A little back history to this tale perhaps … l was born in the UK in 1963, however less than 18 months later l found myself living in Australia. My Father was posted there by the Royal Air Force where he joined the Royal Australian Air Force. We lived there as a family of three until 1968, the same year in fact that my Sister was born in Sydney. From there Dad was posted to Butterworth in Malaysia with the RAAF, and we were there till just before 1971, when we left and went back to Australia until 1977, when we left the Big Country and set sail for good ol’ Blighty!
Ok, so why the history lesson to this particular tale? Well funny you should ask that … you see, earlier this week Katrina Sutherland asked if l had any stories about either Tortoises or Platypus and as it happens l do.
So, without further ado here is the tale of …
This tale was told to me by my parents about forty years ago now and it goes a little like this…
As a family in 1967, before my Sister was born, we went on an outing where we lived in the Dandenongs and we went somewhere along the Yarra River for a picnic and some Yabby fishing. Now back then the ‘Yabby’ wasn’t a protected species of crayfish under conservation like it is today. I know because when older, l also used to fish for Yabby as a boy scout to cook on the campfire with the damper. However, despite that l should imagine the common Yabby is still fished quite prolifically.
Now l don’t remember this, but according to my parents, l was always jabbering on about this and that, and never stopped talking gibberish as they called it, but during the picnic on the river, l started talking about ‘flat furry ducks eating yabbies’’’!’ Which to the unlearned must have sounded similar to the first person claiming they had seen the Loch Ness Monster. I persisted with my claims of flat furry ducks until my Father told me to shut up, yet all the way home l kept on talking about the ‘flat furry ducks l had seen swimming in the river!”
No one believed me ……..
………. In June 1968, my Sister was born and in October 1968 my Father was posted to Butterworth in Malaysia, which is 1] a very long way away from the Yarra River but is 2] actually in the Northern Seberang Perai District, the largest half of the Malaysian state of Penang which is a far far cry from the likes of flat furry ducks in the Yarra!
Now we stayed there until the last half of 1971 and that period of time has its own stories l assure you, however we then moved back to Australia and lived in various States until we settled once more in Victoria in a place called Seaford where we lived until 1977.
Now in 1976/77 l happened to attend the 11th Australian Scout jamboree which was held in Rossmoyne Park in Dandenong, which looking at images now has changed considerably from back then, but why am l surprised, we are talking forty odd years ago!
I had a great time there admittedly and sitting here typing at silly o’clock in the morning reminiscing about back then still makes me smile at what l am able to reveal to you all. You see in 1977 l was just coming up to my 14th Birthday in May, which was a fair few years past the time when l was 4 in 1967, ten years in fact. For a few of those years as you have read l was living in a country that was nothing at all like Australia and so therefore, why on earth would l see any species there that were remotely similar to many of the species in Australia?
Fact is, l wouldn’t and l didn’t, and coming back we moved so very often l wasn’t in any location that long to firm up any foundations with species. However, what l do remember with clarity is this, that it didn’t matter how long l had lived in Australia, nor did it matter that l spoke like a true Ozzie, or that l was as tanned as the rest of everyone else, in the eyes of my peers l was still a bloody Pom!
It was a Sunday and l was on a hike with my troop and we were in some bush, trekking near a river, l didn’t know its name, it was just a shallow sort of river, but murky, bit mucky atypical to rivers of the time, but we had stopped by it for some tucker and a bit of a breather, it was a bloody hot day l recall, and l was thankful for the stop, and so walked to this murkish looking river when suddenly, l saw something familiar!!
“Hey everybody look, it’s a ‘flat furry duck!!” I shouted excitedly!
Well everybody came over, and within thirty seconds or so, all l really heard before l was pushed into the shallow depths of the river was “Ya bloody drongo, you great galah, whats wrong with yur? That’s a bloody platy you mongrel!”
When l hoisted myself out and looked up at everyone with enquiring eyes, they all laughed at me and said almost in unison “Oh look, the pommy looks hurt, didn’t know what a bloody platypus looked like? How does anyone NOT know what a platy looks like? It’s a platypus you drongo, a fair dinkum Ozzy, unlike you eh?”
“So there we have it Katrina, not the most enlightening story ever told, but in all the years l lived in Australia l saw a flat furry duck aka a platypus on 2 separate occasions only, ten years apart – it was in fact the only time l have seen them in the wild, but at least there is a greater chance of seeing those, than Nessie eh?”
Anyway, thanks for reading! Next time we are going to talk about Tortoises!