Far North Queensland publican Kevin Darmody was killed in tragic circumstances a week ago, falling victim to a crocodile attack.

The operator of the Peninsula Hotel in Laura was fishing with friends in the Lakefield (Rinyirru) National Park on Saturday 29 April, when he went missing. Authorities feared a crocodile attack, and suspicions were confirmed on Tuesday.

Darmody, 65, had run the Penisula Hotel in Laura for more than 20 years. Before that, he ran Clancy’s Hotel in Canberra, where he was from. Cape York locals have paid tribute to the publican as a bushman and community leader.

Long-time friend Jody Andrews told Cape York Weekly that Darmody supported a lot of different communities and groups throughout his life.

“He can be spicy as hell and he was an old bronco and bullrider who knew how to stand his ground with anyone – skills which came into good measure as a publican.

“The whole thing is a real shock, He was so croc savvy and super conscious of the risks, always educating the tourists.

“He was loyal to a fault with his mates – he’ll always have your back. He loved the Laura pub and the tourists.”

Australian Hotelier sends it condolences to Kevin Darmody’s family and friends in light of this tragedy.

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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  1. It was with sad news I learnt of the death of Kevin Darmody or ‘Stumpy’ as he was affectionately known because of his short stature, who died in a double croc’ attack in Far North Queensland.

    He was the most generous man you could ever wish to meet. Many refined city dwellers simply couldn’t understand his no nonsense Bushman’s attitude. He had the backbone and can do attitude typical of those that have to fight adversities of rural living without the comfort of immediate outside help.

    I arrived at the old Quinkan Shanty bar after the main bar had been burnt down, literally a pub with no beer! Stumpy had arrived previously with a truck, with a refrigerated container-and beer! He lost no time setting up a temporary bar in an old shanty by the campsite, whilst the new bar was being built.

    This bar was frequented with many white and Aboriginal people and it was the first time I had seen Aboriginals treated with equal respect and dignity. It was their bar and they knew they were welcome. He even asked me to drive whole family groups home on occasions when they had heavy shopping to carry.

    On one occasion the Laura river had risen suddenly, threatening to sweep away the only ambulance for the town situated on the opposite bank. A local retired Police Officer from the Laura Roadhouse, another Hotelier, had wasted no time in getting a fast boat to the river’s edge. Things move slowly in the Bush, until something must be done, and then the bushmen and women can be relied upon to get them done.

    Without hesitation Stumpy volunteered to steer the boat across the river against a ferocious current and navigated around dangerous enormous floating trees that had been swept up into the river flow and could easily flip over or crush a boat. The ambulance was saved and then we had to make the journey back across the treacherous river. The whole daring rescue was captured by chance by photo journalists from the National Geographic magazine. This was the kind of bloke he was, fearless, capable and to be relied upon in a crisis.

    Yes to outsiders he could appear brash, but if you knew the guy, you knew he would give you the shirt off his back. He was the most hospitable person you could ever hope to meet.

    We have lost a modern day legend. The Hotel and campsite leisure industry and Laura in Far North Queensland are poorer for his passing. I hope in celebration of his life and his spirit, his old hotel and campsite might one day become known forever as ‘ Old Stumpy’s ’. He certainly left his mark.

    So long mate, you rode a tough one out of this life, but you died with your fishing rod in your hand.

    1. Hi Dunbar, it’s actually John who wrote the tribute. Unfortunately Kevin and I had a stupid falling out when I left Laura. We were both going stir crazy stuck in a limited area to explore due to ‘The Wet’. Suddenly they announced the National Park was open and I was desperate to jump into my Landy and go exploring. Kevin was stuck running the pub and so we parted ways. I obviously felt like I had let him down, but only someone who has experienced the crazy confines of a long Wet can understand how it affects you mentally. I always held guilt over it and always wanted to return but didn’t know if I would be welcome. I tried to make up for it by sending a fairly expensive gift of a fishing reel and some lures that I know he liked, so hopefully he understood there were no hard feelings on my side.

      During my time with Kevin and the locals, including many Aboriginal folk, I had an introduction to the Bush of Far North Queensland that was very special. I agree with your assessment that Kevin was at ease and a natural Bushman even if it was only later in his life. He had so many sides to him. He could be the hospitable host cooking on the barbi’ one moment, the next- standing up fearlessly to some rough neck in the bar. In his down time he would take you out and show you the Aboriginal rock art paintings or point out interesting bird nests etc. At other times we would d be in a ‘secret’ Barramundi fishing spot where he taught me to fish. I swear the first fish I ever caught was a huge Barramundi that we ate as steaks for several days. He also practically re- built my old Landy. He was so skilled. He welded new struts to stop the safari roof swaying backwards and forwards over the road corrugations, brazed a repair plate over the leaking tank and helped fix the breaks. I remember asking ‘Is it fixed now?’ and he replied ‘It will get you along to the next problem!’. He had such a dry sense of humour. Apparently when I first rode up in my ugly ex-Army olive green Landy he said to every one in the bar ‘Dactari!’(Referencing the old jungle based TV program of the 70’s). Anyhow mate, I would love to hear about your yarns of your time with Kevin. Like you, I still can’t get my head around it fully.

    2. Gday again John,
      when I tried to edit the previous typo I’m afraid it just deleted my reply & yours.
      I really enjoyed reading your tribute to my old friend & it’s clear that you really got who Kev (Stumpy in Qld ) was .
      Your description of him as fearless , capable & to be relied upon in a crisis really sums him up & the story of the ambulance rescue is very typical of him.
      Do you know if those photos ever made it into an article by National Geographic ? I’d like to try n track the article /pics down one day .
      He was like an older brother to me (& many others) & I think he really showed me that you can get just as much or more pleasure from giving to others as you can from receiving.
      Since his passing I’ve heard so many more stories of his incredibly generous & loyal spirit & I can honestly say in the 32 odd years of my friendship with him he never once disappointed me or let me down.
      One story I heard at Kevs wake was from a bloke called Tim similar in age to myself ie aprox 13 years younger than Kev.
      It was Tim’s 25 th birthday & Kev left staff to run the pub (Clancy’s) in his absence & took off for the 1 1/2 to 2 hr drive to Cooma from Canberra, wished Tim happy birthday while he had two beers & 15-20 mins later turned around to head back to Canberra to close his own pub up.
      This is just one of so many similar stories of Kevs loyal , caring, self sacrificing nature.
      He had so many great friendships because he invested so much of his life into being a great friend ,

      I believe he raised the bar of what a being a good friend really means & shared his energy & passion for life with so many people from so many different walks of life.
      I like to think that many of Kevs family & friends will be more generous, brave , caring & loyal people for having rubbed shoulders with Kev over the years & experienced first hand how impressive & special these traits are in a human being .
      As I said earlier John if it suits you I’d like to make contact with you one day to swap some more Kev /Stumpy yarns
      Cheers Dunbar
      Every memory you gave me Kev
      Worth more than the tears I’ve cried
      When I cross the same gully as you Old Timer
      I’ll see you on the other side ….

      1. I never discovered whether the photo’s ever made it into print and unfortunately I don’t have the names of the photographers. I’m not even sure if it was the Australian or American version of the magazine. It’s so long ago, even the year escapes me. It’s a real shame, but maybe as with most things, we have to be thankful for the memories, however shared.

  2. As a fellow sporting man…
    I hate to hear about these things.
    My condolences to all family members and friends.

  3. Rip Kev. You will be sadly missed by all your best Aboriginal friends in Laura Qld australia as we all knew you so well 😥💔🙏…

  4. No worries John , it’s a good yarn all the same but I’ll do a bit of ferreting around & see if I can track down the article or pictures .
    I knew Kev pretty well mate & Im sure after coming back up from the Troppo low he would of completely understood where u were coming from & would of been chuffed that u sent him some good gear .
    Kev was never frightened of change in his own life & I can’t imagine him holding it against someone for wanting to move on to the next thing… especially if there was fishing involved!
    I’ll flick u an email one day John,till then all the best mate.

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