National Times Reunion – Reboot

Just before Covid, my friend and colleague Bob Milliken and I decided to try and organise a reunion of our old Newspaper, The National Times. Covid disrupted the first two attempts.

The third attempt, last Thursday, our reunion finally happened. Sadly without Bob. However, he will be at the next.

Thank you all, for  the lovely messages .... I'm so pleased everyone had a  good time, no animals were hurt in the making of this Reunion ( except the 21 fish and 10 steaks )

For all of you who asked for a bit of airbrushing .... take your glasses off NOW!

WARNING - Some colourful  language!

I'd like to send get well messages out to Bob Milliken, Jenny Coopes, Deb Snow and Yvonne Preston.

Huge thank you to Christine Rau who lugged a swag of National Times posters ... that added something truly special.

Also massive thanks to Leonne Lay and staff at the Harbour View Hotel

Some highlights from the messages and correspondence ... below

Please add what you can remember of the event in comments for those that couldn't attend

Thank you


If anyone hasn't paid, David Hickey still knows a couple of hard men who could collect. Again thanks, Brian

My Max story was something that’s stayed with me for decades – I was a young reporter about to start life in the Press Gallery in Canberra. Max greeted me with a thundering order: “I don’t want any more bleeding heart journalists!” “Yes Max!” Not sure I always adhered to the brief….Sally

This from David Dale ... who Max described - at the lunch - as a trouble maker. David missed the lunch and went to the South Coast.
" Max reading a draft of mine, finding a particularly gross act of defamation, and screaming across the office: " Dale you mad cunt, you can't SAY this"
When I resigned to go and live in England ( because I was disgusted at the way Australians voted after The Dismissal), Max let me serve out my notice on the subs desk, so I would have an extra skill to offer the British media.
His first instruction: " You can write short. Fucking Edwards has sent us 7000 words when we can only fit 5,000. You can cut him."
I was then regularly tasked with cutting the despatches of Andrew Clark, Paul Kelly, John Edwards and any other Canberra correspondent who Max regarded as overwriters."  David Dale

Thanks also to David for  edging himself into the role of MC, and conducting it with his usual brilliant showmanship. The exchange with Richard could be extended a little to make an excellent two man show at The Griffin. Thanks to Max for showing up and bearing up well under a shower of compliments.

John Edwards

Here we have an example of the very simple task of choosing between Fish/Steak or Vegetarian for the main course ...

Don’t you think these details should be kept private - Max’s steak, my indecision etc. We have reputations, you know.
David Marr

Dear Lorrie

I am relaxed if my steak perversion is revealed but please keep private my shameful obsession with mustard ..which i share with george pell i understand.
Max Suich

What if the public was to discover there isn’t a vegetarian amongst us?

I agree with David - no opportunity to explain one’s choice or the particular circumstance in which it was made, let alone the relevant considerations one assessed.Too binary
Best wishes

John Edwards

Dear David D, and David M

David D,  if you could send Adrian’s email I will add him to the list.

David M … I’m putting you down for Vegan even tho it’s not an option!

And so the whingeing and trolling begins. Courage Loz!.

OK. Steak. David Marr

Thank you  Lorrie Graham

Let him eat quinoa. Geraldine Brooks

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Comments 13

  1. Thank you Lorrie for organising such a wonderful stroll through the old Fairfax corridors, I missed Bob Milliken, one of my favourite people. Your photographs are very, very good. We should do it all again, in the not too distant future.

  2. Dear Lorrie and everyone.

    What a fantastic gathering.
    Bittersweet, given the newspaper carnages from the late 1980’s on.
    What a privilege to have worked in a newsroom with so much talent, banter, lots of coffee, and pride in each others’ work.
    (And rather many long lunches on a Tuesday…)
    A truly collaborative effort, built on trust, in the days when the Fairfaxes could afford to run a sociologically groundbreaking newspaper at a loss. Also with its emphasis on the Yarts.
    The Age is the nearest I’ve seen to come close in its trust in its journos, photographers, and artists.
    In my experience, across four newspapers, the photographers often asked the most incisive questions when on the road for a job somewhere.

    It’s not just a maudlin episode of nostalgia for old hacks…(although I admit to demolishing a few tissues); it’s an oral and visual history of what newspapers can do at their best:
    Illuminate the times, the corruption, the hidden issues and the zeitgeist. (I’m allowed to abuse that cliche’d word, being Tscherman!)
    Love to you all, and hope the old bodily groans and creaks don’t dissuade us from brainwashing the next generation to a modicum of ethics and excellent writing/observation!

    Chris and menagerie xxoo

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    1. Yes! Agree with Geraldine, everyone looks terrific. Love botography. How I wish I could have been there!

  3. Lorrie, as ever, you are a master (mistress?) of your profession, thank you for making us all appear as good as we were. I do look forward to David and Richard’s two-hander at The Griffin, soon.
    A memorable day, your skills as an event organiser, blogger and photojournalist are unmatched. X

  4. I so much wanted to come, but I am recovering from an illness and with the surge in Covid, I didn’t dare. It looks like a lot of fun. Thanks to Lorrie and Bob for doing all the organising, and regards to the class of 80. It was a hair-raising journey for me at the Times, with absolutely no training (except academic essays and research reports in the Cwlth Parliamentary Library) and two pages of a national newspaper to fill every week, but it gave me a valuable portable skill and looked fine on my CV. I want to thank those who were kind to me, particularly Adele Horin, Elizabeth Wynhausen (whom I immortalised as Lizzie Darcy in my Syd Fish novels), the subs, Deb Smith, and, David Hickie, who used to sit behind me and who later gave me the job as books editor on the Sun Herald. The 1992 recession had hit my freelancing research, writing and editing, hard, and I had been offered a job as executive officer to the new committee system in the Queensland Parliament (I’m sure there would have been a book in that). If I’d taken it, I would have bought a house on the Brisbane River, and it would have gone under in the great flood, so thanks, Dave. I kept a diary of that year, by the wa;y..

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    Lorrie, what a splendid photographs of our Reboot lunch! And how cleverly enhanced by the rude, witty comments of some who were there. Thank you

    My eight years at the National Times were the most stimulating, most exhausting and most wonderful fun years ofmy working life. I was happy to hear that almost everyone at lunch agreed about the fun.

    We worked as a team, writers, artists, cartoonists and photographers all together in one long room with windows facing west so we got wonderful sunsets. And we were always still there at sunset

    Once I got a death threat ( but Marian and Wendy got them too) after I’d written a satirical column about punishing misogynists. I was frightened. The anonymous guy said he knew where I lived and where my four children went to school.

    Patrick Cook go hold of his letter, written in red and green ink. He pined it to the notice board and added graphic illustrations of just what the guy had threatened to do to me. I was a few people gathered round the notice board and went to look. The drawings were macabre. There was silence. Then someone smothered a laugh. A few others laughed. We all exploded with laughter. We fell about. We held onto each other, laughing. I felt instantly better. Thankyou Patrick. I meant to say that at lunch but I’d repressed the memory. Whatever happened to those drawings? I hope you sold them. Kristin x

  6. Wow. What a gathering of amazing talent from the most golden of gold days of Australian journalism. Memories of a bygone era to be cherished.

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