt to get me doing too. Much of the time i worked restoring junk furniture
‘79 – barman/cellarman the Black Diamond Blues Bar – named after a Groundhogs album. Opened by a special friend in my life, it was big enough to fit a maximum of 100 people but it somehow regularly fitted in a live band as well – it rOcKeD !!! Over several months, i don’t think i was actually ever paid, but i did put in many, many hours practicing right hand rhythms on the edge of the till.
1979 to 2018 musician (guitar) see Scenic Music
‘79-‘84 general hand (horse stud) Crystal Waters Community – now https://crystalwaters.org.au/ . Set up by an ex Dairy Board CEO, there actually were 120 Arab horses there back then. Our days were guided by written ‘spirit messages’ the then owner received while meditating. My sojourns there were regular & lengthy.
‘80 – theatre wardsman A 6 month stint. Half of each workday was wheeling people from and to the wards. The other half was constantly watching every operation in up to 7 theatres, to be ready to wheel patients out and in.
‘80 – sugar chemist An unexpected job opportunity at exactly the right time. A sugar mill’s chemist left mid-season. The interviewer asked if i could use a computer. At high school we’d had an excursion to feed a slip of cardboard into a state of the art computer, to calculate that 2×2 = 4 so, i said “yes, i could”. The job was actually reading numbers on floating glass meters in freshly crushed sugar cane juice, then typing the numbers on a computer keyboard.
’80 to ‘81 – deckhand (prawn trawler) Dawn till dusk, 3 weeks straight. On a 34’ boat (10.4m). Dredging net loads from the ocean floor, destroying and killing everything caught, all for a few boxes of prawns that were immediately snap frozen. ( the trawler broke down on Christmas morning in the middle of the Gulf of Carpentaria – we spent the day catching sharks using prawns for bait, & we were towed back to Queensland on Boxing Day ). I never got paid.
’80 to ’14 – entertainer/performer The list is long & complex and i’m sure i’ve forgotten some… ( e.g. live music, dance music, emcee/host, corporate entertainment, clown, stage performances )
’81 to ‘18 – building renovation This list is even longer…. Do you know how a plasterer finishes a ceiling and makes it look mirror smooth ? Well, i don’t do that.
‘82 – mud renderer A pole home in sub-tropical rainforest. Rendered inside and out.
‘82 – built a cabin At Crystal Waters, mostly alone & without electricity, a split level pole cabin with a suspended (big rope) double bed. Years later, i saw it on television as an example of the Australian Bush (native forest) reclaiming/overgrowing remote structure/s.
’82 – tobacco picker For one day only. Whatever chemical the leaves were sprayed with, it made me itch terribly for many hours afterwards.
’82 – upholsterer’s assistant Nice job. People bring in worn out furniture and you make it as good as new.
’82 to ‘83 – timbermill (various positions) It began as marking logs with their correct species as the trucks brought them in, then work ‘tailing out’ which is simply stacking the timber once it’s been thru the mill, then work de-barking logs ready for the plywood process. Later, i was promoted to ‘pressure-treater operator’, loading stacks of wood into a big tank, then occasionally twiddling taps and knobs for a few hours. There were a lot of books that got read !
‘83 – tree planter After 2 ½ years mostly in the tropics, this job was re-planting a pine forest in the snow. (It was once native forest (the Bush). They cleared over a million hectares. A bushfire destroyed the introduced pine species they planted. What did they do ? Plant pines again.
’83 – surveyor’s assistant Marking out house blocks for a new suburb. It was always amazing how we were correct to within a few millimetres over such large areas, with several complex angles usually involved.
’84 – roof painter. Nice work if you can get it, working on rooves. The view/s are usually rather nice.
’84 – roof cleaning The views were rather nice.
’85 to ‘86 – leading hand (agricultural) Well, that job title actually does accurately fit in many ways….. however – Karnak Beshara was an esoteric school in the rainforest south of the Daintree in Far North Queensland. It’s fairly accurate to say that a 6 month course there was a ‘merging’ of the courses of both Sherborne House and Beshara, both active in Gloucestershire, England, in the early 1970’s. Beshara is now based in Scotland. www.beshara.org Sherborne was established by J G Bennett, who died in 1974. www.jgbennett.org Karnak richly deserves a better synopsis elsewhere here – stay tuned
’86 to ‘87 – freelance photo-journalist Appearance magazine. Later to become Barfly, in Cairns, Queensland. ( this is where the name Wally Turner first came into being )
’86 to ‘87 – estate maintenance manager A large ex-horse riding school was taken over by a real estate developer, who planted many tree saplings soon before an unexpected drought. My job was to find underground water and install an irrigation system. Then i simply needed to move hoses and sprinklers every hour or two.
’87 to ‘88 – souvenir videos (Outer Barrier Reef cruises) What a job ! The 1st video cameras with an inbuilt battery were available. Every day, with millions of dollars worth of ‘state of the art’ aluminium catamaran/s, a pontoon (35 miles/56 kilometers from the coast) and “undersea explorers” – & perhaps over 300 tourists from around the world – my job was to produce a one hour souvenir video ‘of the day’, edited in camera, with narration.
’88 – porter (5 star resort) An eye-opener indeed. Having learnt ‘to be of service’, this became my occupation.
’88 – deckhand (tourist boats) No more than working casually and very occasionally on boats whose crews i was friends with. Small town stuff. There was a great day employed as a “salvage diver”, for a trawler that had lost all their net gear – zero visibility, 40 metres deep – i found the gear.
’88 – taxi/limousine driver The only taxi in town. The limousine – i did drive it a few times, airport drop-offs.
’88 – stagehand (Circus Oz) Well, they did employ me to ‘bump’ in and out (set up & take down the stage gear). After wanting for 15 years to run away with the circus, i saw https://www.circusoz.com/circus-oz/about-circus-oz.html & followed them to their next gig, where everyone would be renewing their contacts. They didn’t offer me anymore work.
’88 to ‘89 – pedicab rider (rickshaw) This began in Brisbane during the World Expo ’88 – where the hills were daunting and the tourists plentiful. Next was in Cairns, 1,600km (1,000 miles) to the north – where there were no hills and far fewer tourists. In Cairns i was fit enough to ride all night, so i did alright.
’88 to ‘91 – camera assistant/soundman Working for advertising & documentary directors – sometimes getting paid.
’88 to ‘92 – signwriter Using photocopied stencils and fine brushes.
’89 – artists’ model Nude model for an artists’ group – thankfully it was in the tropics.
’89 to ‘90 – activities director (island resort) On an 18-35s resort, one of the Crazy Crew ensuring everyone enjoyed their holiday. It took 4 months until i ‘burnt out’ (thanks to the band hired over Christmas/New Year). Twenty years later i was to return to the island for a different occupation (see 2009).
’90 – spruiker A large department store was closing down. My job was to announce ‘red light specials’ over the P.A. all day. Could any job be more boring ? (Possibly a certain bar job years later)
’90 to ’93 – magical juggling clown It began as an idea for busking, became an audition for the opening of a restaurant named Circus Circus, then kept me employed for well over two years. Wally was a silent clown.
’91 – karaoke host A regular gig at an ‘International Hotel’, encouraging people to get up & sing, while also helping them to choose a tune/song.
’92 – white water rafting (videos) Film up to 18 rafts going down a rapid, then jump in an inflatable kayak, paddle past them all, do it again, for 5-6 hours a day, 6 days a week. Only really nearly died just the once. Never got paid.
’92 to ’93 – photos/videos & promotions (AJ Hackett Bungy) In Australia, France & England.
’92 – shop fitting (Wales) A computer shop was undergoing a complex interior rearrangement – all the renovations became my responsibility.
’93 – computer operator (graphics) Same computer shop – they encouraged me to learn what was (back then) all very new software & i was soon e.g. creating poster menu/s for a nearby cafe.
’93 – firebreather Only once. Instant terrible hangover headache (& i do not get hangovers). There was further employment twirling a fire-stick & juggling fire.
’93 to ’94 – barman/musician Two lengthy stints, Portobello Rd, London. Permanent barman – weekends i played there in a band.
’94 – glazier A glasshouse renovation in Scotland.
’94 – display installer (l’Oreal) A job in Germany – installing make-up cabinets in pharmacies and department stores.
’94 – carpenter/builder London – a four story house -complete renovation (incl. the roof).
‘94-’95 sound studio construction Sound proof studio for a movie music composer. Included a sideline soundproofing a TV studio.
’95 – furniture removal Simply that.
’95 – maintenance handyman the UK – self employed in a variety of situations & locations.
’95 – storeman Health food warehouse – weekend work organising and loading stores.
’95 – carpenter/handyman Carpet conservation workshop.
’95 to ’96 – carpenter/builder/roofer Germany – included regular work installing conservatories.
’96 – mud rendering Remove mud render from 350 year old bedroom, mix with new chopped straw and water, take in buckets back to the bedroom and throw the render on the walls (someone else was smoothing it).
’96 – mail sorter (credit cards) London again – 2nd job, evening work.
’97 – plumber Central heating, bathrooms, kitchens, etc
’97 – handyman/landscaper A mansion in Surrey, with a BIG barn & extensive gardens.
’97 – builder/demolition/crane dogman Dresden – a large building site – i was also regularly a translator there.
’98 – garage/shed installer Australia again – steel building construction.
’98 – demolition Two different jobs – 2,500 kilometers or 1,500 miles apart, demolishing banks.
’98 to ’99 – asbestos removal A doddle, yet definitely fraught with danger.
’99 – fitter (motor homes) Preparing fibreglass campervans for the tourist rental market.
’99 – demolition carpenter Working for a large company – they still owe me my superannuation.
’99 – roofer New corrugated iron – working for one of the worst bosses imaginable.
’99 – data input/survey/clerical level II A curious job title for an unusual job. A white van with video cameras at the front, a driver, a computer in the back, & me in the back too. The idea was to video isolated roads/highways to help the relevant government department to prioritise repairs. The driver was a retired army officer. We would arrive at the beginning of a scheduled section of road, set the camera/s & the computer, then he would start to drive – calling out various categories of cracks/potholes as he drove, my job being to use keyboard shortcut keys to enter these into the computer. About 2/5 of the time, the computer would sooner or later crash/freeze, then the driver would have a brief yet major tantrum, then we’d start over again.
’99 – musician Mentioning this, here, because for the 1st time in several years it was my own band again. “Reef Water Wine” – a flute/percussion/guitar trio.
’99 to ’00 – freelance website video/review journalist The 1st criteria was to “video every tourist attraction and most hotels” in Far North Queensland. Then the wet season began & i was asked to write webpage reviews for each video (as somebody else edited them). Nice work if you can get it. The website has now been dismantled.
’99 – performer (themed restaurant) Nightmares. Extraordinarily long story, which did become a nightmare of sorts. My job was to appear as various characters – welcoming, amazing, entertaining, mystifying & delighting customers at a themed restaurant (named Nightmares). Betelgeuse was my particular favourite (Michael Keaton’s creation), and after work one night i stayed in character for the Hookers’ Ball in the nightclub next door – excellent fun!
’99 to ’00 – album reviewer A simple deal – Each week i was given a handful of new CDs. If i wrote a review for any of them, praising or criticising, then i could keep those albums.
’00 – builder/carpenter Self employed for a few years in the UK and France.
’01 – school teacher (3 days) There were 9 kids in the school, seven were away that week – & their permanent teacher.
’03 to 18 – builder/renovator International handyman, that’s me (sometimes)
’07 to ’08 – tourist accommodation manager Norfolk Island – 1,600km (1,000 miles) east of Australia. The island is 5km x 8km (3×5 miles). https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=60&v=28Ej82hLG4k My position was manager of 4 star tourist accommodation, which entailed doing basically everything. Loved the location. Enjoyed the work. The job description ought to have included “listening to awful stories of the bosses’ distasteful behavior every time you meet anyone else on the island”.
’07 to ’17 – caretaking/house-sitting Though i’d often looked after people’s homes/properties before, in 2007 this became a very regular occupation, however rarely i was paid. First solely by word of mouth, later via websites.
’08 – house painter Still on Norfolk Island.
’09 – maintenance carpenter. island resort Back to the Whitsundays, a 5 month house-sit and a new job where i’d worked 20 years before.
’09 – maintenance manager. island resort A long story. The existing manager was fired NBO (next boat out). The resort manager asked me to accept the role. I agreed on the proviso that i was allocated certain accommodation. Then i took a fortnight’s holiday (another house-sit) & during that time my accommodation was allocated to someone else – i resigned.
’12-’13 manager – rainforest retreat/seminar venue A good job which was going very well, then one weekend the big bosses announced that they’d run out of money, could i finish the following Friday. So, i went to Istanbul.
’13 to ’15 English teacher Istanbul. Thankfully, the Turks new much more English grammar than me (virtually none). However, they mostly had virtually no speaking practise & with this i could be of much help.