Philip Dulhunty is a Lane Cove Legend. He has lived in Greenwich for over 40 years. He has just had his 94th birthday and celebrated it by going to a fitness studio. Philip’s autobiography is called Never a Dull Moment and that is a very apt title.
Philip served in World War II, was in Hiroshima after the Atomic Bomb was dropped, and is a seaplane pilot who has survived forced landings and crashes. He has flown under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. He has survived a plane hijacking and solved one of Australia’s greatest wartime mysterious. He has had a run-in with the KGB and was locked up during China’s Cultural Revolution. Truly a life jam-packed with adventure and narrow escapes from death. He also has an OAM and a highly successful career as a businessman.
Philip was raised in Port Macquarie. At the age of 15, he decided to leave school and join the Air Force. He was rejected due to dodgy knees (which is ironic considering he still goes to a fitness studio at age 94). In 1942, he joined the army and was posted to New Guinea. He saw the Japanese surrender. After the war ended he volunteered to part of the Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan and four months after the atomic bomb was dropped he was stationed in Hiroshima.
However, it was during his time he was based in Sydney that an event would occur that would stay with him for years. During World War II, while based in Sydney, on 30 May 1942 Philip witnessed a Japanese flying boat flying across Sydney Harbour the night before the Japanese Midget Submarines attacked the Harbour. On 31 May 1942, Philip and his brothers witnessed the midget sub raids with one of his brothers taking pot shots at a midget submarine with his .22 rifle.
Three Japanese Mini Submarines entered the Harbour on that night. Two of the submarines never made it out of the Harbour. The third submarine is thought to have fired the torpedoes that sunk the Ferry Kuttabul. The Ferry was moored in the Harbour near the USS Chicago. It was hit and 21 people were tragically killed. It has long been believed that the third submarine managed to escape. In fact, in November 2006 amateur divers discovered the wreck of the min sub sitting upright on the seabed 5kms north of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Mystery Solved!! Phil Dulhunty believes that the mystery was only partly solved. Phil believes that the wreck was placed there by the Australian Navy as a cover-up for a friendly fire incident.
Phil explains in his book Never a Dull Moment:
“..docked alongside Kuttabul on the evening in question was the Dutch submarine K9. It is possible that in the confusion and panic of the moment the sailors on Chicago – composed of a skeleton crew on the night in question – having been told there was a submarine in the harbour fired a shell or torpedo at the suspicious looking outline of the K9, missed their mark by a few meters and sank Kattabul”
Why hide this? Phil further explains:
“Of course, if the Kuttabul had been sunk by ‘Friendly Fire” then it would be imperative to hush up the incident in the interests of US – Australia relations and wartime morale”
Philip Dulhunty is a seaplane man. He has one moored at his Greenwich home. He first started flying seaplanes 70 years ago.
After the war, Phil returned to his hometown, Port Macquarie. There was no Pacific Highway in those days and he wrecked a couple of cars driving up and down to Sydney on the corrugated country roads. Enter the Sunderland flying boats! There were no airports close to Port Macquarie, so he hired the T.O.A. Sunderland flying boat to operate off the coastal rivers (Manning, Hastings and Clarence Rivers) with PG Taylor and Bryan Monckton. QANTAS considered these coastal towns, uneconomical for a large flying boat, so together with his brother Roger Philip started Port Macquarie Clipper Pty Ltd and chartered the Sunderlands on a regular basis. Pilot PG Taylor was a regular skipper on their weekly flights. The pilot enjoyed mixing with passengers and sometimes left Philip cruising in the co-pilot seat. PJ Taylor said to Philip one day, “You’re a natural pilot you should go to Bankstown and get a proper licence. Philip did and the rest is history. Philip started the Seaplane Pilots Association of Australia.
Philip is also a very successful businessman. He still operates out of an office in Lane Cove today. Philip is the man behind Dulhunty Poles Pty Ltd. In 1948 engineers in the rural electricity authorities were always complaining they couldn’t get enough decent poles to build their lines with. Enter a young enterprising 25-year-old, kid who worked with his Father to source power poles. Many of the poles Dulhunty Poles Pty Ltd supplied in 1950 are still standing in the City of Sydney after 60 years and Philip is sure they can go on for another 50 years before they need to be replaced. This was only the start, Philip would go on to design, manufacture and export high voltage equipment systems.
Catalina Flying Memorial is an initiative to acquire, bring to Australia and restore an example of the historic Catalina aircraft, designed in the 1930’s. Few examples still exist in the world. Philip searched around the world for a Catalina in a reasonable condition, capable of being flown to Australia and restored. A Catalina was found in Portugal, where it was last used as an aerial fire-fighting water bomber and is a 1945 model PBY6.
Why are Catalinas important? 168 Catalina’s were used extensively in WW11 by the RAAF and it was to Australia what the SPITFIRE was to England. The Catalina’s wartime exploits were the stuff legends are made from, including finding the German ship Bismarck in the mid-Atlantic, and of course, the Coral Sea Battle. It played a vital role when the enemy was at our doorstep and virtually ‘Saved Australia’. Sadly 320 Australian Catalina aircrew did not return from long-range bombing missions, fighter strikes, mine laying, and air-sea rescue and reconnaissance missions.
Philip thought it was important to highlight the Catalina and was founder of the Catalina Memorial Project.
Philip is a hard man to bring down. About two years ago a spider was hiding in his workboot and gave him a bite. After a week at North Shore Hospital, he was back on his feet again.
Philip received his OAM for service to international trade through the design, manufacture and export of equipment for large high voltage electric systems, and to aviation, particularly through the Seaplane Pilots Association of Australia and the Catalina Flying Memorial Limited.
Book – Never a Dull Moment
Philip has led such a fascinating life, that we have only touched upon it in this article. If you would like to purchase a copy of his book, you can email Philip here.
You can purchase Never A Dull Moment Kindle Edition at Amazon here.
The Dulhunty Connection Continues
Philip’s Great Nephew Ben Dulhunty is a Lane Cove Local and runs Fitness Revelation in Longueville (at the Longueville Sporting Club aka The Diddy). Philip has been training with Fitness Revelation for over 10 years. If you need convincing about exercising in your elderly years Phil said last year:
Being 93 years old, I need some specific training that you don’t get in a general exercise program from a gym. I knew Fitness Revelation could help me from their reputation in the area as being the most experienced in their field. Although I tell Tim he’s too soft on me, I appreciate the care he takes and the knowledge he has with my ailments. I feel 33, not 93, and still have the energy to enjoy life!
What an amazing man!!! Have you met Philip?
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