Jim the waving man puts a smile on many a dial

Weary drivers arrive in Katherine with a smile thanks to a cheery stranger.

Some know him as the “waving man”, that ever-friendly roadside plant seller who waves at every single car, truck or motorbike that passes his mobile plant nursery.

And there can be hundreds if not thousands of cars every day.

That’s a lot of arm waving.

FOR SALE: Katherine plant seller Jim Ashworth waves at every vehicle that drives in and out of Katherine.

FOR SALE: Katherine plant seller Jim Ashworth waves at every vehicle that drives in and out of Katherine.

But unless you’re in the market for a rose bush or two, you probably have no idea who he is, even if he’s waved at you hundreds of times.

Let me introduce you to Jim Ashworth.

As you approach that final bend of the Stuart Highway before coming into town you will be greeted with a wave by Katherine’s unofficial ambassador.

Jim, 70, sets up his mobile plant shop on the side of the highway on Mondays and Wednesdays.

“I wave because it is something to do and why not,” he said. 

There's the traditional open palmed wave, the finger point or more “blokey” raising of the hand.

He even waves when he has his hands full of plants.

“I have been selling plants for about 10 months, I am retired now and I need to have something to do,” Mr Ashworth said. 

NO HANDS: Jim Ashworth still manages to give a wave when his hands are full.

NO HANDS: Jim Ashworth still manages to give a wave when his hands are full.

“Most people wave back, I see a lot of the same drivers going back and forth.”

Mr Ashworth is a friendly face many look forward to seeing as they travel to and from school and work.

The retiree has called Katherine home for the past 15 years.

“I moved to the NT around 2002,” Mr Ashworth said. 

“I come from the west, from a little place called Gingin north of Perth.

“I used to work on a cattle station and also a peanut farm just out of town.”

For most 70-year-olds, retirement consists of slowing down and a change of scenery, but Mr Ashworth has turned his weekend hobby into a casual business.

“I have always liked working in the garden, tidying things up, I spend about seven or eight hours in my garden each week. I don’t have any secret tips,” Mr Ashworth said. 

“I have zucchinis, tomatoes, chillies, all of them are grown myself in my garden.”

Next time you head north out of Katherine, make sure you give Jim a wave.

FRIENDLY MAN: Modest Jim Ashworth said he waves at cars "for something to do".

FRIENDLY MAN: Modest Jim Ashworth said he waves at cars "for something to do".

Katherine Times

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