Featured Member – John Clark
John Clark – Christchurch Man
In a week John will be going back to New Zealand for a holiday in his beloved city where warmly welcoming friends of his childhood await. Though he has travelled far and wide and moved to Australia to please his ex-wife, Christchurch is his place.
He was a mechanically minded child who loved his Meccano set. As he grew older the hills and mountains around Christchurch drew him out in all weathers on biking, camping and motorcycle trips. He later hitched from Melbourne to London, his route from the antipodes touching on such romantic places as Dili when it was still under Portuguese rule, Burma, Bangkok, Rangoon and Calcutta.
On his return he and a friend founded a tour company called Moa Trek, targeting younger people and transporting small groups in mini-buses. The fledgling company was eventually sold, to become the now world famous Contiki tours.
Engineering jobs have taken him to London, Thailand and other Asian destinations installing infrastructure for gas and oil dispensing systems and converting heavy vehicles to run on natural gas instead of diesel. The Tugun desalination plant was also worked on by John.
Books and reading were part of his growing up. John remembers with affection titles such as his collection of Arthur Mees Encyclopedias as well as Dr. Doolittle, the William books and Swallows and Amazons. These childrens’ classic series gave way to a penchant for adult fiction series such as The Saint when he grew into his teens.
During his life he has owned sixty-six cars and forty-two motorbikes, so it is not really surprising that his self-published ‘piece de resistance’ is an illustrated coffee table book of motoring anecdotes From Morris Eight to Mercedes Benz – A Modicum of Motoring Down Under. As well as this he has written Eight Tales from Down Under– a humorous look at Australia through the eyes of a Kiwi- and contributed several pieces for the Southern Writer’s Group anthology ‘Love, Lies, Laughter and a Few Little Tears’.
These days he enjoys reading the works of Bill Bryson for their humour. Nevil Shute also has lasting appeal for John because as an aircraft designer Shute liberally sprinkled his stories with engineering technicalities.