It’s now John Dunstan OAM

By Robert Muir

When he arrived in Yarrawonga in 1999, John Dunstan immediately became actively involved in two passions of his – the Returned Service League (RSL) and golf – carrying on from where he left off on the Mornington Peninsula.

So active in both fields for many decades, Stanley John Dunstan, well known as John, has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in this year’s list of Queen’s Birthday Honours, for service to the community.  

Made a Life Member of Yarrawonga Mulwala RSL Sub-Branch in 2010, and synonymous with the Nine Holers at Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort, John said he was pleasantly surprised with the announcement.

“I’m deeply honoured, it’s a wonderful surprise. I never, ever thought of anything like this. You never, ever look for kudos,” he told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.

“There have been many wonderful volunteers who have helped me in my roles over the years.”  

John is highly deserving of the award,” Stan Clarke OAM said. “He is a very well-meaning man, a true volunteer who contributes a lot out of his own pocket. 

“For 19 years he was the hospital visitation officer in the RSL and still makes visits. John’s been very good to the RSL. He’s been quite outstanding.”

Before Yarrawonga and while at the RSL Sub-Branch Rosebud, John joined forces with Mick Loughrey from Rye’s RSL to make visits to hospitals to talk to war comrades. Mick, then John, moved to Yarrawonga to establish and run the visitation program. Mick passed away many years ago.

President of Yarrawonga Mulwala RSL Sub-Branch Ian Summers described the latest local OAM recipient as “a very reliable guy” and that “nothing’s too much trouble”.

“Apart from his long-time hospital visitation officer role, John has been a long-time badge sales co-ordinator,” Mr Summers said. 

“Any problem we’ve had, he was more than happy to help out and has been a regular contributor over many years. He is a worthy recipient of the OAM.”

The president spoke of John’s involvement with Catalinas in the war and that he has been involved in the museum which houses a Catalina at Lake Boga. (‘Flying Boat’ is the term used for the American-designed Catalina – a fixed-wing seaplane with a hull allowing it to land on water).

An electrical fitter/gunner with the Air Force in World War 2, John worked on the Catalinas and is a foundation member of the Catalina Club. 

Upon discharge, he studied and became an electrical engineer with Australian General Electric and much later ran the electrical division at Gilbert Lodge in Carnegie.

 John has been a mentor in respect of the nine hole golfers according to Mr Clarke. “He’s been captain at Cape Schanck, he’d been to school to learn all rules and implementation and became highly versed in procedures,” Stan said.

“The nine holers was well in operation when he arrived here but the scoring system left a lot to be desired, especially with such things as countbacks.”

It was in his 30s when John taught himself to play golf, advancing to a handicap of eight and becoming Cape Schanck Golf Club captain for three years from the late 1970s.

At age 96-years, John is the oldest player at Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort; plays nine holers off 14.

“I had 68 wonderful years of marriage,” he said. “I have three children, seven grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. They’re all wonderful.” 

For nearly two years, John has been a resident at the Warrina Hostel and is proud of the family memorabilia in his room. The pride would be returned.