Time spent with a loveable rogue

Australia’s legendary private investigator, Tim “earthquake” Bristow, was one of Australia’s most colourful, and some may say, notorious underworld figures until his death earlier this year. He was also my friend and some time mentor.

Bristow was synonymous with Australia’s northern beaches community. He seemed to have contacts in almost every street from Palm Beach to Manly and beyond.

Our introduction came about via my late father in the mid-1980s when he and Bristow worked together as debt collectors. I helped out on the odd job as well, but my services were mainly in his trucking and property business.

Time with Bristow was precious, whether we were enjoying a bite at “Lucky and Pep’s Pizza” or having a punt at the Newport TAB, which had been the most successful book-making business of its kind under my grandfather's previous management.

Bristow wore many hats over his lifetime, including those of: private investigator (specialising in divorce cases); “problem solver” for industry disputes; a bouncer; and a competitive sportsman in diving, surfing and rugby.

Betting on the horses or collecting press clippings and videos of broadcasts he featured in were hobbies that continued well into later life.

In his younger years, he was a model and secured major sponsorship from Coca Cola: a real-life “chesty Bond.” He was a man’s man and a ladies’ man.

A spell in the New South Wales Police Service didn’t last long due to his unwillingness to bow to authority. His self-managed style did not bode well in an atmosphere of strict discipline.