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A valuable and still-working Steinway baby grand piano turned up at Broome tip last week. Local musician Wil Thomas came across 16-year-old Tui Warihana playing the instrument when he arrived to drop off some garden waste.
“Went to the tip today. Found this guy playing this piano on a pile of rubbish,” he posted on Facebook. After a closer look he was “shocked and stupefied” to realise it was a Steinway.
“It was quite surreal. It was like something out of a Tom Waits video clip,” Thomas told the ABC. “This beautiful sound was coming out of this beautiful piano in the tropical hell of the Broom tip.”
Thomas identified the piano – which was missing two legs – as one that had lived for many years in the Sam Male Room at the Cable Beach Club. Thomas phoned Don Bacon, a businessman and pianist, who came to the tip to help rescue the piano.
“We found the lid and pedals nearby,” Thomas wrote on Facebook. “The young guy who was beating the ivories said he didn't have the room for it, so it was down to us.”
Rescuing the Steinway baby grand piano from the Broome tip. Photo © Wil Thomas
“With a hell of an effort, a couple of hernias and a few hours, we loaded it on to a trailer and rescued this beautiful piece of musical treasure and history,” Thomas wrote. “I’m still struggling to believe the fact that someone could simply take something like this to the rubbish tip, without even trying to sell it or offer it for free? What kind of world is this?”
The piano was moved to Bacon’s shed to await restoration.
Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa general manager Ron Sedon was “horrified” to learn the instrument, which had belonged to the resort’s founder Lord McAlpine, advisor to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, had been dumped in the clean-up, the ABC reported.
Sedon described the incident as “a case of misunderstanding of the highest order,” explaining that the staff undertaking the clean-up were “clearly not music aficianados.”
“I can assure you those staff have been put in the picture as to my expectations about these things in the future,” he said. “Now it’s all about getting our baby grand Steinway back safely.”