31 August 2023

Growler and Stumpy farewelled at Pandanus Park

| Sarah Martin
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More than 70 people, including this group of serving and ex-defence personnel, travelled to Pandanus Park for Vietnam Veteran’s Day and Growler and Stumpy’s farewell.

TWO long-time treasures of the Pandanus Park Veterans Retreat were farewelled by friends, family and veterans at the remote Cape York site on Vietnam Veteran’s Day earlier this month.

Cooktown veteran Graeme “Growler” Andrews passed away in June last year, while long-time Laura publican Kev “Stumpy” Darmody was shockingly taken by a crocodile in Lakefield National Park in April this year.

Growler’s wife Jody, currently living in South Australia, drove more than 5000km to bring his ashes back to Cooktown and spend some time at Pandanus Park.

“It’s only about 3000km, but I went and explored some of the areas that Growler and I had always driven past and said ‘one day’,” Ms Andrews said.

“It’s obvious how much he loved Cooktown and Pandanus; it’s always been in his heart and we always planned on coming back, so I brought him back.”

Growler was farewelled at an RSL service in Cooktown on August 16, where a flag was presented to his daughter Kylie who travelled from Melbourne for the event, before Ms Andrews headed to Pandanus Park to scatter his ashes.

Graeme ‘Growler’ Andrews and Kev ‘Stumpy’ Darmody were farewelled at Pandanus Park on Vietnam Veteran’s Day.

“Even though I was surrounded by friends, it was definitely weird being at Pandanus Park this year without Gra and without our dog,” she said.

“They’re a good bunch of people and they were all there for me, we did (a service for Growler) before the main service.

“There was a message from the outgoing president and John Shay Jnr read a poem while I went down and poured the ashes into the Normanby River with one of the 51st Battalion boys on croc watch.”

Graeme Andrews’ daughter Kylie and her partner Darren travelled to Cooktown for the veteran’s RSL service.

Although not a veteran, Mr Darmody was a staunch supporter of Pandanus Park and had been friends with Mr Andrews and his wife Jody for more than 30 years.

“Stumpy has always been a friend of the veterans, although he’s not a veteran himself, he would have had many mates who were,” she said.

The publican was farewelled at a service in the tiny town of Laura on August 17, and a plaque was mounted in his honour on the cenotaph at Pandanus Park, along with a plaque for Mr Andrews.

Another plaque was also put up in the tree outside Stumpy’s pub, the Peninsula Hotel, which remains closed.

Ms Andrews said she owed thanks to the people of Cooktown and Pandanus for their friendship and support.

Longtime veteran’s supporter Kev ‘Stumpy’ Darmody was also honoured with a plaque at Pandanus Park.

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