1963 Kangaroo Shooting Adventure
In the previous year I had earnt enough money carting sand in the old Morris on South Stradbroke Island to buy myself a Landrover. (See 1962 The Great Amphibious Expedition)
It was a real beauty, an original RACQ 1948 service vehicle. We hand painted over the perfect RACQ cream because I like green better. You could buy ‘brushing enamel” for cars in those days and it just flowed. It was hard to tell it was not sprayed even when done by teenage kids.
My mate John Salter aged 16 (who later won a MC in Vietnam) and I, 15, set off to the gulf one Xmas holiday. All I can remember of the 2,000km each way trip was it was bloody boring at 30 mph and bloody hot.
We stayed on several cattle stations between Richmond and Mt Isa and shot the hell out of the kangaroo population. John’s dad was a major in the army so we had enough .303 ammunition to start a war. Looking back it was the hardest work I have ever done.
Unlike modern shooters, we shot during the day in 45 degree heat and were absolutely covered in blood, fur and flies after skinning in the sun and then pegging the skins out with lengths of fencing wire.
Eventually coming to the end (we both wanted to do this for ever!) we loaded 280 dried skins onto the trailer and set off to drive back to Southport via the coastal route this time. Of course it started to absolutely bucket down at the same time as the 15 yr old canvas roof blew itself to shreds.
All the roo skins hanging out of the trailer began to stink and the blowies had a field day and soon the load was crawling. We stopped in front of the Parthenon Café in Home Hill one evening (still raining) and sat down for a meal. Unfortunately we did not notice the other customers gagging and leaving.
“Whosa dat bluddy stinking truck?” said Spiros. “Get it the bluddy hell out of here!”
John, who has been known to be indiscreet, said something inappropriate and Spiros, the ex-Greek weight lifting team captain, picked him up bodily and tossed him out on the footpath in true western movie style.
Being of an heroic disposition I left my milk shake and nicked out behind Spiro’s back to pick John up and flee into the night. I did not mention that in the ten minutes we had been there, 20 dogs were munching on sagging green edges of the kangaroo skins hanging over the edge of the trailer and they formed a high speed escort for us until we crossed the city limits.
Eventually arriving home and getting the same reaction from my mother as we had from Spiros (she actually burnt some of my clothes!) we finally redried the skins, trimmed the blown bits off and took them to the skin buyer in Brisbane the following Saturday.
Sad was our visit, as the buyer put skin, after skin in the “D”grade heap. We had not asked anyone how to peg skins out (google wasn’t around then) and they were all the wrong shape. Final result was the income from the skins left us two shillings out of pocket for fuel and food for the trip, darn well spent, I say!