Laurence Skewes, better known as Larry, is one of Wagga’s most recognisable local characters.
He can be seen most days pushing his trusty pram around the CBD, honking at passers-by and calling out greetings and expletives in his familiar high-volume rasp.
This year has brought its share of challenges for the local icon as he faced court in July after an altercation with police and was hospitalised twice.
“I don’t care if I died. I’ve done a lot and it’s been a good life,” he said with a shrug as he reflected on his most recent brush with death.
He’s currently struggling with mosquito bites and an infected hornet sting after sleeping down at Wilks Park.
“Hurts like a bastard, that one,” he said, indicating the sore on his forearm beside the cheeky tattoo that reads “Born Winner”.
Region caught up with Wagga’s favourite itinerant as he stopped for a sip outside our office.
Larry’s Christmas Message
”2023’s not been too bad. I’ve been a bit crook and spent a while in hospital with an ulcer that burst, but I come good and I’ve been getting around.
I’ve done a lot of work getting things cleaned up around the main street; cut trees down and I done some sweeping.
But all I want for this Christmas is for all the kids swimming in the river to be very careful because we’ve lost nine people in Wagga in the last seven years.
So I want to wish Wagga all the best and a safe one for 2024.
For myself, I just want to keep away from trouble.
I had a little bit of trouble this year with the police and so I try to stay away from town sometimes. I got 10 walk-ons in one week!
I’d like to wish Wagga police a Merry Christmas … and leave me alone!”