It may seem hard to believe but water or the lack of it was never a problem at Shay Gap. Though sitting on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert it was slap bang sitting on top of a great artesian basin, not to be confused with the Great Artesian Basin, the biggest in the world sitting over in NSW, Queensland parts of South Australia and the Northern Territory (here ends today’s geography lesson).
The smart people had estimated that if there was no rain for the next 25 years Shay would still have plenty of water, and the mine was due to be mined out long before then. Why on earth I’m boring you with this bit of useless information is beyond me but who knows it may prove useful.
As the title of this little/big rave (I haven’t decided how long it’s going to be yet I’m just prattling away here) says, Shay Gap was a “clean town”.
When it was first opened for mining it was put to the men, “Do you want this to be a clean town or not?”; the unanimous decision was made the men opted for a clean town and so it was, you were not permitted to enter the town or any building therein unless you were clean and tidy. This in an iron ore mining town stuck miles from anywhere on the otherside of Woop Woop.
All men coming off shift would shower and change into clean clobber and be bussed back into town, hungry for their main meal of the day. You never saw a dirty grubby person anywhere in town. These men were a credit to themselves and their town!
Now after that little sermon I’ll get on with the rave.
Sometime after I’d settled in and the ‘Wet’ was running like a charm a couple of blokes (truckies) came into the ‘Wet’ propped at the bar and asked for a couple of schooners, I picked them for a couple of Sydneysiders; Sandgroper truckies would have asked for pints. “Sorry fella’s” says me “I can’t serve you right now, you’ll have to go have a shower and get cleaned up”
That started it! “Whattya talking about?’ “Who d’ya think ya talkin’ to?” you starting to see where this is going?
I said “sorry fella’s those are the rules, I can’t serve anybody unless they’re cleaned up, have a look around see what I mean”; by now the ‘Wet’ was deathly silent except for the jukebox, the boys on the pool table stopped playing, the packed ‘Wet’ was listening and watching.
Then the abuse started, here they were hard working truckies been on the road for days and all they wanted was a nice cold beer and a no good bartender wasn’t going to tell them what to do, their language was somewhat riper than I’m telling it. Didn’t matter I was adamant, go get cleaned up they could have as much beer as they liked but until they did no way!
One of my boys offered them soap and towels and told them that the showers were half a minute away. But no way were these two blokes going to go shower and get cleaned up just to suit a &$@#$^# bartender. As far as they were concerned it was nothing to do with the men this was between them and me, and if I didn’t serve them, they’d be waiting for me when I finished and we’d see how tough I was then.
“Fine” says me, “but you still don’t get a beer until your cleaned up and even then you get nothing here I refuse to serve you, whether or not the club will serve you is between them and you but I doubt you’ll get anything now” ; they told me that the only reason they didn’t drag me outside then and there and beat the living *&%^#$@ out of me was because there were too many drinkers in the bar who’d step in to save me.
I don’t know what happened to them after they left my ‘Wet’, they didn’t put in a reappearance and I forgot all about them.
After closing up that night I wandered back over to my digs and turned in, I didn’t go to the Club that night for a nightcap and was back on deck next am bright and early.
Later in the morning I found out quite by accident, that after I’d closed and locked up and wandered off a fairly large body of men led by Fang and his brother had waited out of sight and watched over me until I was safely home and I didn’t sense or know that they were there and were following and protecting me.
Apparently my boys had taken the truckies and their threats seriously and were on hand to make sure nothing happened to me after closing. Nobody had seen hide nor hair of the two villains and they weren’t going to take any chances that they might carry out their threat to beat the living you know what out of me.
When Fang and his crowd came in that night I never said anything to them, it wasn’t necessary but their first round was on me nothing further needed to be said.
I’ll write about Fang and other characters from the ‘Wet’ some other time.