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Walter Burke

Other NameWal
Current City/HometownSydney
ClubMiddle Harbour Yacht Club
Facebook PageMale
Boat Owner ofAlcyone
Alcyone II
Blue Peter
Blue Riten
Gypsy Queen
The Jack
Boats Sailed OnKochab
Malabar 13

Walter Burke

Whos who in the Club - MHYC Log Apr 1973 (inaugural Log)

At Club meetings, social events, outings and even in print, Keith Adams - original Vice Commodore of MHYC - never tired of expressing himself on the subject of club fellowship.

"I have said many times that just to be a member of this Club is sufficient introduction to speak to anyone in the Club. If you don't know the fellow sitting next to you, for God's sake speak to him! Find out who he is. Don't just know the men in your own Division - try to meet a cross section of all members. Then I'm sure you'll find this Club an even more delightful place to come to."

To assist members - especially new members - to enjoy the bonds of fellowship, we shall use this Monthly Log to introduce you to each other.

We'll start with life Member W. H. BURKE.


Walter, Wally or Wal to his many friends is one of the stalwarts who grew up with MHYC. From way back in 1949 when he was nominated for membership by Keith Adams, until today, Wal has always been prominent in Club activities. He was Club Commodore from 1958 until 1961.

Loses Yacht - Wins the Girl

Wal started sailing in 16 ft. skiffs when he was 17. His first skipper was Dudley Carver (still living at 85) in a boat C2MQ6. Malabar 13. He sailed with the Port Jackson 16 ft. Skiff Club and the North Shore 12 ft. Dinghy Club. He widened his experience as crew for Norm Brooker in the latter's Naiad III and Naiad IV, racing with the Sydney Amateurs and making the odd ocean trip to Lake Macquarie.

He eventually became the proud owner of a small yacht - Alcyone - but alas, it had to be sacrificed to pay for his engagement ring.

Post-War Years

After discharge from the Navy, Wal faced up to the job of rebuilding his business, and it was not until 1949 that he bought a 25 ft. boat named The Jack but which, for obvious reasons, was promptly rechristened Alcyone II.

For this boat, Cliff Gale designed a new racing rig and then introduced Wal to his cousin Keith Adams, who arranged for Wal to become an honorary member of the Club until such time as his nomination was formally accepted. This allowed Wal to race Alcyone II in one of the Club's three Divisions, each of which comprised some 15 boats.

In the early 1950s, ocean racing and cruising was in its infancy in Sydney. Although there were many who doubted the wisdom of taking a 25 ft. boat to sea, Wal often sailed Alcyone II up to Lake Macquarie, and his visits inspired the Lake Macquarie Yacht Club to invite the Middle Harbour fleet to partake of their hospitality.

"It was a great day for us", says Wal. "About 18 boats went up from Middle Harbour and this broke the ice as far as future ocean sailing was concerned. Needless to say, the boys at Lake Macquarie really turned it on for us."

More Boats

Alcyone II was followed by Blue Peter, Gypsy Queen, and a period with Fraser Johnston as partner in Stormbird. It was then that Wal acquired the sail number MH1, which was transferred to his next boat Camira (bought from Graham Nock), and finally to his present boat Kurura.

Kurura was built as a motor sailor in Newcastle in 1949 for Sydney eye specialist Dr. Roland Pittar. He kept it for one year then, because of ill health, sold it to Sydney dentist Alan Clarke who named it Kurura, a contraction of the Aboriginal place name Cooroora - "a happy meeting place near the water".

Although he is not an avid racing yachtsman, Wal has, with all his boats, mixed racing and cruising to advantage - around the buoys, several Hobart trips. Barrier Reef cruises, and, of course the eventful 1967 Sydney-Brisbane race when Kurura lost her rudder. After a quick replacement in Brisbane, she went on to win the next lap, Brisbane-Gladstone.

OCC Membership

Two other ocean races were indirectly responsible for Walter Burke becoming the first Rear Commodore of the Ocean Cruising Club in Australia.

Membership of this world-wide body is restricted to yachtsmen who have sailed a course of not less than 1,000 miles between two ports in a vessel not exceeding 70 ft. LOA. Wal met this qualification in the first Sydney-Noumea race in 1952 and again in 1958 when he crewed in the second race in the English yacht Kochab, owned by Dr. I . J . Franklen-Evans, one of the foundation members of the then recently formed OCC.

Elected a member in 1958, Wal was subsequently invited to become Rear Commodore in Australia. Strangely enough, the two flag officers to succeed Walter were Tom Flower and Gordon Reynolds, both long-time members of Middle Harbour Yacht Club.

The Future

"Long ocean races are definitely out for me," says Wal. " I still enjoy a day race or an overnighter, and there'll be plenty of time for leisurely cruising. I'll probably look around for a lighter boat - and after that nature can take its course."

And that, all too briefly, outlines the sailing saga of Walter Burke - a highly experienced blue water man and a boon companion on land or sea.

He has worked continuously to advance the interests of Middle Harbour Yacht Club, generously supported by his wife, Doris - herself an Associate Member, and a tireless co-worker for the Club.


Letter from Mike 25/9/1995

I came across these the other day and though they may be of interest.

They were taken in 1949 showing a yacht Wal Burke had purchased named 'The Yank' - name was carved into her transom in letters 6 inches high. Needless to say Wal could not live with such a salubrious name and changed it to Alcyone II. The shots were taken when we were stretching her new sails (a 20 hour event) in calm winds. The 2 working the sail and extra were under the orders of the measurements of Clifby (?) Gale by when I forgot, but do recall they cost 80 pounds in all. The backgrounds are interesting showing the baths, public wharf and Fisher Bay (although I cannot see the houseboat).

The outcome of this yacht is interesting in that Wal purchased "Blue Riten?" in 1951 and was unable to sell Alcyone II. He eventually leased it to a tram conductress of New Neutral Bay Depot who had a crippled husband (unable to walk).

About 6 months later she (the yacht and the conductress) disappeared and nothing was heard for many months until Wal received a phone call from the Harbourmaster and curious -with whom he had been in the Navy.

He had traced ownership by the sail numbers on the sail MH22. The conductress and her spouse were found ashore and I think Wal was then able to sell her in Cairns.


Myall Lakes

Trip to the Myall Lakes - Jess Moothran and Wal Burke

Myall Lakes
Myall Lakes
Myall Lakes
Myall Lakes
Myall Lakes
Myall Lakes
Shoal Bay
Shoal Bay
Shoal Bay
Shoal Bay
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