Monday, 31 December 2012

Notorious, Infamous, Controversial, Scandalous: Rex Pilbeam 1


In the seventies Rex Pilbeam provided constant fodder for regular 'latest redneck outrage from the Rockhampton Mayor' newspaper articles. In one article he'd defend anatomical correctness against wowsers who thought that Rockhampton's roadside statues of bulls had sinfully large and prominent testicles. In another he'd announce the punishment for vandalising his statues. “Castrate my bulls, I'll castrate you!” He scratched his own balls in public and picked his nose, while threatening to punch other people's noses. Despite everything he said, and did, Rockhampton kept electing him... for three decades!
If you have trouble reading the old
newsprint - go get your glasses,
or click the image sensually with
your mouse and it will grow.

I visit Rocky often and love the place. It's a beautiful town. The majestic Fitzroy River sweeps past grand old buildings and immaculate parks and gardens. The people are generally well educated, fun, friendly and tolerant. They do tend to worry that Rocky is seen as a hick cow town. In fact they're a bit sensitive about that - yet they elected an archetypal hick as First Citizen for 30 years.

My best friend grew up in Rocky, and did his schooling there. He's an intelligent, well educated guy. One day I made a joke about the long dead Mayor, expecting a laugh. Instead, my friend was surprised I thought Pilbeam was a redneck. I was surprised that he was surprised. I told him what Rex was like. After all, I knew! I was around when Rex was alive. I'd read about him in the paper. My friend, on the other hand, was born after Rex died. What would he know?
Click to Enlarge.

I was invited to come for a drive, and we headed up Pilbeam Drive to the top of Mt Archer and while we looked out over the city lights, I listened to a catalogue of the old boy's achievements and got a formidable reminder that people are often very different to their public image, and far removed from what you read about them in the paper.

Difficult as it is to change my obstinate mind, I'm glad it's still possible.

3 comments:

So enjoyed that. I remember meeting The Mayor when I was up there with Peter Mosselle. I appeared at a Hotel I think called The Star. A lovely rather butch girl, very young called Lea took me every where. I believe she is very well known and respected up there. Yes I have to agree Rockhampton is a fine place and the people are just lovely and most welcoming. Laura, Les Girls answer to Barbra Streisand is a Rockhampton Girl. I lived with her for years. I remember the first time I had crab was up there just wonderful.

I'm glad other people have fond memories of Rocky - I just love the place and the people - and old Rex is a big part of why it's such a wonderful place - I've got a lot more to come on the old bugger - just not enough hours in the bloody day.

This webpage was very helpful for my assignment! :)

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