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by Nick Drew  |  Mon 26 Apr 2021

The Bob Marshall Story: A Life in Heavy Equipment (Part Four)

Rounding off our mini series featuring the memoirs of Australian heavy equipment legend Bob Marshall in his own words and edited exclusively for the Digger Man Blog.

The Bob Marshall Story: A Life in Heavy Equipment (Part Four)

In 1983 the Maroochy Shire Council granted approval for the lake/cable skiing park to open and Bob and Kathy frequently hosted large water-skiing, wakeboarding and cable skiing events including the 2005 Australian wakeboarding championships.

Bob and Kathy never considered charging anything for these events, simply leaving a box for any donations people might feel free to give. This money was always given to charities, continuing Bob and Kathy’s philanthropic endeavours.

On average the Marshall’s have been donating $25,000 a year to various charities and worthy causes, ranging from the large charitable organisations, to individuals down on their luck as well as animal charities such as the Australian koala foundation. Bob has always been involved in his local community assisting when needed in a monetary capacity or “in kind” donations, using his earthmoving equipment and manpower to get things done for the greater good.

Bob has a swag of stories to tell. One of the many stories that Bob shared was the tale of the tanker “Cherry Venture “which ran aground. Local company Brambles were granted the contract to remove all the fuel from the vessel. They approached Bob for the use of one of his dozers.

The bulldozer towed the tank further up the beach so that it was more accessible. It was then realised that Bob was the only one close who had ample storage to store all of the fuel. “I was very pleased with the deal I struck with Brambles of 10 shillings to the gallon” said Bob.

In his earlier 80’s Bob made his own biofuel. He learnt the science 8 to 10 years ago through one of his water-skiing friends. Hearing that his mates father made his own fuel Bob was keen to hear more. He spent time finding out more with his friend David Claire, and to cut a long story short, Bob has been using his own biofuel for his personal use ever since. It’s environmentally friendly and as Bob cares deeply for the environment, this fits in well with the lifestyle he and Kathy are now living.

As previously mentioned in Part Three, Leafy Lane, their property at Forest Glen has since come full circle. What started off as a small property is now a beautiful 200 acres. The land has gone from swamp to sand mine, to 4 lakes perfect for water-skiing, to a sanctuary for birds and fish.

Marshall Lakes is now a pristine habitat for wildlife, a perfect example of rehabilitation. Grandchildren and close friends occasionally fish here but because of Bob’s policy of catch and release the Murray cod population is increasing. The white bellied sea eagle is just one of the many birds who have made Leafy Lane their home.

Bob has never been a quitter and he does not back down. If he thinks there is an injustice being done, he will always pursue it. This means that a fortune on legal fees over an 18-year period has been spent.

This was due to court costs involved in the matter with the Queensland Department of Main Roads. It all started in 1989 when the DMR claimed part of Bob’s land to widen the northbound lanes of the Bruce Highway. Three years later, in 1992, extensive flooding occurred causing $1.2 million of damage to land and equipment.

Upon investigation Bob found that the DMR had replaced his culverts with small pipes which were incapable of handling the large volume of water. In the end Bob spent $2 million in legal fees, but eventually won the case.

During this time though, the council withdrew their approval for the skate park citing complaints from neighbours regarding the noise. However, in 2005 Bob and Kathy were able to obtain special permission to host the Australian Wake Boarding Championships at the property.

This was able to be achieved because no money changed hands with the Marshall’s. This was a huge success with athletes travelling not just from within Australia but from all over the world. Able bodied skiers and paraplegics alike, were all welcome.

12,000 people attended the event and the Maroochy Shire Council said there was no noise complaints. All the skiers from around the world who attended this event were later devastated when the Maroochy Shire Council closed the ski lakes down which left them with nowhere else to go.

Bob has certificates of achievement and appreciation from many areas, Bob and Kathy are both still stepping up to help when and where they can. Through Bob’s 80’s he was still operating his machinery on his own property up to 18 months ago improving in developing the property in any way to help the public use the freshwater lakes on his 200-acre oasis, water skiing, jet skiing, and camping.

Today on the 26th April 2021 Bob celebrates his 90th birthday. Bob’s achievements through his life have been fast and diverse in many areas, from timber cutting, to all aspects of earthmoving, roadbuilding urban development, sand mining to own his own quarry, dredging, purchasing over his lifetime hundreds of different earthmoving machines and equipment.

And some of these he still has today. One of his sons Eddie Marshall of Eddie Marshall Excavations has even helped him start a social media page on Instagram @m.r.marshallearthmoving aimed at helping Bob put his history and story up for anyone that would enjoy his stories and looking back over the many years.

On a local level Bob and Kathy have always supported their community, giving their assistance wherever they can, with countless stories being told about giving a helping hand, whether it be a child needing an operation or somebody that has fallen on hard times. Bob now surrounded by his five children, 13 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren has a rich family life and many life experiences to pass on.

The man has been a fighter for what he believes in, dedicated hard-working, a battler, opening his heart through his generosity to others, and much more.

On a personal note, I would just like to say, Happy Birthday Bob, it has been my great pleasure and a privilege to document your story and share photos here on the Digger Man Blog, I hope I get the opportunity to meet you in person one of these days in the not-too-distant future if I make it “Down Under”.


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