Ron Hicks

Ron Hicks
was born in 1936 and grew up in Moncton, New Brunswick on Canada’s east coast.

In 1959 he graduated from the Indiana Institute of Technology with degrees in Electronic Engineering and Mathematics.

Following a year’s stint in Canada’s far north as an engineer on “The Mid-Canada-Line”, an early warning radar system that stretched across the country, Ron and a mate hitched onto a Japanese freighter bound for Yokohama. Three months later on November 30, 1960, they steamed into Sydney Harbour from Hong Kong via Manila.

Ron Hicks 1960
Ron Hicks in Canada’s far north.
On the Limestone River, Manitoba, 1960.

After two years working for AWA in television, Ron – now with a young family – emigrated to the United States. There in the state of New Jersey he took up a position with the Union County Technical Institute as a teacher of Physics, Mathematics and Electronics. During this period Ron had the good fortune to be engaged as a consultant by Bell Telephone Laboratories doing research in ultrasonics and assisting in an experiment to hit the Telstar Satellite with a beam of laser light. The ultrasonics research required that a computer program be written, so armed with a book on Fortran, Ron began his career in computing.

Returning to Sydney in early 1965, Ron joined Standard Telephones and Cables (STC) writing tenders for large engineering projects all over the world. When STC won the contract to man the Canberra tracking station, Ron took the position of Computer Engineer. After three months training with NASA in Virginia on Univac 642B computers and peripherals, he and his family moved to Canberra.


Ron Hicks

Ron Hicks at one of the Univac 642B computers.

Early photo, likely by the Australian News and Information Service.

Scan by Glen Nagle.

Ron recalls:

“Bryan Sullivan, Gordon Bendall and I started with this big empty room with a false floor. Equipment soon began arriving and over a period of a few weeks we put together a Computer Complex.

We found that some of the testing procedures, especially computer diagnostic programs supplied by Univac, were a bit lacking to put it mildly. I wrote a number of computer programs for equipment testing and submitted them to NASA. It was always a thrill for me to receive up-dated procedures manuals, which were distributed with my programs all around the Manned Space Flight Network, which read ‘Programmer: Ron Hicks, HSK.’ ”

(See Ron’s Apollo 8 photos here.)

with PM Harold Holt
Ron with Prime Minister Harold Holt,
at the opening of Honeysuckle Creek, March 1967.

(Click image for the related story.)

Ron left Honeysuckle in 1969 to pursue an Engineering Sales career. He subsequently returned to Sydney for a couple of years and then moved back to his home town where he opened Canada’s very first computer store in 1974.

Over the next eight years, as a distributor of Qantel mini-computer systems out of California, Ron and his staff developed custom software and installed and maintained the hardware.

“Back in those days, computers came without programs, so through my software house, we developed a wide range of applications for our clients,” Ron says.

These clients included a national pizza restaurant franchisor, a large slaughter house and meat processing facility, several trucking firms, several accounting firms, a greenhouse business, several insurance agents, a tombstone company, a supermarket chain, a building materials supplier, a hardware company, a large fishing co-operative, a stationery supplier and several manufacturing businesses.

In 1982 Ron “retired” to the Whitsundays, bought a 45-foot yacht… and Proserpine Bakeries. In his capacity of “baker”, he not only supplied the local towns with bread and pastries, but also the resort islands of Hayman, Daydream, Lindeman, South Molle and Hamilton. His connection with South Molle later led to a contract to write computer software for back-office accounting, general ledger and liquor inventory management systems for the island.

In 1983 Ron formed a three-piece “Aussie” band with his son Darren and a well-known bush music guru, Bob Pomeroy. With Ron’s business connections with the resort islands, the trio was in constant demand. Over the next couple of years with the addition of the now rather famous fiddle player, Clare O’Meara, the band evolved into a top rate country music show-band called The Gunna-Doo Band, playing in the local venues and on all the resort islands on a regular basis.

Gunna-Doo band

Gunna-Doo Band on stage at the Whitsunday Village
circa 1987.
L-R: Mark Nicol, Clare O’Meara, Bruce Skilton, Darren Hicks, Ron Hicks.

The year 1988 saw the release of the band’s first album “Flavour of the Month.” In the following year, 1989, The Gunna-Doo Band was the Grand Prize Winner at the Queensland Country Music Awards held in Charters Towers.

After moving to Sydney from Airlie Beach in 1990, Ron started a wholesale food distribution business and by 1996 had expanded from Sydney into country NSW and southern Queensland.

Following Ron’s development of a Membership Accounting System for the Australian Osteopathic Association, an opportunity arose to write computer software for the cruise boat industry. Today many operators on Sydney Harbour are running their businesses using Ron’s “ChartSchool” package. This success led to Ron getting the contract from (the NSW Department of) Waterways to develop the Wharf Booking System for Sydney Harbour.

Ron skippering Apollo

Ron Hicks skippering the maxi-yacht Apollo.

Whitsunday Passage – 2002.

Ron Hicks landing

Ron’s other passion is flying.

Here he is landing the Phoenix Aero Club’s Piper Warrior, Sierra Whisky Victor.

Ron's mum and Darren and Michael

Ron took this photo to mark his mother’s visit to Honeysuckle Creek in 1968.

Pictured are Ron’s sons, Darren (7) on the left and Michael (14) on the right, and his mother, Edna in the middle.