Maurice Edwin Blake was born on 19th September 1930 in Waikerie, South Australia. He was the youngest of six children and developed a love of motorcycle racing from an early age.
After finishing his apprenticeship as a stonemason, Maurie went to Broken Hill to work as an underground miner. During this time he continued to race motocross and developed a passion for aviation. The high wages earned in the mine allowed him to share in the purchase of a plane, a Moth Minor.
In 1954 he arrived in Darwin and liked it so much he decided to stay. Maurice set up as a Building Contractor, doing mostly remote outstation work. He maintained his flying licence as a way to get to and from the remote outstations, eventually purchasing a Piper Cherokee aeroplane.
During his lifetime he had many varied and exciting experiences.
Maurie took up a gold mine lease in Pine Creek, developing and then selling it.
He prospected, developed and built the Mataranka Lime Mine and then sold it.
He then established Maurie’s Quarry, providing various grades and types of aggregate to the building sites of the Northern Territory.
Throughout the 50s and 60s Maurie continued racing motocross all through the Northern Territory. He was instrumental in bringing together the Motorbike Club and the Car Racing Club to form the Northern Territory Riders and Drivers Association. As the inaugural President, from 1960 to 1967, he oversaw the construction of the first Darwin Speedway at Bagot Park.
He raced Solo motorbikes and three quarter Midgets and is both an NT Title winner and Point Score winner. He raced Speedcars and was also a Point Score Champion. Maurie was made a Life Member of the Speedway.
Possibly his greatest achievement in aviation was to compete in the 1969 England to Sydney Air Race. He modified his single engine Piper Cherokee, named it the ‘Spirit of Darwin’ and with a rotating crew of three, including English Test Cricketer, Ted Dexter, flew the 19,000 kilometer route successfully.
Later, in life, Maurie took up rifle shooting.
Maurie was elected Captain of the Darwin Rifle Club in 1982/83. At this time the Club was still part of the South Australian Rifle Association. Much discussion and negotiating occurred before the Territory clubs moved to the control of NT Rifle Association which was formed in 1984. The NTRA became a full NRAA Member in 1987 – all under Maurie’s leadership. He was Chairman of the inaugural Board of the NT Rifle Association in 1984 through to 1997, a Board Member on the National Rifle Association from 1984 to 1997 and Vice Chairman from 1994-1997 while still the Captain of the Darwin Rifle Club. Maurie was made a Life Member of the Darwin Rifle Club.
As he did with the establishment of Bagot Park Speedway in the 1960s, he oversaw the relocation of the Darwin Rifle Club from Hook Road and the construction of the Mickett Creek Rifle Range, a promise made by government in the 1970s but not coming to fruition until 1996, in time for the NT Queens, National Open, Under 25, Ladies and Veterans Teams Championships.
Of course it goes without saying that Maurie was an excellent shot.
Local level: He won the NT Long Range Target Shooting Championship in 2000 and won prize meetings in both Darwin and Alice Springs.
National level: He was a member of South Australian Open Teams until the NTRA was formed and then a member of NTRA Teams. In later years he shot in Veterans teams for North Queensland/Northern Territory. He competed in Queens in all States and Territories, winning badges in every state except WA.
International level: He represented Australia, in the winning of the Trans-Tasman Veterans Team event in 1998 and was a member of the World Championship winning Veterans Team in 1993 and 1996.
His adventurous spirit continued with age. At the age of 63, Maurie took up scuba diving and completed the PADI Open water diver course. In his seventies he went hot air ballooning.
Maurie grabbed life with both hands and hence had so many amazing and funny stories to share about a life well-lived. He was one of the many larrikins and happy faces at the Darwin Rifle Club and there was always lots of laughing when he was around. His presence there is sorely missed.
Unfortunately, Maurie didn’t achieve his dream of winning a Queen’s Prize, but he did win the hearts of many in the shooting fraternity and he leaves a legacy within the sport.
His trademark greeting was hallo hallo hallo (mainly because he couldn’t remember your name). Maurie retired from rifle shooting at the age of 88. He passed away on 26th October 2019 in Darwin.