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Remembering a true gentleman

By Sheree Hoddinett

Harvey Winston Fewings

October 14, 1941 – July 27, 2022

There’s no denying that Harvey Fewings did life his way. While I only knew Harvey for a short time, I enjoyed our chats about mainstream media and the many topics of the moment. I think we’re all still coming to terms with his sudden departure from this world, but we can certainly take solace in the everlasting mark he has left behind.

Harvey never shied away from the difficult topics. You could say he loved to ‘stir the pot’ and would almost rub his hands in glee when Letters to the Editor would relate to a recent piece he had written. It will likely only come as a shock to a few of you that Harvey and Cranky Lizard were one and the same. To be able to change character when writing is a skill not many possess, but one that Harvey not only handled well, but very much took in his stride.

Family was a big part of his life and Harvey was much adored and loved by his wife Marj, children Amy, Kate and Sam and extended family. For Marj, Harvey was her best friend, someone who always had her back and was extremely loyal and loving to all.

“Life was never boring,” she said. “They say the best always die young and he was one of the very best and will be greatly missed.”

They first met in the 1980’s in Sydney when Harvey used to travel from the Northern Territory on business. Over the years they spent time on the road together, always staying in motels because he hated caravans. Marj describes Harvey as a generous man who loved to meet and talk to people, but above all else he was highly intelligent with a great sense of humour.

“He was a born leader,” she said. “He loved the bush and the people out there. He hated city life with all its nonsense and traffic. He was also a great cook, an avid reader and enjoyed music.”

But of course, there’s so many things we always learn about others and Harvey was no exception. Before we came to know him as the man who liked to ‘stir the pot’, Harvey was certainly a man of many hats.

“He was a policeman before joining the Army,” Marj said. “He was a true ANZAC, having served the Army in both Australia and New Zealand. He loved the military and later in life spent many, many years helping the Queensland RSL in various capacities, all around the state. He also loved the Northern Territory where he had spent time working in Arnhem Land and also owned a bush pub outside Alice Springs. He was a doer and got on with life.”

As one of the closest people to Harvey, Marj was immensely proud of his writing ability and thought it was brilliant that he combined his writing both as himself and as Cranky Lizard.

“I loved that he enjoyed finding a topic that he knew would ruffle a few feathers on the Island,” she said. “He knew how-to-put-on paper so many subjects that he was passionate about - politics, world affairs, media and so on. He was a straight shooter and wrote about many things that he believed in.”

It was Harvey’s son Sam, who covered his dad perfectly in his eulogy. He spoke about the three things that truly summed up his dad - loyalty and commitment, love and humour.

“Dad once said to me, mate, as he only used my name twice in my life,” Sam said. “Mate, do you know the difference between being involved and being committed? I said what’s that dad? He said it’s a plate of bacon and eggs. The chicken’s involved but the pig’s committed. I said okay, thank you, another one of life’s lessons.”

From Harvey’s commitment to his service in the Army, the RSL, the Liberal Party and even the Collingwood Football Club, even in the darkest days of the club, he always remained committed. But it was once again, the paper that rated another mention.

“He was committed to his time recently with the newspaper,” Sam said. “He enjoyed nothing more than the controversial articles of Cranky Lizard. At home on his desk was a thick pile of letters from people arguing with Cranky Lizard. Dad went out the way he lived, which was controversial and probably upsetting some Labor Party supporters.”

Speaking about the love he shared with his father, Sam said it was like a rollercoaster, full of ups and downs.

“He loved his children, he loved his grandchildren, and he loved his friends,” Sam said. “Towards the end of his life I sat next to him in the hospital and I asked him if he was scared of dying. We always had a pretty frank sort of relationship. He said no I’m not, I’m not afraid - typical Harvey style. He said if there’s something there, I’ll enjoy it and if there’s nothing there, I won’t know the difference.”

But saving the best for last, it really was all about Harvey’s sense of humour.

“Dad was synonymous with humour and always have a saying,” Sam said. “I remember calling him when I had trouble with my boss at work and he would say ‘mate, when the elephants are stomping in the grass, the grasshoppers get out’. It took me awhile to work that out, but that was him, humour and advice all in one. That was dad, he loved a saying, he loved to entertain people, he was honestly one of the funniest men I’ve ever met. His eyes would light up and you knew a joke was coming.”

“The other thing we know about dad is he never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

Harvey also wrote a book called The Tiger Tea Club. If you are interested in grabbing a copy of this book, which is an interesting read just like Harvey’s articles, please get in touch with Belinda via email


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