Meet the flag man of Coledale

Cleaning contractor and surfboard repairer John Wooldridge outside his Coledale home. Picture: KIRK GILMOURWith a different flag for every week of the year, he has become known as the flag man of Coledale.

But things didn’t go all that well for John Wooldridge at first.

“My first – the Eureka flag – didn’t last 24 hours,” he recalled.

“Somebody pinched it – and they took off with the pole, as well.”

Undeterred, he went out and bought the same type of flag and has never had one stolen since.

Mr Wooldridge started collecting and flying flags three years ago from a specially built platform in a prominent position in his backyard above Lawrence Hargrave Drive, overlooking Sharkeys Beach.

“I was inspired by an old guy up near Coledale Hospital who only ever flew two flags – the Australian and the smiley flag,” he said.

Mr Wooldridge’s collection numbers about 70, with mainly British, Australian and novelty flags.

Most were bought over the internet but one was given to him by a passing motorist from Norfolk Island who wanted the island flag in the collection.

“They all get their turn during the year but the one the kids love is the skull and crossbones.”

Only one in the collection has attracted the thumbs-down – “the bird” flag.

“People find it a bit offensive but I fly it with the finger pointed outwards and I tell people it’s giving sailors the wind direction,” he said.

Mr Wooldridge, a sailor himself, said he uses the flags to help him assess wind strength.

“If the flag is a bit floppy then I wait a while until conditions improve.”

His plan is to erect a second flagpole to fly the Australian flag and Mr Wooldridge’s favourite sailing flag permanently.

Turn to Domain today to find out why Mr Wooldridge, a cleaning contractor and surfboard repairer, would never call anywhere else but Coledale home.

Coledale is one of Illawarra’s best property performers, with median house prices double that of the region.

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