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Hec Goodall Interview, Part 1
This oral history recording documents a history of the Coffs Harbour Pet Porpoise Pool through to new management when it became the Dolphin Marine Magic and now Dolphin Marine Conservation Park. The Pet Porpoise Pool was opened in 1972 by Hec Goodall, with a board made up of business associates from Victoria and Coffs Harbour. From its earliest years the Pickering brothers Greg, Spencer and Robert came onboard as the dolphin and seal trainers and in maintenance positions.InterviewerDr Johanna KijasCollectionThe Hec Goodall StoryAgencyCoffs Harbour LibrariesSummaryStanley Henry Goodall, known from childhood as Hec, is the founder of the Coffs Harbour Pet Porpoise Pool. Born 27/8/1927, Hec was 91 at the time of the interview. He grew up on Philip Island, Victoria, in the company of two younger brothers, with a third brother and then sister arriving later. The three brothers roamed the island and spent much time in the sea. Hec was an imaginative artist and cartoonist, where he is still producing art daily. Work eventually took Hec to Queensland and the Gold Coast in the early 1960s where he met Jack Evans and started to learn about dolphins. In 1968 he came to Coffs Harbour to establish the Pet Porpoise Pool, opening in 1972 with one dolphin.
The interview began with Hec’s childhood, arriving in Phillip Island at the age of eight. He told many stories of his joy in nature, the sea environment and a constant curiosity and inventive drive. The brothers became keen skin divers and their first skin diving spear was made from a broom stick with a sharp attachment. Hec’s mother was a nurse and from an early age the family rescued and housed injured native animals that they worked to bring back to good health. He tells a story about a baby koala that his mother successfully reared, which lived with the family into adulthood while also free to live in the wild where he would leave for weeks at a time. The koala was later confiscated by government authorities who were rehousing Phillip Island koalas onto the mainland. This painful episode influenced Hec’s dislike of bureaucracy to this day.
He tells of his working life, inventions, and the push and pull factors that took him to Swam Hill where, amongst many other things including managing the agricultural store, he started signwriting and painting. In the early 1960s he and a friend worked their way from Melbourne to Brisbane in their holidays painting the windows of refurbished Ampol Service stations. They finished in the Gold Coast to go skin diving and there met Jack Evans. He tells the story of how Jack came to have dolphins, through a practical joke. Hec was employed to paint the walls of Jack’s pool and learnt to play with the dolphins after hours and teach them tricks. No one else was doing anything like this. Returning to work in Swan Hill, eventually on Jack’s insistence Hec returned to the Gold Coast and started work at Jack’s Pet Porpoise Pool where he remained for about six years.
Jack wasn’t interested in the rescue and rehabilitation of marine animals, which became the driving force for Hec to look elsewhere to establish an oceanarium where the tourist side of the venture would pay for the rescue and research aspects. A chance encounter one night in Coffs on his way to Port Macquarie, where he was planning to establish the oceanarium, led to a change in plan. With the financial assistance of Swan Hill business men and other Victorian friends who became shareholders, Hec tells the story of government and local council enthusiasm for the venture. The pool was opened without a dolphin, eventually capturing one baby dolphin. He was the only wild-captured animal, all others coming from rescues or birth at the PPP.
The interview was recorded at Hec’s home across two days. Hec has done many interviews over his life and was confident and happy to conduct our interview. At 91, however, he was apologetic that he might confuse some aspects of his story. Some confusion arose regarding Jack Evans Pet Porpoise Pool. For example, Evans had already established a shark pool and dolphin show in 1956 rather than the early 1960s when Hec arrived. He confused the story about Happy, the baby dolphin that was killed by unknown sources during his time at the Pool, with the birth and disappearance of a baby dolphin during the era of Dolphin Marine Magic. He also believed Tom Lewis was premier at the time they met in 1968 to discuss the idea of an oceanarium at Coffs Harbour. At the time Lewis was the Minister for Lands and Mines and had become responsible for National Parks and Wildlife in 1967. He became premier later, in January 1975. While names and dates need to be checked, as they always are in oral history interviews, Hec’s overall story is coherent and engaging.
Hec refers to ‘Sinclair’ at times in the last audio file – Paige Sinclair who became the Managing Director after Hec left, changing the name to Dolphin Marine Magic. After a torrid period of disagreement with the Board about succession Hec retired and had nothing to do with the Pool over the following 11 years. He only returned to the Pool a month before our interview at the invitation of the new director, a nephew from Victoria – Terry Goodall. Hec visited his ailing friend for the first time since he left, the c. 49-year-old dolphin Bucky. The last interview file tells some of the story of the early years of the Pet Porpoise Pool and Hec’s later removal from management of the Pool. He has detailed this tumultuous story in his home-printed account: ‘The Sad Sorry Saga of the People’s Pet Porpoise Pool’.
NB: The final interview file (number 4) finished with Hec talking about Troy and Verne’s purchase of the Butterfly House and other information personal information that should not be for the public record. The end of the interview has therefore been edited to delete that section.
Dolphin Marine Magic changed its name to the Dolphin Marine Conservation park in February 2019: https://webarchive.nla.gov.au/tep/174124.