Lake Macquarie History

The Takedown at Wangi Pub

Poem by Ron North

This is the tale of an artist named Bill,
Everyone in Wangi was his friend.
The kind of a bloke you'd have for a mate
A humble man and a dinky-di legend.
He was one of Australia's greatest,
Won the Archibald, Wynne and more;
Many did not like his style of paintings,
And some did cause a great furore.

Now this is a fair dinkum story,
Of a takedown at the Wangi pub.
Where Bill liked to have a friendly drink -
With the locals he enjoyed a good rub.
Bill stopped by one summer day,
He liked an ale before his lunch.
He was drinking with a Wangi character -
Old Jack - and some of the Wangi Bunch.

Now a newchum walked into the bar,
He recently moved to Wangi town
And was feeling somewhat dejected,
Because a builder had let him down.
The home he had just bought was old,
And needed a lot of renovating.
He was hoping the locals may know
Someone who was good at painting.

Now, Old Jack - who liked to have a lark,
Nodded and gave a wink to Bill.
Jack said "If you'd like to shout,
I'm sure my friend here has the skill."
So the newchum bought the round,
And of Bill's painting skills did enquire.
Jack gave Bill another wink then asked
The newchum exactly what he did require.

He said he "needed a painter, one who knew his trade
How to paint, patch and prime.
The flaking walls needed rubbing down -
Some paint was covered with grime.
The roof would also need a coat,
For it was showing signs of rust.
The windowsills and doorframes -
They definitely are a must."

Then Jack said "this work is mighty thirsty
We could do with another shout,
And if you have a pen and paper,
Your quote Bill here will work out."
Bill said "The quote will be by the square metre,
For I don't know how long the job will take,
You didn't say how big your house is,
You only said that it's by the Lake."

"I'd like to know how many square metres
Before I give you my price; what do you think?"
The newchum said "I'll do some calculations,
While you're waiting I'll buy another drink."
Bill Says "This here's a price per square metre
For me your house to paint."
When the newchum looked it over
He went white, and almost fell into a faint.

The publican came to his aid and said,
"You don't know these locals very well.
Let me introduce you to Australia's famous artist -
This here is ... Sir William Dobell."
They still laugh about this yarn at Wangi pub,
But there's truth in this story, it is a fact.
About the newchum taken down by Sir Bill,
With the local baker, and old wag called Jack.