Nathan Shingles


Nathan Shingles was born in Canberra and is the son of a Vietnam Veteran, he joined the Royal Australian Navy as a chef in April 1995 after already completing 2 years of a civilian chef apprenticeship prior to joining. Several operational sea postings included HMAS Torrens, HMAS Westralia on operation Dirk and Stanhope operating in the Southern Ocean and also as a member of aft damage control during the tragic fire in 1998, HMAS Bunbury during operation Cranberry in 1999 and 2000, HMAS Gladstone 2001 during border protection duties and HMAS Wewak 2001/02 during Operation BEL ISI II Bougainville. Upon promotion to Leading Seaman an opportunity to work as the Maritime Commanders Chef in Sydney arose and he had the opportunity to work as Admirals staff for Rear Admiral Geoff Smith and Rear Admiral Raydon Gates AO,CSM until discharging December 2003. Nathan also volunteers as a Justice of the Peace (Qualified) and offers his experience for the greater good of the Sub-Branch and Veterans.

Ben Hemphill


Ben Hemphill graduated from the Australian Defence Force Academy in 1994 and rose to the rank of Lieutenant. He obtained his Seaman Officer qualification in HMAS Cessnock, which he would later return to as the Executive Officer. In between these postings, Ben served as the last Navigating Officer of a Western Australian Patrol Boat in HMAS Geraldton before he was part of the crew that relocated the Patrol Boat to Darwin. Ben’s naval career was heavily involved in Operation Cranberry and Operation Relex. After completing his time in Patrol Boats, he was posted as a Divisional Officer for the New Entry Officer’s Course in HMAS Creswell. From here Ben undertook a two-year posting as the Maritime Surveillance Advisor to the Republic of Marshall Islands. Upon his return to Australia Ben was appointed to the Commanding Officer’s Course, where he then decided to leave the Royal Australian Navy. Along with a extensive experience in the Military Ben also holds a number of graduate qualifications. A Working in the corporate world, Ben has been exposed to new leadership and management styles and believes that these are beneficial to the Sub-Branch.

Rob 'brucey' lee


Rob ‘Brucey’ Lee joined the Australian Army in 2001 serving for ten years as an Infantry soldier before transferring to logistics spending the remainder of his 16 years of service as a Company Quartermaster Sergeant. Rob saw operational service in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan as well as deploying on training missions to Malaysia and Germany. After a brief hiatus in New Zealand working as a contracts administrator for a civil engineering firm Rob returned to Australia and established the Cairns Mates4Mates branch.

After working for 18 months establishing the Mates4Mates brand working as a Liaison Officer Rob moved into the sales department at Pacific Toyota. Rob wishes to transfer skills learnt through his military career and experience in dealing with veterans with physical and psychological injuries with Mates4Mates to the Cairns RSL sub-branch.

Neil Turnbull


Neil’s family has a long service history in the RAAF with his father serving in PNG in WW2 as an instrument mechanical fitter, his mother serving in the RAAF in WW2, and both of his sisters and their husbands all serving in the RAAF.

Neil served in the RAAF for just over 20 years, joining in 1981 and completing his trade training as an Instrument fitter in 1983. Neil was initially posted to 481 Sqn in Williamtown for Mirage maintenance after his training was completed, and was then posted to 492Sqn on P3-C Orions where he served for 5 years on the Maritime Patrol Aircraft, which took him overseas on regular deployments to Malaysia, Singapore and the United States.

Neil then volunteered for posting to a new base being established in Tindal in the NT in 1988 as part of the initial avionics maintenance crew to work on the newly acquired FA/18 Hornets of 75 Sqn, where he served for a number of years deploying to Malaysia, The Philippines and Singapore, before being promoted and posted back to Adelaide to ARDU (Aircraft Research and Development Unit). At ARDU his duties included supporting the test and trials of various types of modifications and weapon trials on both F111 and FA/18 aircraft both in Adelaide and at the Woomera Rocket range, as well as maintaining the PC-9 & DC-3 aircraft the unit also operated. Neil accepted a short notice posting back to 75 Sqn Tindal in 1993, continuing his work on the FA/18s, where he was again promoted and performed in the role of an Independent Inspector on the FA/18s, until being posted out in 1999 to take up a similar role at 2OCU in Williamtown which also operates FA/18 A & B aircraft to train new Hornet pilots. This was Neil’s final posting prior to discharge in 2001. Neil had the opportunity to fly in the FA/18s on a number of occasions, and says it is a memory that he will always cherish, along with the camaraderie of the awesome people he had to privilege to serve with.

Neil decided to move to Cairns after discharge from the RAAF, initially taking up a position in the Maintenance Training Division of Flightship, Wing in Ground Effect assisting in the registration of the world’s first commercially registered Wing in Ground Effect (WIG) Craft with Germanischer Lloyd,  before going into business for himself in Cairns, which he has done so for nearly 15 years. Neil hopes that the professional experience he has gained outside of the forces, and in business, along with the connections he has made within the Cairns community, coupled with his defence knowledge, will be a valuable asset to the Board and ultimately the Sub-Branch members which it represents.

Craig Maher

As a permanently disabled younger veteran with 10 years of experience as a Sub Branch volunteer, I know I can bring a wealth of knowledge and insight to the position of Board Director.  I have the vision to expand the services and facilities of the Cairns Sub Branch to benefit the veteran community and their families. I welcome the opportunity to work closely with the Board, the Club, our staff, and volunteers to achieve these goals and ascertain exactly what the Sub Branch membership wants. I have considerable administration skills and am currently more than halfway through a Bachelor of Arts, with majors in Anthropology and Archaeology. I have lived in Cairns for 20 years and own my home with my partner Leigh and our daughter Juno. I am a keen gardener and love traveling, having visited nearly 50 countries.

Craig joined the Royal Australian Navy as a Boatswain’s Mate in 1994 serving on HMAS Perth (DDG38), deploying to South East Asia in 1995 and to Hawaii and the Pacific in 1996. He transferred to the Hydrographic Service in 1997, with postings to the Hydrographic Office Detached Survey Unit, the Hydrographic School, HMA Ships Paluma, Benalla, Leeuwin, Melville, Labuan, Success and ashore at Cairns. During his time with the Hydrographic Service, Craig was deployed on three Beachcomber Operations conducting beach surveys in Northern Australia, three Relex Operations conducting border protection operations, two deployments to East Timor (one with INTERFET and the other with the UN), one deployment to Bougainville (with the Peace monitoring group), an Antarctic deployment to Mawson Station and several routine survey deployments around Australia and Papua New Guinea. Craig was medically discharged in 2010 after over 16 years of service, with nearly 10 of them spent at sea.

After discharge in 2011, Craig started volunteering for the Cairns RSL Sub Branch, completing the course to become a Welfare Officer. Originally carrying out weekly home visits and caring for Korean War veteran, Doug Lee, Craig also took a keen interest in the museum. In 2016, after the death of his long-term client and good friend, Doug, Craig ceased the welfare work and focused on building up the museum, constructing, refurbishing, sorting, and renovating many of the items now on display. Craig was awarded for these efforts by winning Volunteer of the Year at the Museums and Galleries Queensland annual Gallery and Museum Achievement Awards Ceremony. 

Gillian Bryant


Gillian was born in Quirindi, Country NSW, after finishing school in 2001 Gillian joined the Royal Australian Navy and become a Communications and Information Systems Sailor.  Gillian is a current serving young Veteran who is currently employed in a reserve capacity at HMAS Cairns booking travel for Sea Training Group Defence Cooperation Program.

One of Gillian’s professional goals, that she has recently embarked on is mentoring young women in Defence who are returning to work post-partum or women who are wanting advise on managing a family, work, life balance.

The veteran mental health field is an important focus, that Gillian is keen to be more involved in.

Gillian’s hobbies include driving her children to sport and other activities 4 to 5 times a week and watching live basketball games.