by Peter Dall       26 February 2006


In ’26, in the midst of a storm,

To Flo’ and Gordon young William was born.

“How ’n heck ‘ll we feed him?” his mother howled.

“Bread ‘n’ drippin’” was Gordon’s growl.


His early days, he did survive,

(Though ‘is self-esteem, it took a dive),

And despite big brother’s heavy thumb,

Will managed to prove he weren’t all dumb.


Alas that, was to no avail,

The Commercial High School did prevail.

Heavy canes, and masters dreary,

Left poor Bill, failed, and weary.


At 15 he became an office boy,

And found, at last, a little joy.

The Brissy boy had made it through,

And hard earned wages did accrue.


In ’44 he took the step,

Signed his life to fight the Jap.

Morse code his master, until the Bomb,

Then home from Borneo t’where he’d come from.


Played with motor-bikes, came to grief,

Time in hospital to cool his feet.

Back to school his nights were spent,

Where soon sea creatures ‘came his bent.


A graduate now, a BSc at lasters,

Why stop there? – thought he’d try for a Masters!


Bill thought he’d like a science job,

To step away from the communist mob.

A lecturing tenure came on offer,

And seemed a good way to fill up the coffer.


Then, one day, strange words asked,

“Penaeid Prawns?” – Bill was aghast.


Down dark corridors, on sandstone steps,

Long, Bill pondered, on what’d be best.

Crustacea or fish?, he couldn’t decide,

“But a prawn” he thought, “is very nice fried”.


Everyone knew, and told him so,

That you never should argue, or even say “no”-

S’not wise to deny a government ichthyologist,

So Bill became a crustacean zoologist.


Then Bill had to study prawn taxónomy,

“Better”, he said “than the bloody economy!”

With every species he became au fait,

Especially metapenaeus bennettae.


At Uni still in ’52,

He met young Pat, and her did woo.

A flirt, a fling, but Oh! Too late,

Twas next led to the wedding gate.


First one, then two girls, Mar and Jen,

Pat sewed them clothes to sate her yen.

Bill there, camera at the ready,

Captured holidays aplenty.


And then two sons, Ian and Peter,

A trouble-maker, and a very good eater.


Bill looked at Pat, Pat back to Bill,

“Tis time we put you on the Pill!”


Nights were spent to upturned faces,

Reading to instil the graces.

What? The bible? No, not that rot,

Twas Carol, and Suess and all that lot.


He taught us to think, and to suspect,

For pollies there was no respect.

And business types were akin to snakes

“Only want yer money, an’ prob’ly on the take”.

To the land of the Cherokee – crustacea again,

A year’s sabbatical to polish the brain.

Well while he’s away, young Rick does appear!

Then, home all together for over one year.


A job in Guelph to add some zest,

“To Canada?” said Pat “surely you jest!”

“We’ll stay right here and enjoy the heat,

You can ‘ave the snow and the frost-bitten feet”.


So Pa went off, and got to ponder,

Life alone, with just a lobster.

We missed him much, we missed him sore,

Then home he came with presents galore.


A doctor now, we called him ‘Dad’,

A job in Perth there, to be had.

So off to the West the family screeches,

To make a new home high up on the beaches.


Each time experiments ‘d fail,

Pat cried out “I’ll fetch the pail”.

“Lobsters old or lobsters new,

I think I’ll cook a tasty stew”.


With fishing now, Bill chose to dabble,

Made some furniture, played some scrabble.

Of rock lobster there was a plent-ay,

In bubbling tank, and cheesy mornay.


Pat pined for home, a plan was hatched,

Dad ‘ad one win, o’er bureaucrats.

Convinced em prawns were Queensland’s key,

To growth and wealth and voters’ glee!


The lab was born on Cleveland’s shore,

So back to Brissy we all tore.

‘Cept Mar and Jen (twere far too old).

“Tis time we left” their father’s told.


The boys grew up, and left the nest

As engineers, the world to test.



Another Doctorate,

many papers.

Scientific accolades.


Retired at last, but not to rest,

Museum speci’s were there to test.

So, peering through his dusty glasses,

Species – genus – family – classes.


And messing on rivers had inspired some glee.

“If Toady could do it, then why not me?”

To spend some time out there afloat,

He took the plunge, and bought a boat.


Two sisters soon upon the water,

Once there even, along with daughter.

In Yamba town they fished in vain,

‘N’ supped on takeaway to eternal shame.


Productive urges long dictate,

His days were spent to fix and paint.

Never happier than to make Furniture,

tools, greenhouse, gate…


Why just the other day (it seems),

To meet the need for female charms,

Cut rocks he polished to a gleam

And mounted ‘mong a silver sheen.


– – –

(29 April 2011)


Well now he’s gone, (but listening still?),

The last word ought to go to Bill.


If HE were here, p’raps this he’s say

(as if ‘twere any other day):


“Oh what’s the fuss, just wish me cheer.

You all have a nice cold beer.

Enough, I say, of all this natter,

Sit on down and enjoy the platter”.

– – – – – – – –



Read the story of William Dall’s life: William, in his own words

Or return to Dr William Dall home page.