Great Lakes: what's the draw?

Herb Bennett has been in the Great Lakes since 1972.
Herb Bennett has been in the Great Lakes since 1972.

Herb Bennett has clocked up over 100,000 kilometres on his bike around the Great Lakes, but his wheels weren’t always pounding the roads in this part of the world, so how did he get here?

The answer to that is a big heart and a beautiful woman with a lovely soul, named Judy.

“I met Judy where we lived near Grafton,” Herb said.

“When she moved to Forster to work in the hospital and be close to her aunt, I said ‘I’ll go down too!’ I had 16 acres of bananas at the time, so I sold up and moved here.

“We’ve been here ever since. It’s the greatest place in the world, I’ve been a fair few places in the world and I’ve never ever even seen another place come close to Forster.”

When he moved to the Great Lakes in 1972, Herb worked on the first stage of building Club Forster, and maintained the lawns and gardens.

“I had the place looking beautiful,” he said.

“A bloke cam up to me one day and said ‘how many people work here,’ and I said ‘how many do you think,’ and he said ‘at least six surely’, and I said ‘nope, just me!’ I don’t know that he believed me.

“I used to get there every day before it got light, and pick up every cigarette butt in the parking lot to keep the place nice and clean. If you dropped a butt, I would pick it up.

“I worked there until ‘86, then I bought a pushbike and thought I might do a bit of bike riding.”

Over 30 years later, Herb and his bike are still regulars on the streets of Forster. He has a favourite track that is 23 kilometers, and he rides it six days a week.

“I get home before 6am, in time to make my lovely wife a cup of tea,” he smiled.

“She’s the most beautiful woman, inside and out.”

Aside from his wife and his bike, what does Herb love about the Great Lakes?

“Everything!

“The beautiful beaches, the lake, the climate is beautiful, it’s just a lovely place to live, so placid.

“There’s only one way I’m leaving here, and that’s in a box.”