Rob Willoughby

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Rob Willoughby’s life highlights since School

Rob Willoughby

1969 Sydney University undergraduate studies in Faculty of Civil Engineering Freshman in St Paul’s College, Sydney University -Rowed in VIII and Athletic Team.

Bought and crashed my first car: VW Beetle in City Road.

Borrowed mum’s 1958 Vanguard and had to replaced its head gasket in the St Paul’s car park with ample help of Craig Clayton

Perusing Judy Brown who was studying Nursing at RNSH, St Leonards, Sydney.

Holiday employment as Builder’s Labourer in Manly and Night Porter Cleaner at Mater Hospital in Crows Nest. At this time I was Sharing a hostel room, in Fairlight, with an unemployed Yugoslavian refugee, who could barely speak English, was an experience in itself which often resulted in sharing my meals. Working the afternoon shift at the Mater invariably resulted in my missing the last 144 Bus (11:15PM) meant walking home for an early start on the building site.

I decided that Architecture was my childhood dream which needed to be realised. I applied to every School of Architecture in Australia.

1970 First acceptance to my applications to Architecture was Queensland University. Getting ready to leave for the sunshine state I received notice that my residential situation made me ineligible to attend WA University. NSWIT requested an interview as a result of my “reasons for becoming an Architect”. Dean of the School (Peter Middleton) was suitably convinced that I had what it took but advised that part time studies mandated 1 full day and one evening attendance and a job in a professional practice. “Give me 24 hours” I requested. Within that time I had doorknocked and received offers from Noel Bell Ridley Smith; Anchor Mortlock Murray and Woolley; and Collard Clarke & Jackson in North Sydney. I accepted the CC&J offer to work for $21.00 per week.

Moved to terrace house in Kirribilli. $21.00 per week Rent was shared with an English Union Rep. ”working” for Leyland; and a Scottish alcoholic working for Otis Lifts.

Interesting times..

New South Wales Institute of Technology (NSWIT) undergraduate studies in School of Architecture (SoA)– 2nd place Year 1

1971 NSWIT – SoA Year 2

Moved to Semi detached house in Mosman. Shared with SoA classmate Tony Mackay.

Bought a motorbike: 175 Honda “scrambler”

Dropped the bike three times within the first year. “The only way to learn.” No serious injuries.

1972 NSWIT – SoA Year 3

Tony and I teamed up with another SoA classmate Bob Johnston and bought ex Ampol 18 Footers Skiff and joined at the Sydney Flying. New sponsorship Thos Mills

Transport Second season sponsorship by Mitsubishi.

8 July: Married (school sweetheart) Judy Helen Bailey Brown (SRN) in St Johns Church, Reid ACT - Honeymoon in New Caledonia and New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) – a workmate Reg Smith and Craig Clayton were the best man / groomsmen.

Sold the Vauxhall Viva and bought a second hand VW beetle which had an unnerving habit of lurching to one side when it went round right handcorners.

Left CC&J to take up new position at Allen Jack & Cottier in Paddington

1973 NSWIT – SoA Year 4

Third season sponsorship by BTB

At season end bought new 18 Footer Skiff – Glen Gran Whiskey

Bought 3 bed house with granny flat in Narrabeen on the Northern beaches of Sydney.

Commenced the renovations

1974 NSWIT – SoA Year 5

Renovations of the House continued

Bought a 4 door Honda Civic

1975 NSWIT – SoA Year 6

Graduated Bachelor of Architecture NSWIT (now UTS)

1976 Left AJ+C to take overseas trip to Singapore and Europe and South Africa.

After a stopover in Singapore and Bombay we set up our base at Sister in law’s house in Hampstead Garden Suburb in London. We tried to get work but discovered school mates who had work could not afford the petrol to drive their factory bought Australian specification BMWs due to the low wages and high cost of petrol prevalent at the time.

Bought a second hand Ford Transit Campervan outside Australia House from a New Zealand couple. We set out for Dover and the ferry to Boulogne. Paris was our first stop.

Chartres Cathedral Le Mans and the Chateaux of the Loire Valley. Further south to Limoges, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Biarritz. Through the Basque country to San Sebastian, Bilbao, Santander to where we met Chris and Barbara Cole from WA.

Teaming up we travelled in convoy to Burgos, Madrid, Segovia, Avila, Toledo and Aranjuez. Saragossa to Barcelona. North through Costa del Sol through the south of France; Marseilles, Nice, Monaco into Italy. At Genoa we parted company with Chris and Barb agreeing to reconnect in Corfu Greece. We continued on to Pisa and Florence before turning south through Siena, Ovieto to Rome. The van broke down in Rome leaving us living in a garage in the basement car park of an Upim Store. Our time was not wasted walking around the City including the Vatican and attending a performance of Aida in the Baths of Caracalla. Further south to Salerno to Sorrento coast and Herculaneum, before turning east to Taranto and Brindisi and the ferry to Corfu. After a week in Corfu the ferry to Patrai. Thence to Olympia in the year of Montreal Games. On to Tripolis, Nafplion and the island of Spetsai. Turning north we found ourselves in the amphitheatre at Epidauros where we saw Oedipus Rex. Athens next stop where we free camped in a street opposite the Parthenon where we watched the light show each night.

When the exhaust pipe parted company with the manifold, Ford quoted a couple of days in their workshop including a weekend. We deciding to pass up their offer because we needed our “home” and chose to visit the Athens equivalent of Parramatta Road where we found a welder who cut out the broken bolt and inserted a new bolt. 5 drachma and 15 minutes later we were on our way to Dafni wine festival to celebrate our good fortune.

Resuming our journey lay the Amphitheatre at Delphi and Lamia where the tappets required urgent adjustment including a new BS threaded bolt. None available; so improvised with a metric thread. A little further on, our next campsite was in an olive grove where the local village teacher brought his pupils to practice their English on us.

Our reward was locally made bread and olives pickled in every way imaginable. What a night that was. On to Meteora Monasteries. Thence to Salonica and Yugoslavia. Skopje to Titograd and the Dalmatian Coast, Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar, Plitvice, Rijeka, to Trieste in Italy.

Venice, Padua, Vicenza and Verona to Lake di Gardi to Innsbruck and the Tirol Mountains. Briefly from Innsbrook to Germany to visit Munich for Oktoberfest. Thence to Lichtenstein for Fanz Joseph’s 70th Birthday Parade. Zurich, Luzern, the Eiger and Bern. Back to France to Ronchamp Chapel and back to the Rhine River, Neuswanstein Castle, Freiberg, Stuttgart and Heidelberg where we saw a performance of “The Student Prince” in the Castle. On to Wiesbaden, Bonn, Koln into Netherlands, Arnhem, Utrecht, Amsterdam Den Haag and Rotterdam. Into Belgium to Antwerp and then Gent to Oostende for the ferry back to Dover. After farewelling Chris and Barb at Jack Frost’s Pub we set off on our circumnavigation of England Scotland and Wales.

After celebrating Christmas in November we sold our van outside Australia House for 350 pounds to a South African couple.

Flying from London to Johannesburg was a little daunting in the Year of the Soweto Riots. When we arrived it was just like being in Sydney. We stayed with my sister and brother in law who was the Australian Trade Commissioner and Consul General. As gracious hosts we were shown Pretoria, Drakensburg Ranges, the Three Rondavels and Kruger National Park. Christmas in Johannesburg.

1977 Flight back to Sydney with a stopover in Meekatharra, WA due to fog at Perth.

Job search once cleaning the House which was rented out to bunch of dole bludging surfers. Luckily the choice of Berber carpet held us in good stead.

January: Worked on contract for Buckland Druce and Harley at Parramatta, then took up permanent position with Wills Denoon.

Renovated the Granny Flat

June: Rented house again and moved to Canberra to set up Branch Office.

1978 29 March: Son Scott Andrew born in Canberra Hospital

AJ+C made an offer I couldn’t refuse to return to Sydney to “put out bushfires. and bought Mazda 323 Wagon

1979 Bought new Datsun C120 van

1980 Sold house in Narrabeen and rented from new owners.

Bought block of land in Bayview, Sydney.

Obtained Owner Builder approval to commenced construction of residence on the Bayview Site.

1981 28 Jan: Daughter Kate Melissa born in Mona Vale Hospital

Construction continued on house build with the help of School friend John Bates (TPHS 1967)

1982 Moved into half completed home at Bayview – continued finishing construction of the lower floor and finishing trades on weekends.

1983 Sold the Honda; Leased Mazda 323 hatchback sedan

1984 Judy crashed the Datsun 120 Van, Bought second hand sigma station wagon

1985 Set up private Practice: Black and Willoughby Pty Ltd

1986 Leased Renault Fuego


1988 June: Separated from Wife

December: Sold House in Bayview – Moved to rental flat in Mosman, Sydney

Judy had custody of both children.

1989 February: Financial Settlement

April-May: Overseas trip to Bangkok and Nepal: Trekking to Everest base Camp.

Climbed Kala Pattar (5454m above sea level)

1990 June: Left AJ+C to manage Black and Willoughby Architects

August: Moved Practice Office to Mosman sharing with Cross Constructions

Met Toni Fisher at Insight Seminars.

December: Moved to Empire Bay on the Central Coast to live with de facto partner Toni Fisher and her daughter Kristen (17 years old)

1991 Converted Garage Workshop to Office.

Set up Branch Office in Empire Bay.

1992 Closed Mosman Office when several clients declared bankrupt. This left me in financial difficulties owing supplier creditors substantial sums. To pay out supply creditors I took up a contract position with CityRail’s Station Upgrading Group. - All creditors were paid out within 6 months.

1993 Contract position was upgraded to Projects Coordinator

August: Overseas trip to New Zealand. Visited Akaroa in the South Island and Auckland to Bay of Islands in the North Island.

Station Upgrading Group outsourced to private Joint Venture Group including EMTB

Made an offer by EMTB to become Design Manager on secondment to the SUJV

1994 Appointed Principal Architect for Capital Works Management , the holding company for SUJV.

Sold Renault Fuego and bought Mitsubishi Magna

August: returned to EMTB’s Head Office to manage the Documentation of the IMAX Theatre, Darling Harbour.

Appointed to position of Associate Director of HBO+EMTB

1995 April: Separated from de facto partner - Moved to flat in Narrabeen to share custody of daughter Kate on alternate weeks.

Scott moved in to the flat on a permanent basis.

May: Met Barbara Bonham in Windsor, NSW

1996 April: Moved into house at Newport, Sydney with Barbara and her 3 children: Nigel, Wayne and Ashley as well as Scott and Kate still on a week on week off basis. The “Brady bunch” seemed to work fairly well.

7 Sept: Married Barbara Ann Bonham

Bought house in Kings Langley, Sydney

November Commence d renovations

1997 6 January: Triplets Born (premature) Emma, Chenoa and Angel in Blacktown Hospital. They only survived for one day

June: Overseas Trip to Fiji

1998 February: Robert Jr. born (premature) in Penrith Hospital – He live for only one day

1999 Completed owner build extension to Dining Room and major renovations to gardens

2000 Easter: Separated from Wife

Studied Feng Shui under Master Howard Choy at Sydney College of Feng Shui

Sold Magna and bought Honda Civic

Rented house Moved to Cremorne, NSW

2001 Mother died

Divorced: Wife

Graduated Professional Practitioner of Feng Shui

2002 September -October: Overseas Trip to Bangkok, China, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan

2003 November-December: Overseas Trip to Los Angeles, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Peru and Bolivia.

Met Jill Lumsdaine in Lima, Peru

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Christmas Day on the Inca Trail, Peru

New Years eave in La Paz, Bolivia

2004 June: Overseas Trip to Papua and New Guinea – Walked the Kokoda Track

November-December: Overseas Trip to Dubai, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zanzibar, Tanzania

Climbed Mount Alieri (3652 m ASL); Mount Abune Yosef (4260m ASL); and Mount Ras Dejen (4620m ASL) in Ethiopia.

Climbed Mount Meru (4566m ASL) and Mount Kilimanjaro (5895m ASL) in Tanzania

Climbed Mount Kenya (5199 m ASL) in Kenya

Christmas Day in Arusha, Tanzania

Wildlife safari to Lake Manyara NP, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti in Tanzania

New years eve in Nairobi, Kenya

2005 January: Overseas Trip in Dubai, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt

Climbed Mount Sinai (2285m ASL)

2006 December-January: Tasmania

2007 December-January: Overseas Trip to New Zealand – car boot camping tour of north and south islands.

April: Overseas Trip to Sabah, Borneo and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Climbed Mount Kinabalu (4095 m ASL)

June: 4 WD Frazer Island holiday.

October: Left HBO+EMTB to join The Cox Group Pty Ltd, Dubai

Sold Honda Civic; put Furniture in Storage

November: Moved to Dubai, UAE

December: Moved from Hotel in Diera to flat in The Greens, Dubai

Bought RAV 4 – toured Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Um Al Qaiwain, Raj Al

Khaimah and Fujairah, UAE with Jill

Christmas: Malta and Sicily with Jill

2008 January: Bahrain with Jill;

April: Qatar with Jill

June: London, England with Jill

Christmas: Cyprus with Jill and Kate

New Years Eve: Al Ain, UAE with Jill and Kate

2009 January: Oman with Jill and Kate

April: Paris, France with Jill.

July: Sydney, Alice Springs, Larapinta Track, Darwin, Kakadu, NT with Jill

October: Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, Iran and Kuwait City with Jill

Christmas Day Forbes with Kate and Scott

New Years Eve: Al Ain, UAE

2010 End January: Contract completed with The Cox Group – Sold RAV4 and Furniture

February: Moved to Dee Why, Northern Beaches - Bought VW Golf – started contract work with Caldis Cook Group.

April: Moved to Rushcutters Bay, Sydney with Jill Lumsdaine

June: Accepted position as Senior Associate at Caldis Cook Group

Christmas Day Sydney

December: Overseas Trip to Singapore, South Africa

New Years Eve Cape Town, RSA

2011 January: Overseas Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and South Africa


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