This sucessful reunion was held at the Navy Club, 64 High Street Fremantle

Perth Western Australia

Roy and I prior to reunion during advertising (photo for paper)
A good night - well worth it - us in wind down mode :)

Ladies and Gentlemen, for those that attended the reunion you will know what a great time we had, for those that couldn't make it you missed out on a really great night. The night was full of fun, memories and believe it or not tears, even your Capt'n got a lump in his throat when finally after 28 years I was finally reunited with Brian, my ship mate buddy. We were both 10yrs of age and spent 4 weeks together exploring the ship, and finally I met up with him and his family again.

After 9 months in the planning 128 people attended the reunion at least some 6 or so coming from as far as the Eastern States, and to set the scene Roy dressed as a Chief Steward, with myself taking the honours of been Captain for the evening. Our everso helpful wives Margaret and Maria dressed as Chandris Cruise directors, and were fantastic at running the boarding pass check in area, souvenir shop, and assisting in the catering.

Australis Reunion crew - Chief Steward Roy Stevens, Cruise Directors Margaret Stevens Maria Byrne and your captain Darren Byrne

The Captain Darren Byrne during a speech

The evening started at around 4.00pm when our guests all started arriving, all 128 people within a 30 min time slot. Our wives Maria Byrne and Margaret Stevens were kept busy whilst Roy and I tried our best to welcome all aboard by standing near the entry point. Wearing our officers uniforms and myself wearing my prized piece of memorabilia a Chandris lines Officers cap, Just seeing us in our uniforms and the ladies in theirs was enough to get people into the swing of things and getting in the mood for a wonderful time. At approximately 4.45pm the formalities began with Roy welcoming all the people to the reunion, with special mention to those coming from the Eastern States. Patrica O'Brien-Price and Julie Mullins were actually ex crew (stewardess's and they made the trip from the Northern Territory and Victoria). All embarking passengers were given a souvenir "seascape" magazine that was a close to the real thing as possible as I had used graphics of the original seascapes. The rear of the Seascapes named all 128 passengers that attended.

Ex Crew Patricia O'Brien Price and Julie Mullins with myself and Roy
Roy and Margaret near the souvenir shop

Tables and chairs soon filled and whilst guests waited for the official opening they helped themselves to the bar and sat back and either chatted or watched the huge powerpoint display slowly looping through many pictures of the ship both externally and internally. Some browsed our souvenir "shop" securing their mementos of this wonderful occasion, incidentally if you would like to purchase some left over stock please see the link at the top of this page.

Many people gathered around the cabinet and tables displaying my memorabilia. The Chandris lines pennant was pinned up and proudly again flew for passengers of the Australis.

At approximately 5.00pm Roy opened the ceremony by welcoming all the people attending and after introducing the crew he gave a brief outline of the evenings events.

Then it was my turn, a little nervous at first as there were 128 people focused to the front. I opened by again welcoming and thanking all. Approximately 20mins of my speech was to do with my trip and getting the interaction of a few passengers. All supported by a few pictures projected onto the screen. I soon was made at ease as the passengers were getting involved, some laughed, some reminisced some even had a tear to their eye. They found my story and small injection of " comedy " amusing. At this point I began by saying that I explored the ship with my friend who was 10 at the time, I showed a picture of us at the dining table and related some stories that Brian and I got up to. I then advised everyone that through this reunion and for the first time in 28 years I had finally caught up with Brian and he was here this evening. To around of applause I welcomed Brian to the front and we "officially reunited" in front of all the people.

Brian Ward (far left), sister Lesley, Dad Brian (snr) and me on the right on the ss Australis - Feb 1976
Reunited after 28 years - Brian Ward and Darren Byrne

Afterwards I went into explaining my passion for the ship and talking through my memorabilia and web page. I played a recording of the ships announcement bell which was supplied to me by Mike Machin, taken in June 1968 boy did they all think that was great, again giving a huge round of applause.

My final close was the showing of a video that had everyone laughing. It was a movie supplied by Steve Mullis of the Australis at sea taken from the Fairsky in 1975. Australis's smoke was seen before the ship was and what an environmental disaster everyone could not believe how bad it really was. Following that was a small video movie I had sent over of the American Star Wreck taken 9th August 2004 taken by Simon Perry of UK and those not knowing the fate of the Australis, wonderd how the ship got to where it was. I promised them all that it would all be revealed within my history speech.

Roy then took Chandris Capers, a nice little interaction time with passengers, with the help of Roy passengers were brought to the front to have their little moment relating their experiences on the ship. All the stories related were either amusing or interesting in fact one person Dimitrios Floros (ex crew) related his experience meeting with Kathy (his now wife). He had planned to jump ship on two occasions and was placed in the brig during Australian port visits. However on his third trip and now on the Australis he jumped ship in Fremantle (everything is now legal) but that was the type of stories that we were having.

 

passengers enjoying themselves
Listening to one of the many interesting speeches note the blue and white balloons

From there we had a break and the caterers brought out the food, even the captain got his hands dirty and started taking platters of food around to our guests, the food was fantastic and plentiful. Been caught up in the proceedings the crew didn't get a chance to eat (well I know I didn't) and although there was food left over I simply couldn't eat there was so much happening.

After the break we had a 30 minute history talk on the ship presented by myself again with the aid of the power point presentation. Although this may sound boring, those that have read the history on this website will agree it is a story that simply needs to be told and again the passengers were very interested in this presentation.

Throughout the evening music was played which was all of the era of the 60's and 70's and many people told me it was a good choice of music, even my long lost pal Brian played a song on his guitar "theres a ship that lies in the harbour" Roger whittaker and "sailing" again to around of applause.

Then we had a bunch of people doing the Zorba dance, it was an absolutely fantastic night.

Brian and his wife Jenny bring back fond memories

Raffle tickets were purchased during the evening and at around 8.30pm Roy gained everyones attention and the raffle was drawn by two ex crew Patricia O'Brien Price and Julie Mullins that came from the Eastern States and NT.

The first prize which was a copy of Larry Driscolls book on the Australis (as advertised in this site) went to Raymond Joy of Currambine. The most nostalgic part of this was that Raymond was on the maiden voyage of the ship and he was extremely happy he had won this book; I even noted a tear in his eyes as he came forward to accept the book from Roy and I. Second prize was a collection of stubby holders and a key ring with third and forth prize been a framed souvenir print that was part of our souvenir stall.

I then officially closed the reunion by thanking all those concerned and wished everyone bon voyage, we then relaxed and drank, and talked. In the background a documentary on the ship ran which had most people interested.

All up is was a bloody good night, Roy and I were ecstatic on how well it ran and how everyone was enjoying themselves. We continually had people coming up thanking us for a great evening. After the reunion I received emails and phone calls and you can read some of these comments at the comments link. Two days later I was still on a high........

My only personal regret for the evening was that I am so disappointed that I did not get chance to talk to everyone, and those that I did it was only brief. I would love to have spoken with everyone and listened to their stories and personally thank them for coming, however with 128 guests even just 2 minutes each that’s 256 minutes, which is just over 4 hrs, and time did not permit me. Many people brought in their memories and stories and photos, and I would have loved to have read through them and see their photos.

So when's the next one you ask ? well this one took us 9 months to plan, I would be interested in doing another, perhaps Roy would be interested as well, but we both agree it would need to be in at least 2 - 5 years time.

I personally would like to thank all those that attended, like I said in my speech Roy and I were the foundation stone, but the attendees were the building blocks, so thanks to all 128 attendees, but I would also like to thank :

My wife Maria Byrne and Roys wife Margaret Stevens for their assistance on the evening and their support in getting the reunion off the ground, they looked after the souvenir store, checked passengers in and served food. You ladies looked great and did a great job…many thanks to you both

Roy Stevens…. Mate…what can I say…. what a wonderful idea you had with the reunion, it was a pleasure working with you Roy in this venture. Together we did it………cheers buddy !!!!!!

Paul Stevens, who supplied the media gear for the evening and the music. Your assistance and your much-appreciated help in everything you did especially on the night was without doubt much appreciated by all. Thanks heaps Paul, especially when I casually said during my speech, we will have the video now ………I think you dropped your drink, choked, but we worked together I stalled them and you came to the rescue…..You had more leads than Scotland Yard hanging out of the equipment you brought in, yet as quick as you could it was all in working order. Thanks heaps mate for also helping with the souvenir shop and getting them deckchairs off the deck and into the lobby on time…..

Gary Stevens who helped in setting up, thanks heaps for your help in setting up and as a stand in on the souvenir shop

Kieron Murphy, well mate, you were the about the only one that knew what went wrong and what a flap I was in, thanks for getting us the video recorder, without it I would not have been able to have done half my presentations….thanks Kieron

Steve Mullis, thanks Steve for providing through your brother that wonderful DVD of the Australis at sea. The footage was enjoyed by all.

Simon Perry, thanks Simon for posting at short notice (from the UK) that wonderful DVD you recently took of the wreck, it certainly brought a tear to some peoples eyes when they saw what had become of the Australis

Navy club, thanks to Evelyn and her crew for providing a wonderful wonderful venue, it set the scene nicely and really made the night

Green Street Café, thanks Terry and Marian for providing a good range of finger food


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