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Tickled ink to be back

Wednesday, 23rd April, 2014

Tattooist Stephen “Warbo” Warburton practices his art on wife Belinda after the couple were forced to shut the doors of their business for the past nine weeks. Tattooist Stephen “Warbo” Warburton practices his art on wife Belinda after the couple were forced to shut the doors of their business for the past nine weeks.

By Erica Visser

Belinda Warburton recalls feeling “gutted” when local police shut down her and husband Stephen’s local tattoo parlour earlier this year.

What the Warburtons hadn’t known was that under new NSW Government legislation, they now needed a licence to tattoo.

The new rule is linked with anti-bikie laws and requires a tattoo parlour to list all of its “close associates”.

Nine long weeks later and Warbo’s Tattoos finally reopened its doors for business yesterday morning, its new licence proudly displayed on the wall of the Duff Street business.

“We’re extremely excited to reopen. With Broken Hill gossip, we’ve heard so many different stories about why we were closed, ranging from illness to you name it,” Mrs Warburton said.

“To receive the licence we had to do fingerprints and have a full criminal check. We’ve been slowly dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.”

Mr Warburton has been in the tattooing industry for “well over 35 years” and this was the longest break he’d ever had from the art he loves.

“He’s definitely missed it, he’d never stopped tattooing for nine weeks before,” Mrs Warburton said yesterday.

Mr Warburton excitedly awaited his first customer yesterday afternoon, who wanted a tattoo of her baby’s handprint.

“It’ll be nice to start with something a bit easier,” he said.

By lunch time yesterday, Mrs Warburton had already taken phone calls for appointments and was set to email a long list of people who’d been waiting for their favourite tattooist to return.

“I do it because I love the art, it’s a living canvas,” Mr Warburton said yesterday.

Operating a tattooing business without a licence carries a fine of $11,000 a day under the tough new laws.

Tatooists also require an additional licence from the NSW Health Department.

Whilst it is understood that Mr Warburton is the first tattooist in Broken Hill to receive the licence, others may be operating under temporary licences.

“We’re proudly displaying our licence number 010123.”

Mrs Warburton hoped business would quickly pick up after the hiatus.

Warbo’s Tattoos can be contacted on 8088 2703 and is open from Tuesdays to Saturdays each week.

If you have information on illegal tattooing occurring locally, contact the licencing sergeant at the police station. 

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