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Menindee














The Bushman files - #4 Menindee
- by Tony Charky-


Going to Menindee and getting there are two different sciences. Only three trains a week stop there, and before I finally realized that I almost had a nervous breakdown (well as you all know it doesn't take much really.... just take my beer away, and see what happens!)

I didn't feel too comfortable stepping off that train at Menindee station. The place was the size of an "utschiethus"- a toilet - but a man gotta take a chance now and then. A nice young lady was travelling with the train too, and I asked her if she knew the neighbourhood and if she could perhaps reccommend a place to stay.

She gave me this explanation about a pub where I would have a good chance of getting a bed and some great food - all I had to do was walk for about 1 hour and then *a long tirade of at least a thousand lefts, rights and straight aheads* your there! I started scratching the few strands of hair I have left on my head, looking a bit lost, when a smile that could melt the polar ice spread on her face and she said laughing: "..or maybe you better just throw that backpack onto that 4-wheel drive that's waiting for me. My Dad's picking me up - and he runs that pub! Aussi humeor....dammit!

When I left home my backpack was a neat 17 kg. With 32 kg inside it and even more stuff strapped to it or hanging, like my three yabby nets (for catching yabby - freshwater lobster) the size of the backpack itself, it had by now started to look more like a small trailer.

Mr Ross - the boss - was a great character. He made it his point of honor to make his guests feel every bit at home. He hooked me up with an old chap named Pete and, no more or less, ordered him to show me the area (about the size of Belgium) and take me fishing on the best spots. And that's what Pete did! By the end off the week Pete and I where great buddies, catching them yellowbellies by the dozens, mostly on the Darling river, but also at Menindee lakes. In the evenings we got pissed drunk in Ross' pub.

In the beginning i wondered why Pete was using such a terribly thick fishing line and he always mumbled "ye'll see, ye'll see". And I did. Each time we would hook a fish there would be a least 20 Pelicans that came storming trying to steal if from us. So the trick was that each time you hooked a fish you had to get it on shore as fast as you could and run like hell into the dessert until they would finally give up. Fishing is not a lazy hobby for whimps over here for sure.

Ross closed his pub at 11 in the evening, but the guests who were staying at the bed and breakfast could drink beer for free till early in the morning. Ross explained to me that his biggest profit were not in the beer, but in the gambling, so who cares.

One evening I spotted Ross walking to his jeep with a rifle, so I was quick to ask what he was up to. He told me that he was to get the scoop regulated and I, having been a game warden for five years, offered me to do it for him in no-time. The following morning the jeep was loaded with six rifles instead of one and it turned out that all the neighbours also had taken me up on my offer. Off into the dessert we went and during the ride I was wondering what all the rifles was for. "Oh," said Ross "they're for hunting roos. A friend of mine has a licence. Want to join them?" If I want to join them? Must be Aussi humeor again..what a stupid question...of COURSE I wanted to join them.

The following five nights I went with his mates hunting kangaroos from the back of a very well equipped jeep. They had installed an 80 cm in diameter light on each side of the jeep and when it was turned on I guess you could read the hour at the churchtower in Copenhagen from here. In the light you could see a countless number of roos and wild goats jumping around. With just two rifles we shot between 150 and 200 roos each night. By the end of the week the chief of the hunting party payed me 100 dollars for the good work. I hadn't expected anything like that - I was just in it for the fun. And when he started telling me about the plans for Monday's work I had to dissapoint him and tell him that I was unfortunately heading for Echuca on Monday.

Big boss: "No such thing! You stay!"
Me: ..."No, no..I have to leave..you see.."
Big boss: "YOU STAY!!"

*Dammit* If someone in the middle of nowhere, hillbilly folks marrying their next of kin and having babies till they all look the same, tells you to stay....ya better stay! *HELP!* Lucky enough good ole Pete came to the rescue on Monday morning before sunrise. We left like thieves in the night as Pete gave me the 1200 km ride to Echuca. He was heading home south.

Phew...saved again. And what about Echuca? Now..that's for next time folks.

Tony


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