Reg’s father, Alexander Bovell, conducted a shipping agency business for 50 years between 1901 and 1951. Reg was educated at Busselton Primary and Bunbury High School. After a time working for the South Western News, he joined the West Australian newspaper in Perth.
When World War II broke out, he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force. He returned to work for the West Australian in Perth after the war.
When his brother Stewart, who managed the shipping agency at the time, decided to seek election to Parliament for the State electoral seat of Vasse, Reg returned to Busselton in 1947 with his wife Grace (nee Edwards), to take over the shipping agency.
Timber was the main export – others included vegetables, butter and titanium transported in bags. Busselton jetty was a hive of activity and had a reputation for efficiency and reliability in loading ships on time.
Reg describes the day-to-day working of the port, damage to the jetty caused by cyclone Alby in 1978, and fires at the jetty. As agent for all shipping companies he paid the waterside workers’ wages, kept records for every ship that berthed in Busselton and knew the ships’ captains, their cargo details, hours worked, wages paid and other relevant information. Reg describes many of these details and his role over the 25 years he was shipping agent until the port was closed to shipping in 1972.