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Max Juett – Frontier Man

Max Juett was born on a farm at Cuddley Creek in Adelaide, South Australia.

At the age of one, Max was discovered to have curvature of the spine and his uncle who diagnosed his condition went on to treat Max every week until he was four years old. Max’s uncle was a qualified Osteopath who had trained in the US. After the age of four the treatment continued but not as intensively until Max was twelve. At this stage Max was able to play sport and became an avid cricket player.

On leaving school Max did an apprenticeship as a carpenter and joiner with his father “JB” but at the age of nineteen Max’s mother died and his father lost all hope to live. Saddled with severe depression Max’s Dad went into decline.  Max had the huge responsibility of finishing five houses that his father was contracted to build.

“I finished everything for my Dad and wound everything up for him but being only nineteen I lost out financially as I was young and inexperienced,” said Max.

“Because I was born in Adelaide, I did my NASHO training at Woodside in the Adelaide Hills. I should have been in the first intake in 1951 but being an Apprentice, they deferred my training until I completed my trade schooling, and I never went in until the third intake in 1953,” Max said.

Max and his Dad went on to buy a taxi together working a 12 -hour shift each, one on and one off. They operated the taxi business for three and a half years.

Early in 1956, Max and his Dad “JB” had sold the taxi and bought a caravan shell and customised it to suit their needs. They had decided they were going to work their way around Australia as both men being carpenters believed they would always find work.

“We had planned a four- year trip with the first stop in Alice Springs. We had decided we would stay for three months and then head to Tennant Creek and Katherine for one month and then Darwin for three months. We hoped we would head down the Western Australia coast to Perth across the Nullabor and then to Victoria and up the east coast and back to Adelaide at the end of four years,” Max said.

The father and son duo left Adelaide early June 1956 and endured a red dirt road in a mess between Pimba and Alice Springs. The dirt road was wet and boggy and towing a caravan made the going really tough. The men arrived in Alice Springs on the 18th June and on the 30th June that year there was a government census concluding that the population of Alice Springs was 1,826 people.

Max and his Dad found work and got talked into quoting on a government contract for an infant welfare clinic and got the job, and instead of being in Alice Springs for three months, Max stayed 42 years.

“In those early days it was a great place to live,” said Max.

“I met my wife Lorna there. She was a double certificated nurse and had come to Alice Springs hospital for 12 months.

“We had three children, two boys and girl,” he said.

Max and his Dad “JB” went on to become one of the major builders in the township of Alice and they have a lot of buildings to their credit. Namely Westpac Bank, Commonwealth Bank, Memorial Club and many more. One of the more visited buildings they constructed was Panorama Guth. This building was like a castle and housed a painting on a circular canvas 200- foot round and about 22 foot- high and was painted depicting the beautiful Australian landscape surrounding Alice Springs.

Sadly, this amazing tourist destination burnt down a number of years ago.

“I also spent around 15 months working on the American Space Base or Pine Gap just out of Alice.

“I was asked to set it out for the builders (Collins Radio) and then asked to stay on for the construction.

“I was the first Australian to work at Pine Gap as a building supervisor. There were four American supervisors and another Australian and we had two hundred workers under us.

“I had 86 men under me and built 13 out of 22 constructions including the two big radomes.

“Pine Gap was the biggest construction site in the Territory back in 1966 – 67 and quite a challenge as their methods (the Americans) of construction were vastly different from ours.

“The project had a budget of around twenty million US dollars and we finished ahead of time and under budget,” said Max.

Max and his father “JB”, also had an aluminium fabricating company and they did a lot of commercial shopfronts and auto doors. Max’s dad passed away in August 1971 and eventually Max closed their building company down.

Max and his wife Lorna decided to leave Alice Springs and head to Seelands 17 kilometres out of Grafton which is central to Max’s wife Lorna’s family. During their time in Alice Springs the population expanded to 28,000. They were witness to a very large growth in the township during their time there.

During Max’s time in the Alice he umpired Aussie Rules, women’s netball and basketball as well as playing cricket for 35 years.

Max is an all -round good bloke and true family man with a treasury of experience in life. He has been an observer to many changes and at 87, has an abundance of knowledge.

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