Kevin Rasheed, a man of the Flinders

Kevin Rasheed

Kevin Sajieh Rasheed, (1919-1992), pastoral worker, pilot, air gunner, tourism operator and promoter, was born on 20 November 1919 at Carrieton South Australia, eldest son of Lebanese born Dean Rasheed, pastoralist and land owner and his Irish born wife Edith Ellen, née Merrett. They had two more children, Ross Toufeek, born 16 July 1921 and Ronda Zahia born 26 June 1922.

Kevin was educated at home by a governess before attending the Carrieton School and finally St Peter’s College in Adelaide. At age 15 he had to leave school to assist his father droving sheep due to the effects of the depression and drought. In 1938 the Rasheed family moved to Orroroo but Kevin turned his back on a pastoral career and found a job with Shell in Whyalla and learnt to fly.

After the outbreak of World War II Kevin joined the Forces, as did his brother and sister. Kevin became an air gunner in England and attained the rank of Flight Lieutenant. He took part in dropping supplies and saboteurs into France and Norway. On 17 September 1944 Kevin flew with the Airborne Forces towing gliders to Arnhem in Holland.

He married Joyce Hern, a nurse from Cotswold who served in London, on 20 July 1944 in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. In March 1945 twin boys Dean and Keith were born at Oxfordshire. After the war his wife took both boys to Australia and stayed with his parents at Orroroo waiting for her husband’s return from England.

They eventually settled at Whyalla where Kevin worked for BHP. He soon became involved with Murray Valley Coaches, which had land and some basic accommodation at Wilpena Pound, and managed its office in Adelaide. In 1947 he bought a house at Panorama where two more children were born, Julie in 1948 and John in 1959.

By the 1950s Rasheed had bought his own plane, took up the lease for the Wilpena Pound resort and started his pioneering work of bringing tourism to the Flinders Ranges and beyond. Over the years he built considerable infrastructure at Wilpena and adjacent to Ayers Rock. When flying to Adelaide to be with his wife and children he would often take paying passengers or Aborigines for medical treatment.

In 1959 Rasheed formed the Flinders Ranges Tourist Services Pty Ltd. Now he and his wife and later their children worked tirelessly to develop the holiday resort that now attracts thousands of tourists. He never missed an opportunity to publicise the resort. When Ford made its TV commercials in the area Rasheed was in it. He also played a South American in the TV series Boney. He put the holiday resort and Wilpena Pound on the map as an International Tourist Destination.

In 1980 the resort was sold to the South Australian Government who leased it back to the Rasheed family with son Keith and his wife Lynette as managers. In March 1984 the Rasheed family bought Arkaba station, adjacent to Wilpena Pound, and Kevin had finally restored the family’s roots in the land, as he had promised himself after his father had lost his properties nearly 50 years ago.

Rasheed’ s life revolved around the Flinders and the Wilpena Pound Chalet which he built up from a rugged outfit for some 20 people to a modern facility accommodating up to a hundred. He won two major awards for his services to tourism. In 1984 he became South Australia’s tourism personality of the year and in 1988 won an additional award for outstanding contribution by an individual.

After his retirement, and seeing his children settled, he lived permanently at Panorama. Kevin Rasheed, highly respected in tourism and government circles, died on 4 May 1992, age 72, in the Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford, South Australia and was buried with Catholic rites in nearby Centennial Park.

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