Onya Bob for creating one of australia’s truly unique fictional characters, and in doing so, making reading so accessible for so many (who otherwise wouldn’t have given a fat rat’s arse about australian literature). The fact that you were the most popular awfer in the prison library system speaks volumes. Your talent was your laidback, laconic aussie humour and your ability to let your readers escape with you, riding shotgun with Les as he went on his wild capers.
I was a fan from day one. I read Wouldn’t be Dead For Quids in 1984 whilst working in Toowoomba, Queensland, not that far from Les’s birthplace of Dirrinbandi.
We will miss you and that boofhead ranga Les as well as all the motley crew, but fret not because Les Norton and his entertaining exploits will live on forever in aussie folklore through the pages of your prolific books..
In fact, I am sure next time I go down to Bondi for a schooner at Easts Leagues Club, Les will be somewhere there, lurking in the background, trying to pull a root or two whilst hanging shit on the pretentious yuppie wankers who think they have taken over the joint.
Thanks for the laughter mate. You will be missed big fella.
I cannot say just how shocked I am. This is the silliest feeling for someone who I didn't know at all, but I want to say, Fuck You Bob you miserable coot for going away.
I truly want to cry and I am a girl so I can, but I am in the middle of one of your books (audio) and wanted to read why you mentioned in your intro that you had a crummy year. Now I know.
My Mum died September 2011, after being diagnosed with the bigc and terminal straight up. Why am I even saying this when I know you wont read it? Ah crumbs, life is silly. But I nursed her until she passed and she was a character and filled up my life.
Your books and humour were the sort of thing which my Mum gave me. I just last night laughed so hard when I was driving home that I had trouble concentrating on the road. Steelo just told Les he was a cunt for farting in the car, and Les explained that it was the drug dealer's "essence" leaking back - oh boy I really had to laugh.
So thank you Robert G Barrett. How truly shitty life is that you will not write another book and make me laugh. I love your sense of humour and love your books. Nat.
After spending the weekend at my brothers place in sydney, I had to catch a bus back to Armidale N.S.W.
My brother put me on the bus with a copy of "wouldn't be dead for quids". Given that i hated reading,I thought it was a pretty crap present! He said just read the first chapter,If you don't like it,Give it back.
That was about fifteen years ago, And we have both been avid norton fans ever since.
Bugger you Bob! what will we read now.
Im sure we all have a little Les in all of us and we will never forget you Bob.
Robert...mate....I logged onto your website tonight only to see the tragic news of your passing! This week I have just read The Case of the Talking Piecrust admitttedly after a year or two of Les Norton abstinence and in need of a further fix logged onto your website to find your latest!!!!
As a pomme who has been visiting Australia for over 20 years it became an annual routine when visiting to buy your latest book! I was first introduced to you many years ago finding an old copy of And de Fun Don't Dun and believe it or not sat on a flight from London to Perth reading non-stop (unlike the flight) only to find the woman beside me reading exactly the same book! Spooky or what! Anyway your books are the only books that have ever made me wet myself with laughter whilst reading.....enough said! I quickly realised I just couldn't get hold of your books here in the UK and quickly realised why....we just wouldn't get it! As someone who has frequented many of the locations in your books I did get it and I was always brought back with instant clarity to times, places and memories of places I'd been and people I'd met!
So boss, thanks for the stories, sit here writing feeling I've lost something important!
Best wishes to your family and everyone/anyone who enjoyed your work!
We all knew he was sick, but didn’t want to admit the inevitable. He HAD to get better and keep writing! My husband, myself and our sons have all loved the Les books over the years. I used to read to them after tea. It was the only thing that could keep them quiet and make them actually eat. Like everyone else, I looked on the website today and shed many tears. Am still crying now. Yes, everyone is right – what ARE we going to read now? His books were REAL Australian. Not this fake, wanna be American crap that is all over the place. I just can’t imagine life without Les Norton’s larger than life personality leaping out of the pages at us every year. Robert G Barrett you are a bloody God
Murrray and Toni Blake
Hi my name is Garry Jennings, one of my sons introduced me to Bob’s books some years ago when I was getting ready to travel around Australia. Subsequently after reading a couple of his early books I was entranced, and every bookshop I came to in whatever town in Australia looking for his books, what great reads. His books reflected an image that affected people and helped to reveal Australians for what we are and not what we are going to become.
We just had another trip north to Townsville, and because of the floods we had to detour around floodwaters which took us to Diranbandi where we stopped and thought of Bob. So sorry to hear of his passing.,
So me old, you've gone to the big ol' "awther's" heaven. you know, i have the whole collection of your books. they are very dear to me. when i found out a couple of weeks ago about your passing, i cried my flippin' eyes out. not just because you had passed on, but that Les Norton had passed on too. Les Norton is right up there in my top 6 favourite blokes. Now, i'm married with three brother's and six brother's in law, and a daddy, but Les has always been one of the most toppest bloke i have ever met. So when i found out the sad news, i cried for you both.
It was like Les had had his last hurrah. His last adventure. Never again would i get to hook up with him and read his sordid tales, once a year. And what tales they were. Imagine being holed up in a shitty motel in Redfern, with three amazing aboriginal elders. who farted their heads off, drank cups of tea like it was going out of fashion, and knock of some prick and make out like it was heart attack. the perfect crime. But Les was always lucky like that. Although he often questioned "The Boss" upstairs, i think he always came though for Les.
I mean, who else can end up on a deserted island with a crazy lady and her beast of a daughter!!?? and i don't mean
beast, as in ugly, i mean an actual beast!! I could go on and on, but you Bob, already know all of this.
So, as i was saying, to me your passing was devestating. And to also think of Les gone was almost as distressing. But. after much though and deliberation i will always remember you as not only my most favouritist awther, but also the real Les Norton.
And Les isn't gone. Price is still running the casino with Eddie by his side. Billy still works on the door with a new guy. Who doesn't quite possess the same "charm" (or fists) as Les, but he'll do. Warren moved into a unit at Double Bay and still likes to entertain the odd Palyboy Plamate of the Year. And me old china plate Les? Well, him and DD hooked up again, life was sweet, decided to move to Terrigal, settle into coupledom, get married, have a couple of bloodnut kids, and live the quiet life. And he still saw all his old mates from time to time. Then there was the odd phone call fron the deadly Eddie Salita to keep things interesting...........
All my love Bob,
A friend gave me a book a while back to pass the time on a flight…. “you’ll enjoy this” was all he said with a smile. At the time I had no idea who Robert G. Barrett was or what the Ultimate Aphrodisiac had in store for me. Needless to say, within 30 minutes of the flight, I was riveted. It was a long-haul international flight, so while others were sleeping I was snorting uncontrollably trying to hold in laughter while knocking back several beers. And to think, at that time I didn’t even know who Les Norton was.
Fast forward several years and many books later, I’d introduced my girlfriend at the time to his literary delight. She was a young publican, and I played guitar in a band travelling from town to town. One night as I was packing up after a gig I get a call from her, “Hey babe, you would not believe who is sitting at my bar having a beer….”. It of course was Bob, who, as he explained it was on a research trip in the Upper Hunter Valley, Scone, for his next book which turned out to be The Tesla Legacy. I was so happy to meet Bob, tell him my story of discovery of his work and thank him for all the reading pleasure he’d provided. And he was just such a great guy to talk to, with wit to boot. Turns out his research was pretty spot on – and I was pretty chuffed to see my girlfriend at the time be typed as a character in his book.
Several years on, I moved overseas and became good friends with a travelling musician who tours worldwide with Chris Isaac, and after talking for several minutes about Australia he pulls me aside and whispers with squinted eyes – hey, do you know who Les Norton is? “Know!?”, I retorted – I’ve met Robert G. in person! His eyes widened with enthusiasm and he smiled. “Man, how good are those books! Every time I go to Australia I end up buying up all the books I can find while on tour. They are the best companion to pass time between shows”. It just goes to show the amount of people Bob touched through his writing.
At the time we spoke, I knew Bob was ill, and we discussed him getting better and the hope of new stories soon. However, just a few weeks ago my wife told me she’d spoke with our good friend, and he was sad to hear of Bob’s passing. I was shocked and saddened.
Thank you Bob for all the wonderful moments you’ve shared through your stories. I’ve never laughed harder or completely uncontrollably from any books other than yours. They are a such a great representation of the person, character, wit and skills you have graced this earth with. I’m sure your up there making others laugh with your next story.
So very sad to hear of Bobs passing. Like so many, I never had the opportunity to meet Bob but I know he was a true gentleman and passionate writer. I purchased and read EVERY single book he ever released. It all started with Davo’s Little Something which a mate lent to me in about 1994-5. From then on I was hooked. I must have read The Godson from cover to cover at least 50 times without a word of a lie. Rest in peace mate, thank you so very much for all the wonderful hours you gave me, engrossed in your delightful books. Your books provided an escape so often when one was needed mate,
I met Rob whenI was living at Terrigal,I would have been about 28 (now 50) And I had been out on a night at Gosford and came home with that midnight hunger....so off to the Hotel at Terrigal that had shops around with different kinds of food on offer, It would have been close to midnight and Rob was there and asked me if I could give him a ride home.....
I am usually not the kind of girl who would give a stranger a ride, but he was just that kind of person who I instantly trusted...so off we go up the biggest hill in Terrigal in my old Honda Prelude.....invited me in for a drink and I accepted... lol a night of good music, imported beer.....hehehe, I asked him for a VB I knew nothing about imported beer ......he must of laughed about that...
What a lovely man.... so sad to hear of his passing....
I knew who he was when he told me he wrote "you wouldnt be dead for quids" as my dad had read it and told me about it....
what a fantastic story I have of a brush with Rob....
unfortunately the book he gave me got borrowed and never returned, but I remember what he wrote in the cover
" to angela, thanks for the ride and Im sorry about the imported beer"
anyone finds it.....its mine...
Just visited Bob’s website today to check on the new book (realised it was a compilation) only to be devastated by the news he passed away in September...I used to look forward to his annual releases and have nearly all of them...(will have to work on the rest)...Sadly missed and sad that his passing didnt make the general press (at least I never heard of it)....I guess he was correct in his views about the hoi poloi....they didnt see him as a great writer....I know his writing is seen as low brow but not every book should be a slog...I read everything from the classics to magazines etc...and I am really gonna miss the bloke. He always made me laugh.
Michael (just another fan).
Shit! No! I don't believe it... Who's going to take up the challenge and make us laugh again?
You're going to be missed by millions, Robert! Not only those who have already followed you and Les through so many riotous ventures but all of those who have yet to pick up one of your wonderful tales and laugh 'til they cry! I don't know ANYONE who has read one of Robert G Barrett's books... If you've read one, you want to read them all!
I just hope someone with a brain, a sense of humour and a story to tell can keep flying your flag!
RIP Robert. You done good!
I was was shocked and saddened to hear of Bob Barretts death. Robert G. Barrett was the best selling author of Australian books. His appeal was broad and immense and his writing represented the character of Australians who never had the benefit of tertiary education.
Bob exposed the veniality of polical correctness and how a writer without funds or grants could suceed.
Goodbye, Robert G. Barrett.
Goodbye Les Norton.
And goodbye to the fakes, posers and wankers who claim to represent me.
See you in Kelly Street.
I came to the website to order a copy of 'The Tesla Legacy' for a friend and was shocked and saddened to learn that Robert Barrett had passed away. And then I smiled - because I can't think of 'the big, red-headed Queenslander'
without laughing. As a student in Queensland in the mid-1990s, a friend loaned me "You wouldn't be dead for quids" one day when I was in need of a laugh. I was hooked immediately. And have shared the laughter with others around the world. I believe I may qualify as Barrett's most distant fan, and will continue to fly that flag. Cheers, mate. Thanks for the belly laughs, the sniggers, the quirky plots that often turned out to be surprisingly complex, and the occasional poignant moment.
I first came to know of Bob's brilliant books after being given the nickname of Les, due to my build and red hair.
Ever since then I have hunted down every title and read, re-read and read again all of them.
And every time I just love them! I never miss an opportunity to tell someone about them and making them another fan.
Bob will greatly missed, Australia has lost its greatest author without a doubt.
Until replaced by Bryce Courtney, Bob was Australia's biggest selling contemporary author. Yet like so many fans I discovered the sad news of his death looking in to find out when the next book was due. Sure he wrote some rubbish (but then most of Bryce Courtney's stuff is impossible to read) but Bob's early stuff will one day be recognised as being a well written, highly insightful and resonant encapsulation of the Australian male psyche, what some of us are, what some of us aspire to, what some of us could be. Les Norton is a classic literary creation, a rogue but a loveable one, who treats women as equals ( yes he does, read the prose carefully) tough as nails, with a soft heart, never taking a backward step and with a taste for the good life without the pretension. Americans have super heroes, with magical powers to help them do what Les did through, training, talent, hard work, an interestingly aligned strong moral compass and always, an eye for an easy earn.
Vale, Robert G Barrett, I hope the end was relatively peaceful and as pain free as possible, sorry to hear those asparagus smoothies didn't keep working for you. Wherever you are, I hope there's "...a drink and a good feed and a root or two" there for you.
I was about to order my annual Robert G Barrett book for Christmas only to find out he has passed away last September - very sad, my belated condolences to those that knew him.
I first discovered "The Real Thing" in 1986 at the airport looking for a travel read, after that I quickly moved on to "You wouldn't be dead for quits" and have read every book since - often hanging out for the next release date & ordering in advance.
I'd like to say I still have a copy of them all but unfortunately some folk I lent them to over the years failed to return them or lent them on only to lose track of them.
Needless to say I'm glad to have read his works and pleased that I have switched on other people to them as well.
Thank you Bob for such a good read and the many belly laughs you have given me over the years.
I heard a rumor a little way back that Sir Peregrine may still be alive, I guess we will never know. Give em’ hell up there Bob. For each of the fans that were lucky enough to meet you at the book signings I reckon there’s a hundred that didn’t make it. I count myself very unfortunate for being one of them.
I have been reading Bobs books for ever and am lucky enough to have a couple of signed copies. The least read book has been completed at least four times and I have read The Godson some 12 times. I miss the new story every October/November each year. I will continue to read the stories you have shared and will “Push em” on anyone who will listen.
Rest in Peace and thank you so much for your stories and laughs.
Kindest of Kind Regards,
I am sure I am one of thousands of Aussie blokes who have began their entry into the world of reading with a good old Les Norton yarn. Almost all of my mates who would have been flat out reading the paper, have gone on to read about and enjoy the world of the big red headed Queenslander. Not to mention envy and wish to be like. I for one will miss any new adventures but still thoroughly enjoy revisiting past reads. Robert G Barrett you were a true Australian gem and I can't help to think the big Queenslander may have been an alter ego to some level. Thank you so much for the endless number of out loud belly laughs you have given me and rest in peace.
I Just logged onto Bobs web site to check for his new book & strike me down i'm shocked another true Aussie legend taken from the big C i work on oil rig in north Africa Libya now but in 1995 i got my first taste of Bob and Les I was working for Century Drilling CDL a drilling outfit from Wacol Brisbane i was in the Cooper Basin SA
18 September 1995 and in my room was a book i'm not much of a reader but after 12 hrs on a rig with screaming seal bashers this book was relief, wouldn't be dead for quids as i worked my way through the ranks of the drilling game Bob & Les came every where with me i read every book from bob and learnt how not to be stabbed and shot who to look out for and even pulling some hot skirt just like old mate les would be proud of 18 years of reading les and working on rig all around aussie and middle east bob you will be truly missed my friend and it was great to see the Rebels paying there respect to you RFFR what are we going to read now the boldly womans weekly...
My first encounter with Les was a Xmas present from my sister and I have been hooked on Les ever since. I found out about Bob’s passing because I was bitching I wasn’t getting a new book for Xmas this year, and a mate from the pub who I would have called illiterate at best told me the news. He related every title, every character, and every woman Les ever hooked up with in his 20 years. To me that was Bob, a great story teller who appealed to all and will be a very deep loss.
My best regards to the Possum Lady.
I've been told once that one unmissable thing to become a true blue australian was Bathurst race. I went.
And reading Robert. G. Barrett novels, I read.
Thanks Barrett for the glance you offered.
Danilo Sidari (from Italy)
Rest in peace big man.made many english men cry laughing at your books.at the tea gardens hotel in bondi junction.once you borrowed one.you was hooked,and bought your own.to read again and again.have everyone since .as you say wouldnt be dead for quids.legend
rest in peace, Robert !
I just came to your website to find out if any of your books gonna be available in the Apple iBook Store.... and then I found this sad news.
I discovered you when flying from Brisbane to Perth, and needed something to read... and there was High Noon in Nimbin... and I ended up in reading at least a dozen of your books. It was great to read them while traveling Australia (I am Swiss)... I learned some proper Australian English with your help...
I will miss you.
I would just like to say I am truly sad and shocked at the passing of one of the best story tellers I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Bob you made my world just that bit more interesting with the stories and characters you wrote about. I never had the chance to meet Bob but having consumed every book he had ever written and even stalked his website waiting for the next new book to be released I felt like I had a good idea who he was. I have even used some of Bob’s more outrageous quotes on my face book site “The foods half alright and they wash the plates on a Thursday. Robert Barrett” I will miss the stories Bob and that big ugly red headed Queenslander Les Norton.
May you rest in peace Bob.
Condolences to Bob’s family and friends
Shocked to read the sad news that big BOB had passed away. Been an avid reader since visting Australia back in 1997 and getting 'You wouldn't be dead for quids' for a Chrimbo pressie, since then I have been lucky enough to aquire his books. Great reading, unable to put them down, re-reading them again and again and always bringing a smile never fails. Bob, you will be soreley missed, I feel that I have lost another member of my family to the big C. Australia has lost a great writer, one that everyone could relate to. I can not say how sorry I feel in his passing and I'll raise a glass or two in his memory. God Bless you Bob.
I met Bob on the set of a movie way back in 1983ish..it was called bullamakanka and was possibly the worst film ever made..I played a cop and Bob played this bloke who thought he was a Pig..a sort of pig man..he would run around on all fours oinking and grunting..dont ask me what it had to do with the plot cos I had no idea..and neither did fellow thespian Bob..I said hello and asked how he was enjoying his big role..he said fair dinkum it was bad news but at least we were getting paid..we had more than a few beers and I enjoyed following his writing career over the years..top bloke...and did you know the message IS behind a plate on the wall at the Lions Den Hotel in FNQ?..yup..pissed as a fart i went looking for it..and thar it was...go easy Bob..and thanks for all the laughs...
Like many others have said before.
I just logged on to his website today to see if he had a new book out .Very sad to see that Bob has lost his battle.
I have everyone of his books. It takes a bit to make me laugh but Bob’s books got me laughing many a time.
No doubt where ever he has gone he will provide a good laugh with his wit and humour
See ya mate
You brought back a lot of memories of Bondi having lived there in the early 70’s my friends band playing the Bondi Royal the cops raiding the place and getting chucked out you and Les will be sadly missed looked forward to every new book with anticipation.
Vale Bob. Ron and Wendy.
So sad to hear of Bob’s passing.
I always tell people that these books are written in “Australian” and that they have got to read them. Thanks for the pleasure your books gave me and for creating Les Norton who is, deep down, a bloke we all want to be…
i meet you once a few years ago in Townsville and you even put me and my mate in one of your books. your face when you meet 2 big redhead Queenland bouncers in your old meatworks town was worth it. you signed my 1st copy of 'wouldn't be dead for quids" and the shirt. i was doing security for Billy Connolly and he loved the shirt so much i gave it too him. now that would have been a dinner i would have love to have witnessed. Bob and Billy having a chat about political correctness...
We will miss your humour and adventures with our favourite redhead boof of a bloke Les Norton. Surely he will have one last ride.
Legends don't die, they just get there own stool at a bar in the sky full of Jacky and coke, ice an Slice, big titty healthy Queensland girls and all the seafood you can guzzle.
Farwell mate. And de fun don't done no more.
I was very sad to hear of his passing :( I check his website every few months for news of his latest work, and was shocked to log on tonight and find out Bob had died.
A few years ago I wrote to Bob on a whim whilst bored at work during Christmas holidays, just to tell him how awesome be was. I was floored when he wrote back to me complete with a signed copy of one his books - I'd mentioned that I was missing only one of his works, 'The Ultimate Aphrodisiac', as I'd lent it to a friend never to be seen again.
I'm amazed at how generous he was with his time and how dedicated he was to his fans. I will miss his sense of humour and the loveable characters he wrote about, especially Les.
May he rest in peace.
Dear Mr Barrett,
We never met but I have read all your books.
My brother put me onto you about 8 years ago.
I was sad to read the news. I logged in tonight to see what you and les had been up to.
I will your prose and the reminder of the aussie language of yesteryear. I have enjoyed every minute of your writing and have a hole in my library which shall no longer be filled.
On of my brothers and I favorite quotes "Have you got a match mine are all wet!" will be used for years to come. Thanks for the laughs, punch ups, and dirty deeds.
You are a true Australian legend.
I never met Bob unfortunately but I have read every book he wrote. As I am not a reader the fact I read Bob's books is a testament to the man and the enjoyment he has given me over the years. I will miss not only Bob but Les and the laughs they gave me.
RIP Bob. You are a bloody legend!
Just went to Bob’s web site to check if any update on when the next Les Norton book would be released to my shock I see Bob has passed always shit that has really stuffed my day as I am a debt collector anyone I chase up today will get a real tune up if they start getting smart.
Got on to his books a number of years ago via my hard case mother in law started from You Wouldn’t be Dead for Quids have them all read a number of times still get a good laugh out of them my wife use to give me a bit of a hard time for reading them so many times and cannot understand why I refuse to part with any of the books.
Use to have to get the local book shop to order the latest book in. Bloody hell what am I going to read now. A great author of the people RIP
With a teary eye, I'll say Goodbye to a friend of mine and yours
Always a wit, with an eye for a tit, and a few bucks for a good cause.
I'm fond of a yarn, a beer and a feed, and from what I read so were you
Tis a shame I'll not get to meet you now, would've loved to share a story or two.
So long Bob, Les, Billy and Price , and farewell to their concrete jungle
And a special farewell to his crazy brother and crazier pig dog Grungle
I'm not sure what JC likes to read, but he's just got another scribe
I'll be listenin' carefully night and day, for the laughter boomin' down from the sky.
Vale Bob, a true Aussie, a national treasure, as dinkum as dinkum can be
I'm off for a beer now and I'll have one for you, in fact it will likely be three.
Gonna miss ya mate
I had not been on Bob's website for a while and I just read the sad news. Funny how I cry over the death of someone I never knew but I really did feel like I knew him. I have been reading his books for many years. What a great sense of humour and imagination he had. Such a character. I will miss reading your awesome books RGB.
Rest in peace mate xxxx Suzanne
I have just heard the news and I am utterly devastated.
I love reading but I find light hearted, amusing stories can be hard to come by these days, especially ones so quintessentially Australian. I was introduced to the Les Norton books about 10 years ago. Since then, every few months when I have had enough of the heavy stuff or if I am feeling a bit down I will re-read one of my Barrett books and it never fails to lift my spirits.
Whenever I meet someone who says they don’t read I give them one of my Barrett’s. I haven’t met a person yet that hasn’t read them all the way through – including a couple of my dyslexic friends! I have lost a few of them this way, but it is totally worth it.
Not only do I love the stories he wrote, but I love reading about the man himself. There should be a photo of him under Australian in the dictionary! A legendary man and a very sad day for us all.
P.S. I am still with the man who introduced me to the books – thanks Bob!
P.P.S. Still trying to replace my copy of Wouldn’t be Dead for Quids. The first, the best, and sooo hard to come by!
Wouldn’t it be a fitting tribute if some adventuresome group formulated a mini series on Les Norton with actors such as Bryan Brown playing a leading part?
Terry & Sue Bellett
I'm still in shock. Australia has lost its most talented author and a helluva good bloke. His books are like old friends in my bookcase, I can't believe there will never be another. Life really sucks sometimes. I honestly feel like a large part of what makes Australia great has died.
I have been reading ‘Les Norton in….’ books for many years, and recently collected all of the series, to finally read them in chronological order. Coincidently I think I started reading them around the 20th September....I was going to write to Bob and let him know how much these books mean to me, and how many sayings, and bloody swear words, I have started using in the past month alone- (imagine what I am going to sound like at the end of the series!). Rest in Peace Mr Barrett, you will be missed.
I am so sad to hear of the passing of Bob. We will never have another author, yarn teller, funny bastard like Robert. Rest in peace me old. Ill always be grateful to you, as quite a few years ago you got me back into that wonderful pastime of reading again. All your books are gems and will always be found in my house, no matter how many times I read them I still tend to piss myself laughing at the antics of your characters. Im going to miss the once a year book by Robert G. Barrett handed to me by my wife & daughter to unwrap at christmas. That and a bottle of delicious was the highlight of my festive season.
Brett Robert Fenwick.
I was knocked sideways at the sad news that my all time favourite author is no longer with us.
A few years ago when the books stopped their regular release (like so many others I’d be looking for them each November, and would read each new adventure in less than a week) I figured something was wrong, and was upset then to see his update advising of his battle with the Big C.
This coincided with the discovery that my father in law was also suffering from cancer, (he’s since passed on after a terrible battle he couldn’t win)
and was just a few years after my own father had battled prostate cancer.
At the time, I took the opportunity to write to Bob, via the website to make sure Bob knew what he had meant to me.
I discovered Bob’s books when I was about 19, a workmate who’d had difficulty with literacy had introduced me to the wonderful world of Les Norton, and advised me that he’d introduced a lot of people who couldn’t read too well to Bob’s books, and they had been all the encouragement they’d needed to hone up their reading skills.
This was the early 1990’s, and I think at least half of my workmates were converted to Les’s adventures.
The wouldn’t be a soul working for Sydney Ferries that hadn’t at least heard of Robert G Barrett.
I never had any difficulty reading myself, but reading Bob’s books, and reading about the path that lead Bob to writing gave me hope.
I’d always been a bit of a square peg in a round hole, having difficulty feeling happy or settled, and generally just not finding my niche.
I went through numerous bouts of ill mental health, ranging from a brief psychosis to suicidal depression.
Had Bob’s wonderful books not been there, I don’t know how I would have coped at those times.
I was so glad to have shared my memories and thanked Bob for the books, and although I never met him, nor received a reply, I’m so glad that I at least got to thank him for his work, and the influence it’s had on my life, as well as others.
If an old butcher from Bondi could make it as an “awther”, maybe someone with a bit of a patchy track record has a chance at doing something with his life too?
I’ll have to look into doing a creative writing course, and see if what worked for Bob might be good for me too.
I don’t expect to be the next Robert G Barrett – who could fill those shoes? But maybe I could bang out a few stories, fire off some creativity, and at least give someone else some enjoyment; after all it’s too late if your at the wrong end of your life contemplating what you wish you’d had the courage to do.
So thanks Bob, and thanks Mel for sticking by our hero; he might have been flawed and human, but that’s what makes heroes all the more inspiring.
So sad to hear of your passing champ.
I just wanted to write a quick message to say thanks.
Thanks for getting me interested in books matey, my teachers tried for ages
I was at Erina Fair several years ago with my kids. We were sitting down outside one of the department stores on the comfy lounges having a rest when I noticed an older gentleman sitting reading the SMH. As he was reading he was watching the general public stroll by. I thought, struth that man looks familiar. The man then, not wanting to get up out of his comfy lounge chair, spat into his newspaper & turned the page. Bam! I immediately jumped up off the lounge chair, kids literally dropped off me, went over to him & asked if he was Robert G Barrett. He said "why, are the cops looking for me". I was so excited I stuck out my hand & he greeted me like I was his best mate. Of course I told him how much I loved his books & he was more than willing & happy to discuss his books with me & just have a yarn. The research he went into was astounding. I asked if I could have a photo with him & he obliged. It's a great photo that I cherish. I was like a 12 year old who had just met a rock star. The thing is, he was a star. A truly wonderful man who had come through difficulties to make a great life for himself & give so many people literary joy. I can understand why "classic" novelists were jealous of him due to the fact that this uneducated butcher could outsell them. Now there will be no more books - no more Les Norton capers. I guess I will just have to read The Godson again, then follow it up with the rest because lying in bed reading Robert G Barrett books bellowing with laughter is just so good. I am so sad that he has left us, so happy I met him, angry I missed his funeral. I will pay my respects at the place he has been put to rest & have a schooner or two (probably a few more) tonight.
Its 1985 and we are off to Mount Isa to play more golf, my mate’s lying on the back seat of my valiant pissing himself laughing every five minutes. I eventually get “you wouldn’t be dead for quids” off him, and so starts 25 years of enjoyment for me and a lot of my mates. Bob’s great lines like “it was so hard you could crack fleas on it” and “it would scare a bulldog out of a butcher shop” became commonplace at golf tournaments all over Queensland and Australia. We even had some mates nicknamed “Eddie Salita” and “Price Galese”. I met him a couple of times and even tried to find one or two places in his books. “Not another couple of Sychos” he said after we thought we’d found the heavily fortified farm house in northern NSW. Like many others, I’ve got every one of Bob’s books and I will always be greatfull to my mate on the back seat of the Valiant that day, imagine living your whole life not knowing Les Norton?
Kelly Murphy – Golf Pro Qld
Rip Bob, back in 2000 ,I was going through cancer,the day after my operation was in bed in hospital,things where uncertain for my future,my wife caught me having a laugh reading one of his books,she wrote to him telling him what she saw and thanked Bob for bringing a smile to my face,he replied with a hand written card to me giving support,and pleased that even in shitty times his books could cheer me up – thanks Bob,I will have a beer in your memory.
It angers me, and crushes my heart, to hear that this bastard disease is still taking The Good One's...Without rhyme or reason.
Although I never met the bloke, I thoroughly enjoy reading and listening to his stories, hes sure got a knack for stringing words together.
My partner is a butcher, a bouncer, from the inner city,small country twin-towns "hard knocks", Vic. (Hes the one who bought Robert's stories to me with a simple "Here have a read of this, tell me who it bloody reminds ya of!")
It seems to me that Robert's charm and appeal was appreciated by fair dinkum Aussies, The one's who didn't mind to tell a bloke that he's never met, to pull his head in.
Those Aussies who not just put their hands up, but know when to put 'em away too.
He is admired by the Aussie's with plenty enough pride in their heart, but enough nouse to know when its best to keep his own head down.
People we know who are never afraid to give the new bloke a fair go; give a stranger or feed the neighbour's hungry kids, your extra sanga's.
Rob reminded these stand-up kinda blokes, of themselves It seems - whose first thought is always to gave ya mate a chop out, and that the consequences always come second.
His research, and memory recall, makes a scenario pretty believable- if it didn't actually happen, it bloody well could have happened to somebody.
Im glad that the big lump wrote some stuff down, seems to help a few fellow Aussies out with advice, relaxation, education, distraction or just a few plain old laughs... and those old memories!
Up until the age of mid 20s I wasn’t much of a reader. Roberts book introduced me to reading and I am now a regular reader and better for it. Thank you
I was going into Hospital for a very major operation after a hit and Run and a mate of mine (Knighty) lent me the book Godson to read whilst in Hospital. Whilst sitting in bed fasting and not doing much else I started to read. Transfixed was an understatement, The Doctor couldn’t believe I didn’t want to know what they would be doing to my leg. I stated Les and
Peregrine were fast talking some young chicks and a minder who has a set so fine, so whatever!!!.
Then this poor little nurse started insisting that I had to take this little pre-med tablet before my op as it would help me relax. I looked at the Doc who nodded his head and thankfully ushered the nurse away saying he’s got something better to keep his mind off things. The orderly’s came and wheeled me off to surgery as I continued to read until finally I had to let go whilst insisting don’t lose my book then continued to explain to the Anesthetist the adventures of Les and Peregrine then bang I was out.
Upon awakening My first words “Where is my book” and placed into my hands there it was and my read continued and my admiration of all things Les Norton began!!!!!!
Thank you Robert G. Barrett for the entertainment the laughs, the culinary delights
You simply are ‘THE GROUSE’ RIP.
I just found out on the pasting of Robert Barrett today. Its a very sad day in my heart and a tear in my eye.
I was given a copy of The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea. I fell in love with reading again. I brought very book Robert has written, and over the years I could not wait for a new adventure to come into the store.
Les Norton is my hero, I could relate to him as I am an old bouncer from the 80s & 90’s with believe it or not read hair, & 6’5.
In the early 1991, I moved to North Bondi living on Hasting Parade. There I met a lady at a party, she asked me what I did. I told her I was a bouncer. She jumped up, yelling, your Les Norton! (I think she was a bit high at the time). But at that time, I had no idea who Les Norton was.
I lived in Bondi until 1997 before moving out into the country. Reading about Bondi always took be back there.
In 2000’s, I was then given my first Les Norton book. I found out who the high lady was talking about it knock my socks off and I was hooked. Les Norton became my hero and great inspiration to me, to always look out for a “earn”
Now its time for my hero to hang up his mouth guard and bow tie, close up turn the lights off in the Kelly Club as he leaves for the last time.
I’ll have a few Delicious, in your memory Bob. While I revisit all your books I have. Starting with the Ultimate Aphrodisiac, its a copy you signed for me in Wollongong and one of your best books you wrote.
From a old sad bouncer.
RIP Bob mate. You will be sadly and very much missed.
Cheers Mate, Christopher.
For years I attempted to read various books but nothing kept me interested for more than 10 minutes. A mate of mine, James, suggested I should read these books about a bouncer in Kings Cross called Les Norton. He gave me “You wouldn’t be dead for Quids” to read. It was great and I couldn’t wait to read another one. RGB has a easygoing way of writing things, brutally graphic, politically incorrect, full of wild sexual encounters and above all stories about mateship. That’s why I like the books and why we all wanted to be Les, Billy, Price, George or one of the other great characters. RIP RGB
My name is Rob Jahrling and Im the Olympic rower who reached out to Bob in 1996 asking him to sponsor the Mens Eight for the 1996 Olympic Games with some t-shirts we could use for training.
Our whole crew were massive fans of Bob's books and Bob not only send us literally 100s of shirts but also boxes full of all his books. By the end of the Olympic Games we had turned the entire Olympic Rowing team into vivid Les Norton fans, a passion that has lasted to this day. It was a great honour for our team to not only receive the numerous encouraging faxes in the lead up to our World Cup and Olympic races but for Bob to ultimately dedicate Guns n' Rose to our team
I was fortunate to meet with Bob in Terrigal on two occasions and there was no mistaking in what a truly genuine Australian bloke he was. I feel sad having learnt about Bob's passing but Im sure Bob knew that his and Les Norton's legacy and hilarious adventures enriched the lives of many Australians
I was given Boys from Binjiwunyawunya by a couple of Dutch guys as a swap in a backpackers in Tasmania in 93. I was captivated and have been Les and Roberts' greatest fan ever since.
Some people got him, some friends of mine didn't as I suppose it's not every girls cup of tea, with all the sex and violence, but I loved how fully emerged you get in the character and the shenanigans that Les gets into.
I also loved the travel writing aspect of the novels and quite often the description of eating great meals would have me running to the supermarket to whip up some gastronomical delight!!
My only regret is that Les never had an adventure in NZ, but he does have millions (all 4 million of us), of loyal NZ fans.
God bless, not quite sure where to go now, our greatest read is over, time for re-reads and maybe all the girls that have been exposed to 50 shades of grey will give the best ever romance novels (Mr Wobbly ha ha), another whirl.
xx Karen from NZ
My mum told me the other day that Robert had passed away. What deeply saddening news that was. You know, I’m glad though, that I found out through my mum. She, at 72 years of age, put me onto Robert Barrett and the adventures of Les Norton. I live in The Netherlands and went back to Perth on holidays and hadn’t seen my mum for years. She was into the live music scene of Perth at the time and had met some people that recommended his books. She loved them. So I go to Perth on holidays and we get to talking about what we’re reading and she mentions the Les Norton books. Moments later I get a stack of 6 paperbacks shoved into my hands. “ They’re a bit naughty and there’s some swearing!” she giggled. The next three weeks I churned through them whilst lazing about on the beach. Hooked I was! After being away from Australia for so long they brought me back to home and washed away the unimportant things in life. I felt Australian again. I enjoyed my beers and rum and pineapple juices more. Because Bob always explained so well how much Les enjoyed his drink. So well you were there, in that kitchen, leaning against the kitchen counter, having a cold one with Les. This was the brilliance of Roberts work. We woke up with Les and followed him into the kitchen as he fossicked about and made his coffee, toast and eggs. He ate, thought about things, read the paper and thought some more. We read it and through those simple little routines we got to know Les on a uniquely intimate level. So when Les experienced things, you lived those things with him on a uniquely intimate level. The fighting, talking, drinking, dancing, eating, training and you-know-whating was you and Les together – if you know what I mean?
Therefore many, many, thanks to you Robert G. Barrett for your wonderful books, putting to paper the essence of Australia and making so many people feel fantastic.
With heartfelt condolences to all.
I know this is late but i only found out this morning.
I am just so saddened to hear of the big fella leaving us behind,
I came late into to his writing career after a recommendation from a friend, and then it started i just couldn't stop at one i had to have more so that now i have all of his yarns.
RIP Rob you will be sadly missed
Sorry to hear of bob's passing. Love his stories.
Thanks for the invite to the funeral on Thursday for Friday….
I was unable to attend as I had booked a surprise holiday to Dreamworld on the Gold Coast for my kids and we were probably flying over the Central Coast as the Funeral was happening…
I had the flag at half mast at home since last week as a sign of respect……
I mentioned Les Nortons adventures on the Gold Coast as we walked down Cavill Ave yesterday…….I’ve done the same at Shoal Bay where we have spent a decent amount of time over the years, last year we were in Hawaii and I was trying to spot the exact spots where Les had been on his adventure there….
Bob has had a huge influence on my life….our Kelpie Cross is named NORTON, as is our Building business……..
I trust all went as well as possible and look forward to continuing the legacy by keeping on sharing my “Norton” collection with those that I meet….
All the Best….Jeff
Gday my name is Possum from SHOAL BAY, I had the pleasure of knowing Bob for about 14 years ,I meet him at the shoal bay country club hotel (aka marlin hotel) whilst doing research on one of his many great books, we had the funniest night taking pictures,yarning ,drinking and laughing lots,2 days later I went to the pub and there was a picture handed to me , of me and Bob ,he gave me a piece of paper the night we met and it read in drunken scrawl, TO POSSUM THE LES NORTON OF SHOAL BAY signed by the man himself which to this day always brings a smile to my face as I was a bouncer ,still have red hair(fading), so in my bar hangs that picture of Bob and I ,we had numerous sessions in the front bar of the C C, RSL, and one night we nearly made it to Bobs house but he couldn’t remember the number or street. Then oneday my son Jacko was purchasing a book for me and Bob was there and he said to Bob ,gday mate my name is Jacko and my old man is Possum from SHOALIE, so Bob gets a picture taken of them both and says leave the delivery to me and don’t tell your old man, so there one sunny Saturday morning having a cold one out the front of the pub and who screeches up Bob ,saying I have something for you and he rats around in the back of the ute pulling things out and going its here somewhere and then hands me a picture of him and my boy , which hangs next to mine, I could go on and on about the times with my old mate but I am lucky to have had the pleasure to meet and play with Bob and I will treasure the memories forever ,we even had a wake for him in the front bar last Saturday with a Les Norton shirt flying in the window,
Mel Cain (Ratso),
Hi Mel, I know this is a very sad time for you in Bob's passing and I know that you will be attending his funeral tomorrow. Could you please give Bob's coffin a pat for me and every other Aussie that thought the sun shone out of the big lugs backside.
I had the pleasure to meet Bob twice at book signings here in Townsville and as he always did at these signings I got to shake his left hand. You were more than likely the young spunk sitting next to him and I thought just how lucky you and I were to be in the presence of Aussie Royalty.
I have been in the Army 34 years and have seen many things that have woken me in the early hours and to find my mind again I would pick up one of Bobs books. My sanity would return within a few pages and I felt good with the world again. But here I sit with tears running down my cheeks at what Australia has just lost. It has lost a true son and his name was Bob. It has truely been a sad week indeed.
Mel I know that you were very close to Bob so please give Bobs coffin a pat and let him know that the boys and girls of the Aussie Defence Force have surely lost a good Mate.
I think I'll have a coldy tomorrow in memory of the loss of one of Austialia's sons.
Mel to you and to all the people able to attend Bob's funeral I wish you all the best and chin up Mate.
Pete (an old soldier).
Just wanted to say how sad I am at Bob's passing, I was never a big reader of fiction until a good mate put me on to Bob's books. The books have got me through so many bad times in my life and lifted my spirits so I could battle on through those times that I will forever be in gratitude to Bob. He was the typical "Aussie larrakin" and there is not a lot of them left in these days of "political correctness". I for one will be attending Bob's funeral to pay my respects to a great man. A typical "Aussie battler" who survived doing what he had to, to earn a crust and make a living.
I have the full collection of all his books and will treasure them till the day I die. Thank you Bob, you will be sadly missed, RIP old mate, you made the world a better place.
John Cooke has posted on his blog, The Perth Files, his own tribute to the big man:
I was saddened deeply to learn of Bob’s passing, we truly have lost a nations icon embodied through his exploits of the infamous larrikin Les Norton.
I’ll tip a beer for you mate tomorrow on the day of your farewell and if there’s any truth to fiction, I have no doubt Les will make a nice little earner from the send off.
See ya around sometime ole mate!
I met Bob at 2GO in Gosford when he was launching his first book and I was 'jocking' at the radio station. He deserved all the success he earned. He said it how he saw it. Vale Bob!
Hello fellow mourners,
I've only just heard the sad news of Bob's passing.It has caught me completely by surprise and I feel a terrible sense of loss.
I never met Robert G Barrett but his books and his characters have been companions of mine since I first discovered them in 1987.
There was always an uncanny sense of connection and coincidence with what was happening in whatever Les Norton adventure I was reading and with what was happening in my own life at the time.I worked as a hack radio announcer at stations all across Australia and Bob's references to radio and music were so very often in sync with wherever I was at the time.So much so, that once while I was doing a boring midnight to dawn shift on 2CH in Sydney,I had just started playing Roy Orbison's "Blue Bayou" and returned to reading my book when to my great surprise there was a sentence referring to Les twiddling the dial and hearing that very same song on that very same station. Incredible.
Bob's book releases often coincided with unhappy times in my life,where the humorous escapism he provided was medicine to my soul.
I often walked through book stores looking for something new from Robert G Barrett and now.....I feel so very very sad that I won't ever do that again.
I actually have tears leaking down my face as I write this.Thankyou Bob, you did more than write great little books, you added something special to our lives,I'll miss you and I'll miss Les,Price,George,Eddie,Warren and all the rest of my old friends.
Perhaps at a time like this,Les would pour himself a "double delicious" and look up at the sky and ask "why Boss?"
About twelve years ago I re-met Robert at a book signing in Wagga Wagga, many years after I first got to know him.
I had known Robert when I attended primary school at Bondi Beach with him in the fifties, and rediscovered him when I purchased my first Les Norton book in the nineties. I took a look at the photo of the author on the back cover and realised it was the guy with whom I had shared my early school years. As I read, he enthralled me with his stories about Bondi, and in particular about the burial of missing, believed drowned, Prime Minister Harold Holt beneath the handball court in the men’s change room at the south end of Bondi Baths. Like me, Rob no doubt went to the old run-down baths in the fifties with the other kids from Bondi Beach Public School in summer for Friday school swimming. The “big men” – regulars at the baths and layabouts - played handball in the handball courts in the "nuddie", and were as brown as berries. They have all probably died of melanoma since.
At school he was just the same as he was in later life – a little rough around the edges, tough, and I found him a bit frightening because I was the youngest boy in the class. I recall he took part in a school play and was quite a star. I’m not surprised – he was very resourceful. After six class in 1954, I went on to high school and so did Rob, but to a different one – possibly Randwick Boys’ High. He was not an academic, but little did I know I would later be reading books he had written.
Many years later as an adult, I progressively consumed all his books that I could get my hands on. I grew to love his irreverent escapist stories of Les Norton centred around the streets in Bondi and the eastern suburbs, that I had known intimately as a kid. (Even one of his yarns where a bomb explodes in the yard of our old school that had been taken over by a film producer, complete with starlets and bad guys). Like me, he probably rode his pushbike all over Bondi as a kid – in those days there was little traffic to worry about – all you had to do was not get your front wheel caught in the tram lines or you’d go over the handle bars. I read up on his life since school and visited his website frequently. I was pleased to see he had run a butcher’s shop at Bondi for a while, and later moved to the Central Coast that I also loved - where as a young adult, I had surfed at Terrigal. But I never came across him in person.
In the late nineties I was living in Wagga Wagga and saw in the local rag that he was signing books in a shop in the main street that day. I hot-footed it down there at lunchtime, purchased a few of his more recent releases and lined up to get him to sign them. I was amazed at the number of females lining up – because his hero Les often treated women as a disposable commodity. But there they were, in droves.
I introduced myself to Rob and it was like old times again. He could remember the names of all the kids we had gone to school with – Kerry Owen, a star cricketer, Steve Kowalski (now a doctor), John Tiernan and Aaron Govendir to name a few. We reminisced about the teachers we had shared and their idiosyncrasies – Mrs Flannery, Mr Baker, Mr Englert, Mr Witts and most of all, about our fearsome but just headmaster, Douggie MacQualter. He signed a couple of his books to me as “From one Bondi boy to another” and eventually I had to leave him so he could attend to the long line of his eager fans.
I did not see him after that, but enjoyed his next book, ”Mud Crab Boogie”, which was set largely in Wagga Wagga. He talked about having a beer at Romano’s pub opposite the court house, where I had often had a drink after work on Fridays. I also loved his book set in the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath where my wife and I had spent a number of pleasurable weekends. He had the layout of the Hydro down pat – even to the high ceilinged dining room, attentive waiters, the log fires and the cigar room off the main lounge where Les got up to some further mischief with one of his lady friends.
He had disclosed in one of his books of short stories that he was suffering from the “Jimmy Dancer” at a pretty young age (I expect he would have been in his early sixties then). I recall that he swore that a diet of fresh asparagus was sure to cure him as it had done for one of his mates. But I was appalled to read in the paper this week that the disease had won out. It is with great sadness that I record Robert’s passing. His writing was of a style not seen today – brash, straightforward and honest, and as true as the day. In some ways, Rob’s books remind me of the soft cover Carter Brown rags we were forbidden to read when we were kids (but which we still managed to steal from under the nose of our parents). Pure escapism, excitement, glamour, a good biff for the baddies, and a hero you cannot help but admire.
Vale Rob, Australia has lost a great personality and a talented writer. It’s a pity you didn’t start writing earlier in your career so that there are more books to remember you by. But I guess you had to get a pretty good handful of life experience before you put pen to paper. Your stories wouldn’t have been so good without the seasoning of your own experiences that were no doubt contained in them.
I loved Bob’s books and writing style.
I remember about 5 years ago he was visiting the Gold Coast doing a promotion and book signing for the Tesla Legacy.
I grabbed the 20 or so books I owned at the time lined up to meet Bob.
When it was my turn, I asked Bob if he wouldn’t mind signing all my copies. The Harper Collins rep stepped in and quite rightly said that Bob wouldn’t have time. Bob interrupted her and said that everyone else has to wait, and that a hard core fan gets what he wants.
He signed every book, posed for photos with me and my kids and he gave me 2 Les Norton T’shirts. That’s the type of bloke Bob was.
I was shocked and saddened to hear that Bob had passed away. Terrible news.
RIP Bob, you’re a legend mate and have given me so much joy and entertainment.
I really believe you had no idea of the impact you had on so many lives. Such an honest, down to earth good Aussie bloke. I first came to “know” you and Les about 15 years ago when I ran away to a mates place at the Sunny Coast for a few days when I was having major personal problems. He threw a few of your books at me and said “Do nothing, just let Les help”. And bloody hell, did he what. Before I was halfway through the first book, I’d forgotten everything and I was right beside Les in those adventures.
You have saved many a person from themselves and their problems. To you I say Thank you Sir. You are a true Aussie gentleman to the core.
Happy travels and may we meet someday, somewhere in another world. In the meantime I and hundreds of thousands of others will ride along with Les and the crew
To The Barrett Family
Please accept my sincere condolences on the passing of Bob. I did not know him personally nor have I ever met him but I have been an avid reader of his books for a few years. I was sadden to read of Bob passing in the papers as I have really enjoyed Bobs works and feel that Australia has lost one of its unique authors. Bobs book made me laugh, made me cringe, made me sad and made me laugh again. His Les Norton series were great down to earth stories and enjoyed them immensely. I will continue to read Bobs books and there are still some books that I have not read but will find them and enjoy. Once again my sincere condolences to the Barrett Family and friends on your loss.
My thoughts are with you,
Although Robert ( nor Les ) never made it to South Africa , his books and memory will live on , right here , in our home on my bookshelf .
It was a sad day when my friend sent me the text message on Saturday regarding the passing of R G Barrett .
Long live the memory of a beloved author !
Commiserations from Cape Town
I first met Bob when he was guest DJ at “Randiwix” and then through my friends came to realise that he was an amazing character that lived at“ Tamarama” (or Glamarama) right on the beach. I saw him out on his boogie board many times. He was a terrific character and he dated a friend of mine once or twice and was a perfect gentleman. He told me he was going to be a writer – and he knew I loved books. I’d see him around occasionally and then he disappeared from the Eastern Suburbs beaches and guess what he popped up with his first book, and I thought, there you go, he was not just mouthing off about what he wanted to do – he just went ahead and did it and achieved his dream! I was enormously impressed. How he had changed his life.
And what a dream that was as Bob has entertained so many Australians – throughout his writers’ life. I then got reacquainted with him when he was published by the publisher I worked for. Barrie Hitchon, CEO at the time, a huge fan, signed him up. I’d see him with his favourite publicist “Ratso” from time to time on legendary lunchtimes at Terrigal.
Bob, you will be so missed!
I was serving overseas with the Aussie Army on deployment and as I have everyone of Bobs books my wife Judy went to a book signing by Bob here in Townsville Qld. She bought a copy of his new book and as Bob was signing it she told him I was on deployment. Bob grabbed one of the posters advertising his new book and signed it and then he told my wife to wish me luck and to come home safe. I treasure his books and that poster.
Cheers, Pete Kane
An Australian legend has left our lives. He is irreplaceable and will be sorely missed.
I can not tell you how Bob’s death effected me, though I had never met the gentleman I felt as if I had known him for an eternity.
I immediately bonded with this great character and waited with baited breath for his next new novel to come on sale.
I jumped on his website on Friday afternoon after coming back from the library with 2 of his CD’S and was blasted by the news of his death –
I couldn’t believe my eyes and scrolled further down the page not believing what I was reading surly this must be a joke, I reread the article again
and thought that nobody could be so cruel as to write such an evil joke on his website…
I realized then that yes, he had died.
I was first introduced to Bob by his colourful Mud Crab Boogie CD Cover and immediately fell in love with his down to earth way,
I needed to know who he was, I finally found a writer who made me laugh whilst I drove to & from work & did my house work,
I carried him from room to room occasionally having a Champers whilst I washed up and peeled vegies.
From that day on I grabbed everything of his I could get my hands on I was a women processed, the local libraries my neighbour Michael
three doors down who has almost everything ever written by our hero Bob.
I fell in love with Les Norton and his escapades around the places I grew up in Bondi, Coogee, Randwick, Paddington and all the other places
I loved and now he was gone too…who would I laugh and travel with now?
No one else in Australia has Bob’s unique way of putting pen to paper.
I will miss him forever…..His Loyal Fan always and forever.
Au revoir my dear friend Bob
Your very loyal reader Karmen you will be missed so very much
I never met Bob, one of my great regrets. I do however have an autographed Wouldn't be dead for Quids.
I read every story and book Bob had published, time and time again.
Can't for the life of me name a favorite. How can you ? I'll miss Bob, and Les, and the Kelly crew. They were a great joy in my life.
R I P Bob Barrett. I never met you, but you are my mate.
I first met Bob back in 1994 when he used to go up to the Lord Ashley Lounge at Crown Plaza Terrigal.I was a security guard and later became the head doorman for the Plaza.
He would sit on the far side of the bar away from the crowds, at times he would hire someone to keep the "bludgers" away.
I would always go up and have a chat with Bob, he was always a very funny man and loved talking about the fights that he witnessed around the night club Key largo.
At times he would have his camera out and as people were sitting down waiting for first aid due to cuts and broken noses there was Bob clicking away getting in close for the "meaty" shots and having a good old yarn about what happened. I swear in his later books I would read about Les Norton in fight and that fight seamed like Deja vu.
I have just about all his books and he was always kind enough to sign them, and always had his little sayings and spelling of a real charactor, Awther, Awther, Awther.
Bob would come down to the Casablanca Club where all the locals over 30 would attend, he would say that he was getting away from the snobs upstairs. Dressed in jeans, skivy and Trekky Badge and camera in hand.I worked at the Crown until 2004 and would always look forward to our catch ups and he was always keen to hear about the troubles down stairs.
I would always bump into Bob somewhere after finish up at the Crown Plaza. At times in a cafe, other times at Terrigal just down the hill from his place.
Always managed to have time for a chat.
I remember a couple of years ago I stopped and we chatted at a bookstore upstairs in Westfield Tuggerah. I asked him how he was because I hadnt seen him for a month or 2. He lifted his shirt and showed me his scar on his stomach "never shy our Bob" and mentioned that he had prostate cancer and the trouble he had been through. Then spoke about making sure I got checked and never leave it to late.
I took to his word and get checked regularly.
I have a lot of memories from the first night we met,to the last time I saw him 3 weeks ago in Terrigal. From Bob being interested in the "punch ups" in Terrigal, to having laughs about the "sex hungry" women in the Casablanca club, to his travelling for research for his books, to him being a Trekkie.To the times he had a couple of drinks to many and I needed to sneak away from work and drive him up the hill to his place.
I will miss Bob, his stories,just seeing him around. there will be a charactor missing from Terrigal and Australia
God be with you my friend, Im sure you'll be telling him a yarn or 2 and making it hard for him to look after us poor bludgers down here.
Being a naive Victorian I had never heard of Robert or Les until earlier this century when I had the good fortune to live in beautiful Mission Beach for 5 or 6 years & my next door neighbour who was originally from Sydney introduced me to them both. I have since read every book that Bob has ever written. I was reading “Still Riding on the Storm” when I heard the sad news of his return to the Epsilon Pulsar Cluster. He will be sorely missed. Regards, Kevin Waldron
Sadly you will never get to read this. But my thanks to you for being in my opinion the last true Aussie author... who wrote about Aussies the way we really are. Nearly two decades ago a mate handed me “The Godson” and I was instantly hooked... back then as a pimply faced teen... the tales of Peregrine, Les, Inga and the “Twins” was as saucy and risqué as I thought a book could ever possibly be... but not only that you were the first author I have ever read that made me crack up laughing out loud! I was hooked! From that day on I waited almost every year for the seemingly timely release of the next tale usually around Christmas....I followed Les on his adventurers and as I grew up Les followed me. As a member of the Australian Defence Force, every deployment I have done... one of your tales inevitably travelled or came over to me and it always helped me “go back home” on the shit days. I was always proud to wear the T-shirt and Hat of team Norton and always had a smile when someone else nodded knowing just how great a writer you were, in yourself confessed unpolished way! But, that is after all why we all loved your stories.
Your stories have always taken pride of place on my bookshelf, but they will certainly be cared for a little more nowadays! I knew you fought the big C as hard as Les, Billy or even Davo ever fought their foes. But sadly it was a fight not even their tenacity deep within you was enough to defeat. I don’t know if there is such a place as the pearly gates.... but there is a doorman supposedly there called Peter. Don’t worry, he is mates with Les and Billy. He will escort you in for sure.
Thanks for the memories and RIP.
Where do I begin? To tell you of my friend and my Earth Angel Bob,
I sit here dumb founded at such a huge loss to this world and his friends, he was larger than life and seemed invincible, even he thought he could beat this.
I met Bob in 1994 when I was rescuing and trying to save sick and mange affected Wombats – I am the Wombat Lady Bob spoke about to his friends.
He loved animals; we shared this common passion for Native Wildlife, saving animals in peril and Endangered Species. It didn’t matter to me what animal it was, if it needed saving I would try.
Bob heard of this crazy animal lover and rang me one day to see if he could come over and visit – I was extremely busy with a number of animals in care but I agreed to let him visit. We talked, we laughed, he cuddled my baby wombats (as seen in Maxine’s tribute photos) and we became good friends.
He supported my Wombat Rescue Project with donations to help buy food, medicines and equipment – he had helped me save many animals, I was truly greatful and honored to have him as an ally.
I moved to a large bush land property to continue my Rescue program, Bob became more famous and we would only catch up at his book launches/parties now and then.
I hadn’t heard from him in a while, only heard how busy and successful he was- I was happy for him.
In 2006 my partner was killed in a car accident – my world in turmoil, I was devastated and lost. With the threat of losing my property looming over head and the thought of having to find homes for the numerous animals I had in care…….I felt helpless in a hopeless situation.
Out of the blue Bob rings me one day and says in only the way he can “God woman you’re hard to get a hold of, been trying for months”!! I was delighted to hear his voice and laughed as he rambled on and then he asked how I was – I burst into tears and told him what had happened and how cruel the world was to take such a special person. He knew I was in a devastating state and was concerned for the animals. Bob immediately came up with solutions and offers of support, “she’ll be right mate, everything will be fine, leave it up to old uncle Bob”. I didn’t ask him for help I just wanted someone’s shoulder to cry on and lucky for me it was my Earth Angel Bob’s.
Help my situation he did and I managed to pick my self up and start again, Bob was there to offer assistance if I needed it and a genuine ear if I wanted to cry on his shoulder. I would tell him – you are my Earth Angel and he would say “Come on, I wouldn’t go as far to say that, just wanna be a good mate and help a mate in need”, he believed I was the Earth Angel to the animals and had never seen anyone like me – this was a cherished compliment.
Bob my friend and dear Angel I will miss you and your stories; I regret that we didn’t catch up for that lunch and your visit to the property.
You are amongst other Angels now and I can only imagine how vibrant your energy is now you’re free of that debilitating pain and at peace.
I will cherish your friendship forever, I will never forget your kindness and compassion, and I will never forget your smile and laughter.
I will never ever forget you Bob, thank you for everything.
Love always, Debbie Breen (The Wombat Lady)
I was very saddened to hear of Bob's passing, I first met Bob seven years ago, when I worked at Medibank at Erina. I realized who he was and we had a chat about his books, my husband was a big fan. Bob was always a larrikin a perfect description for him. I always enjoyed our chats, he was a crack up! Always the joker, but a gentleman too . On my last day at work I wished him all the best and he gave me a big hug & kiss, I will remember him fondly.
he put up a very brave fight, I admired him for his courage.
Australian readers have lost a great ' awther", I am so glad I had the privilege of knowing him, Bob will be missed by many. Condolences to his family and friends. RIP Bob
Sad to hear of Bob's passing. His books really capture the Aussie spirit and sense of humour in the scorched Earth wasteland that is Aussie comedy. He was head and shoulders above the rest.
I am deeply saddened to hear of Bobs passing .
Having been raised in Bondi I could always see in my minds eye where he was writing about .I would from time to time hassle Bob for autographed books etc. when fund raising for local charities .
I think the Bondi Crane family were close to Bob more than just readers of his books .Bob dedicated “ Davo’s Little Something “ to my nephew “ Fat Larry Crane “ & and I think they did a movie together .I have a fair idea of what they are getting up to now .
Its strange moving from Bondi to Port Macquarie I thought I had done the wrong thing but Bondi and Port are so alike its spooky .
Without fear of contradiction I know that Bobs biggest bunch of fans reside in Port with the fan club president Mark Stratchan ( Strawny our breakfast announcer on 2MCFM ) being able to quote chapter and verse from Bob’s books .You have a connection with Port don’t you ?
I don’t have any stories for you but I have attached 2 images of a letter Bob wrote to me when I was bludging (again) off him which I think tells who Bob is .
I wanted to send my thoughts to someone regarding Robert Barrett. My partner is battling cancer too and purchased each year with relish the latest book from Robert Barrett. Christmas time was great fun reading the latest publication.
I know that my partner Terry Smith will miss not having a good belly laugh this year and I’m sure a lot of people will too.
Sometimes in life you come across someone who brings laughter and fun into one’s life – albeit for me only through his outrageous books.
Thank you Robert Barrett - you will be missed.
The epic tales and adventures of Les Norton have, at different times, cause me to almost crap myself laughing and/or brought on an asthma attack....
I hope Bob's work receives the credit it deserves for giving me, and thousands others, so much pleasure for so long. There is no doubt in my mind that he is a One Off and there will never be another like him. He kept me sane during tough times and I love the guy.
Thanks Bob, thanks heaps.
I only learnt today of Bobs passing. A true gentleman and aussie to the bone.
I had the pleasure of meeting bob in Cessnock at his lauch of "Crime Scene Cessnock" and also at a reding of sorts at Cessnock Library.
Funny, witty and down right funny and a damn nice bloke to talk to.
More than that Bob took me on a journey with his books and I often spent many hours reading and rereading his tomes.
He will be sorely missed by everyone. RIP Bob and thank you.. At least I know you will have them laughing upstairs.
My name is Jenny Cruden and I am so saddened to hear of the news that Bob passed away.
Our friendship started way back to the late 80's where Bob was a regular writer for People Magazine and I worked up the corridor for Dolly Magazine.
Both from Terrigal on the Central Coast, we became firm friends and both worked a second job in the same restaurant where Bob was the 'dish pig' (kitchen hand) and I was the waitress.
We stayed firm friends and often accompanied each other to parties and record launches where there was never a dull moment with Bob around.
When Bob wrote his book Guns n Rose, he asked me to be his Research Assistant which consisted of going out to restaurants and having a great time whilst he wrote about it - it was an awesome job if you could call it that.
Bob filmed a commercial for that book which I was in with him where we shot it at our beautiful hometown of Terrigal which also brings back great memories of his larrikin self and fun personality.
Bob and I didn't see as much as we used to this last decade as I have been living in Sumatra, Indonesia but always ran into him when I was home in Terrigal.
I tried each year to get him up to Sumatra where I live to come and write a story on 'Les in the Mentawai's' on our surf charter boat as he had legendary status amongst all of the surfers but unfortunately that never eventuated.
I am so so sad that I didn't get to say goodbye to my good friend but I'm sure he'll be either up there making lots of people laugh and enjoying himself immensely.
Cheers Mr Bobby Barrett - gone but not forgotten
Love you, your friend Jen xxxxxx
I will really miss not looking forward to the end of the year and having a new book to read. Bob had an amazing sense of humour and doubly amazing imagination. I have really enjoyed Bob's books and also folowing him on his web pages too. (even have a Norton T shirt).
Many times I have driven my 50kms to work listening to one of Bob's talking books and have just sat in the carpark for an extra 5 or 10 minutes because I was at such an interesting or funny part of the story and other times I have looked like an absolute idiot when I stopped at the traffic lights laughing so hard that I had tears pouring down my face and then I noticed other motorists staring at me.
I wil miss you so much Bob.
Just want to say that Bob’s books are the only full set of books that I re-read often.
My prayers go out to Bob and all of his fans. Thank you very much for some very entertaining reading.
I have to thank bob for the many hours of escapism he provided me over the years. I am sure many are sorry to see him gone.
I first encountered Bob’s books when I was care taking a mining camp in the northern goldfields of W.A. , I went to visit my neighbour ( also a caretaker) an ageing fellow from Arizona , as I walked in the door, he’s wiping tears from his eyes , I said Jack whats up mate and he went into fits of laughter, man you gotta read this, he said. Putting ‘you wouldn’t be dead for quids’ on the table.
That would’ve been early ‘85’ and I have read and laughed along with Bob’s books ever since. Truly a great aussie icon and will be missed.
Thanks Jack and Many thanks Bob, where ever they maybe, I bet they’re (pissin em selves laughin.)
I first came across Bob’s books when working as a “Beachie” (Beach Inspector) at Bondi Beach in the late ‘80’s. That summer was miserable weather wise and one of the other guys gave me a copy of ‘You Wouldn’t Be Dead for Quids’ to pass the time. It , ‘The Real Thing’, ‘’The Boys from Binjiwunyawunya’and ‘The Godson’ (the best of the lot!) made the long days in rubbish weather bearable. His books had me hooked. Now I do like my literature and I do like to be challenged reading wise. But every now and then you just like to kick back and have a good laugh. Pretty much everything that Les Norton got into ‘round Bondi I could identify with. Bob’s books were, and still are on the re-read good for the soul. Like another contributor to Bob’s memory, every November I’d look forward to the new title. Knowing Bob had cancer, it was a forlorn hope that the regular pre-Christmas adventure would regularly hit the shelves. Bob wrote for everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you had a go at a Les Norton, you had to be into it. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. Now Bob’s gone and so is Les. I have Bob’s books and am re-reading them all at the moment, just by chance. I reckon I’ll continue to do so until it’s my time. What better legacy can you leave than a body of work that puts a smile on your readers’ face every time? While I have the books Les ain’t dead.
RIP Bob, you were a breath of fresh air sticking it to the litearti!
A Blog post about Bob:
from the very early days
Can't believe the news. I didn't even know the big fella was ill. Strangely I picked up one of his books out of the blue off the book shelf at home on the day he died. I haven't read one for three years and I have every one. I haven't read a book of any kind for two years at least and then I learn he is gone. Dont know how but I reckon somehow Bob talked to me to pick up his book but I'm buggered if I know why. Will miss you mate. I first met Les backpacking around Europe and I picked up a book at a hostel. Dunno if I was homesick for oz or what but the big Queenslander struck a chord with me. I have a diary I kept and I even started to write how bob did. Unashamedly australian, politically incorrect as a benson and hedges world series cup crowd on the hill of the SCG playing the Indians in 1982, Bob managed to embrace what makes us Australian and proud without having to tattoo the southern cross on our backs. He sounds like he could blue and although he probably didnt get 90 in his HSC he was no dill. At the end of the day we all love to root,blue and drink piss although most of us probably think we are better at it than we really are which is why Les is alive a bit in all of us. RIP big fella, I hope like shit that someone picks up our mantle and creates some characters as simple and likable as Les, Eddie, Waz, Price, Billy and all the other easy to relate too characters that have filled your books for 25 years.
Unfortunately I never got to meet this bloke called Robert. G. Barrett, but I owe him a lot. For a long time after high school the only thing I read was magazines, papers and the like, no novels or books. I was introduced to Bob, and Les (quite a few years ago now) and started reading. I have read most of Bob’s books and have also been reading other authors because of him, and enjoying the read. Thank you Bob for re-introducing me to reading novels. As I said before I owe you a lot.
My favourite memory of reading Bob’s books is; I was sitting on a plane during a 17 hour flight to America, reading a Norton novel (can’t remember which one). Quite a few times I would laugh out loud and get puzzled looks from the other passengers and the crew. My wife and I quote Les in our daily lives and we have read our Bob/Les books on more than 1 occasion. Every time I fly I always throw a Bob book into my carry-on to have a good read to while away the hours.
Being an all Australian boy from Queensland, I love Bob’s no nonscence, politically incorrect, true talk through Les.
There are also a couple of facebook groups that talk to likeminded people about the books they love and times in their lives when Bob/Les have made their lives better.
Just type in Robert G Barrett Les Norton fans and ask for a like.
Love your work. You are a legend mate.
My sincere sympathy goes out to all friends and family at this ugly time of your lives.
I am so deeply saddened to hear of the death of the father of Les. I have been reading Bob's books for about 16 years and eagerly await any new release. My interest grew when Bob sent copies of his books to us serving member in Timor. Peace be with you Bob and strength to all those close to you.
As a young bloke I was more interested in maintaining a lifestyle similar to Les.
As a non reader it was hard to keep up. I blame Bob for changing my life and making me sit on the couch next to the missus, and read for a night in. When I should have been out drinking, rooting, and shooting with the boys!
Thanks a lot teenuck!!
I have known Bob for many a year .
He and I had many a beer in the old days in Bondi
He put me in one of his books
Aka Jim Byrnes
He was a man’s man , he was an excellent researcher often telling me the lengths he would go to add accuracy to his story.
Bobby , you will be sadly missed
A moving and personal tribute from Maxine Ellis-Youman:
I unfortunately never got to meet the great man but am a huge fan of his.
Robert G Barrett was, is and always will be my favourite author and it saddens me deeply not only his passing but the fact we will never have the privilege of reading new and exciting adventures of Les Norton.
I read my first Barrett book about 8 years ago and have since read every book he has written several times.
I love the Les Norton series and i laugh my head off every time i read them.
We have all lost a great and wonderful man who was not only a brilliant writer but was also a brilliant human being.
My sincerest condolences to his family and friends.
The world is a poorer place with out you in it Robert and my heart is very heavy tonight.
Rest in peace Robert G Barrett and always know that you have put laughter in the lives of many many people and you will never be forgotten.
Mate, I loved your books. The first I read was "You Wouldn't be Dead for Quids" I read in 1993 in the desert. I was stationed at Telfer Gold Mine on the edge of the great sandy desert WA for 6 months. A mate passed me your book and I was hooked. Thank you for so many great reads. We all related to Les, and your writing style. It was words for the working man. no one else would get it. Our secret joy.
Thanks mate I regret not saying it before you passed,
As a man of 48 I was first introduced to Bob books in the late 80s with You wouldn't be dead for quids and from then on I was hooked and could not wait for his new releases.
I never met Bob but felt I knew him.I am deeply saddened today to hear of his passing and feel Australia has lost a real character .
Over the years Bobby and I exchanged alot of SF memorabilia. One Xmas I sent him a pair of Spock ears, which he promptly glued on and swanned around David Jones in - I wish I could have seen that one, it would have been something!
Bobby saw life as an opportunity in which to enjoy things and he graciously let us all share in that experience, a truly wonderful gift.
I'm sure he's somewhere now with a delicious in one hand and a shashlik in the other, just having the best time ever.
My heartfelt condolences to all of you, his family, colleages and Team Norton friends.
Kindest of Regards
How very sad. I have only just heard the news. RIP Bob, you will be sadly missed. No more Les Norton adventures. I have never had the opportunity to meet you but have every book you have written, thanks to my baby brother Christopher for introducing me to the funniest books to read. I have actually woken the family laughing at your books.
Love Carol xoxoxoxoxo
My sister first introduced me to Bob’s books years ago the first one I read was Davo’s Little Something and have never stopped reading his books since then .I sit here crying while I write this and would love to know if his funeral is public or private.No words can explain my feelings at this moment.But heart goes out to his family and friends.
So sorry to hear of the passing of Bob. During my time at Radio Sport 927 in Melbourne I had the pleasure to interview Bob quite regularly about his books. He was always a delight to interview..my only regret is that it was always over the phone and not face to face. Not only was Bob a funny bloke but his laconic style somewhat hid a real connection that he had with his readers. I looked forward to the release of a new Robert G. Barrett book because I knew I was going to enjoy a good read and I knew I was going to enjoy the chat with him. Sadly no more but memories are wonderful things. Condolences to Bob’s family and friends and to Mel and the team at Harper Collins….
Legend, thanks for the laughs.
I have many stories associated with big Les and Robert G Barrett, but at this time I am too sad to even know where to start.
I am riding in the Ride to Conquer Cancer benefiting Dr Chris O'Brien's Lifehouse @ RPA in October. I will be thinking of him for 200km.
I joined the Army in 1986 and on posting to Holsworthy as a young soldier I was initiated to Les Norton and spent many a shift reading his adventures as the well worn novels were passed from person to person. I learnt to navigate the eastern subs reading these novels and found myself trying to recognise the characters as I drove around there. Over the years I revisited the stories and even bumped into Robert at the markets in Paddington one morning. I deployed to Afghanistan for the last time in 2007 and wouldn't you believe it amongst the soldiers Les Norton still lived. Les Norton was an Australian icon although only recognisable to a certain demographic. RIP Robert G Barrett - thanks :)
What a shame, with the passing of Robert G Barrett, so to is the sad passing of Les Norton, Murray, good ol Grungle, the rest of the Norton family, Price, George, Eddie, Billy, Warren and of course, the Kelly Club.
May you all Rest in Peace.
I was very upset to here of the passing of Robert on Thursday as many people have mentioned I was one of the people who did not read books and have been reading the les norton saga whenever I can,I could not put them down,much to the disgust of the other half Rest in peace Robert barret you bought me many happy hours of fantasy
RIP mate, you have given myself and my Dad especially, so many good times, laughs and memories for both of us with your books and to hear this news today is devastating. Our condolences to all who have known you, loved you and mainly your family.
Dave and Rod
I am really sadden to read about Roberts death. I met Robert at book signings a couple of times , I remember the first time he came to Canberra and I had all his books and I took them with me and I asked him if he would sign them all and he said since I had spent the money buying his book he would spend the time signing them there was 14 books and everyone of them he signed to Wendy with a short message not a lot of authors would do that do that sometimes you can only take one book to sign another time he came to Canberra I went to his signing had my photo taken with him he took the time to have a laugh with me and he even gave me a t shirt .... He had a heart of gold ..Australia has lost a great author and a mate ....
Rest in peace luv Wendy
Absolutely gob smacked to hear of Bob's demise...
I had the pleasure of reading his books since about 1998..Les' escapades never ceased to amaze!
Bob's iconic style and sense of humour always managed to brighten my life.
Throughout stressful jobs and an ending marriage I took some solace in the books and managed to immerse my self in them when I felt I needed to escape...
I missed meeting him in Mornington,Victoria where he was doing a book signing and will regret that for a long time.
His books are safely tucked away and will be enjoyed for many years to come...
I wouldn't be dead for quids now mate!..thanks heaps for the joy and laughter !
I bet the big fella up there has certain plans for you and hope to FUCK he lets you in !!
A true Australian cultural icon.
Dickens you were not.
Entertaining and engaging you were.
You will be missed but remembered for the joy you brought.
Thank you for being unashamedly Australian.
So sorry to hear about Bob’s passing, I am truly shocked and saddened.
Australia has lost a great ‘awther’.
I'm devo'd to hear that Robert G Barrett has passed away, the Les Norton books are by far the best books I have and will ever read, they are 50 shades of farken awesome!!!
I have never read books and laughed out loud so much, and they really helped me get through a knee reconstruction. My favorite would have to be "The Godson".
Thanks for the memories
I was first introduced to Bob's books whilst serving on RAN patrol boats in North Queensland in 1986. How many hours at sea spent reading your books Bob and of course these were close to sailors heart given we spent so much time in the dark hours around Kings Cross,inner Sydney and Easts Leagues Club. Your books are fantastic as was your own character.
See you on the other side Bob
I been introduce to Les in 1998 from a friend , who said he Olaf( I am German) you have to learn the Ozzie way !! I got every single book of Robert and some of them I read 2 to 4 times. Got my son Lloyd hooked too . We are so sad about his passing and even more sad the he never made it to WA Perth. Oi Robert have a blast where ever you have gone.
To every one of us who are part of the Norton family,
I came across You wouldnt be dead for quids when it was first published. A few months later I was in the Lions Den. It was all true, it really did exist and it was like it was in the book, maybe crazier so I was hooked.
Not long after, by chance a bloke in a pub says yes I know bob he lives at xxxxx, go and see him, he will love to see you. So off I go knock knock , er gday Bob, Mick from melbourne, just passing saw the light was on, SLAM goes the door.
Hmm have I been set up or what? So I go back to the pub, ey you bastard, you set me up! I told him what happened, arrghh he says you shouldnt have gone empty handed. So I go back with a slab, I go knock knock , er gday Bob, Mick from melbourne, just passing saw the light was on, GRAB goes the hands WHOOSH goes the slab, SLAM goes the door.
Hmm fucking grumpy old bastard I thinks, I go back to the pub. The bloke has gone, I have a feed, a million pots, listen to band. Bastard I am thinking, get a pizza, a cab and off I go again. I go knock knock , er gday Bob, Mick from melbourne, just passing saw the light was on, I slip foot in door, he is pissed, I spose you drank my slab you prick, PIZZA he says, grabs it and slams the door, it hits my foot, ricochets back into the pizza and Bob, aha got you you bastard and I fall in. Thats how I met him, that would have been 1986 I reckon. We had nice chat. I used to send him a list to tick every time a book came out. e,g. Hello, Im good.bad, its hot.cold/ im happy sad etc, he would tick the boxes and put it in the stamp self addressed envelope.
He had what used to be called larrikan humour, its rare nowdays. There was a show on the ABC about him; at a writers festival he was on stage listening to another writer explaining in detail how to write a novel. He was pulling faces and rolling his eyes,it was all crap to him, it was just so funny to see him in the background, his reactions. I hope it gets posted somewhere online.
Bob gave so many people so much happiness, it was a one in a million chance, but it paid off. I used to send about 50 YWBDFQ books to the states in the 80s before you could get it easily. I have actually seen people piss themselves with laughter reading it.
We were lucky to have him
I've put up a short song tribute to Bobby Barrett and his character Les Norton on Youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOEhhqC2rx4
It is a version of the song that you have included this morning on his website. The graphics are a few pics of Bob and some of his books.
Very sad to hear of the news of Robert Barrett's passing.
An avid reader of all the Les Norton books....nearly sh#t my pants laughing the first time I read one of his books....couldn't believe how hard I laughed. Had the pleasure of attending a book launch one night in Perth where Robert G Barrett was guest speaker and he was every bit as funny as Les himself. Can't quite imagine not discovering a new Les Norton book at least once a year.
Deepest sympathies to all of his family and friends.
I sit hear as a 120KG lump of a bloke with tears running down my eyes that my "Mr Awthor" Bob is no longer with us.
I will no longer scour the bookshops before Christmas looking for his latest offering or muttering under my breath that I wished he could write 5 a year.
Being 39 I grew up on Bob and his alter ego Les. I was fortunate enough to borrow a muddy dog eared version of the Godson and was instantly hooked in around the mid 90's. I have every book. I will cherish the collection as I always have.
Thank you to Bob for entertaining me for so many years. I only wish we could have met so I could have entertained you for 5 minutes as I felt I owed it to you. May you rest in peace.
My 6 month old angel went to heaven at the beginning of this year which was such an awful time for us. She could do no worse than sitting up and listening to uncle bob tell some stories :)
I'm not sure anyone has made me laugh as much as you. Every year I would eagerly await more Les stories. Your writings were certainly unique and quintessentially Australian and much of what you have written has become part of everyday Australian language amongst mates at the pub. No other author I know can claim that & I'm sure it made you proud. Thanks for the ride. Loved ever minute.
Bob Barrett was a good friend to me and our band. He'd grown up with our harmonica player Bob Morton (son of Tex) and he asked us to rewrite a song for him, for the troops. We did that earlier in the year and wrote him this one about his famous character, Les Norton. Unfortunately his illness took him out before he could hear this.
Download and listen to Terry's song here.
Devastated to hear the news about Bob, we had been hoping for the best for him. We love his books. Thank you for the laughs and the mouthwatering descriptions of food and .....
Kent and Georgina
Hi, my name is Diana Monaghan, formerly of Maitland, NSW, but have lived in North Queensland for about thirty years. My partner, Lee, introduced me to the “Barrett books” about 18 months ago as I was complaining that I just wanted an Aussie, straight forward book to read instead of the heavy tomes I usually read.
To my delight, here I was, reading about familiar places, Bondi, Newcastle, and when we saw the news today, I felt so sad for such a great talent to be lost to Australia. This has happened just as I am reading The Tesla Legacy. I never had the privilege of meeting Robert, but my condolences to those of you who knew him. Thanks, Diana (Kuranda Nth Qld)
Robert G Barrett gave me so much reading pleasure this past 30 years. The collection takes pride on our bookshelf. The dreaded C word defeated him, yesterday, after a lengthy battle. He is an idol, an Austrailian Icon. He left a legacy, and will always be remembered fondly on a special day for me.
This is very sad news.
I met Bob at a book signing a few years ago and the experience taught me that there was no difference between the Bob that wrote the forewords in his books, and the real Bob.
Bob was Bob, there was no façade.
Never having been a reader, I credit Bob for getting me to read books for the first time at the tender age of 35.
Since then I have read everything he has written and Christmas will not be the same without the anticipation of the latest Les Norton waiting for me under the tree.
Rest in peace Bob, a real Australian that contributed to real Australia.
So saddened to learn of this news. I have been a fan since forever. I hope i made you proud with the facebook fan page i started. Thank you for the laughs. Love ya Bob.
I just found out today about the passing of Robert G Barrett.
I was only just thinking a couple of days ago that I hadn't caught up with my old mate Les Norton for a while and thought a new book would be out again soon.
Bob actually replied to a letter I sent him after I read one of his earlier books. Surprisingly I got a reply out of the blue months later. I was quite stoked.
This is the end of an era, it is like Les Norton has passed away as well, although he had many close calls! Bob really brought this wonderful character to life in his own unique way.
Condolences to Bob's family and friends.
Will miss you Bob (and Les!)
Condolences firstly to his family and close friends.
I would like to put a few words on paper if I may to one of the heaviest lightweight (by his own admission) ORTHORS Australia has supported. I was one of those school kids who detested reading - comics kept my interest at school, but textbooks did not. I somehow battled through an Instrumentation trade, requiring heavy reading and emerged a 30 year old non-novelist.
Then someone gave me a Les Norton. Bob's writing grew an avid reader within me. He had a knack of giving you the picture, without bogging you down. A few details were enough to familiarise possibly the exact same scenario in every readers head. Yet, he kept the literary balance of the Aussie larrikin with a flippant disregard for arseholes and a high regard for what Aussies are known for - genuine fun and a sense of fair game. I will forever miss Les (and Davo).
Through his inspiration I've been compelled to study a degree and now a Master's. When I head butt the textbooks late at night, I both blame and deeply thank Robert G Barrett for his (imminent) genius - and will forever do.
Peaceful times, ya big mug.
Finally met Bob at Indooroopilly Shopping Town a few years ago - got the photo taken with him, with my brother and his sons (I remember that his hands were the size of dinner plates) - then asked him if he wanted to come for an ale or three with us, but he replied that he had other commitments at other bookshops around the Brisbane area.
May he rest in peace.
Just heard the news…am devastated to hear Bob has passed away….my husband Kim and I have all his books and have read them 20 times over….always know when one of us is reading a Les Norton book because we have to put it down due to pissing ourselves laughing and being unable to read through the tears….will miss his extremely brilliant comical writing and wit…VALE Robert G Barrett.
Marnie & Kim Davis
Unfortunately I never did get to meet Bob, but had always hope to. I was never into reading when I was younger, in fact I hated it. One day I was watching the Ray Martin show and Bob was on it talking about his new book. He was talking about a letter he had received from a guest of “Her Majesty’s” who had gotten in trouble for laughing to much while reading one of Bob’s books. So I thought I would get hold of one and see for myself.
That was it, Hooked. I to can remember reading and laughing out loud, my wife would ask “what’s so funny? And I would be unable to read out the lines due to the tears of laughter.I would also tell people about parts of the books and my wife would always say “you know it’s not real”.
Eventually I bought all the books and then would have to wait each year for the new one, I hated waiting.
I was lucky enough to get a signed copy of one of his books and scored a life sized cut out of him from a book shop in Ballarat. I have a few shirts as well and it would be great every now and again I would get pulled up by another Bob fan (a total stranger) and have a chat about the books.
I knew Bob had problems with his mum and then also with his own health, but I had hoped another ‘Les” book would hit the shelves. Not to be.
Anyway, thanks Bob for getting me into the literary world and God bless.
I never had the honour to ever meet Bob in person
Ken and Donna
I love all the les Norton stories.
i am so devestated to hear of his passing.
One of my favourite lines was from mud crab boogie
When les and Billy dunn arrive at the garage where the
mud crabs are staying Les knocks and says hello
ladies we are youre avon ladies.
RIP Mr Barrett youre stories will live on for ever in print.
I was so sorry to hear that Bob had passed away. He was my first love, I was 19 and he was 33 althougth he told me he was 27! It was about a year later that I found his drivers licence and I confronted him, he laughed! He was a character and very much his own person, we lived together for a few years, he was very good at bring you down, everything had to be done his way and eventually we broke up. I got home from work and he had taken most of the furniture. I still have the bed and hall stand (he had painted it muppet green & I have stripped it, I have never put it in any home I have lived in, it has lived in a lot of garages!)
There are so many stories I could tell, from not getting on with neighbours to knowing a few crims in his time, I'm sure you would know all that?
I often thought of him, we had a silly falling out years ago over a skirt he sent me (it was bloody awfull & 5 sizes to big) he said if I did'nt want he knew some who did, so I sent it back to with a note saying that Lindy was welcome to it! I never heard from him again!
I was thinking of sending him a card for his 70th birthday on the 14th of November, it goes to show me I am as stubbourn as he was. It is to late and I feel sad that we did not continue with a friendship, that bloody skirt!
I was with regret that I heard of the passing of Mr Barrett. Mr Barrett's stories about Les Norton touched a lot of Infantrymen throughout the decades, I myself am one of them. I have read every book that he has published and now will have to revisit those pages again. On behalf of all the Defence personnel who have read his works I would like to stand and salute him and pass on our condolences to family and friends. Know that his works will be sorely missed in the Australian Defence Force.
Please note that this email is not an official statement from the Australian Defence Force, merely an ex soldier's expression of how we feel.
Never had the opportunity to meet Bob, unfortunately.
However, I was a butcher like him, not a ranga mind you.
His Aussie style of writing was one that touched every part of me.
It was as if he could've ripped parts of my life out and put words to it.
A genuine Aussie boy living a boy's life. Does anyone else feel that they are forever 17 or 18 yrs old when you read one of Bob's books?
Vale Bob Barrett, you will be sorely missed.
Really sad to hear of the passing of bob , though I never met him have read all his books And loved his unique writing style which was uniquely Australian
Loved his passion for the environment and love of the Australian character as well as his joy of a conspiracy theory
Vale Bob , Australian literature has lost a great author and I'm sure a great bloke
Will have a cool one in his memory
I read You Wouldn't Be Dead For Quids for the first time last year and fell in love with Bob's style. It's rare to find books where you laugh out loud pretty constantly and you start using 'Bob phrases' in conversation. Coming from an Italian background, every time I see an old ethnic woman in black dress, I now think of Johnny Cash and laugh to myself. I bragged about it to anyone who would listen and received his most recent novel Still Riding On The Storm for my birthday a couple of months ago from my boyfriend. I loved, laughed and cried at his Bukowski tribute of his ordeal with the NSW Health system and dealing with his sickness and again bragged to anyone who would listen or as Bob calls it, getting corns on your ears ha! hilarious bloke. I began to think I would be lucky enough to run into him in a pub one of these days as I read that he loved a good rockin' band and a beer as much as myself and I just wanted to give him a big bear hug and say thanks for telling it like it is balls and all. It's now my mission to purchase all of his novel's to read and keep close to my heart.
Sincere thanks Dina.
It is so sad to hear of the passing of one of Australia’s greatest awfers (as he would put it), I was put on to his books by another friend & since then have got every one of his books.
His books are written with a unique & totally Australian disregard for political correctness, airs & graces and wowsers. I have laughed myself silly & almost cried with some of his stories & anecdotes about the character that about every Aussie male wants to be, Les Norton. I met Bob once at a book signing here in Newcastle and was impressed how laid back he was & when I said that I had done Butchery in the past he was even more happy to meet me. It’s a real shame that we wont be reading any more adventures of Price, Eddy, Warren, George & Billy but all good things must come to an end. Rest in peace Bob
My name is Jeff Wouters….
I was devastated today to learn of Robert G. Barretts’ (I have always referred to him by his full name…)passing today (yesterday)…..My Plumber rang me on the Batphone this afternoon and said tune into 702 ABC…they are talking about Robert G. Barrett… ( I was having a beer with my Concretor for his birthday….)When I got home and logged on to the website , the news presented confirmed it….NOT GOOD……I headed outside and lowered my Australian flag to Half Mast where it will remain till Robert G. Barrett is laid to rest…(do you know when this will be?)Do you think he would prefer the “Eureka Southern Cross” instead?)
I read my first Les Norton book “The Wind and the Monkey” around 7 or 8 or so years ago and was hooked within the first 10 pages, and have never looked back!!!!
Whenever I’ve felt down a bit, or just needed a great way to pass the time (usually on the throne…or at bedtime when there is nothing on TV which is most nights…) there is nothing like picking up any one of many NORTON stories (for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th time…) and you are on your way to “laughing like a drain”….
My wife had always wondered why she might hear me laughing out loud for seemingly no reason at all….. or me saying before the night time light was put out saying “just hang on…I have to finish this chapter (even when I was on a promise..!!!), because there was always the bit where NORTON was just about to conquer and it had to be followed through!!!!
Anyway, such is my passion for Les Nortons’ many adventures, not only have I shared many a book (often never seeing the original copies ever again…..so long as someone is enjoying them..!!!) but I always had the notion to share the following bits’n’pieces with Robert G. Barrett himself one day…..sadly “one day “ will now not be possible…..Life is Short?
We have a wonderful Kelpie Dog who is 6 odd years old and his name is…..NORTON…!!!!!! He is a mischevious little fellow and is often in full character!!!(Always in a little bit of trouble but everybody loves him…)
We are Builders and were trading under the name JSW Constructions for quite some time as a partnership…it was then time to form a company….
We needed a name that was bold and easy to remember, so while sitting in front of our open fire one night with our dog NORTON sitting close by…………my wife Susie said, “Why not NORTON HOMES!!!”….Well upon some searching, there was already a NORTON Homes in Tasmania…(*I think their name might be Norton??), so we then became NORTON Homes & Developments Pty Ltd.
Great name for a business………so when people ask us how we came up with the name, often they ask is it after Norton Motorcycles, (Jimmy did ride one in Guns’n’Rose) we always refer to “ Well there is this awther Robert G. Barrett who writes these wonderful stories about a character called Les Norton….etc.etc… (always being sure to recommend a good read!!!)
I had always promised myself to buy the whole collection (even though I have read them all I have never had every book at one time, always copies lent to this person and that person) and never got around to it….….sad that someone has to move on to the next world to make you do something as simple as buying some books……I guess that really is inspiration!!!!
Anyway, to all the other Robert G. Barrett/ Les Norton fans out there, I share your sadness and wish everyone a safe trip home and remember that when you wake up tomorrow morning that “You wouldn’t be dead for quids”……..Rest In Peace Robert G. Barrett.
All the Best…..Jeff
Mate you took a young Queensland teenager and gave him hope, joy and direction. My life has been influenced by your books more than anyone or anything else. I first read Guns and Rose sitting on the porch of an old Queenslander I was renting with two mates in Coorparoo, back in 96. I'll never forget finishing the book and getting up to put the news on, expecting to see a bikie shootout on the headlines....still a very vivid memory.
Was so saddened to hear of Bob’s passing. He seemed like a larger than life larrikin and it was a shame I never had the chance to meet with him.
I was introduced to his wonderful books many years ago and loved every new book that was published. I took a job up in Malaysia some time ago and when I was sorting through all the stuff I could take with me, and (the bigger pile of stuff I had to leave behind), I had to seriously think what was going to be the thing that reminded me of home the most…yep, the Les Norton collection now has the pride of place on the bookshelfs up here in KL. Have introduced Les to a number of ex-pats here who have absolutely pi**@# themselves with laughter.
Thanks Bob for some wonderful times – you will be terribly missed but your memory will live on brightly with all your great legion of fans.
Kind Regards, Norbert
Bob and the Les Norton books made my Christmas so special every year. I would always know not to look at the new book in the shops as it would be waiting under the tree for me every year. I started reading Bob's stories in People and that's it. I was hooked. Such a huge loss of such a great man, will raise my glass and think of him each Xmas day. Good bye big fella, Nicky <3
Below – Mel Cain, who was his long-time publicist, has penned some of her memories. Bob (but as they referred to him together ‘Barbara’ ) became one of her best friends.
From Mel Cain
Bob used to love calling me up at work on a Friday afternoon and chatting for hours. Everyone knew that if I was on the phone on a Friday it would be a Bob chat and there would routinely be laughter coming from my office. He was an entertaining guy who despite his good vibes persona, was intelligent, engaged and eager to learn about new things. And he loved sharing; his knowledge, his discoveries, good times and bad.
One of Bob’s favourite jokes involved calling up unsuspecting new assistants at HarperCollins and leaving messages for me. He’d get the person to write it all down and finally just say and it’s Barbara calling. He thought it was hilarious when our new people would come to find me saying a MAN has just called up for you and said HIS name was BARBARA! He’d be laughing before he even hung up the phone. And he loved that we had this nickname for him. He also had one for me too – Ratso.
Everyone at HarperCollins knew that Barbara and Ratso would take to the road each November to publicize his new book. And the trips were not just fun for us; they were legendary! We once drove from near the Victorian border to Terrigal in one day, doing book signings along the way, all the while with Barbara laughing at me because he thought it was hilarious that he had old smelly socks on! I laughed too, but naturally with the window wound right down.
Some of my fondest memories of Barbara are seeing him engage with his fans. They weren’t just readers to him – they were part of the Norton Army. Mad followers and believers of Les Norton, honestly, Bob said he was always the Barbara Cartland of Australian fiction, but I think that he was more of an L Ron Hubbard; a writer who founded a church and his worshippers were all members of the Norton fan club. He always had time to sign one more book, or t-shirt, or possum (yes, he was once asked to check out a possum kept warm and snuggly down a woman’s shirt in Lismore!).
Barbara was one of the kindest and most considerate people I know. Also one of the most entertaining, funny and dedicated. He loved a cause, hated being politically correct but took very seriously being a gentleman. He loved writing and getting a book done every year. We’d often speak about how the writing was going each week when he was in the deepest part of getting the book finished.
I was honoured to know Barbara. We shared a very special relationship that moved beyond being professional and developed into a real friendship. When he was first diagnosed with cancer he called me up and said he was sick and could we talk about things because this was something that we had in common. I’d been through cancer treatment before and when he had questions about what people were telling him we would spend time talking about it and working out what he should do.
Bob was also very close to his friend and mentor, Barrie Hitchon, who sadly died a couple of years ago from cancer as well. Barrie was the former CEO of HarperCollins and cared for Bob very much. I was fortunate enough to spend a day with Bob and Barrie, in Terrigal, a few years ago. The three of us had a very long, very funny lunch and it one of my best memories of the two of them. They were both incredibly fun and clearly had a lot of fondness for each other.
And while Barbara was no saint, and never professed to be, he tried very hard to be a good person and a kind, generous and considerate friend. I know that he succeeded in doing that and I will miss him forever. My world is a little less sunny because he’s not in it. But I also think that he’s making friends and telling jokes and writing new stories wherever he is.