Michael Nimmo, how a Defence family celebrate ANZAC Day

‘Mate’ is one of those words commonly used by Australians to describe not only friends and colleagues but also strangers and individuals whose names we have completely forgotten.

For Australians, young and old, mateship is a value and practice that holds special resonance.

In Australia, Defence families are typically relocated every two to four years according to service requirements.

For a local Diocese family this is very much a reality and a lifestyle they have become accustomed to.

Michael Nimmo has served in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) for a total of 25 years. In this period, he has been posted to multiple Defence establishments including Williamtown (NSW), Tindale (NT) and Texas (USA) whilst also being deployed to Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Middle East to name a few.

Beginning his RAAF career as an airman – avionics technician, Michael progressed up through the ranks in his time of service until commissioning across as an Officer.

He attributes his long-service in the RAAF to the strong mateship environment, opportunities to travel allowing new connections to be built in various locations as well as diverse job prospects such as the ability to work on the new F35 jets – the main reason for his recent move back to Williamtown.

For Grace, from Saint Francis Xavier, it is this virtuous and distinctly Australian value that has attracted her to follow in the footsteps of her father, Michael Nimmo, and join the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). 

“I grew up with dad’s friends…those I call my uncle aren’t actually my uncles but they treat me as though they are. I grew up in this mateship environment and I don’t want to leave it.”

Returning to Newcastle in mid-2018, after three years in Texas, Grace and her younger sister, Hannah, stepped back into the Australian education system at San Clemente Mayfield where they were welcomed into a ‘mateship’ culture they were familiar with in their personal life.

“The year coordinator, Mr. Marsh was so great,” Grace said.  “On the first day, he gave Hannah and I a tour of the school alongside those who I was friends with back in Year 7 before I left for America.

“He went the extra mile to find out what we both enjoyed and then signed us up to the School’s basketball team without us knowing – pushing us into the community and making us feel very welcomed.”

ANZAC Day is a day that sees communities - and the nation as a whole - come together to commemorate those armed services personnel who have gone before us and those who continue to make sacrifices for our country today. This year, the Nimmos will commemorate ANZAC Day as a family in Hat Head whilst on their holiday.

For Michael Nimmo, ANZAC Day signifies “recognition of everyone who has served the country present and past. It is a day that brings together mateship through the parades, opportunities to catch up with old diggers and veterans from the past as well as members you use to work with and those you with whom you hold shared experiences.”

The Nimmo family members all look forward to joining the Hat Head community and being involved in paying tribute to and remembering those who have served.


Pictured: Hannah Nimmo, student at San Clemente Mayfield, Michael Nimmo, Officer at Williamtown RAAF Base, and Grace Nimmo, student at Saint Francis Xavier Hamilton.

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Brittany Gonzalez Image
Brittany Gonzalez

Brittany Gonzalez is a Marketing and Communications Co-ordinator for Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.