Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Gerald Hercules Robinson 1893 -1972

Born in Dundee Natal in South Africa at the end of the 19th century, Gerald Robinson spent the early part of his life with his sister Eileen in an orphanage as their mother had died shortly after Gerald had been born and their father went off to fight in the Boer War.

In the early 1900's his father re-married and later took them both back to England.

However Gerald did not get on with his step mother and his Aunt Emily gave him 25 pounds to emigrate to Australia in 1908.

Gerald worked as a jackaroo on various NSW properties in Coolamon, Murwillumbah, Woolgoolga and Junee.. In 1914 he joined the NSW Railways and in 1915 he enlisted in the AIF as a private and went on to England and France. He had a distinguished war record serving with both the 9th Field Ambulance and the 35th Battalion, being wounded in action on several occasions as well as being gassed. He was awarded the Military Medal for Bravery in the Field at Ypres in October 1917 and later was sent to Officers Training School in England.

After graduation he further served in France and England before returning to Australia in 1920 for demobilization.

During the 1920's he teamed up with one of his war buddies and they worked together as joint managing directors in a merchandising, importing and export business - K McLeod Bolton & Company. He got married in 1922 and started a family in 1925.

The business prospered even through the Great Depression. In the early 1930's it acquired the distribution rights for Daimler and Lanchester cars in NSW and ACT. However Gerald's co-director was uneasy about the car business and they split up amicably, Gerald forming 3 companies - Hercules Motors, Hercules Cotton Company and G H Robinson Imports & Exports.

The business continued to do well until the Second World War broke out in 1939 when the main activity, importing cars came to a stop. By this time Gerald Robinson had five children between the ages of 14 and 3.

Undeterred he sub-leased 95% of the two floors he occupied in Macquarie Street, Sydney to the Royal Netherlands Navy for storage and re-enlisted in the AIF in March 1940. The transatlantic liners Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth had been converted to troop ships. In 1941 they were sent out to Australia to ferry Australian troops to the Middle East and bring back POW's, mostly Italians. Gerald's job on one of these ships was as a Draft Conducting Officer between Sydney and Tewfik in the Persian Gulf.

Later he worked as a Staff Captain attached to Australian Army Eastern Command HQ at Victoria Barracks and Parramatta. In December 1943 he got out of the Army and resumed full business activity mainly in used cars. When the hostilities ended he started importing Daimler and Lanchester cars again, as well as acquiring other motor vehicle franchises. These have included, over a great many years Citroen, Jowett, Skoda, Jaguar, Mercedes, Triumph, Peugeot, Studebaker and last but by no means least Mazda.

In the late 50's not only did Hercules Motors become the Daimler company's largest export dealer for their passenger cars but had acquired, through a subsidiary company Hercules Transport Vehicles, the Australian franchise for Hiller Helicopters. In 1956 Gerald was successful in selling the first two commercial helicopters in Australia.

At one time or another all 5 of his children were employed in the business. His only daughter Beatrice left to go to Sydney University to study Theology, graduated and was ordained a Deaconess in the Anglican Church. His four sons all enjoyed successful careers in computing, insurance, law and photography.

In the 1960's, always deeply religious, Gerald became very active not only in St David's Anglican Church at Palm Beach but in the Healing Ministry that met every Wednesday at St Andrews Cathedral in Sydney.

On a trip to the UK he visited Bangor in Wales and resolved to establish a Bible Garden on his Palm Beach property modelled on the one that had recently been completed in the precincts of the Bangor Cathedral. His original plan followed the layout drawn up by Dr Tatham Whitehead for that garden.

The Palm Beach Bible Garden was officially opened at a ceremony performed by the Hon Mr Justice Richardson on March 26 1966. Gerald eventually established a Trust in Perpetuity to administer Bible Gardens on 5 April 1972, appointing himself and his daughter Deaconess Beatrice Robinson as Trustees.

Gerald Hercules Robinson died peacefully in his sleep at his beloved Bible Garden on 4 July 1972.