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   Originally written by TC 2005

(This story is located about 60 miles south west of Winton - Google Earth (Winton): lat=  22°23'14.03"S, long= 143° 2'2.77"E)

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 "The Pig"

Much, much, much further out West from Hughenden in Queensland is Winton.

Dotted with the occasional sheep station across the seemingly horizonless arid plains, graziers near Winton have for two hundred been scratching a living out of an area which belongs to kangaroos, the unceasing scorching sun and those escaping from the law. Lately, scientists have been finding what is turning out to be the world’s biggest collections of dinosaur fossils hidden in the rocky ground.

The families who live in such isolation are what you would expect them to be to survive in these conditions:

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Resourceful (great inventors)

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Real people ( they take you as you are and would give you the shirt off their back to help if need be)

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The world’s greatest mechanics (they can fix anything with a piece of number eight fencing wire or a mobile welding plant)

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And often extremely stubborn (why else would you stay out there?)

In 85 I flew an aging Hiller 12E4 (piston 4 place – pilot in the front – space for gear or up to 3 passengers behind him) out to a Station which we would describe locally as “beyond the black stump”.

Little Pommy Mike had just come out from England looking for experience and was jammed in the back of the machine with enough gear for us to carry out spray ops for a week. What didn’t fit in the back was jammed on the two external litters between the 6 spare Jerry cans of avgas (we couldn’t go faster than 55 Kts with the load and drag unless we both lifted our feet off the floor at the same time!). Our fishing rods where tied to the spray booms for a spot of relaxation on the way back to the coast. Someone (guess who) had painted a big Playboy bunny sign on each door and the whole shebang was quite a sight.

Infesting the plains out past Winton, was a weed called Noogoora Burr which embedded itself in the sheep fleece and made the wool price on the market rock bottom. One of the graziers did some sums on the back of his cigarette pack and figured that fewer burrs would mean a better wool price – so he called me. A quick handshake over the Flying doctor radio chat hour and I was on my way.

The spray program went so well that we ended up out there for over eight weeks as neighbour radioed neighbour to give it a try.

About week seven, Pommy Mike (a low hour, snowflake coloured skin pilot who had come to OZ to build hours and experience) and I struck something different.

After three days, the spraying was coming to an end at one particular Station and I asked the owner if he minded giving his neighbour a call to let him know what was up.

The answer was a furrowed eyeballed direct ”No”.

Me, being me, and having an enquiring mind, had a yack to the owner over a cold beer that night and found out that there had been a family feud going on about the location of a very short boundary fence and, as a result, the neighbours hadn’t spoken to each other in living memory. “That’s a bit weird”, I thought and left it at that.

Next day was the last day on that Station and Pommy Mike and I were working about 25 miles from the homestead, using a turkey nest (windmill bore) to get our water for the heli chemical tanks.

On the way back to get another load I spotted a huge, black, wild Sow and her piglets, trotting over a big flat plain and for some unknown reason, an idea floated thru my head.

Back at the loading pad I checked my fuel status and yelled for Pommy Mike to strap himself in the back. Ever the disciplined Pom – he jumped in and away we went without a question asked.

The Pigs were still on the flat.

For the next twenty minutes that old Hiller turned into an OH6 as we separated out the piglets and kept the Sow in the middle of the flat – not a bad feat considering the spray booms stuck out a long way on each side and Pommy Mike was holding on for grim death as the intercom wasn’t working and he hadn’t a clue what was up.

Eventually the old Sow was completely stuffed – turning round and round in one spot as we pedal turned around her in circles – keeping the nose of the machine at the nose of the pig.

Sensing that the time was right – I yelled at Pommy Mike to take the belt of his pants and jump out on her and hogtie (no pun intended) her legs together. Pommy Mike looked real small on the ground beside her – she was certainly the biggest pig he had ever danced with.

Like any Pom - he did the job well.

I landed and explained what I was up to. Between us we heaved the pig into the RH back seat – sitting her up and tying her in with the seat belt and a big mob of ropes.

On the way back into the Station Pommy Mike put his baseball hat and headset on the pig.

The station owner sensed something was wrong with us returning well before schedule and ran out to see what was up.

He couldn’t see the RH seat and as the engine shut down I called him over.

I’ve never seen anyone’s eyes so big or jaw drop so low in shock after he sighted that pig.!

“Mate” I said – “Mate – while we were out working near the boundary fence, we met your neighbour and as you haven’t seen him for so long we thought we might bring him over to say hullo so you mob can get to know each other again.”

The grazier saw the funny side and promised to do something about talking to his neighbour.

We laughed for days afterwards every time we visualized the grazier's face at seeing the pig, with the headset and cap, sitting in the back seat of the helicopter.

 

       

TC in the Hiller12E4 at Winton

 

The Hiller two weeks later after Pommy Mike flew it without a rating on type while TC was on leave.


True story
TC (Tony Carmody)

 

Want to contribute your stories either anonymously or otherwise? Why not send me e-mail ! Your privacy will be respected - your contribution welcomed.

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