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"Only in OZ"


GPS or Google Earth co-ordinates: 12°35'8.00"S and 131°45'36.00"E

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The wet season (monsoon) in '89 up in the Northern Territory flood plains was really steamy.

Those who have been there during January know that 45 degrees C and +90% humidity, with heavy tropical thunderstorm downpours, are an every day show of beautiful mother nature.

Working a Hiller UH12E out of a floodwater isolated buffalo station called Opium Creek (that’s another story) on the Mary river flood plains, I had won a Government contract and was aerial spraying the noxious prickly shrub Mimosa Pigra for the NT Govt. (more info)



Some days were simply too hot, humid or stormy even for the system I had developed for effective helicopter Tropical climate spray application above 25C.

Because of the problem with the "big lizards" (man eating saltwater crocodiles) on the flood plains, I always carried a stainless steel Ruger .38 pistol and a Sako .243 rifle in the machine in case I survived the crash if something went wrong.

I still get little flashback thoughts of "what if it really happened" and I was left only a foot or so out of the water sitting hunched up on what was left of the rotor head of the helicopter with only one cartridge left and a couple or more big hungry crocs were eyeing me up – maybe General Custer felt the same about the Indians at Bighorn.

It was the Australia day holiday - January 26.

The two previous repugnant days had been stifling – too hot to spray because of the overcast and almost 100% humidity, so Joe, the station manager, asked me if we could use the helicopter to do a bit of aerial wild feral pig culling instead.

Not needing extra encouragement - away we went blazing at every pig we could see – not a hard thing to do from the air as they were slowed by the muddy conditions while trying to escape thru the flood plain shallows.

Some of the oinkers looked to be in prime condition and we salivated as we thought of them being a better feed than the tins of food we had been heating up for the last week or so.

I gently lowered the skids about 6 inches into the water and told Joe to get out and tie a couple of dead pigs onto the cargo hook underneath the helicopter so that we could take them home.

I was hoping that the helicopter rotor down wash was enough to keep those hungry lizards away as I would have had trouble getting airborne again if a two ton reptile jumped over the skid and locked onto Joe - or even worse - one of the dead pigs.

The problem started when we got home – everyone knows that wild pig has to be cooked hot and right through to get rid of any parasites which could decommission your stomach and a few other things. However you can’t cook a pig in an LPG stove which has run out of gas just at the wrong time.

Two of the Station ringers were cane farmers from Queensland who were up in the Northern Territory to earn a bit of extra cash and see what all the excitement was about. These boys were Oz ingenuity at its best.

“You mob go and have a few Coldies (beer) – we’ll sort this out” was their enthusiastic catch cry whenever their services were needed.

On this particular day they did well.

After we had a bit of a wash to get clean while standing outside in a warm tropical downpour, Joe and I retreated into the homestead for a semi cold beer with his family and have a yakkity yak.

It was getting on late in the afternoon when I woke up from a well deserved nana nap on the rickety old couch to the quiet and welcome sound of no rain on the tin roof and the tantalizing aroma of pig cooking over an open fire.

Joe was outside supervising the cane farmers' newly built contraption and what a sight it was.

They had raided the station rubbish dump and made a BBQ spit. The container for the wood was a 44 Gallon (200 litre) AVGAS fuel drum gas-axed vertically which they then butt welded end to end.

Over this they has welded up a sort of A frame at each end and, after utilising an old washing machine electric motor, pulleys from something else, a spare generator plant belt, the tail shaft out of an old car and the gearbox out of a wrecked Suzuki 4WD, the pig was now turning and roasting over the hot coals.

“Boys” I said – “Boys you have done well”

“TC” – they said (like the Ads on TV) – “there’s more - tell us what you think about this special not found in the shops feature?”

With that they proceeded to the contraption and demonstrated that the influence of a few warm beers had done nothing to their prospective formula 1 racing driver skills by swiftly changing gears with the gearbox shifter, making loud verbal V8 engine sounds and screeching tire effects while making that big fat pig whiz around faster or slower.

It even had reverse gear for a pit stop.

Never have I tasted a better pig – I hope they patented that spit and made a fortune

True story – and here’s the proof (Joe is the guy in the middle of picture 1)







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