FEDERAL Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch has paid tribute to the “colourful life and outstanding achievements” of Paul Kamsler Sr, who passed away at the weekend aged 90.
Mr Entsch offered Mr Kamsler’s family members and friends his deepest condolences, saying that his friendship with the tourism stalwart had “most definitely enriched my life”.
“Paul made an outstanding contribution to so much of our early history, and I am certainly a better person for knowing him and really value the friendship we enjoyed,” Mr Entsch said.
“He spent such a lot of his earlier years in the Torres Strait and Cape York and the stories that he used to recall were just amazing. He had a real strong interest in, and love for, the people – particularly in the Torres Strait and Pacific Islands, and that was very much reflected in his choice of sculptures and artworks. He had a particular love of the work by Ray Crooke and Ray’s daughter Diana Crooke, often saying that they reminded him so much of his time in these regions.
“When he won the salvage contract to pull up the Cooktown to Laura railway line, it was the money he made from that contract which enabled him to build a small motel in 1964 on the site of what is now the Hotel Cairns, before opening the first high-rise development in Cairns the Pacific International in 1982. He was such a visionary, even back in those days, nobody should underestimate his contribution.”
Mr Entsch also recalled when he had Olive Vale station, near Laura, and during the wet season would ride along the old railway line alignment collecting iron dog spikes (used to secure the iron rail to the timber sleeper) that Mr Kamsler’s salvage team had discarded. “I used them for fencing and as I hammered them in, I always thanked Paul as it was a very handy and re-useable resource!”
Mr Entsch said he had friends who had worked for Mr Kamsler as hotel staff for many years. “He was always highly respected and showed his workers the same consideration. When he was appointed the German-Austrian Consul for the area, he brought a level of dignity and respect to the role and it he took this honorary position very seriously.”
Describing Mr Kamsler as “somewhat of a mentor”, Mr Entsch was fond of sitting down and asking him to recount tales of his past, which were “so colourful and immensely enjoyable”.
“He most definitely enriched my life with his amusing recollections. We shared stories of our times in the Torres Strait and I never tired of hearing them.
“From time to time I would receive a summons from him to attend lunch at the Pacific International, something that I dared not refuse. Unfortunately, the last time I was invited to lunch in the latter part of last year, he wasn’t able to attend because of his failing health. Nevertheless, I made arrangements to visit him at his home on the Esplanade where again we shared some very special time and I am so very thankful that I was able to do so.
“His passing is deeply saddening but at the same time we need to celebrate a very colourful life that was well-lived. Cairns has been a major beneficiary from Paul’s decision to call this city home and his legacy will never be forgotten.
“I’m sure his stories won’t be forgotten either, especially as they continue to grow with time and re-telling.”