Perkins - 1


When I left Top Springs I bought a little house at thirty-nine Stuart Highway, next door to where Repco are. I bought that for 4,000 pounds. You imagine. I must’ve gone for eighteen months or two years there and then I sold out to Colin Quang-Sing.

I wanted to buy that corner block in Bishop Street where Ted Styles used to have his business; where the big fruit company is now. He wanted a hundred and ten thousand pound. And I hadn’t quite enough money and so I went to the bank manager; he said “its not viable – you wouldn’t come out of it.” I’d of been a millionaire today if I’d bought it, with what I wanted to do with it with it, you see. Because I knew that road was going to go through the back. I knew that. I’d seen something in the government office once, quite by accident; it was laying on the table, I couldn’t help but see it. And then I went round and had a snoop around and, sure enough, there were pegs there; they’re going to build a road there which meant that that block had two frontages. I would’ve rented that or done something to the buildings and rented them out. And then later on you’ve got that other frontage there. Been a goldmine. But the bank wouldn’t come up with the money.

Delete following section which is now included in Top Springs. And by that time I’d thought of Geoff Batchelor in Melbourne. And he agreed that he would come into it. He wasn’t even gonna bother coming up. But we would’ve had to’ve been in it as partners and Geoff’s a very shrewd man. He had been very honest with me when I bought my trucks and trailers through him.

When I sold to Quang-Sing, Bruce Perkins suggested that I go to look at a ship for him in Perth; to value it and if it was alright, to conclude the deal, get a crew down there and bring it up. Bruce had tendered for the barge, sight unseen. So: 'How much did you pay Bruce?' 'Oh,' he said: 'It was only six hundred pounds.' I said: 'Oh, well you can't miss much can you?' And he said: 'Alright. Well, shall I book your airfare?' Go down and see it, and if its possible, sail it back. If not, use your own judgement'. That was a fairly wide scope wasn't it?

Thus I went down to Point Preston Army barge depot. I go in and look for the sergeant in charge, out he comes, and I said: 'I'm looking for a barge bought by one Darwin buyer, V.B. Perkins'. 'Yes, yes,' he said. And he looked at a jeep over the way, and pointed to a bloke, and he brought the jeep over and he said: ' Take Mr Hawks over', I hopped in the jeep and away I went and had a look at the business. There were six blokes in there all pumping like hell and I said: 'You haven't got a barge here, you've got a bloody colander here'. They all laughed. 'How long since you've pumped her out?' 'Oh, we pump her out three times a day'. They told me the truth, because I said: 'Alright, well what about you fellows stop pumping'. And I just went over and scratched a mark on the wall, and looked at my clock. I said: 'Can you give me fifteen minutes?' The smoko whistle went, and they all trooped off and went for smoko. Before they came back I knew just how much she leaked - two inches over the whole bloody barge in fifteen minutes. Rust you see, rust through - thinner and thinner. Well, there's no way that I'm going to sail this up to Darwin. When I went to the department offices in town they said: 'You were the only interested tenderer.' I said: 'Oh, the spare parts are worth the money, but not the barge. The barge is rubbish.' 'Alright,' they said, 'How much for the spares?' 'Oh, might give you a thousand pounds for the spares.' And they accepted it.

When I went back to barge depot the sergeant said: 'We've got an inquiry from the Port Authority as to what you're going to do with that barge.' And I said: 'You wouldn't like to tell the Port Authority what I would like to do with that barge, but what do they want to know for?' 'Well, they said they don't want it as a hazard in the river'. I said: 'They are quite right, perfectly right. I'll have a talk with the harbourmaster. So you tell him I would like to talk with him'. He came on the phone, 'Which side of the river are you?' - 'I'm over at the side where Preston Point is' - 'We have a boat in the river. You get on there, he will bring you here'. Presently there's a boat honking outside - a small cabin cruiser and away I go to see the harbourmaster. He said: 'We would not give you permission to take that vessel to sea, definitely. So what do you intend to do with it?' And I said: 'Now, what can I do with it? Would you give me permission to take it out accompanied by a launch, and a charge of gelignite, and I blow her and let her go?' He said: 'We couldn't do that, you must go past a certain line. We couldn't do it like that, that's too much gung-ho'. What're you going to do with that barge, Mr Hawks?' And I said: 'Oh, I'll have to dump her somewhere' - 'Don't get dumping it around here. We've got a watch on it,' the bloke said.

I thought it'd be an ideal sand bin for somebody, so I put the advertisement in the paper for two days. And on the first day I got an inquiry from a bloke, and he said: 'I'll come and have a look'. And I said: 'I'll be there waiting for you with a car'. And I took him over and had a look. And he said: 'That'll do me'. I said: 'You buy here. You buy all engines in there'. He said: 'Yes, there's four bloody good Fords in there'. I had started some of these, and you'd have thought it was Lunar Park when they all started you know - in the dark in their engine room. Its quite dark in there. And they had that old crab-type distributor on, and there's sparks flying everywhere from the ignition wires. And this bloke was quite satisfied, and: 'Do you think you can get her under way?' He said: 'First of all I'll bung up a few of those holes.' I said: 'You'll make payment today?' Yes, he made payment that day - seven hundred pounds. I thought the fare was one hundred you see, plus six hundred for the barge. That got me out of it. I'd been arranging for the harbourmaster to arrange for a tug and it was going to cost us two hundred pound for the tug and fifty pound for the demolition charge, and they'd take it outside the deep water limit, see, and sink it. But this bloke bought it gladly and he came and towed it away.

But then up in the store were forty-two cases of spare parts - brand new. And so I freighted them all up to Bruce costing him four hundred dollars freight. He muttered about that, but when you opened them there were brand gear boxes and shafts, and oh, bronze propellers - dozens, they'd have been worth a packet of money to trawler people. I don't know what he ever did with them.

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