Laurance Perriman was born on the 3rd of June 1934 in Longreach. His Father, Walter Perriman, was an Ambulance Bearer for the Longreach Ambulance Brigade. He was presented the only Ambulance Bearer medallion in Longreach. He was in charge of the Longreach Ambulance Brigade and has many heroic stories from his time which you can now read about in the Longreach Leader. One story that Laurie remembers, was when Longreach flooded. The SES had to borrow horses from the closest property and swim across the flood water with two horses to bring someone stranded back. Laurie’s mother sadly passed away when he was five. He also had two sisters, one older and one younger. After his mother passed, the family moved to Yeppoon, where he attended primary school. He then went to high school in Rockhampton.
“We used to go up to Rocky on the train everyday to go to school. Up in the morning and back every afternoon,” Laurie recalls.
On the 22nd of May, when Laurie was 14, his father sadly passed. “My two sisters and I had to spilt up then as we were on a little farm in Yeppoon at the time. My sisters went back to Longreach where we had a lot of relations. I moved in with an uncle and aunt in Rockhampton.
“I had to get a job, so I got a job in the Queensland Railway where I worked in the sheds. When I was about 19, I was transferred to Townsville, which was probably one of the best things to happen to me. While I was there, I was lived in a hotel. At the time, a copper refinery was being built in Townsville. They sent a fellow up from Sydney, who worked on huge earth boring machines. He and I became friends and I used to help him on the weekends with the equipment. “One night I was going out and he asked me to stay so he could talk to me. It turns out he had been talking to the directors in Sydney about me, telling them about the work I was helping him with, and they offered me a job!”
He had to give a months notice, but as soon as that was up, Laurie moved to Sydney. He lived with his friend while he got on his feet. The company was called AW Edwards Pty Ltd. He was in the workshop first.
“I was actually scared to death because it was a huge company. They had nearly 8,000 people working for them. On my first day I was pretty nervous because they had 22 men in the workshop, and when I walked in they all turned and looked at me, but eventually I was in charge of that main floor, so really I didn’t have much to be nervous about.”
The men in the workshop did everything they could to show Laurie around Sydney, but he always found himself getting lost. The builders couldn’t do anything until he arrived with the machine. So, the guy he lived with would draw a big line on a map. Laurie loved his job, but he always wanted to travel. The company he worked for had 17 huge machines, and they were the only ones with this big machinery, so they got all the jobs with the schools and banks. “I really liked it. I got to see Australia and meet a lot of people. I went to all the major cities and even a lot of smaller towns, it all depended on where the jobs were. The competition started to buy similar equipment, so the managing directors said we needed to go bigger to see out the competition. So, they sent me to Japan to check out the bigger machinery. From there I went around Hong Kong, North and South America looking at machinery.
“After all my trips, they wanted me to go into the office, because I was more helpful there. I didn’t want to at first because I liked travelling, but I am glad I did it.” Laurie went on to Tech School and became a Hydraulic Engineer. He didn’t attend university so he didn’t get the degree, but he was awarded a Certificate in Engineering and Hydraulic Engineering. “Between you and me, I would have known more than most engineers anyway.” He enjoyed college, even though it was after work. He loved to learn, so he continued to learn drawing and design.
Laurie met an ex-pilot, who had completed about 14 missions over Germany.
At the time, they had a similar job, so they became quick friends. He would teach Laurie to fly a plane on Sundays, the only extra time Laurie had. “I loved it so much, I became a pilot. It was just relaxation for me. I made friends with the controllers in the watch tower, and they would try and get me permission as much as they could to do orbits over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. That was definitely a highlight for me.” He always put his job first though, and was busy travelling overseas.
At one stage he was the Manager of Edwards Building Services and managed their Queensland branch on the Gold Coast. Laurie stayed with the company for 32 years. Laurie worked his whole life, until his calf muscle separated and he had to have serious time off. He took four weeks off, and was aged 85.
Laurie has never stopped and he enjoyed every minute. If he wasn’t flying his plane, he was jumping out of one, skydiving. He also enjoyed boating and even went over to America to watch the America’s Cup in 1983.
Laurie moved to Rockhampton a few months ago, to be closer to his nieces and nephews and now lives in Level 2.