Mark McColl loved photographing sunsets. When his doctor said he had to lose a lot of weight urgently he began to walk and, as he shed the kilos, the photos he took along the way became an incentive.
His close friend, musician Scott Hartnett, said: “He took it like a champ and would walk. He started off by walking to the corner. Then the park. Then he would walk around the park and quickly got up to doing these 5 km loops, twice a day. He went from over 250 kilos down to 120 kilos in just over a year.”
Mark was 40 at the time. Five years later, on Thursday, 21 July, 2022, Mark “Marky McCool’’ McColl died suddenly, leaving his many friends and family in Goulburn grief-stricken. The cause of his death is yet to be established. Funeral details have not been finalised.
His mother, Janice McColl, remembers him helping anyone who needed it.
“It was a special thing with Mark, he could show his feelings a lot more, and how he was feeling when he was talking to anyone,” she said. “You knew he was fair dinkum and down the line. If someone was down, he would sit with them and talk with them and get them through things. He was so understanding.”
He had treated his mother the same way. “At my big birthdays, my 60th, he made a nice speech, thanked me for everything and all that sort of thing. I turned 70 this year, we went out to tea – the four of us, (Mark, his brother Phillip, sister Christine and their mother) we had a really nice time.”
She wonders now whether he knew the future was uncertain earlier this month, when the family went to his favourite restaurant, the Ban Thai in Bourke Street.
“Mark had this glorious dish, he only ever had it there, all the vegies and everything because he loved his vegies and chicken,” she said.
Growing up, Mark loved visiting his grandparents Clive and Mavis Hackney, who had retired to Mollymook.
“He loved to get on Nanna’s knee and have his cuddles,” Janice said. “She would take all the kids for a drive and buy them an ice cream. He loved them dearly and they loved him.”
Mark’s father, Max, who died 13 years ago, was a foreman in the cotton mill at Supertex. He taught Mark to be honest, up front and not to take any rubbish from anyone.
“Mark wanted to get a good job if he could, but kept getting knocked back. He had the brain power to do it,” his mother said.
Meeting Scott about 2000 through a mutual interest in music and Scott’s brother Tim, Mark helped him at karaoke at the Goulburn Workers Club. With sound engineer Geoff White’s help and over time, Mark became proficient in setting up and running public address systems. “Mark never really had employment,” Scott said. “He had a job at Linfox for about a year, then at a computer place. Whatever money he would have, whatever little windfall he got, he would plough it back into the music gear.”
Scott recounts Mark helping bands and becoming the designated driver of Goulburn before Uber came along. He travelled with Scott helping haul equipment into clubs on the South Coast and Queanbeyan, setting up and running the sound during his band’s performances.
“He would pick up PA work, just enough to keep his head above water. He wasn’t an angry or violent guy. He had so many missed opportunities, I guess because of his size and appearance. Nothing on him, we all have what we have in life, but he wore it all so well. Anyone else would retreat into the room and not come out. He would keep on keeping on.”
His Marky McCool persona came into its own at the Goulburn Club, where he organised bands specifically to do original music, embracing those who had been rejected.
“He would open his big arms and bring everyone in, because we are all broken in many ways. These kids just wanted to express their music, it started with the heavier kind of variety then he mixed it. He called it Marky’s Music Mixed Nights and he organised bands from Canberra,” Scott said.
On a good night, Mark may have collected maybe $600 from the Goulburn Club if he was lucky.
“If he did, he would split that equally amongst everyone,” Scott said. “He made sure people got something, at least fuel for the car to get to the gig. He did it for free, he did it out of love and giving people a space to play in.”
Details of a fundraising campaign for Mark’s family can be found here.