Wayne McLennan

Inducted 25 November 2009

Wayne McLennan was born in Cessnock in 1954.

His early life was spent in Kearsley, before moving to Aberdare and then North Cessnock. As a child, he played soccer for Bellbird, Aberdare Rangers and East End (Cessnock); Rugby League for Aberdare Warriors and Cessnock Under 18s and cricket for Cessnock Workers Club and Abermain. His keen interest in sport extended to boxing, which he learned at the Cessnock Police Boys Club, going on to box professionally for a time using the name Donny Leslie.

Since leaving school, Wayne’s life has not followed a conventional path, and it his diverse experiences which provided him with the material to drive his skills as a writer. From an early job as a bank teller, he has been a boxer (including a couple of bouts for Bell's Boxing Troupe), a gold prospector in Costa Rica and a fishing boat skipper in Nicaragua. With a friend, he once rowed 1,600km between Seattle and Alaska, an expedition which led to the writing of Wayne’s first book.

Wayne’s experiences have in part been recorded in his first two publications – Rowing to Alaska and other short stories and Tent Boxing an Australian Journey. The latter, about Bell's Boxing Troupe, was inspired by Wayne's experiences as a young man as a spectator of Jimmy Sharman's travelling boxing tent.  Both publications have been well received, with praise given for both the content and style of the work. Indeed, Rowing to Alaska was designated as a Notable Book in 2005 by the New York Times.

Wayne was also a contributor to the Australia’s Griffith Review and the UK’s Granta literary magazine, which publishes contributions from some of the world’s best known contemporary writers.

Plaque location
120 Vincent Street, Cessnock (garden bed)