O’Farrell just one of the boys
IT was akin to a scene out of classic western.
You know the one – a stranger walks into a bar, the pianist stops playing, the murmur of people talking ceases and every head in the room swings around to see who has dared enter their turf.
In this case, however, the stranger was NSW Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell, the bar was Grafton’s Post Office Hotel, there was no piano as such, instead replaced by the throbbing sound of top 40 music blaring from speakers, and people didn’t stop talking to see who had entered the room.
And from all reports, Mr O’Farrell made quite an impression on the regulars having a good time the PO and Jacaranda hotels respectively on Thursday night.
The man who would be Premier had just attended a dinner held in his honour at The Vines, and wanted to rub shoulders with the punters.
So, accompanied by the Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell and a high ranking member of the local constabulary – Commander Mark Holohan – Mr O’Farrell, looking dapper in a beige jacket and white business shirt, dropped in on two of Grafton’s best known watering holes for a quiet ale and a chat with some locals.
“It’s probably the first time I have seen the state leader of a political party do something like that in Grafton,” Mr Cansdell said.
“It was good for Barry to be there and have a chat with a couple of locals.
“Barry also just wanted to have a look at policing in the country.”
After a drink at the PO, where Mr O’Farrell spoke with patrons and even posed for a couple of photos, the triumvirate left on foot for the Jaca.
It was during this 10-minute journey he got his wish to see some country policing.
“We were walking down the street. There was a young guy, in his early 20s I’d say, raced a trolley up and smashed into a street sign,” Mr Cansdell said.
“He had a mate and two girls walking behind. Holohan crossed the road, asked the guy to stop, got him up against the glass, frisked him and emptied his pockets out and gave him a good talking to. It was good for Barry to see the police in action.”
A ‘good crowd of young people’, as Mr Cansdell described it, awaited at the Jaca.
There, Mr O’Farrell talked politics with a medical students in Grafton doing prac, and shouted a few young lads a beer.
“They just wanted to get their photo taken with Barry. It was priceless,” Mr Cansdell said.
“I couldn’t imagine any politician doing what Barry did.
“People were just glad to see a top politician walk into their pub.”
Mr O’Farrell also took the time to speak with police officers on duty in Grafton. They spoke frankly about their concerns, namely staffing issues in the Coffs/Clarence region.
Last drinks were at midnight before Mr O’Farrell made his way back his motel for some much-needed rest before preparing for the final leg of his highway tour yesterday.
Now who said politicians were boring?