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A young Jack Laverick (left), the launch of Aurora Australis and Don Laverick (right)

Carrington Slipways and the Laverick family

During the 1970s the Newcastle firm of Carrington Slipways was seen as part of the strong backbone of NSW industry. Over some decades the firm, founded and owned by the Laverick family, had invested in excellent ship-building and repair facilities and had developed a strong skills base. Carrington Slipways launched about 120 ships of various types before the government wound back protection for the Australian ship-building and repair industry. In its last years, culminating with its closure in 1990, Carrington Slipways campaigned to be part of Australia's big submarine and frigate contracts. These contracts were subject…

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Donald MacRae, brave Newcastle harbour master

Captain Donald MacRae, former harbour master of the Port of Newcastle, Australia, was credited in some quarters with being the last Allied serviceman to be evacuated after the failed British invasion attempt at Gallipoli, Turkey, in World War 1. His long career was punctuated by acts of great bravery. He died and was cremated in 1963 and his ashes remained among the possessions of his son-in-law until 2015, when some of his grandchildren scattered them off Big Ben Reef, Newcastle, the scene of one of his famous rescues. In 2023 those grandchildren fixed a plaque at…

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The turret ship Mokatam’s long goodbye

For some years after the end of World War II an ungainly hulk of a ship lay moored at Stockton, Newcastle, NSW. It was a battered old rustbucket that ended up in Newcastle as part of the postwar flotsam that drifted around the Pacific in the conflict's confusing aftermath. I'd seen photos of the ship lying there, and was often curious about its extremely odd shape. It's hull was unlike other ships, with a huge bulging section down low, and I wondered what the reason was this peculiar form. In time I learned the ship's name…

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