TRIBUTE TO CRAIG ELLIOTT
Before leaving Port Hedland to head home I heard the sad news of the passing of Craig Elliott, from Gracetown. Craig had been fighting a battle with cancer for some time and those who knew him understood just how hard he was fighting. Craig was not one to give in easy, as those who played state level lacrosse with him in his earlier years would no doubt testify.
He was Craigo to me and I Wayno to him, as we lived two doors away from each other for almost thirty years. The friendship was originally forged through our surfing interest and strengthened as our children came along, both of us ‘breeding’ pigeon pairs. Our son and daughter, Jay and Lisa being just a few years older than Craig’s children, Matt and Elise. As inevitably occurs, the kids took up much of our time, I became more of a fishing and boating fanatic, whereas Craig was surfing Lefties right to the end. When renovating our houses we would sometimes yell out to each other from the second storey frames, but for a period of time we socialised and surfed less, especially as Craig spent many years as a fly in fly out worker at Argyle Diamonds.
Craig was a highly intelligent man, very organised, methodical and to be frank, did not tolerate fools lightly. He was extremely passionate about Gracetown and spent many years researching, writing letters, taking photographs and lobbying politicians or shire councillors to facilitate improvements for the area. He always did this quietly and diligently, never seeking any plaudits from the community. I recall many discussions around his kitchen table on big issues such as the Gracetown development and traffic management. As with many long term locals in the area at the time, he was also devastated and greatly affected by the events of the Gracetown Tragedy in 1996.
As we watched our children grow older and move away from The Bay, we knew they would always return as long as we lived there. With Facebook, the kids were able to keep in contact better than we did, so you always had an idea of what was going on, even if you did not catch up as often. I remember the power failure in the dying minutes of the Aussie vs England World Cup Rugby final in 2003. Craig was the only one with a satellite dish at the time, so together we quickly set up a generator, got it all cranked up and people came from everywhere, only to watch Johnny Wilkinson sink all our hopes with a drop goal in extra time.
I remember trying to establish the business in the North West with long periods away from home. Viv would ring about a water pump failure or leaky roof and Craig was my ‘go to’ man, there in an instant, not only to ‘pacify’ Viv, but fix it immediately. Anything to do with machines or handyman jobs, Craig was the guru, bringing his steely determination to make it better than the person you had paid to fix it. On a few occasions, Viv even phoned him to go into the house and turn the iron off that had been left on. Great neighbours who are also great friends are gold in country towns and in that regard Craig was the best ‘nugget’ of them all.
Earlier this year, Craig was a bit down and it prompted me to organise a fishing trip with him and Uhdy. My fondest memory will always be Craig doing a dance on board to the fish gods, picking up the Dhuie I had dropped over the side and smiling broadly between the two landed beauties at the end of the day. Craig’s memory will forever live on through his children, Matt and Elise.
To answer last week’s question, the ‘tag’ function on a VHF marine radio sets which channels are scanned. This week’s question is, “On which date does the demersal fishing season closure commence?”
P.S. The Margaret River VMR Group AGM venue is now at the new Gracetown Facility, 730pm, Wed Oct 5 ( tonight ). All welcome.
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