Farewell Geoff King

Geoffrey King. Photo courtesy of Matthew Newton.

March 8, 1955 – September 19, 2013

Geoffrey (Joe) King was raised at his parent’s property at Kinglands, Redpa. He was the second son of Tom (dec.) and Dulcie, and a brother to Perry.

He grew up on a beef farm amongst the Herefords, dogs and horses, where he learnt farming and many life skills.

A defining moment was in a childhood accident playing with Perry when he lost the use of one eye.

Geoff and Perry went to Redpa Primary School with their many cousins, then to Smithton High School. They were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go to Hobart to board and attend The Friends’ School.

Geoff proved to be a much better athlete and sportsman than a scholar, as this is where his teenage interests lay.

Living in Hobart raised Geoff’s awareness to greater possibilities in life. He spent time at an agricultural college in Western Australia, where he played football for a couple of teams.

Geoff returned to the family farm. He commenced farming in partnership with his mother and brother, following the death of his father.

He threw himself into local football and cricket, playing with Redpa, Irishtown, Smithton and then back to Redpa. He was very proud of his sporting achievements, including having played in the Redpa 1978 and 1979 reserves premierships (RFC didn’t have a senior side in those years). He played in the resurgent Redlegs of the late 1980s under Stafford Heres, including in the 1989 and 1990 premiership sides.

Geoff was also a very good cricketer – the King of Swing or the Great Man as he was known by many. He loved playing alongside his cousins and friends with Marrawah Cricket Club, particularly during Country Week each January.

Geoff played in a number of premierships, but perhaps the most memorable was in 1990, when he and cousin Dean Nicholls put on a 21-run, 10th wicket partnership to get MCC home on the last ball.

Not only a good sportsman, but a diligent administrator for the clubs he associated with, in accordance with the King family tradition. He became a life member of RFC in 1992.

Geoff met his wife Margo at a Longford Folk Festival in 1985. The attraction was immediate and permanent. Margo was Geoff’s perfect foil, life partner, gate opener, co-delegate to the Circular Head Football Association, confidante and style adviser (unsuccessfully).

They produced two sons, Angus and Hugh, who became his great joys in life.

Geoff had many great loves. One of the strongest was to the West Coast and the places where he grew up, including King’s Run, north of Arthur River, which his family had farmed for many years.

Geoff’s love of the place, and an increasing awareness of the fragility of the West Coast, led him to stop beef grazing on it in 1999. From here on he adopted a more conservative approach to its management.

Geoff started an eco-tourism business, King’s Wildlife Tours in the same year. This allowed him to meet a wide range of people from all walks of life and a variety of places. Their fascination with Geoff was equally met.

Geoff was a great collector of ideas, information, people, friends, history and newspaper cuttings. He was an incessant chronicler.

In 1991, he became the Circular Head Chronicle’s international sports writer and armed with that appointment, signed by the then-editor Les Shearer, he presented it to a bemused West Indies Board of Control and obtained a press pass to the Australia versus West Indies test series.

Many will recall the MCC banner unfurled from the players and wives’ grandstands in Antigua and Barbados, and his audacious walk-bys behind Ritchie Benaud’s tea break report.

Geoff became a member of the Tasmanian Conservation Trust in 2000, and was its president from 2004 to 2007. He was also appointed to the Arthur-Pieman Management Committee, where he sat with his brother Perry.

Despite holding some opposing views with others on that committee, Geoff’s respectful and considerate approach won the respect of those who would listen.

Geoff took a long view on the task of educating people of the need to protect the West Coast and its flora and fauna, as well as Aboriginal heritage. He was actively involved in the fight to save the Tasmanian devil and his connections in the wider community helped promote that cause.

Geoff loved being involved with his sons and their sport. He had memorable overseas travel experiences with them both.

He thrived on meeting people and would talk to them as much as he possibly could. He expected to see people he knew wherever he was, even overseas.

While that may seem improbable, the truth is he often did.

Geoff King touched the lives of so many people. He was unique, much loved and remarkable.

In the words of Nick McKim, “Tasmania is a far lesser place for his passing”.

Vale Geoff King.


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