Less than 18 months ago, Anna Bay local Luke Hartup took the Gan Gan Road out of town toward Port Stephens and into a new life.
When he first left St Phillip’s Christian College, Luke got into hospitality - finding work for himself as a chef.
But, he found that being a chef in the private sector left him at the mercy of the economy, leaving his future vulnerable. He no longer has that problem.
Now, Luke is an Able Seaman Maritime Logistics Chef aboard the Royal Australian Navy warship HMAS Parramatta.
And, despite the fat that his new ‘customers’ have no choice about where they eat, he acknowledges that the quality of his work has a significant impact on the crew’s morale.
It’s this responsibility that Luke finds most rewarding about the role he shares with several other chefs, who work together to feed the 150+ members of the ship’s company.
His girlfriend, Jessica Pound, also works in the hospitality industry. And, while she has no plans to join him at sea, she supported Luke in his quest to ‘follow his dreams’ and join the Navy.
So far, his naval career has featured visits to Thailand and Malaysia, a Commanding Officer’s Commendation and has earned him an Operational Service Medal for his role in Australia’s border protection mission, Operation RESOLUTE.
He has been involved in challenging operations, such as saving people from sinking vessels, and more jovial events like ‘putting on a good feed for the crew on Christmas Day’ this year, when they were at sea carrying out border protection operations.
All in all, the boy who describes his hometown of Anna Bay as a ‘cruisy paradise with lots of beaches’ has travelled a long way.