Bob Hawke, former PM: Memories shared by Central West residents

WHAT A MOMENT: Bathurst boy Denzel Nicholson met former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke in 2015. Photo: SUPPLIED
WHAT A MOMENT: Bathurst boy Denzel Nicholson met former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke in 2015. Photo: SUPPLIED

A LARRIKIN, a fearless reformer and a giant in politics who was known for skolling a beer or two - Central West residents have remembered former Prime Minister Bob Hawke.

Robert James Lee Hawke died at his home on Thursday, aged 89, just two days before the federal election.

He was in the country's top job from 1983 to 1991 and had the distinction of being Labor's longest serving prime minister.

In office he was not afraid to show emotion and shed a tear on a number of occasions, since then he transcended politics and became a figure many wanted to meet.

In 2015, Bathurst student Denzel Nicholson was competing in a snooker tournament called The Bob Hawke Australia Open in western Sydney and the man himself was also in attendance.

Denzel's mother, Karen Nicholson, said she and her son approached the former PM during lunch to ask for a photo.

He was the last true Labour leader.

Tara Larnach

"He was quite happy to pose, but I think he was more interested in his bowl of ice cream," she said.

Ms Nicholson also remembers that Mr Hawke was not in very good health at the time.

"He was quite frail at the time and had to have assistance to walk, plus a walking stick," she said.

"They gave him a table to sit right at the front for the final of the tournament, however, he had to leave during the match due to ill health.

"I'm so glad we have this photo. Denzel was in Year 6 at the time and had an assignment on a previous PM. He nailed it."

Shaking the hand of a prime minister

In an unusual twist, when Ms Nicholson was in Year 6 herself, she also met Mr Hawke when he was prime minister.

"We did the usual Canberra excursion, it was 1988 and the new parliament house had not long opened," she said.

"He was standing on the footpath as we were all getting off the bus so we all got to shake his hand.

"I thought nothing of it then."

Bob Hawke's joke made a friend in a Bathurst boy

During Bathurst's centenary celebrations in 1985, then Prime Minister Bob Hawke paid a visit to the city where he met a number of residents.

"I can't recall the exact event, but I know I had to wear full school uniform, I was in Year 7 at Scots, so I was cranky," Bathurst man Matthew Irvine remember of his meeting.

"I met Bob and he made me laugh with a joke about school hats, Scots made us wear boater hats back then, so I figured he was OK."

"He had an incredible way with people" - Margaret Gaal

In 1985, during a civic reception in Bathurst, Margaret Gaal was among those to meet the then Prime Minster Bob Hawke.

Held in the city's old town hall, she said she was among many guests keen to meet the Labor leader.

"He spoke to absolutely everybody and he looked like he had an interest in everyone," she said.

"He wanted to know what I did and we spoke about my job

"He was extremely interesting and was a very nice chap. He wasn't just there for Bob Hawke, he was there for the people."

Candidate's first meeting with Hawke

Labor candidate in Calare Jess Jennings has long been with the movement and remembers meeting Mr Hawke around 20 years ago in Sydney.

"All I said was that I was a member of the Labor movement," he said.

Back then, Dr Jennings said the team of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating was formidable.

"They were a potent combination - tough like Keating and likeable like Hawke," he said.

Memories of the former PM

For some Central West residents, they remembered Bob Hawke by some of his most well known quotes.

Amanda Nealon was among them and she posted to Facebook that this was the best of his quotes.

"The things which are most important don't always scream the loudest," Bob Hawke.

While Matthew Irvine remembered the former PM's quote after Australia II won the America's Cup in 1983.

I loved his speech after Australia won the Americas Cup.

Cheryl Michelle

Then, Mr Hawked declared that: "Any boss who sacks a worker for being late today is a bum."

Cheryl Michelle posted that she had always admired Mr Hawke and that he was a great Australian

"Loved his speech after Australia won the Americas Cup," she wrote.

Tara Larnach wrote that he was "the last true Labour leader".

Shane Carpenter thanked Mr Hawke for "honouring us with your leadership".

While Shane Brinkworth posted that he and his wife "got married the day Bob won the election in 1983, a double celebration".