By Nigel Hopkins

Like many of Australia’s finest journalists, Paul Lloyd was a man of many parts. Even those who knew him well often did not know all there was to know about him.

For many, he was an accomplished journalist, a writer of thoughtful features and leading articles, in a career that took him from newspapers in Hong Kong, London and Sydney to The Advertiser in Adelaide.  Others knew him as a discerning wine columnist or as a restaurant reviewer. He certainly knew the value and pleasures of a seriously long lunch.

Those who knew him longest were aware that the young Paul Lloyd had looked forward to a life as a musician, having a father who was an Anglican minister and a mother a talented organist. Already an accomplished flautist at the age of 16, he joined the Navy as a member of the band, playing part-time in Sydney jazz bands – which more or less accidentally led to his start in newspapers.

At a late-night Push party in Sydney the jazz band’s flute player fell down the stairs. At the foot of the stairs a journalist was born. Paul Lloyd took his split lip off to work initially as a proof reader at the Sydney Morning Herald, where he soon began covering shipping as debate warmed up about a new-fangled way of delivering sea cargo. It was to be the start of a colourful life and career.

After proving he could drive a Rolls Royce without spilling the champagne in the flute glasses sitting on trays in the back seats, The Anglican newspaper’s legendary editor Francis James appointed him as a journalistic cadet. No HR departments marred the 1960s and The Anglican had a staff of two.

“I really learnt a lot about newspapers then, about time and how long it takes to do things,” Lloyd would later reflect. “And the power of editorial to get things done.”

From driving his editor and his editor’s friends around Sydney, including young barrister Gough Whitlam, Lloyd went on to the Financial Review where readers wanted facts not opinions. Then he heard about Rupert Murdoch’s new national broadsheet, The Australian.

“I drove down to Canberra and knocked on the door of The Australian and said I wanted in,” Lloyd said. “They laughed and said ‘Come in.’”

The 1960s became the days of all the way with LBJ and Paul’s adventurous spirit lured him to Hong Kong where he became the Vietnam editor of an English language newspaper.

“I’d pop down to Vietnam every couple of weeks to see how the war was going,” he said. But seeing how the war was going was not for the faint of heart. Walking on a jungle trail the Viet Cong blew off the head of the man ahead of him. The man kept on walking – briefly. For the rest of his life the sound of a ceiling fan at night caused him flashbacks of the sound of incoming mortars.

His other career as a musician proved useful on a visit to China at a time when access to that country was highly restricted. Travelling on a British musician’s passport, he was picked up by airport security while watching the Red Army band playing The East is Red. Lloyd pulled out his flute and joined in with the band, whose members told the security forces to let him go: “He’s a musician.” None of them knew Lloyd spoke fluent Mandarin.

From Asia he went to London where, again, he knocked on Rupert Murdoch’s door. “You’re a broadsheet journalist not a tabloid journalist” said his old boss, who had just bought the Sun. Murdoch instead arranged for him to start the next day at The Times, where he spent a year sub-editing foreign news before starting his own travel magazine, Tine and Tide Travel.

He employed a person to sell ads and travelled the world for free until the fuel crisis caused the magazine to fold and pushed Lloyd into interviewing celebrities for the mass circulation TV Times.

Former China foreign correspondent and National Press club president – and fellow musician –  Peter Logue described the TV Times as “a place full of colourful characters where lunch often merged into dinner and, occasionally, breakfast. Paul always knew where to find the best grub and plonk. We had many good times.”

Perhaps that was why in 1976 then Advertiser editor Don Riddell and editor in chief Des Colquhoun tempted Lloyd to return to Australia and Adelaide in the agreeable role of food and wine writer at a time when both those industry sectors were undergoing transformation.  Lloyd would play an important role in documenting those changes, as well as helping to promote South Australia’s wine industry nationally and overseas.

He became a noted bon vivant and a leading member of the Hogarth Club, an exclusive long-lunching group that met in the legendary Primo Caon’s Chesser Cellar for fine wine, serious discussion and occasional song. Some of his colleagues recall a long lunch with Lloyd at the equally legendary chef Cheong Liew’s Nediz restaurant after which they realised with horror they’d spent their entire week’s pay, mostly on Krug and Chateau Coutet sauternes.

Lloyd’s sense of mischief was never far away, best illustrated when, on the anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death in 1993, he wrote an editorial where the first letters of each line, read vertically, spelt ELVIS LIVES. He was quietly suspended from that role, but his elegant prose lived on in his feature writing.

As Lloyd grew older his love of music grew stronger and his collection of instruments even larger. He began to become involved with community radio, initially with Radio Adelaide and then with 3D Radio’s Hillbilly Hoot.


By 2008 the novelty of writing was wearing thin. Lloyd retired and moved to Port Augusta, taking Rupert Murdoch’s first desk in Adelaide with him. There he ran a community radio program, helped with music classes at the local high school, played with the school band, and was banished to the shed to learn the tuba.

For many years he’d been a skilful photographer, and in Port Augusta his interest in the National Arid Lands Botanic Gardens led him to wildflower photography and photographic exhibitions. He restored broken glass photographic plates for the Port Pirie Historical Society and somehow found time to write and publish several photography books

Lloyd was also very much a devoted family man. He married lawyer and later magistrate Rosanne McInnes in 1983, in the Marble Hall of Adelaide Railway Station. The bride wore black and dessert was served from a swan carved from black ice. Their family grew with their two daughters Myfanwy and Rhiannon.

Having long battled cancer, his family were with him when, after eating a last meal of Wirrabara venison and juniper berries at home, he made his way to hospital for a last glass or two of muscat.

A few hours later he died.