I watched fascinated as Wollombi moved from being a red neck remnant to an alternate lifestyle enclave, but Dingle Dell pushed that envelope further than I thought was possible. I don’t know why, but a set of escapees from Sydney’s gay show biz community set up camp (sic) out along Yango Road and called it Dingle Dell. You are permitted to wonder at the name but I will let that go through to the keeper.
They turned up at the tavern, two but rarely three at a time and became known at the bar as harmless and friendly, funny and exuberant as gays often present. All seemed well until Jimmy began arriving alone, very depressed and teary. What apparently brought it undone was a love triangle, with the older man being replaced by a younger man in the heart of an even younger man, so they all left except the oldest man who stayed on, probably because he had nowhere better to go. But he gradually carved out a place for himself in the community.
Jimmy Goode was an outrageous poof, so camp, he was a caricature of himself but you just had to like him. Friendly, emotional, caring and willing, he became such a fixture at the Tavern, no longer Mel’s, but basically unchanged except for the prices, that his absence always invoked a worried; ‘Is Jimmy OK?’
Winter was on the way and Tony Royal wanted a fireplace in the bar. Jimmy offered the unbelievable information he was a stonemason. A Pom with a withered arm, a history of hanging about King’s Cross with Les Girls, a poofy lisp and a skinny ageing body, it was a bit farfetched, but Bob, Tony’s manager, gave him the nod and work began. Of course professional stonemasons employ grunts to do the heavy stuff. So, with some local boys to provide muscle and eye candy, Jimmy’s joy filled project progressed. Stone was cut, trimmed and lifted until it was time to fit the blacksmithed iron grate. And so it was that the fire was lit with suitable pomp, plonk and pissedness to commission Wollombi’s first new stone fireplace in maybe a hundred years.
Helped by his boys, none of whom to my knowledge was ever invited to replace his lost love, Jimmy built fireplaces. Moving out of Dingle Dell and into town, he was given a home in Rex (Hipshot) Thompson’s shed. When fireplace building declined, he became the Tavern’s barman, always friendly and always entertaining until he died, remembered by people who accepted him into their community for what he essentially was. A nice bloke.