Narooma's Mac Richard Gudgeon celebrates 100 years

MAC Richard Gudgeon was born on February 11, 1914 in the town known for the face on the ten dollar note, Gulgong NSW. Mac grew up on a sheep station with his parents, sister and brother, 10km outside Gulgong.

As you can imagine 1914 was a time when there were very few cars on the road, horseback was the mode of transport, and very few homes had electricity or even a telephone.

Gulgong was full of Gudgeons and just like Narooma with Hyland and Lynch there is a Gudgeon Street in Gulgong.

Mac and his brother travelled to Gulgong primary school by horse and it seems that Mac always got the rear end of the stick, but despite this he became an excellent horseman.

Mac went to Mudgee High School and excelled in maths and English and at 14 was sent to St Stanislaus College in Bathurst where he was a conscientious student and keen rugby league player who played hooker.

When things were quiet for Mac at the College he would sneak out from the third floor from a downpipe from the dormitory window and walk the streets of Bathurst with his cousin Jimmy Porter.

Mac received a good result on his Leaving Certificate and against his father’s wishes of “going on the land”, Mac’s mother insisted he get a degree and enrolled him in pharmacy at Sydney University. There he continued to excel with his degree and rugby league but also putting pen to paper of which one of his stories ‘Ramblings in Ratland’ was published in the university’s magazine.

In 1932 Mac walked across the Sydney harbour bridge at its grand opening and then 60 years later he venture off for the grand opening of the Sydney Harbour Tunnel.

Mac graduated and he needed to find an apprenticeship. The depression was at its worst, but eventually he found a pharmacist in Sydney.

During this time he observed the worst of the worst coming through the door with very poor sick children and no way for parents to pay.

It was there Mac developed a compassionate social conscience and became an enthusiastic Labor voter and he is still a life member.

In Sydney Mac met Edna a dancer and acrobat who was touring the country in a vaudeville show. They married in 1939.

With the onset of World War II Mac tried to enlist but as a pharmacist he was rejected. Mac tried again as an unemployed farm labourer and was accepted and joined the sixth division Calvary unit.

When Mac’s pharmacist status was discovered he was immediately sent by ship to the Australian General Hospital in the Middle East. He was transferred to different places during the war, but as we know survived and reached the rank of lieutenant.

After the war Mac worked at several pharmacies on the south coast and he and Edna had three children Maxine, Mac Junior and Jennifer.

They bought a pharmacy in Wollongong and called it Gudgeon’s Pharmacy and also opened a ballet and magic shop nearby. Mac and Edna were involved in the local community with Lions, Rotary and Mac was secretary of the Wollongong Rugby League Club.

Then came the 60s and 70s, the Vietnam War, and Mac set up an anti-conscription group where he was boycotted by many of his customers. But the wharfies and miners stepped in and moved their business to Gudgeon Pharmacy. Mac eventually sold the pharmacy and became a relieving pharmacist in New Guinea where he was so well liked that one family named their first born Gudgeon.

Eventually Mac and Edna retired and moved and built a home in Dalmeny. Their firstsdaughter Maxine followed with her husband Geoff Gamblin. Edna passed away in 2005 and Mac moved in with the Gamblins. A couple of years ago he was moved to Sir James Nursing Home at Dalmeny.

Mac is a little deaf now and he can’t walk like he used to but he still enjoys life, a joke, a drink and a smoke but in particular he loves being surrounded by his grand circle of family and friends, which includes eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

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