Kerry Hill's record unlikely to be broken

Maija and Kerry Hill with a map including his old Federal police region. Picture: PETER PICKERING.

Maija and Kerry Hill with a map including his old Federal police region. Picture: PETER PICKERING.

WHILE it may not be officially recognised, Elmhurst retiree Kerry Hill boasts a record that is unlikely to be broken anytime soon.

Mr Hill, a former acting Detective Inspector for the Australian Federal Police, can lay claim to covering the largest police beat patrolled by a single officer in the world following his posting in Indonesia and the South Pacific during the 1970s and 80s.

By chance, Mr Hill crossed paths with a journalist who worked for the Guinness World Record company one day in Jakarta and explained his job.

Mr Hill said the man was very interested in publishing his profession in the GWR Book of Records as the 'longest single officer police beat' however the AFP refused to allow it.

"I decided to tell my boss in Canberra of the new diamond I was about to add to the AFP's crown and I could have heard his response without the telephone," Mr Hill said.

"He told me, amidst a flurry of expletives that if the Honourable Opposition and press in Australia ever found out that one, and only one AFP narcotics officer covered a fifth of the bloody world there would be hell to pay."

So Mr Hill explained the situation to the GWR journalist and the pair went their separate ways.

Mr Hill continued to patrol not only Indonesia, but also the South Pacific inclusive of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Western Samoa, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Tuvalu (Ellice Islands), Kiribati (Gilbert Islands) and Tahiti.

The distances involved from north to south, Kiribati to Tonga, was 2809 kilometres, while from the north-west to south-east, the tip of Sumatra to Tahiti, it was an astonishing 12,020 kilometres.

Mr Hill returned to Australia in 1981 with his wife Maija, but in 1984 his experience covering vast distances was called upon once more and he spent time covering areas including Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

He said the thought of entering the record books rested for 31 years until in 2012 when he told the story to close friends Greg and Donna Belden, who encouraged him to get back in touch with the Guinness World Record company.

So the retired officer sent all the necessary evidence off to the GWR, however was told that there was no claim to be had.

"They were very polite, but said they felt the proposal was too specialised," he said.

"I think that is nonsense considering some of the silly things they do record.

"They may think this single police beat is silly, but it is valid and it happened, I just thought it might have been of interest to them."

Mr Hill isn't short of interesting tales to recount from his time serving in Indonesia as part of the Narcotics Bureau and AFP.

He said overcoming the distance was relatively simple, it was dealing with other issues including corruption, change in governments, making sure people's religion and culture were respected and building connections - to name a few.

"When I was getting on top of all that they decided to include South America into it, so the next thing I know I was up to my backside in piranhas and it was pretty dicey over there," he said.

"It was very hard on Maija too because she was in Jakarta by herself. She got support from the embassy but it wasn't quite the same and if the informants were looking for me they would call her and she would have to deal with some really rum types.

"Without her support there would have been no record and probably very little of me left now."

While he hasn't been acknowledged with an official record, Mr Hill has been recognised with service awards from the Australia hierarchy, but he said he holds in higher regard the 'gongs' he received from the Indonesian authorities as they are much harder to come by.

The Hills have now settled in the quiet surrounds of Elmhurst, a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the international cities Kerry once roamed, but with memories that will last a lifetime.

"The thing I have enjoyed most about my career is going to so many strange and exotic places, the things that I experienced were incredible," he said.

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