Aubrey was lucky to hand in his thesis just before Cyclone Althea, a category 4 cyclone, made landfall near Townsville on 23 December 1971.
“Fortunately, my sample collection survived, because it was so heavy. The cyclone couldn’t blow it away. But the building was actually destroyed.”
It was not only his lab at JCU that was damaged. The house where Aubrey, his wife and two little children had been living lost its roof. Luckily, by that time, Aubrey and his family had just moved out.
“I had already moved all my furniture and stuff, well, what little I had, and I had sold my car. So, I didn’t lose anything in the cyclone because whatever I had was already in storage.”
A new posting in South Africa
In early 1971, the family would take a ship from Sydney to South Africa, which was to be their home for the next couple of years.
For his PhD title, however, Aubrey had to wait another two years. The ‘xeroxed’ copies of his manuscript had to be sent by mail to the US, “and the end result was it took them forever to examine the thesis”.
For more about JCU’s history, visit the timeline or our 50th anniversary page.