Les Norton

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Les Norton
Les NortonFinishedCropped.jpg
"Ken Wills, The Real Les Norton" by Shé D'Montford.
First appearance You Wouldn't Be Dead For Quids
Last appearance High Noon in Nimbin
Created by Robert G. Barrett
Gender Male
Nationality Australian

Les Norton is the main protagonist in a series of fiction books written by Australian author Robert G. Barrett.


A likeable and laconic Aussie battler, Norton first appears in You Wouldn't Be Dead For Quids (1984) and is described as stockily built and red-haired. He doesn't mind a fight, a punt or a root. He was born in Dirranbandi, and lived there until he was involved in a pub fight, when the local police officer told him to leave before investigators from Brisbane could arrive when he was identified as a person of interest in a subsequent murder investigation. He moved to Sydney, and ended up living in Bondi, working as a bouncer in an illegal casino in Kings Cross. In later books it turns from an illegal casino to a bridge club, as the club's owner Price Galese has further trouble bribing Police and Government officials to ignore the casino's presence. Les played rugby league for Easts during his early days in Sydney.

His brother in his home state of Queensland owns a dog called "Grungle" who loves to fight as much as Les and his brother.

Les' career with Galese's illegal casino in Kings Cross provides many opportunities for training, fighting, porking, dancing, photography, reflection and the odd mystery solving. Les could be said to be extremely lucky with circumstance. He has buried more money and other items of value than most Lebanese jewellers.

In the later stories he has a house in Bondi which he shares with an advertising executive called Warren who loves to smoke pot and whose job takes him away from time to time.

Les likes to drink a cocktail called a "delicious", a mix of Jack Daniels and Coke.

He loves to exercise in the morning to wring the piss out of his body after a big night on the turps. There are also many mentions of the Hakoah (a Jewish club) where he gets a great feed.

Les refers to his penis as Mr. Wobbly.

Les drives around in an old 1968 Ford Falcon in the early stories. In later stories he drives a late model Holden Commodore Berlina. The car belonged to a fellow who had a bit of his brain shot out in the car. Les tolerates the smell which persists despite having the car regularly detailed.

Origin of the character[edit]

The character Les Norton was based on two likeable Sydney larakin Identities, Ken Wills (Willsy), retired Sydney TRG/ water police officer, first grade rugby league player for South Sydney in the mid 70s, and professional boxer (as well as being a champion Australian surfer, junior NSW gymnastic champion, Jedi Master, Sandcastle champion of Bronte and Bondi, Australian totem tennis champion, shuttlecock champion, Australian Chess champion, knuckles champion 3 years running, World Champion Truthful Raconteur over 21's, NSW Knitting Champion, Own Mind Legend Champ many times, Crochet Wizard and Coca Cola skate board and yoyo champion) and amateur boxer turned seaman/waterfront worker William "Doogza" Davis an underworld hard man . Both were red heads. Ken was the inspiration for Les' physical dexterity, sense of humor, luck and his way with the ladies. Doogza's life experiences inspired the more shady yarns. Robert Barrett worked as a DJ and his two friends worked as doormen at "Randy Wicks" night club in Randwick, thinly veiled as the nightclub where Les works in the tales. After work they would "grab drinks at the early opener at Kings Cross and swap stories," whilst Barrett jotted notes. A montage of their stories and the continuing life experiences of these two uniquely Australian individuals are what appears in the Les Norton series. Therefore the Les Norton tales are truer than may be imagined.

List of Les Norton Books (in chronological order)[edit]

  • You Wouldn't Be Dead for Quids
  • The Real Thing
  • The Boys From Binjiwunyawunya
  • The Godson
  • Between the Devlin And The Deep Blue Seas
  • White Shoes, White Lines and Blackie
  • And De Fun Don't Done
  • Mele Kalikimaka Mr Walker
  • The Day of The Gecko
  • Rider on the Storm and Other Bits and Barrett
  • Guns 'N' Rose
  • Mud Crab Boogie
  • Goodoo Goodoo
  • The Wind and the Monkey
  • Leaving Bondi
  • Mystery Bay Blues
  • Rosa-Marie's Baby
  • Crime Scene Cessnock
  • Les Norton and the Case of the Talking Pie Crust
  • High Noon in Nimbin

In Pop Culture[edit]

In 2000, the Avoca Beach Surf Life Saving Club launched one of its surfboats as the Les Norton.[1]

AAP reported in 2004 that a movie adaptation of Barrett's first book You Wouldn't Be Dead For Quids was to be made. Rugby league player Matthew Johns was slated to star in the movie, however an actor for the lead role of Norton's character had not been found.[2]


  1. ^ "Avoca Beach SLSC Boat History" (PDF). Avoca Beach SLSC. September 2005. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  2. ^ "Matthew Johns to make big screen debut". Sydney Morning Herald. September 29, 2004. Retrieved 2009-07-02.