26 January 2022

Weber's a will, there's a way: barbecues light collector's fire

| Sally Hopman
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Man with lots of barbecues

David Cole of Murrumbateman with some of his collection of Weber barbecues. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

If anyone is going to throw anything on the barbie this Australia Day, you can bet a chop to a sausage that it will be Murrumbateman’s David Cole.

While most people keep their barbies in the shed or ‘out the back’, not David. He keeps his – all 25-plus of them – on the front deck so he can see them.

“It makes sense to keep them there because we eat outside a lot – and also because I like looking at them,” he says.

But they’re not just ordinary barbies. They’re Webers – the American marvel introduced here about 50 years ago. The revolutionary kettle grill was invented by George Stephen who designed the rounded cooking bowl, stuck three legs on it, slapped on a lid and used charcoal for fuel. It was a winner and a design classic.

As a young bloke living in Canberra, David has great memories of his father cooking up a storm on the family’s Weber.

“He’d always cook the Christmas dinner on it and it tasted amazing,” he said. “I had a few back then but when I moved 1800 km away, up to Bundaberg in Queensland, I gave them away.”

But when he returned and settled in Murrumbateman about three years ago, it was time to start collecting the brightly coloured charcoal barbies again.

Although he says he hasn’t counted them, David estimates he has about 25 Webers. He’s bought a couple retail, but most he’s found online or has been given. And he has almost all the colours of the rainbow, including one of the rarest, a yellow Weber.

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“There’s also one that looks like the colour of inside an avocado. Black would be the most common, with red coming a close second. ”

Having so many of them makes it easy for the two members of his family who don’t eat meat. “I can cook their vegetables on a different one,” he says.

Like most serious collectors, selling is not usually an option. David has given some away, but it’s probably on a par with giving away your children.

Man with barbecue

Something smells good: David Cole cooks up a storm on one of his Webers. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

So what is it about them that lights his fire?

“They just make everything taste amazing,” he said. “Any sort of meat, chicken, vegetables, they all taste great. I smoke fish like trout on them, and I’ve got a big wok I can stick on the top of it to do stir-fries. All you have to do is get the charcoal to the proper heat.

“The other day I did 3 kg of beef ribs in it, super slow. I had them in there for eight hours and by the time they came out they were falling apart.”

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His favourite to throw on the Weber?

“Meat,” he says, laughing. “I must say, we do love our lamb. We’ll be doing lamb for Australia Day, probably a lamb rack this year.”

At Christmas, it’s not unusual for him to have six or seven Webers on the go at the same time, cooking for family and friends everything from ham, lamb, pork, chicken and, yes, even veggies.

David is also active with other Weber fans on social media where they discuss everything from the benefit of charcoal-fired to gas-operated and swap recipes. Most of his mates are also into Webers – and if they weren’t before, they are now.

This collector clearly has it made. Not only does he have an enviable collection of barbies, one of his best mates is a butcher who lives just up the road.

Do you love collecting? Historic, kitsch, tasteful, weird – there’s no judgement here, except we are not immune to tacky (hint, hint). Just email a few details about what you collect and why to [email protected], and you may well see your collection displayed right here for all to enjoy.

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