Roger Dwyer at Camp Gregory veterans retreat.
Roger Dwyer at Camp Gregory veterans retreat. Mike Knott BUN160419VET1

From caddying for the Shark to building a veterans retreat

CADDYING for the Shark, Greg Norman, at his first Australia Open in 1973 is a memory Roger Dwyer holds close to his chest.

The memories of his business life flooded back to him as he sat on the banks of his Gregory River property this week.

As a shareholder of Cobra Golf Australia Mr Dwyer said he helped sales go from $2 million annually to $16 million in the '80s.

Which in turn helped him secure the property now known as Camp Gregory.

Mr Dwyer is proud of his life experiences and as Vietnam Veteran hopes to leave a legacy and Camp Gregory is it.

A decade ago he had a dream to convert the banks of his Gregory River property into a retreat for veterans especially those affected by post traumatic stress disorder.

The vacant land was covered in scrub but Mr Dwyer knew it had potential to be something more.

After 10 long years the 40 acre bush retreat has taken shape, with donga accommodation, a full kitchen and solar powered hot water in the showers.

It's a place that comes at no cost for veterans to find peace, purpose and a place to talk.

The isolated retreat spans along the bank of the Gregory River and is an ideal place to step away from the hustle and bustle of life.

Caretaker Kit Carson said the retreat was used by returned servicemen and women from all around the country.

It's touted as an ideal place to sink a line, or throw out a crab pot or two, and hundreds of thousands of dollars have gone into the project.

It's not completed yet, there are plans to build a jetty along the river front to give safe access to the water for those with disabilities.

But the project has come to a stand-still as Mr Dwyer is calling for help from the federal government.

The jetty would allow access to the river from the camp area for all abilities.

At the moment campers have to traverse uneven ground and small cliffs, which puts them at risk.

Mr Dwyer says it's "well documented that veterans required rehabilitation and support to reintegrate back into society”.

"The benefits of the camp are astronomical,” he said.

"It's prime purpose is to look after veterans and their families.”

Mr Dwyer said the camp would remain well after he had gone and future generations would benefit.

That's why he has approached a number of federal ministers, including Veteran's Affair minister Darren Chester and Hinkler MP Keith Pitt.

"I have businesses on board with support and time offered free of charge,” he said.

"If instructed by the federal government, the military engineers at Amberly can provide 'training opportunities' for their junior staff to make the constructions.”

Mr Pitt said he had visited Camp Gregory a number of times and congratulated the veterans on what they had accomplished.

He said Mr Dwyer had met with the Minister for Veterans Affairs in October .

"Camp Gregory has received support from the Federal Government including being gifted an 18.3 metre Vietnam-era shed and in September received $20,886.60 to construct a ramp for disability access to bathroom facilities and to purchase a defibrillator,” Mr Pitt said.

"Mr Dwyer has been given advice that the restoration of the riverbank and construction of the disabled person's jetty was ineligible for the funding he applied for.

"When any organisation is applying for funding, it must ensure that the project is eligible under the guidelines.”