It was with much sadness that we
heard of the passing of Dame Colleen McCullough (Baroness of Hutt)
on Thursday Jan 29 after a battle with illness.
Dame Colleen has been a long-time
friend and supporter of both the Principality of Hutt River and
myself, in fact we have been friends for more than 25 years. Dame
Colleen was the special Guest at the 25th Anniversary Dinner back in
1995 and I remember well her attendance at that event and the chats
that we have had over the years. I have instructed that a photo of
her at the 25th anniversary dinner be shown here, it is a poor
quality photo but she can be seen seated next to myself. I bestowed
a knighthood on Colleen (thus Dame Colleen) though in later years I
elevated her to a Baroness of Hutt for her outstanding support of
both the Principality and those around her..
I had the pleasure of
visiting Dame Colleen and her husband Ric Robinson at their hone in Norfolk
Island on a number of occasions and they were great hosts. The Robinson home
in Norfolk had a self contained flatette attached to it for use by invited
guests, it was always equipped and ready to accommodate with cupboards and
fridge full of foods etc. My stays were always very informative,
entertaining and a good time was always had when visiting them.
Both Dame Colleen and
Ric (Ric is a descendant of the original Bounty mutineers) were/are staunch
supporters of Norfolk Island and its people, I remember one visit in
particular where a number of locals were re-painting an already immaculately
painted fence. I asked Dame Colleen why she was having the fence painted
when it obviously did not need to be painted and she simply said "it helps
employ people so that they can earn money". That is the type of woman she
was, she cared for those around her and certainly stood up hard and fast for
So very many people have lost a friend and supporter, I am just one of the
Dame Colleen always sent
me a copy of her latest book hot off the presses and a message was always
included with her signature on the inside of the cover. It was only on
Wednesday that we actually put her collection of books together ready to
place on display, particularly for the approaching 45th anniversary of the
PHR so that people could see them. I have instructed that scans of a couple
of the handwritten dedications in her books should be published here in
memory of her.
Many people do not
realise that apart from being a world renowned writer, Dame Colleen was also
an extremely intelligent and well educated person, in
established the department of neurophysiology at the Royal North Shore
Hospital in Sydney, then moved to the UK to work at Great Ormond Street
Hospital in London before working as a
researcher/teacher at Yale Medical School in the USA for ten years.
It was whilst at Yale that Dame Colleen wrote her first 2 books (Tim & The
Thorn Birds) and the success of these led to her leaving her "trade" and
moving to settle in Norfolk Island where she met her husband Ric and she
settled down to become a prolific and most successful writer.
The world has lost a
friend in Dame Colleen but am very pleased that I had the opportunity to
We are all greatly
saddened by this loss.
Our condolences go out to Ric and the
family at this time.
from us all.
HRH Prince Leonard
Principality of Hutt River