A large crowd of mourners attended a memorial service for Gary Hinkley at the Nowra Golf Club on January 4, remembering a devoted family man and an extremely talented sportsman.
Gary, or ‘Jinxy’ as he was known to his many friends, passed away suddenly on December 24 last year, aged 65.
Gary John Hinkley was born in the Edman Hospital in Nowra on September 22, 1953 to Valerie and Horace Hinkley. Their beloved only child.
During his life, Jinxy took on many roles – he was a son, husband, dad, dad-in-law, grandad, work-mate, acquaintance and friend.
His schooling was carried out at Bomaderry Public School and then Nowra High. He worked hard at school and even harder at sport eventually making the school rugby league team.
He left when he gained his school certificate at the age of 16 years and became an apprentice electrician.
During his time as an apprentice, he attended the local TAFE College and finished his apprenticeship with honours. His teacher at TAFE wrote a letter to his employer stating that Jinxy would make a great leading hand electrician.
He became very good friends with Kevin Buchanan, Jinxy’s nearly life-long friend – who trained him from the age of about 11 or so in rugby league and regularly took him and his friends on surfing trips.
Kevin also encouraged him at the age of 16 to apply for a job with the company Ralph M Lee. Jinxy did and got a job with the company and, when they closed their Nowra branch Kevin subsequently created the company called Imec which employed many of the employees from Ralph M Lee including Gary, therefore Kevin became not only his friend but also his boss for whom he worked for the rest of his working life.
He became a leading hand in the business, carrying out quotes for the company who mainly carried out industrial works such as building the Shoalhaven Hospital in Nowra, the recently rebuilt Headlands Hotal, Retirement Villages and the local TAFE.
Christine (nee Bwyford) and Gary met at a party when she was 16 and he was 17. They obviously liked the look of each other and became boyfriend and girlfriend.
They had a great courtship – Christine said when they first started dating she only knew Jinxy by that name and it wasn’t until she brought him home that he introduced himself as Gary to her Mum.
They fell in love and were married on April 19, 1975 in Nowra. Ben arrived in 1979 and Matt in 1983 completing their little family. That little family has now grown to include Ben’s partner Eleanor and Matt’s partner Kylie and, of course, two beautiful grandchildren Leah who is 4 and Callum who is 2.
He loved it when he came home from work to see his grandchildren with their beautiful smiles waiting for him. It was the highlight of his day.
Chris and Gary both loved to travel, visiting a number of places including Europe, England, New Zealand, Hong Kong and more recently to Ireland and Scotland which was a great time away.
Gary not only played lots of sports, he also loved to watch all sport, regularly taking Ben and Matt to watch their team, the Manly Sea Eagles, for which they received a lot of ribbing, and the one day cricket which they all loved.
Gary played golf every Saturday morning and loved a punt in the afternoons and was also very interested in the news from all around other countries.
Gary will be remembered for a number of things - a devoted family man and an extremely talented sportsman.
He holds the distinction as the only captain of the Bomaderry Rugby League Club to lead his beloved Swamp Rats to a Group 7 first grade premiership title.
The talented hooker led the Swamp Rats to a 14-2 win over Albion Park-Oak Flats at Albion Park, with Hinkley named man of the match and later Cleary Bros Group 7 Player of the Year.
No mean feat when you consider the winner of the award for the previous six years was Gerringong’s star and later Australian, NSW and Parramatta legend Michael Cronin.
Longtime mates and also Swamp Rat legends, John Bracher and Denis Laverty, presented tributes at the memorial service.
“Gary was a fine player, who played his whole career with Bomaderry,” Mr Laveryty said.
“As the Swamp Rats no long exist as a stand alone senior club he will always be the club’s only first grade winning captain.”
A Bomaderry junior he made his way to first grade in 1972 and played at the top level until 1979, during that time twice winning the best and fairest award and also representing Group 7.
“He had several offers to play in Sydney, Canterbury in particular were keen to sign him, but he chose to stay at home,” Laverty said.
“He was regarded as the best ever hooker to play for the Swamp Rats.
“To win Group 7 Player of the Year after Mick Cronin had won the previous six awards [and was still to join Parramatta a year later] shows he was in the highest company.”
In a career lasting over 150 games, an interesting fact is he never played a reserve grade match.
Mr Bracher said apart from his family Gary had four great loves - Manly, surf club, golf and the Swamp Rats.
“I’m not sure what order they were in but he was always a staunch defender of Manly,” he said.
“Jinx joined the Nowra-Culburra Surf Club as a 16-year-old and was a member for at least 20 years.
“During that time we formed a surf boat crew together - Jinx was the stroke, Neil Hanson the second stroke, Keith Rosskelly second bow, Ian ‘Wally’ Wallis bow and myself as sweep.
“Over the years we spent more time in the boat, training and at surf carnivals, than we did with our girlfriends, then wives and then kids.
“We would train two or three afternoons a week, have carnivals Saturdays, then patrols Sundays. We went all over Australia towing the boat.”
He recalled one memorable trip when they travelled to Trigg Islands, WA for the Australian titles.
“We each took turns of driving and it took us two and a half days to get there and about four weeks to come home,” he joked.
After making the semi-finals of the state championships, it was the first time the club had sent a crew to the national titles,
“We had some great times, especially with the guys from Mollymook who we built up a strong rivalry,” he said.
“Jinx was very competitive at no matter what sport he played. When we retired from league and we all started playing touch. He was also part of our surf club water polo efforts.”
He is survived by Christine, Ben and Eleanor and Matt and Kylie. He was also the cherished Pa to Leah and Callum.