Smorgy’s was an institution back when all you can eat restaurants were the bees knees to Australian households.
Smorgy’s in Geelong had a special underwater theme going on, with two main attractions; animatronic’s Salty the seal and King Neptune. Who would every so often put on a show while you enjoy your fine dining experience *wink wink*.
For Jarrod Mutimer, Salty was much more than a friendly seal face in passing. Smorgy’s was his go to place for birthdays as a child and was enthralled by the interaction between King Neptune and Salty.
Almost 10 years went by after the closing of Smorgy’s when Jarrod had a nightmare that Salty had ended up in a butcher. This sparked something in him to begin his search to find where Salty the seal had ended up after all those years.
His search started through a simple Facebook post where a friend said they had heard he was at Jirrahlinga Wildlife Sanctuary. The Sanctuary said Salty definitely was not there and so the search continued. It was then suggested he reach out to the Geelong city council, where he received the name of the previous Smorgy’s owner.
After getting in touch with them, they sent what seemed to be the last picture at the time taken of Salty, on Cunningham pier, dressed in his holiday best and ready to head to… Jirrahlinga Wildlife Sanctuary!
Time to head back to square one. This time the Sanctuary said Salty was there and in storage but he was just a seal, and asked who told Jarrod he was there.
After offering to buy the animatronic seal off the sanctuary it unfortunately became another dead end.
Another year went by and Jarrod reached out to Jirrahlinga again. This time the sanctuary was on the market and their priorities circled around that. After reaching out numerous times and asking family and friends to try their luck with finding Salty, it unfortunately didn’t work out. A friend had called the sanctuary and asked about Salty. They were told that he had been sold.
Another year goes by and Jarrod can’t get any response from Jirrahlinga, he suspects something’s fishy (pardon the pun).
On the second last day before the Sanctuary closed down they reached out to Jarrod saying if he’s interested in Salty he needed to call and be serious about a price as Salty was headed off to auction.
After negotiating with the director of the Sanctuary they settled on a price and the next day Jarrod went and picked up Salty (after much convincing to his partner).
So what’s next for Salty the seal?
Jarrod ideally wants to get the animatronics running again. Through Facebook Jarrod was able to track down the guy who did the audio for the shows, the guy who wrote the shows (who is also potentially the voice of King Neptune), the lady who voiced Salty, the man who bought the audio equipment, a lady who’s husband built the Smorgys Geelong building and giant fish tank, the original owners son and the company who built the $30million dollar show pieces for all the Smorgys.
Jarrod said “My hope is to get his movement at least back and get a hold of the audio files or at least a script and re-record Salty or come up with a new script and get the original voice actor to voice him again. From there I’d like to get him displayed somewhere in Geelong for everyone to see for a limited time, because the new generation don’t know who he is. I’d like to sell some Smorgy’s merchandise like the old salty the seal plush, and make up some t-shirts. But all this costs money from the merch to paying the actor, or getting him running again, so this may only be a dream.”
Jarrod is still seeking footage that people might have of the shows as this will help with re-animating and recording the movements of Salty.
He says he couldn’t have done it without the help of the Geelong community!
Here’s some old footage of Salty and King Neptune in action!