August, 31 2012
Port Hedland
John Elliott

Joyce Blanche Haynes (1922-2011)

Behind every good man is a good woman and in Port Hedland that woman was Joy Haynes, supporting her husband Jack as he went about his passion of making Port Hedland the place to be. Jack held the position of Chairman of the Port Authority for 21 years and was Shire President and a councilor for several terms. He was recognized with an OAM, Freeman of the Town and Western Australian Citizen of the Year. But what many people don’t realize is that a lot of Jack’s ideas and actions began with an opinion that Joy had. Joy, like Jack, was very strong-minded about the direction that Port Hedland should be taking and was very vocal in making sure that her opinion reached the right ears.

Joy followed local issues closely and read the newspaper (without glasses), watched the news and listened to ABC Northwest every day to keep herself informed as much as possible as to what was happening. While shopping, or at a social function, if she caught the eye of the current mayor she would summon them over and have her say. If the Mayor wasn’t around she would catch another likely person or councilor and voice her opinions. On regular occasions she would request - she was a non driver - for someone to take her on a tour of the town. She liked to keep her finger on the pulse and check on her domain…and I say ‘domain’ because she was like the queen of the town. She always got home very pleased with what she had seen or the progress on a project.

Joy was born Joyce Blanche O’Brien on 6 April, 1922, in Perth, to parents Zena and Clarence. She inherited her strength and resilience from her mother, who died from a congenital heart condition having been told she should never have children. She was educated at Sacred Heart in Highgate before joining the air force during WWII. Stationed in Melbourne she enjoyed the social life in the air force: 500 women and 1,500 men! In 1946 she married a handsome Flight Instructor, Jack Haynes.

Their early years of marriage were spent in Subiaco, close to St John of God’s, where Joy gave birth to four children in five years. In 1957, and with new baby Julie only weeks old (one of Joy’s sayings was “new house new baby”), the family made the long drive in Jack’s FJ Holden to Geraldton, where they added two more children to the brood, keeping St John’s in Geraldton in business as well. Jack was Shell Manager for the North West, and was often away, with Joy coping with many emergencies and disasters on her own - that’s when her resilience really kicked in. She was very involved with various community groups and enjoyed the fantastic social life that went with this. 

In 1963 Jack left Shell to pursue his love of the North West, and so started the next stage of Joy’s life. The family moved to Port Hedland, into a house in Kingsmill Street overlooking the ocean. Port Hedland was a small town in 1963, with about 1,200 inhabitants; it had not yet commenced its iron ore phase, and was a very remote and hostile environment to someone from a more comfortable region. This new environment would have been a challenge to any woman, especially one with a large and young family. Joy rose to tackle the challenge with much enthusiasm and without complaint.

Initially Joy had difficulty with the Port Hedland heat and also breaking into the social scene. The latter was conquered long before adjusting to the climate. In the two years of living at Kingsmill Street there were regular barbeques and social events at the large premises, where Joy was able to relish the role of hostess. This was the period when Joy became well established in Port Hedland, and relationships made with the local community became lasting. She established a circle of involvement and influence that gave her a rightful place in the town.

The family then moved to a smaller house. Whilst it was crowded, Mum was able to cope extremely well under difficult circumstances, cooking on a wood stove in a hot climate for a large family. When they moved again, to Moore Street, Joy’s involvement in the community really blossomed. This was her realm, and many local identities were entertained in her court. Moore Street was where the family slowly dispersed as they grew and matured, freeing Joy up to become more involved in the community, joining clubs and commencing her own business ventures. After 30 years of family raising Joy was now ready to plot her own course. She was becoming the queen of Port Hedland.

Joy was quite a fashion plate. She loved getting dressed up and the fact that she and Jack were so involved in so many organisations around town gave her many opportunities to do so.  Although she was a competent seamstress herself, she always had a dressmaker on tap to run up new outfits. Her radar was obviously very highly tuned into information regarding new arrivals and their dressmaking abilities. Race season was a highly anticipated time of year for Joy because, not only could she dress up, but she also got to wear a hat.

Joy was able to turn her hand to most anything. Her secretarial training between leaving school and joining the air force stood her in good stead for her early jobs in Port Hedland, as a telephonist for the taxi company and post office, and then as the Post Master’s secretary for many years. She struck out on her own in the late ‘70s and took over the kiosk at the swimming pool - her first business venture and her most successful. She worked very long hours at a time when it was the only pool in town. During the winter when the pool was closed she would take her trips around the world; Joy loved to travel and struck out independently on many occasions, to Europe and the United States. Her final business was her handcraft shop which started from very humble beginnings in a hole in the wall in Richardson Forum, eventually growing to bigger premises in Hedland Arcade. It kept Joy occupied and in contact with everyone, and was a way for her to meet newcomers to town.

Joy loved to be involved in everything. She was an active community citizen being a charter member of Soroptimist International of Port Hedland in 1971, and she continued to be a member of right, passing on her knowledge and advice to the club. She was also on the original committee of the Tourist Bureau (now Visitors Centre), and as a business owner was involved in starting the Night Markets in the main street to try to attract more people to the West End. Quite often she was sought out as a source of historical information on Port Hedland, as she had a sharp mind and a very good memory.

Joy’s strong-mindedness was a refusal to suffer fools.  She was very mindful of what she herself did and as a result expected everyone else to be similarly accountable for themselves. She was sharp as a tack, and had a tongue to match, with a fantastically dry sense of humour; absolutely nothing escaped her and she had no qualms about speaking her mind on any subject, to any person. She was smart, caustically funny, sure in her opinions and more than happy to share them with everyone within hearing distance. 

She was a queen of Paradise, who only saw Port Hedland through rose coloured glasses.

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