Mr James Lindley at his North Rockhampton home
Mr James Lindley at his North Rockhampton home

Cancer fight: The Life, Loves and Legacy of James Lindley Jr

WITH only months to live, James Lindley reached out to The Morning Bulletin to fulfil the dream of seeing his work published.

Mr Lindley has written dozens of essays about his 80 years living and working around Central Queensland and around the world.

"I have virtually nothing of my parents' so I'm doing this for my kids," he said.

(Old Jim Lindley Park in Kawana is named for his father.)

Born just weeks after World War II began, Mr Lindley spent his first 10 years on his family's dairy farm outside Wowan.

 

Mr Lindley and his 1000cc four cylinder Ariel Square Four motorcycle in November 1962
Mr Lindley and his 1000cc four cylinder Ariel Square Four motorcycle in November 1962

 

"We were so far from anywhere and we didn't have any visitors, so I was barely aware of the war," he said.

"But when we moved into Rockhampton, I remember being surprised at how many women there were in the workforce.

"My Mum only ever worked inside the house; she didn't go out rounding up cattle or anything."

He attended the Central Infants school in Denison St and North Rockhampton State High School before undertaking his scholarship year at Lakes Creek.

"We felt so lucky at that stage; the war was over and our country had won," he said.

"I used to roam around Rockonia Road, up the horse and dairy track to Bill Anderson's property, about where the fire station is now, and past the rifle range onto Yeppoon Road."

After Year 8, Mr Lindley landed an apprenticeship as a panel beater - a job which saw him travel around the world.

He was pictured on the front page of The Morning Bulletin in November 1962 astride his four-cylinder 1000cc Ariel Square Four motorcycle and trailer which took him through the UK, Europe, Asia and Africa.

But Mr Lindley's real love was the HR Holden he first spied in London, the metal roof version which was "entirely different to what we had before".

"When I had my panel works in Rockhampton, we did a heck of a lot of repairs for vintage Holdens for people who wanted genuine work, not plastic fillers," he said.

After an injury at work sidelined him, Mr Lindley began the mature age studies which again saw him featured in the local media.

He spent about 15 years earning undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in human resources, sociology, business administration and, finally, a masters in history.

"I did it to get a job but nobody was interested in taking on a 60 year old," he said.

"People are impressed when you get a university degree but it doesn't necessarily make you any money."

Instead, he spent countless hours volunteering at Rockhampton's Tourist Information Centre which is the first port of call for many visitors.

"People are fascinated by the story of Mt Morgan's swinging bridge, about St Christopher's Chapel and Madame Thozet's statue," he said.

"Have you heard about Thomas Griffin who came out to Australia to became the gold commissioner and ended up being hanged in Rockhampton for shooting two police officers?

"If we can get tourists interested enough to spend a few days looking around our region, that's a couple of hundred dollars coming into the local economy."

Unfortunately, getting out and about has been difficult since Mr Lindley was diagnosed with stomach cancer four months ago.

He tends to hang out "people watching" at Stockland, where his day brightens if he gets a smile and wave from people passing by.

"They see the feeding tube… maybe they think it's the most wonderful new piercing," he said.

"There's no point sitting in the corner and crying but I do miss the taste of chicken and chips."

The final chapter to one of Mr Lindley's stories explains his motivation in writing them.

"Please, my darling children, do not die wishing you had learned to play the ukulele, or travelled to New Caledonia, or had letters after your name.

"If you think you would like to travel, throw your job in now and you will find out that you are smart enough to find an even better job.

"You are going to die someday so enjoy your life now."