Driving for over four hours, dodging roos and road-trains, I fell into a schooner at 8pm. A hike from Kimba where I was living, it’s always great to come home to Kapunda for a weekend. Of course, I’d driven straight to the pub.
There was a warm reception.
“Hello, West Coast smack-head,” said mine host. It’d been a couple months since I’d popped my head in the door. He continued. “Are you still driving that dopey sports car?” And finally, “Gee, you’re getting fat, Mickey.”
Welcome to the Prince of Wales hotel, run with affection by our gruff publican Peter “Puffa” Jansen.
But the curt comments were really like warm handshakes. This was Puffa’s way. His was an inclusive environment: no-one was spared and barbs were part of the boisterous charm. To not be insulted would’ve been offensive.
In 1989 Mikey Swann, Paul Hansberry (son of Roger who was a regular in here), Bobby Bowden, Greg Mennie and I hired a VN Commodore wagon and drove, sometimes legally, to Brisbane for three weeks. We set off from the Prince of Wales. Ever the benefactor Puffa said, “I’ve seen you blokes drive. Here you yo-yo’s, take my radar detector. It’ll save you a few bucks. Just bring me back a carton of that new Powers beer.” On our way across New South Wales the detector beeped frequently. When it did those who were awake or sober or driving or maybe even all three would chorus, ‘Thank you Puffa!’
Puffa loved a bet. It was but one way he nurtured the pub’s community. Behind his bar, up on the wall, next to the clock, was a bunch of beer coasters on which the wagers were scribbled. He once said to me just after Christmas, “Don’t worry about the Sydney Test. It’ll be a draw. It’ll be rained out.”
I’d seen the forecast, so saw my chance. I retorted, “I reckon it’ll stay dry.”
Puffa then growled, “I’ll give you 4 to 1 that it won’t rain. Easy money for me, you yo-yo!”
So early in the new year, Fanie de Villiers (and what a splendid name that is) bowled South Africa to victory in a rare rain-free Sydney Test. Puffa took down my coaster and I enjoyed his cash briefly, before donating it in yet another spoofy final. This was representative of the abundant life in the Prince of Wales.
One Sunday afternoon I was introduced to the English public-school tradition of spoofy. It only requires three coins. But, if you lose, it results in significantly more fiscal investment, especially if there are six or seven of you in a roaring circle. How terrific would it be if they struck some commemorative spoofy coins? With Whitey on one side and Goose on the other? The world spoofy championships should be held in Puffa’s and I can hear the voices now: Good call. Eight! Thank you very much. And in the grand final telecast to a global audience of three billion a voice shrieks: Yes! Your buy, dickhead!
It’s a cosy pub like you might stumble across in the English countryside. It functions as an extension of your lounge room and this is how we are expected to behave. About the bar are nine black-topped stools. How tremendous is the beautiful, old pub fridge with timber doors and those ancient door handles?
Chief among its attractions is a clear-minded rejection of pokies, thumping music, and other distractions. The Prince is dedicated to conversation and companionship. Puffa advocated for these, and much more. His generous, fun and always unforgettable legacy means this pub, his pub, remains one of my favourite places on the planet.
One notable afternoon in Puffa’s we watched the unparalleled 1989 Grand Final between Geelong and Hawthorn. It was packed. Over by the fireplace was a boxy old Rank Arena tele, and we willed on Ablett the Elder before the clock ran out for the Cats.
And now, dear friends, the clock has run out on a most magnificent era.
It’s been 38 years. We thank Linda, Puffa, Tolly and everyone who’s ever poured a beer in the Prince of Wales. Enjoy your evening.