How an air-conditioning mechanic in Sydney Australia became an award winning broadcaster in Britain Part 20.


I really didn’t want to go out after midnight in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. I’d heard the town could get a bit wild after dark. Kalgoorlie is the largest settlement for hundreds of kilometers. Most of the people who live there work at the Super Pit which is an open-cut gold mine almost four kilometers long, 1.6 kilometers wide and half a kilometer deep. The mine operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That means shift workers who knock off at different times of the day and night, need to get a drink around the clock. The bars cater to the mainly male clientele by employing what are known in the area as the Kalgoorlie Skimpies. These are barmaids who serve beer in their underwear till the early hours.

I worked a late shift too. For two weeks in 1993, I was on the air at the local radio station, 6KG from 7pm to midnight every night. I was playing mainly rock music, requests for the hookers who called up during what was probably their busiest period (did I mention that prostitution is legal in Kalgoorlie) and commercials for late night fast food outlets and pubs with Skimpies serving “cold beer and hot looks”.

The first couple of nights I worked there, after the show, I just walked back to my room at The Palace Hotel and went straight to bed. On the third night, I got talking to the DJ that handed over to me at 7pm. He said he’d come back at midnight and we could go out for a drink. I really wasn’t up for the hard drinking antics that I knew were the norm in Kalgoorlie, so I was relieved when he suggested we go to The Palace. I was staying there but hadn’t checked out the bar yet. A few quiet ones in the house bar before retiring for the night sounded perfect. Then we walked in off the street, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

It was standing room only. This turned out to be handy because there wasn’t a stick of furniture in the place. No carpet either, just a wooden floor with a sprinkling of sawdust, possibly all that was left of the furniture. About a hundred blokes wearing steel toe-capped work boots and donkey jackets had clearly come straight from work and were trying to get as drunk as possible as quickly as possible. They were six deep at the bar, not because the service was slow, quite the opposite. The manager was standing on the bar with a super-soaker water pistol filled with cheap vodka. The mine workers were standing there, swaying like a 1970’s football crowd with their mouths wide open. He was squirting the booze straight down their throats like a blackbird feeding it’s chicks.

Thankfully, he wasn’t in his Y-fronts.

Craic on!

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