After 40 years, former Finley resident John Scarfe is retiring from active service in the Australian Navy.
Mr Scarfe left Finley to join the Navy in 1976 as a junior recruit after an Australian Defence Force recruiting drive through the region.
Although Mr Scarfe now resides in Rockingham, Western Australia, he still visits occasionally.
‘‘I try and get back once a year,’’ he said.
‘‘When I was posted along the New South Wales coast I would make my best efforts to return to visit my family.
‘‘Next year I will be returning to Finley for a big family reunion.
‘‘My mum, Judy Scarfe, is still in Finley, my sister Karen is just outside Finley and my brother Paul is in Blighty.’’
At age 16, Mr Scarfe chose to join the Navy as an opportunity to see the world.
He began his technician apprenticeship in Nirimba, Sydney before spending two years on air craft carrier HMAS Melbourne.
Mr Scarfe travelled to San Diego, California to assist in the commissioning of HMAS Canberra until he returned to Sydney in 1981.
After marrying his wife Kim in 1982, the couple settled down in Sydney until the HMAS Canberra was transferred to Rockingham in 1996.
During his time in the Navy, Mr Scarfe was active in two major conflicts — the 1991 Gulf War on HMAS Sydney and a six months to Afghanistan on HMAS Canberra in 2002.
‘‘I quit school after Year 10 and decided I wouldn’t return for Years 11 and 12, so when the recruiting drive was taking place I applied and had to fly to Perth.
‘‘I hadn’t been outside of Finley that much before joining so it was a chance to travel the world.’’
Mr Scarfe spent his time in the Navy as a marine engineer and technician, skills he said came in handy when he returned to Finley every year.
‘‘When I used to return back home, my skills in fixing machinery would help mum and dad on the farm.’’
While Mr Scarfe plans to settle into retirement and some volunteer work in Rockingham, and says he still considers Finley an important part of his life.
‘‘I grew up there and my family is still there so I will always have time for Finley.
‘‘I love Finley; it’s a great little country town. One of my best childhood memories is the peace and quiet of the place.
‘‘Although ... the fishing is a lot better here in Rockingham than Finley,’’ he joked.