When he first drove through Eden in August 2004 Marty King made a mental ‘to do’ list, using colourful expletives, on how he would spruce the place up.
Later, in December 2004 when he became Bega Valley Shire Council’s Eden team leader he became a stubby wearing champion of the people, listening to then acting on “whinges” everywhere be it in the pub, the barber’s chair, or the deli.
He’s removed barriers, at times literally, built playgrounds, done endless rounds of the town and its localities, fixed things where he could, removed them where he couldn’t and carried the town’s woes back to council headquarters to chew the bone for us.
When his youngest son Mik (17) finished school last year they decided to head north to Yeppoon, near Rockhampton, where his daughter Raelene (23) is attending university.
Marty says Mik has tried out a few things, and is working as a communications technician.
Oldest son Jake (21) is working as a hospital security guard in Katherine in the Northern Territory.
As for Marty? He’s klanded on his feet in the civil construction department with the Rockhampton Regional Council.
He said there is a lot of work, and there will be around 1500 more jobs for the community now a $600 million resort has been approved for Great Keppel Island.
“I’m still fixing footpaths and paving but there’s larger civil works too, it’s a great mix,” he said.
Marty is selling Eden to those without the good fortune of a close association and “although they don’t generally go that far south” he’s being met with smiles.
“I miss home, Eden’s in my blood,” he said, adding it has rained in Rockhampton almost since he arrived.
“I miss the beach the most, there was only a few days of the year I didn’t swim in the ocean.
“I miss the people too, terribly, I miss my workmates, and I wonder what will happen as time goes by.”
For now, he is enjoying being a father to his children as they move into adulthood.
“I’m 41 and it was getting a bit like groundhog day,” he said.
“I haven’t written off the fact that I might come home but first I gotta finish my job with my kids you know?”
Marty recalled his experience of Eden.
“I drove past the bus shelter at Irene Crescent and thought ‘Oh geez that could do with a makeover, the one on the other side of the road too, then the old guard rail opposite the pool, the rickety old fence at the squash courts.”
“I thought ‘One day I’ll get a job here and fix the bloody place up. We can do better than this.’”
His major projects included “opening up” the overgrown Cattle Bay Road, working with community groups to improve public recreation areas at Cocora and Aslings beaches, particularly Cocora Beach where he enjoyed a glass of wine that first night.
“I was inspired when I met people like Mick Woods, Jeff Swane and Jimmy Chenhall, they are tonguing at the bit, and I thought ‘Gees this is a community!’”
“I’d hear, ‘Why don’t they fix it?’ I’d say ‘We’re they, I’ll have a go’.”
Bega Valley Shire Council’s assets engineer Richard Cunningham wrote this farewell for Marty:
As a new pair of hands at Bega Valley Shire Council I always found Marty to be enthusiastic.
There was always a solution to a problem, nothing was impossible.
Even if the town team couldn’t help or fix directly, he’d come up with a plan.
Marty cared deeply about what happened in the Eden area and always did his best with the resources he had available to him.
I think he’s left a big gap in the team, but they’re soldiering on. Interviews for a replacement for his position will be held in the next few weeks.
Richard Cunningham, Assets Engineer