Vale Robert Graham McNamara

Engineers Australia celebrates the life of distinguished engineer, and Queensland Engineering Hall of Fame inductee, Robert Graham (Graham) McNamara FIEAust. 
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Engineers Australia celebrates the life of distinguished engineer, and Queensland Engineering Hall of Fame inductee, Robert Graham (Graham) McNamara FIEAust. 

Graham was born on 2 May 1929 in Brisbane and attended the Senior School at Church of England Grammar School in East Brisbane, graduating in 1946. It was there where his love of both engineering and rowing began – he was a member of Grenfell House and he coxed the school’s premier rowing crew, the Churchie 1st IV, in 1946.

Graham pursued his love of engineering and completed a Civil Engineering degree at the University of Queensland as a Cadet in the Department of Main Roads.  Initially, on graduation, Graham utilised his engineering skills in the Bridge Branch including supervising the construction of the Bremer River Bridge, and later specialising in rural road works, using local low cost materials to produce economic and serviceable road networks. After leaving the Department, Graham combined his entrepreneurial and administrative abilities to partner with Ian Cameron in establishing the Cameron and McNamara Engineering Consultancy which became one of the pre-eminent consultancies in Australia, eventually merging with South Australian consultants to become Kinhill Cameron McNamara. 

From 1960-1990, Graham was engaged on developmental works in marine environments, particularly estates from Labrador to Sanctuary Cove, including Runaway Bay, Shearwater, Paradise Point and Noosa. He developed the more economic technique of excavating the canals in the dry thus avoiding the need for costly dredgers. This success expanded across many areas of engineering, including marine foreshore and marina developments and his repute extended in international consulting in Asia – particularly in the design and construction of infrastructure using low cost materials.

Graham was a valued and active member in community committees, in addition to serving as a lecturer at tertiary level at both University of Queensland and Central Technical College (now QUT). His advice and knowledge of modern engineering practice prepared students for careers in the profession. He was a great mentor to young engineers starting their own careers. His eventual partner in Papua New Guinea, Frank Kramer, credits him as being the professional colleague who had the foresight to recognise his raw talent right out of university, taking the time and interest to cultivate and develop that potential to ultimately form Cameron McNamara Kramer, sharing the difficulties and successes of a consulting practice in a developing third world economy. 

Graham was admitted as a Local Government Engineer and also became an RPEQ in 1959, was a member of the Institute of Arbitrators from 1977-1993, and an ACEA member from 1968. Graham was elected as a Fellow of Engineers Australia and served on several Engineers Australia Division Committees from 1987 to 1990. Graham had a long and fulfilling career in the engineering sector through both his business activities and his affiliation with professional bodies. In 2011, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to engineering in Queensland when he was inducted into the Queensland Engineering Hall of Fame. 

Queensland President of Engineers Australia, Colin Mitchell, honours Graham’s service to the greater engineering community.

“It is with a heavy heart that we farewell Fellow and Queensland Engineering Hall of Famer, Graham McNamara,” said Mitchell.

“The pride he showed in mentoring and teaching the next generation of engineering talent has been rewarded through the bolstering of Queensland’s pipeline of engineers, associates and technologists.

“Moreover, his contribution in the development works of marine environments spanning the coast of Queensland is a testament to his success as an engineer.

“Our thoughts and condolences are with Graham’s family and friends at this time.”

Graham leaves behind his wife Margaret and children Chris, John and Annie, ten grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.