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Kangaroos – The 100 Days Project: Day 65 [36]

A Kangaroo Battue

Internet Archive Book Images, via Wikimedia Commons

I was going to write a post introducing the phenomenon of the kangaroo battue, popular and widespread throughout the Australian colonies and subsequently the federation from the mid nineteenth to the First World War – and still practised, if one thinks of slaughters like that at the Belconnen Naval Transmissions Centre in 2009 – but then discovered the following article, from 155 years ago, which does it all for me, in a style I could never emulate.

The Australian News for Home Readers, Wednesday 20th February, 1867


                                            A KANGAROO BATTUE.


In the Western district, Kangaroo have increased to a wonderful extent during recent years. Their numbers having ceased to be thinned by the spear of the blackfellow; they are now so numerous on some of the stations that they have almost taken possession of the choice feeding ground, and the squatters have found it necessary to make a raid occasionally for the purpose of exterminating them. These raids are conducted in the manner of a regular battue; an extensive stockyard being erected, with approaches something in the same manner that traps are constructed in South Africa, for the capture of the wild animals there. A late number of the Geelong Advertiser thus describes one of these battues which took place on the station of Mr Joseph Ware, of Murton’s Creek: — A numerous party of surrounding neighbours had been invited, and the day being very fine, the country beautifully green, and the springy turf in excellent condition for riding, a party of about fifty persons on horseback had assembled by ten o’clock, including a dozen ladies. By noon, a mob of kangaroos had been driven into the enclosure, numbering upwards of 300; foray was now made in another direction, and the second batch secured numbered more than 400. The ladies, attended by some of their squires, then adjourned to the house for lunch; while the remainder of the horsemen, having refreshed the inward man from the ‘tilted cart’ under the ‘green tree,’ continued their battue ; with increased vigar, and so successful had been the raid that no less a number than 1010 kangaroos had been captured and killed by five o’clock. It is perhaps, impossible to depict a more picturesque and animated scene than this kangaroo hunt presented during many times of the day; a wooded knoll would be ascended, the kangaroos hopping about in all directions; again, a dry creek would be crossed, the green sloping banks on either side being carpeted with a profusion of wild flowers, and the grotesque movements of the kangaroos being most amusing; then the chase would take the party through, a most beautifully wooded park. The animation imparted to the landscape by the equestrians riding through the timber, was a picture worthy of the brush of a Claude or Salvator Rosa. The party broke up, satisfied with their success, and exhilarated by the exercise.

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