HEALEY, Noel

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Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2003.

Edgar Noel Healey was born in England in 1890. He arrived in Australia with his brother Walter, as escort for two Halley Comet trucks, which were used to cart wool in Queensland. Noel and Walter moved to the Cloncurry area and set up an engineering business. After Walter returned to Brisbane, Noel moved into transport and contract boring.

He carted the first loads of coal to Mt Isa. It was during this time that he earned the nickname, “One Punch Healey.”

He was a large man and many fights took place with the droving teams whose livelihood he was taking over with his trucks. Noel was a born story-teller, and a competent mechanic. He pioneered motor transport over much of western Queensland, the Northern Territory and the Kimberley region. He married Georgina Giggolia, known as Gem, and there were three children; Nancy (Sommerville), Patricia, (Gavin and Strong) both deceased, and Nola, who died aged 12 years of age. In the 1920s, Noel carted salt from the Gulf’s Manangoora salt pans, to the Gulf and Barkly Stations. In 1934, the Healeys purchased Dunmarra Station from John and Catherine Mc Carthy, of “We of the Never Never”’ fame. The homestead was near the road and telegraph line and in 1941 they obtained a Hotel Licence for the bush pub they had built.

The hotel was a welcome stopping point for travellers, as well as military convoys during the war years. Noel also operated an abattoir during these years and many stories are told of stolen cattle finding their way to Dunmarra to be slaughtered. Noel and his first wife, Gem, divorced in 1948, and in 1951 Noel married Thelma Greening, who became known as “Ma.” Noel and Ma were well known for their hospitality, animals, exorbitant liquor prices, and dislike of public servants. Noel died in 1970, after disturbing some thieves trying to steal his car and the resulting bashing he received. Thelma moved to Mt Perry in Qld. As her dementia grew worse, she returned to Tennant Creek where she was cared for by friends, Joan and Gavin Carpenter. She died in 1997. The remains of one of Noel’s old trucks has been returned to Dunmarra, having been discovered abandoned by Ted Martin, and is there for everyone to see.

One of the old solid wheels from his early trucking days is also on display at Dunmarra. Their story lives on as true Territory legends in many places.