REUNITED: Hopeful hunt for long-lost father ends in joy
A WILD chase led siblings Narelle Forsyth and Richard King to Warwick, but if it wasn't for a signature pair of stubbies they may never have been reunited with the dad they had not seen in decades.
Narelle and Richard jumped on a plane from Sydney to Queensland this month with not much more than an inkling their dad was living in Warwick.
Growing up with different mothers, they were only reunited a couple of months ago.
They got their heads together and realised time may be running out to find their dad.
They also had questions about possible siblings they needed to put to rest.
Richard remembered travelling to Queensland in school holidays and had seen a newspaper clipping from 2002 mentioning their dad living here.
They called the Warwick Memorial RSL Club and when the person on the phone recognised their dad's name - also Richard King, they knew they were onto something.
"I thought we could just go and sit at the RSL, we'll sit there for 12 hours if we have to," Richard said.
"We kept it hush because we didn't know what his reaction was going to be."
Having discovered a more recent picture of their dad in the Warwick Daily News, the pair popped into our office to see if we could help.
Advertising manager Kaela Freeman told the pair the only Richard King she knew always wore a pair of short white stubbies.
Straight away, Richard knew they were onto the right man.
"White stubbies, that's all he used to wear. Shorts, bare feet and tanned skin," Richard said.
The siblings were given the number for Joan Wallace, publican at O'Mahoney's Hotel where their father used to visit.
Joan then rang Richard senior to tell him the great news.
But at first he didn't believe her.
"He said, 'No, there's no chance, Joan. If they're here, you send them here'," Narelle said.
So that's exactly what Joan did.
Richard and Narelle were scared as they stood in front of their father's house after not clapping eyes on him for 20 and 35 years respectively.
But when they got to the door, it was the same man they remembered from all those years ago.
Richard said they were overwhelmed with relief they'd been able to track him down.
"We didn't know if we'd get to find him, hear him on the phone or even meet him," Richard said.
"His personality hasn't changed one bit, he likes to tell stories and that hasn't changed."
As soon as they arrived, their father didn't want them to leave.
"We'd stayed at a motel and booked in a second night, but he said, 'I want you to stay here'," Narelle said.
Richard King senior, who is now 76, knew straight away he was looking at his children, a huge shock after so many years apart.
"As soon as she smiled at me, I knew it was her, Narelle," Mr King said.
"My heart was pounding after all these years."
Mr King said a couple of relationship breakdowns and a work opportunity led him to Queensland, where over the years he lost touch with his children.
Finding their dad wasn't the only shock of the weekend, as Richard and Narelle also discovered they each have a full brother as well as a half sister.
And Mr King discovered he has a much bigger family than he thought, with 11 grandchildren carrying his genes.
"I've got a big family, I'll need a double-decker bus," he said.
"I'll miss them dearly when they go home, now I've got to pull my head in, I'm not getting any younger."
Richard and Narelle said they now planned to travel to Warwick more often to visit their father, but Mr King is also planning to make trips to Sydney to meet his newly discovered extended family.