A tribute to...

Allen Lindsay Callaghan

Published: 16/1/2023

Allen Lindsay Callaghan was born Allen Lindsay Booth in Brisbane on the 1st of November 1939. Allen always used his stepfather's surname of Callaghan and was formally adopted by him at the age of 15.  

His mother passed away when he was 13 and Allen was unaware that his birth name was not Callaghan until he obtained a copy of his birth certificate at 15 for employment purposes. Apart from being given a photograph and a vague name of his birth father by his adopted father, Allen never knew who his birth father was until 2017 when his daughter arranged a DNA test and subsequently identified his birth father's surname as Solway.  

Allen grew up in Coolangatta and attended Coolangatta State School. He was instrumental in organising the Coolangatta State School 100th anniversary celebrations in 2019. He later attended Southport High School.

Allen worked as a telegram boy for the Coolangatta Post Office and later passed the Postal Training College entrance examination.

Allen decided he didn't want to be transferred away from his family and resigned. While working in the Cudgen sand mine he telephoned the Daily News in Murwillumbah, New South Wales, to enquire about a journalism cadetship.

He had worked on the school newsletter and was interested in becoming a journalist. He was successful in obtaining a four-year cadetship with the Daily News in 1957, which began a long and distinguished journalism career.   

Allen went on to work as a C grade journalist for the Brisbane Telegraph newspaper in 1959. It was there that he met his first wife Marcia Best who worked as a switchboard operator. Together they had two daughters and four sons.   

The family moved to Canberra in 1960 where Allen become the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery Civic Roundsman for the Canberra Times newspaper. He also worked for the ABC News Service Canberra and then as Assistant Public Relations Officer at the Department of the Interior.  

Allen returned to Brisbane in 1965 as general reporter, producer and director for ABC radio and television news bulletins, before being appointed the ABC's political reporter for Queensland in 1967. It was whilst performing this role that he encountered the Honourable Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Premier of Queensland.

After offering the Premier some unsolicited advice about working with the media after a press conference, he was offered the position of Media Advisor to the Premier. This later became the Government News and Information Officer and Press Secretary to the Premier. 

In 1979, he became the Deputy Co-ordinator of the Queensland Department of the Arts, National Parks and Sport and was appointed as Under Secretary in 1984. During this time he was also the Media Manager for the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games.  

Allen also served as State Manager for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) Queensland for a number of years.  

Later in life Allen became active in the National Servicemen's Association of Australia where he served as Secretary for the Brisbane East Branch, Editor for the 'Nasho News' and as National Media Officer.

He played an important role in the implementation of the Anniversary of National Service 1951-1972 Medal and the National Service Memorial at the Australian War Memorial. He also served as Media Officer for the Brisbane Anzac Day Combined Parade Committee and for a number of years provided commentary for the ABC television broadcast of the Brisbane parade.  

Allen's passions included literature, history, political science, watch making, astronomy, railways and souvenir ware. Family holidays and outings in the 1970s often included trekking through some disused railway tunnel or scouring train stations to collect discarded tickets for the collection.

The family home was adorned by a genuine Queensland Railway locomotive number plate for the street number. Allen donated a substantial part of his souvenir ware collection to the Tweed Regional Museum and the Queensland Museum. Later in life he attained a Bachelor of Arts degree.  

Allen passed away at Tweed Heads on 3 January 2022 and was survived by his former wife Marcia and their six children (Merryl, Gary, Eric, Paul, Dianne & Andrew), twelve grandchildren and four great grandchildren. He also left behind many books, watches and railway memorabilia.  

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