Whether you love it or you hate it, if you live in a small country town in Australia, chances are you’ve got a nickname. And locals within the tourist mecca of Broome are certainly no exception to this. There are no limitations to what can spawn these unique monikers — some receive labels from birth, others make a tiny slip up that can change their identity for life. But whatever the reason behind them is, one thing for sure is that the Kimberley town of 14,000 is not short on these titles, no matter how hilarious or tragic they may be. Here is a comprehensive look at the tales behind 20 of Broome’s most well-known nicknames. 1. Robert Locke — “Bulldog” Broome business owner Robert Locke may just have the most bizarre nickname tale of all. When he was working in the Pilbara in the 1980s, he was commonly referred to as a “bull” because he performed all his electrical jobs extremely quickly. But it was when he was at the Wickham Hotel for lunch in 1985 that he came to be “Bulldog.” While drinking a beer and chomping on a feed, Robert saw that there was an intoxicated man who kept jumping the queue to play on the pool table, while a quiet woman was constantly missing out. Robert said he stepped in and told the man to “give the poor girl a go.” “The bloke went off and took a swing at me so I took a swing back,” he said. “Before I knew it, he had me in a head lock so all I could do was bite his ear, I bit him too hard and actually bit a big chunk of his ear off. “There was an older lady sitting at the bar that said well done to me later, he deserved it. “And from that fight, “Bull” became “Bulldog” and the rest is history.” Robert now runs the highly regarded Bulldog’s Electrical and Maintenance Service in Broome – who would have guessed a bar fight in the Pilbara would be connected with a well-run family business? 2. Brian Philp — “Stumpy” When you work alongside eight individuals with the exact same name as you, a nickname becomes an inevitable necessity. This was the case for well-known local Brian Philp when he worked on an oil rig in 1978, called the Regional Endeavour. It quickly became apparent that there were eight men on the drillship with the name Brian, causing a few headaches for the crew. All it took was one crouched down driller to look up and have a restricted view of Brian from the shoulders up that caused him to “look like a Stump” to be slapped with the nickname “Stumpy.” Now working as the Broome energy supply base manager for Toll, Brian is known solely as Stumpy to this day. “Most people don’t know that my first name is Brian,” he said. “I’ve been in the oil industry for a long, long time but from that day on when the worker was crouched down, I have been Stumpy.” 3. Giles Tipping — “Spike” While some Broome residents were handed their quirky titles much later in life, local real estate agent Giles Tipping received his as an infant. After he was born, Giles had a clump of hair that stuck up at the back of his head and his parents, naturally, began to call him “Spike.” The UK-born sales consultant said it carried through to the Kimberley when he arrived as a fishing guide at popular tourist spot Eco Beach. “There was a blackboard up which had written up on it “creek fishing with Spike” or something along those lines,” he said. “They were expecting some big outback bloke to be taking them on the tours, then this plummy Pom popped up. “I love it. To me Spike is my identity but it’s slowly fading out since I moved over to real estate.” But there is one more twist to this tale. The real estate agent was actually born Jonathon Giles Tipping, but never went by his real name. 4. Sherile Down — “Shez” Being referred to by an alternate name was nothing short of a necessity for Sherile Down. The Broome Gallery owner was born prematurely and her mother could not leave her side, meaning her father had the responsibility of officially registering her name. “My mum wanted me to be Cheryl Lee, but dad stuffed it up and spelt it Sherile Lee, which is spelt pretty close to the word “sterile” and it’s terrible,” she said. Thankfully, Sherile’s husband James Down called her Shez right from the beginning of their relationship, a name she was more than happy to take on. “My nickname was born out of necessity more than anything,” she said. “What’s funny is dad actually went in to change it but thought it was way too expensive so he went and spent the money on a beer instead. “Through my life I’ve seen some different spellings of the name Cheryl but never, ever, ever seen another Sherile.” 5. Nathan Pigram — “German” Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler had a vision of what the ideal German man would look like – blonde hair, blue eyes and tall. When Broome teacher Nathan Pigram ticked all three boxes as a kid, his male cousins labelled him “German.” And still to this day, the 33-year-old St Mary’s College Clontarf Academy director is known to most only by the very simple nickname, whether it be family, friends, colleagues and even school kids. Although he hated it at first, Nathan said it is something he eventually grew to love. “Everyone I work with calls me German, all the kids at the academy call me German,” he said. “When the new school principal Carol Bell started this year, she was very polite and called me Nathan and it eventually caught on with her as well and I get German from her too. “I used to hate it, but I gave up and I accepted it.” 6. Gary Burton — “Freak” Getting stuck with the label “freak” would not be welcomed by many. But for Mercure Hotel gardener Gary Burton, it is a nickname he has completely embraced since his late teenage years. “There is barely anybody who calls me my proper name, it’s always been Freak,” he said. Having carried the name with him for decade after decade, Gary said he couldn’t quite pinpoint the exact moment or reason he was given the name, but was certain it came about after a few “rum and Cokes with mates.” 7. Anthony O’Neill — “Sydney” When builder Anthony O’Neill moved from New South Wales to Broome seven years ago, he was not able to completely let go of the “Sydney way” of doing things. Working as a renovations manager at H&M Tracey Construction, Anthony was constantly telling his workmates that there were different ways to carry out tasks because “that is how we did it in Sydney”. It didn’t take long for Anthony to earn himself the nickname “Sydney” which he has carried right through his time in Broome and still goes by today. “It really just caught on and I still get called Sydney at work, I’m known as Sydney outside of work, it’s unbelievable,” he said. 8. Christopher Oakley — “CJ” Exciting footballer CJ Oakley is doing his hometown of Broome proud as he continues to carve up his competition in the WAFL with the Claremont Tigers. But locals were scratching their heads when commentators and the club began using the Cable Beach Football Club product’s proper name “Chris” when his recent State footy stint began – to them, he had always been CJ. “My full name is Christopher Jade Oakley and my family were the first to start calling me CJ when I was younger,” he said. “It caught on and these days everyone knows me as CJ.” 9. Shane Minshull — “Shags” Broome Fishing Club president Shane Minshull was a bit of a Casanova in his younger days. At the age of 16, he had three different women on the go at the same time – a very risky move in a small country town like Broome. But when his juggling act began to bubble to the surface, it was his bus driver that hit him with the nickname “Shags” and it is a title that he is known to most by today. “Most would not have a clue what it means and I think it is funny because they probably think it’s from fishing or something,” he said. “It’s stuck with everyone and to be honest I love it.” 10. Harriet Parkes — “Hazard” Harriet Parkes is just a hard-working citizen who wanted to play a bit of sport to keep fit. But the all-rounder, who dabbles in football, netball, basketball and plenty more, has a reputation for injuring herself in every sport she plays. For this reason, the Shire of Broome staffer has been labelled “Hazard.” “I’m always injured from social sports,” she said. “My co-workers and teammates tell me I’m a hazard to myself – I always have something wrong whether it’s my hips, chipped bone in my fingers or copping a knock to the head.” 11. Brian Plewright — “Bopper” Facts often do not matter when it comes to nicknames. This is definitely the case for Broome Senior High School head of science Brian Plewright. Back in his hockey days in Perth, Brian had a bit of a lucky streak after a bad patch and one teammate decided he would call him Bopper, after the musician The Big Bopper, who he thought was lucky enough to survive a plane crash in 1959. It caught on and remained with him as he moved to Port Hedland and eventually Broome. But then its entire premise came crumbling down, when Brian was explaining to a friend how the nickname came about. “I told him it was because Big Bopper was lucky that he didn’t get on the plane that killed his musical friends and she turned and told me that he actually die on the plane,” he said. “I think by that stage it had already stuck though, so I still get Bop or Bopper today.” Brian has just one rule with the moniker – no students allowed. “Some of the kids at school have tried it before but I shut that down pretty quickly,” he said. 12. Andrew Blackley — “Blackers” When real estate agent Andrew Blackley played football competitively back in 1993, there were three different Andrews on the one side. For this reason, his teammates played on his last name Blackley and he was commonly referred to as Blackers. But the PRDnationwide Broome licensee could never have guessed that Blackers would stick with him through his entire life, to the point that knowing the unique name is part of his staff training. “I think it was just short and sharp, but whatever it was it certainly stuck,” Andrew said. “I introduce myself to people as Blackers these days. “It is quite funny when I have new employees start at work because I have to tell them that if people come in and ask for Blackers that it is me.” 13. Stephen Pigram — “Bart” Beloved local businessman Bart Pigram has cemented himself as a driving force within the town’s tourism industry. Earlier this month, socialite Rebecca Judd gave him the ultimate “shout-out” when she plugged his Narlijia Cultural Tours on her Instagram, which was shared with her 834,000 followers. But while he has certainly made a name for himself, it may surprise a few to learn that this name is not actually Bart. The 37-year-old was born Stephen Pigram in 1982, named after his famous father, who was a member of the Pigram Brothers and Kuckles bands. In order to avoid any confusion while sharing the same title as his dad as a youngster, he was always referred to by his middle name – Bart. “I think most people around Broome wouldn’t even know this,” Bart said. “Mum wanted to call me Stephen after the old man and I think me being known by and called Bart was predominantly to differentiate between dad and I.” The middle name has an interesting history of its own - it was chosen because of his father’s close connection with esteemed songwriter and performer Bart Willoughby, who received the 1993 Inaugural Indigenous ARIA Australian Music Lifetime Achievement Award. 14. Mike “Swindle” Windle The tale behind familiar Broome personality Mike Windle’s nickname “Swindle” was as simple as adding an “S” to his surname, but it is what he did with this informal title that is so spectacular. Mike came to be known as Swindle when living in New Zealand many years ago and it stuck right through to his move to the Kimberley town. The Broome Turf Club vice chairman opened a bar and restaurant on Dampier Terrace about three decades ago and when it came to naming it, he did not hesitate in calling it “Swindle’s.” Mike said Lord McAlpine was one of his best customers and thought it was a tremendous name for the eatery. The moniker was emblazoned across Mike’s car number plate, which he still drives around with today. “There is no point in running away from a nickname in Broome – once you’ve got it, you keep it,” he said. 15. Michelle Lovell — “Fred” A number of locals have come to know Fred as the mum who still dominates her opponents on the squash courts. But what many do not know is that her name is actually Michelle. For the 47-year-old, the story behind being known to everyone exclusively as Fred had quite the emotional beginning. Before she was born, her mother was supposed to look after a friend’s daughter, whose name was Michelle and had the nickname Fred. She had to pull out at the last minute and the young girl tragically died in a house fire that evening – from that day she declared she would name her daughter Michelle and give her the nickname Fred. And that is exactly what happened. “Nobody around Broome calls me Michelle and it is sort of weird when they do,” she said. “Still to this day, the only time either of my parents have called me Michelle is my mum whenever I was in trouble.” 16. Harold Tracey — “H” As far as nicknames go, Harold Tracey’s is as straightforward as they come. Alongside his wife Maureen, the Shire of Broome president founded the H&M Tracey Construction company in 2000 - the “H” and “M” component clearly derived from the couple’s first initial. It did not take long before Harold became known simply as “H.” And even when the businessman became leader of the Shire council in 2017, majority of the town still only knew him as “H.” “To the people at work, I’m “H”, to the workers at the Shire, I’m “H” and to people I see out and about, I’m “H”,” he said. 17. Lucy Falcocchio — “Port-A-Loo” Broome Pride president Lucy Falcocchio was a bit of a party girl in her younger days, spending her nights at clubs across Sydney – a dangerous place to end up with all sorts of nicknames. Much to her anguish, many of her friends and people who knew of her began to call her Port-A-Loo and it is something that followed her over to the Kimberley town. “While I can’t go into what I think the details and intentions behind it were, I find it hilarious that I still get called it here in Broome,” she said. “You’ve just got to embrace these things and you can’t escape them in Broome.” 18. Peter Heal — “Hollywood” Lights, camera, action. As a carpenter, Peter Heal has spent a fair bit of time shirtless in the outdoors, developing quite the solid tan, whether intentional or not. This, combined with his long hair back in the 1990s, earned him the informal “Hollywood” label from peers out on the football field. Now known more for his commitment as an umpire with the West Kimberley Football League, “Hollywood” still cops the moniker from friends, family, footy officials and players today. “Most originally said it to me to give me a bit of crap, but I reckon they were just jealous,” he said. “These days I just take it as a compliment, it’s all just a bit of banter.” But depending on who you ask, many believe the actual origin of Peter’s nickname evolved from his ability to play up for free kicks. “It’s not that I played up for free kicks at all, give me a break, I was in the backline,” Peter said. 19. Felicity Brown — “Flic” Broome milliner Felicity Brown is known internationally for designing and creating her world-famous hats. But in the Kimberley town, she is known simply as Flic. And while it is one of Broome’s more simple nicknames, being a play on the first name Felicity, even this tale has a comedic twist. When living at a boarding house in her schooling days, Felicity said she would go by Flick, ending with a “K” but it often got her into trouble. “I would get mail sent to me and they would write “FLICK” in big capital letters, but when it is handwritten it looks like it says the F-word,” she said. “I started getting in trouble and having my mail withheld because they thought I was getting it addressed to the F-word on purpose! “So that is why I dropped the “K” and now it is just Flic.” 20. Ron Johnston — “Sos” Fourteen years ago, former Broome Shire president Ron Johnston had his name officially changed to incorporate his humorous moniker, which may make his story the most iconic of all in the Kimberley town. When he first arrived to work in the Pilbara mining mecca of Port Hedland in 1971, Ron was sharing a house with one of his new colleagues. While having a drink together at 2am during his first night in the town, the new workmate told Ron he would call him “sausage” because he was about to cook a packet of sausages with a brand name that was quite close to the last name Johnston. From there, Sausage became “Sos” which became one of the town’s most famous nicknames throughout Ron’s various runs on the Shire council. Ron threw his hat in the ring as the Liberal candidate for the seat of Kimberley in the 2005 State election and it was here that he made the decision to officially change his name to Ron Sos Johnston, as it was the only way to legally get “Sos” onto the ballot paper. “To this day my name is still legally Ron Sos Johnston,” he said. “I call people up and I say “hello, Ron here” and they say “sorry, who?”” And while there have been hundreds of quirky and well-known nicknames in the past, and there will be hundreds to come in the future, it is unlikely that any will be able to top the legal name change to Ron Sos Johnston.