John Redmond is not one to do things by halves. The 68-year-old Truganina resident ran his own business for more than 30 years, is a life member with the Carlton Football Club and will be doing his fourth tour of the Kokoda track in October. He sat down with Charlene Macaulay to tell the full story.
You’ve done three tours of the Kokoda track, and you’re gearing up for a fourth in October. Why is this so important to you?
These veterans saved Australia, and stopped 13,000 Japanese from taking over at Port Moresby … We owe these guys a lot of debt. I believe kids of today – 16 and 17 year-olds who are running riot on the streets – should go and walk that track and get a bit of an understanding of what these veterans did.
What was the impetus behind your very first Kokoda tour?
It was my 60th birthday, and to raise money for cochlear research, which gave our last granddaughter Kara hearing in one of her ears.
How much have you raised in total for cochlear research?
You ran your business, Redmond Repetition Engineers, in Hoppers Crossing for more than three decades. Tell me more.
Me and my wife Marlene started with one machine in the backyard and $2000 in the bank. We went from there to a 4500-square metre factory that produced precision components for some of the biggest global brands in military, aviation and automotive. I grew the business too quick … we shut it down three or four years ago.
What are you doing with yourself now?
I actually sat back and felt sorry for myself for two-and-a-half or three years. I drive cars for a company, and I’ve also got another job where I deliver plasma and bloods to hospitals.
We’ve downsized from a massive double storey to this single storey … we’ve bought a new Ford Ranger and a brand-new caravan. After the football season, we’re going to do some travelling – we’ll be the grey nomads! I’m also heavily involved with the Carlton Football Club, where I’ve got a life membership for 25 years of continuous service to the Carltonians.
How did you and your wife Marlene meet?
At my place, at a baseball barbecue. Marlene walked in with her boyfriend, and he played for the opposition team. I was 17 and I just chatted her up in my usual way. [Then, at a dance], I asked her if she’d like to dance, and she jumped up and we danced all night!
I married Marlene when I was 19, we’re coming up to 50 years in December. I was a father at 21 and a grandfather at 48. I’ve got two girls, and four granddaughters. We paid $2600 for our first block of land, and $24,000 for our first house.