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TAS Country : April 14th 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011 Tasmanian Country 13 News TOUGH: Much decorated policeman Senior-Constable Steve Timmins with Bothwell counterpart Paul Britten on the remote Central Highlands beat. Pictures: SAM ROSEWARNE Country cop Steve Timmins is hanging up the cuffs on a 40-year career, coming in from the state's loftiest and frostiest posting, the Central Highlands, reports Jennifer Crawley If you're drink driving, well, bad luck, Donald Duck, you're going to go.' Hero's high road to a rest VETERAN police officer Steve Timmins has spent the past 11 years manning the most isolated police station in Tasmania, Liawenee. Senior-Constable Timmins, 56, began training as a police cadet when he was 16 and transferred to the one-man Liawenee Police Station in 2000. He was the only applicant for the coldest, most isolated posting in Tasmania and is only the second full-time officer to have been stationed there. ''If you didn't like this location and the crap weather it'd be like being in jail,'' he said. Constable Paul Britten, 41, of Bothwell police station, takes over when Timmins is on holidays or away for the weekend. Britten, who has a young family, says he would like to work at the Liawenee station when his children are grown. ''When I first came here, the general populace had a different idea of what they could and couldn't do,'' Constable Timmins says. ''Very shortly, a lot of people found out that driving down the main street of Hobart is the same as driving down the Highland Lakes Road. If you're drink driving, well, bad luck, Donald Duck, you're going to go. ''You're always going to get those who drive past the first lot of gumtrees heading out of town and think the rule book goes out the window.'' Timmins is one of the most decorated policemen in the Tasmanian police force. He has five medals for bravery and service. The Star of Courage and the Royal Humane Society medals were awarded to him for a 1988 arrest that almost cost him his life. ''There was a mad young bloke who was intoxicated and out of control in the streets of Burnie,'' Timmins says. ''I could see what he was going to do, and there was nothing I could do, so I screamed out and kept on going. He pulled the trigger, there was a misfire, so I continued on.'' The man reloaded and was bringing the gun up for a second go when Timmins deflected the gun as the man pulled the trigger. Timmins overpowered the man and took him into custody. ''It was a long time ago but the memory doesn't fade. Somewhere in a 40-year police career something's going to happen.'' Timmins's wife, Judy, is a midwife at the Launceston General Hospital. They see each other on weekends and are looking forward to Timmins's retirement. ''Being on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week is hard work,'' Timmins says. ''It's not always a nice, mild, sunny day like this. Matter of fact, it's quite the opposite. It's pretty drab most of the time. The scrub and grass are a drab browny colour but I love it when the snow comes. It goes from a pretty ordinary to beautiful.'' The Liawenee weather deteriorates as winter approaches with ''tremendously cold dreary nights''. ''In the deep heart of winter you get grey days every day, very low temperatures and very high winds. It's hard work to go out and respond to car crashes. There are plenty of times I'd just love to stay in front of the fire because it's so ordinary outside.'' When the weather is at its worst, Timmins is out on the road doing his rounds. ''There's snow and ice and really strong winds. Trees and branches come down. ''If somebody crashes off the road in the late afternoon and nobody drives past for another seven hours, those people are stuck, their radiators bent, they've got no means of telling anyone they're in strife. Who's going to come along and look after them?'' ConstableTimmins has pulled plenty of cars and people out of ditches. When the pub is full or the roads are blocked, the rescued motorists are sometimes lucky enough to be taken back to the station to sleep in the lounge next to the woodheater. ''They are warm, they are safe and they can ring their family.'' Life in the Highlands is relaxed and Timmins oftens finds himself out on the road hatless. ''I've only got three months to go. What are they going to do, sack me? The law always gets done in Liawenee --- sometimes not by the book, but it gets done.'' The Liawenee police beat is geographically huge, describing roughly a 100km diametre cirlce around Great Lake. There are about 200 permanent residents living in the shacks on his beat. ''I'm not a policeman who sits at home waiting for the phone to ring. People want to see the policeman around.'' He says he is never worried by the snow. ''I put a sleeping bag in the bus. I take a little gas cooker and some water in a bottle. ''If I get stuck, I know I can survive a couple of days.'' Constable Timmins has worked in New Norfolk, Somerset, Rosebery, Strathgordon, Strahan, Queenstown and Tullah. ''Wherever you are is the best place,'' he says ''Forty years later, and there's still no reason to change that opinion.'' Steve Timmins grows vegetables in his Launceston garden, something he couldn't do in the harsh highlands. ''I've got plenty to do in our Launceston house. I've been putting off major maintenance for a long time. ''I love my gardening and there's a lot of older people who live by themselves in our neighbourhood. I'm able-bodied. I'll wander around and offer assistance.'' As for Liawenee, and the policeman's lot, he says he always knew he would finish when the 40 years ticked over. ''I will miss it,'' he adds.
April 7th 2011
April 21st 2011