Robert Kennedy
10-Nov-2004 06:34

It is with great pleasure that I remember meeting Jim Walker for the first time in 1976.  I 
was a callow youth of 17 and the cadet journalist attached to the financial section of the 
Melbourne office of The Australian newspaper.  Jim had been seconded, in a moment of 
crisis, from the paper's Sydney headquarters to restore coverage from the nation's then 
financial capital.  The finance desk had been thrown into chaos by the sudden resignation of 
the previous incumbent, J.T.T. McCausland, a New York-born son of a firefighter who 
portended that the success of his film screenplay, entitled "Mad Max", would mean that he 
would never have to set foot in The Australian office or the local watering hole, The Celtic 
Club (aka the Green Death), ever again.  Not a bad call as it turned out.  To say that Jim was 
less than enthused about Bryan Frith's decision to post him to the "Athens of the South" 
(Jim preferred the epithet "Mexico") as JTT's replacement would be somewhat of an 
understatement.  However Jim managed to soften the blow of having to spend occasional 
weekends away from his beloved Sydney by attending the local racetracks with me in tow.  
In those days Jim had an aversion for betting on the tote (later overcome) preferring to bet 
with the bookies.  But given the necessity to have bets running at five different venues at 
once Jim found that it was physically impossible to get around the ring in time on his own.  
My use was two-fold.  Firstly, while Jim would concentrate on Sydney, Melbourne and 
Brisbane I was assigned the Adelaide and provincial wagers.  My second task was to make 
sure that the liquid refreshment supply went undiminished.  It was pointed out to me years 
later that both of the roles I fulfilled may have been illegal although I have never heard of 
an Australian being charged with underage gambling or imbibing.  It was an experience 
which has led to many years of punting pleasure (although my venue of choice these days is 
Saratoga Springs).  After a year or so I left Australia to become domiciled in the U.S. and Jim, 
of course, was eventually Asia-bound.  We kept in casual touch through mutual 
acquaintances over a long period but were not reunited personally for more than 20 years 
when Ashley Chan arranged a drink between us on a quick business trip by Jim to the Big 
Apple.  It was a great evening and Jim proudly presented me with a copy of the brochure of 
his thoroughbred breeding showcase in Queensland.