ACT News

Canberra's Northbourne window washer Lindsey dies

After more than a decade of interactions - some fleeting and others life changing – Canberra is mourning the death of Lindsay, the Northbourne Avenue window washer.

A makeshift memorial remembering him as "Lindsey" now hangs at the corner of Northbourne Avenue and Barry Drive, together with flowers and a humble squeegee.

Little is known about how he may have died, or when, however, he said earlier this year that he had a serious lung problem.

Friend Chantelle Kristensen, 25, said those who knew him well were distraught at the news of his death.

“I met him when I was about 12 and living on the streets. He used to feed me and looked after me one day when he was at the lights and spent all the money he’d made on me,” she said.

“I grew up with him. He was beautiful. He never judged anybody and he’d work every day, rail hail or shine and spend the money he made on his friends if they had nothing.”

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Alix Kuzma used to work at a nearby pub-restaurant on Lonsdale Street and was sad to hear he had passed away.

"He used to come in most days, sometimes twice, whenever he was working, to change his coins into notes. When we saw him coming my boss would always have a bourbon and coke ready for him when he arrived," Alix said.

"He used to change upwards of $150 each time; he was getting pretty good dough. He was always friendly and polite, and he would always ask for small notes, nothing larger than a twenty, as he complained that if we gave him fifties, his missus would nick them.

"He was actually a pretty funny dude, honest about his situation but presented it with humour. From then on whenever I pulled up at his lights, he always washed my windows for free, 'cause I looked after him at work."

Details of his life, including his age, full name or even how to spell his first name remain unclear. The Canberra Times has sought to contact his partner and two sons.  

He was known to countless motorists who he approached hoping for a coin or two in return for a few seconds work.

Some drivers welcomed his service, and left with their driving vision improved. Others waved him on. A few hurled abuse.

When he spoke to The Canberra Times on the job in 2008, Lindsay said he had moved to the nation’s capital from  Melbourne in 1990.

He admitted to having a "bad crim record", but for about 15 years, from around lunchtime, the corner was his workplace.

"'Been doing this corner, this job, for 10 years now," he said at the time. "And I've earned it too. Us blokes [window washers], we have a bit of a code. We all know where everyone is and we stay put. Earn your corner, earn respect, you know?''

In the same year, he told University of Canberra student filmmaker Vanessa Vang that he had two children, and found it hard to get work because he was on the methadone program.

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher paid tribute to him on Friday, offering condolences to Lindsay’s family and friends.

"He was a hardworking and kind man and my children and I always looked forward to getting one of his windscreen washes whenever we saw him," Ms Gallagher said in a statement.

"Through his dedication to his work he became known to thousands of Canberrans and the immediate response to his death shows how much a part of Canberra he had become.

News of his death has spread around the city’s streets and on social media, with some remembering Lindsay and other window washers as pushy or aggressive.

Another window washer manned his intersection from early on Friday morning.

Ms Kristensen said Lindsay touched the hearts of many Canberrans.

“He wasn’t just nothing. He was somebody,” she said.

“Anybody who didn’t like him had a bad attitude.”

Did you know Lindsay? Tell us more about him via email.

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