I asked Jaques if he wanted to borrow my four wheel drive but he declined. They are good roads, not the bush tracks of the back blocks, he explained. These are more like city streets. Good money went into these roads to haul the logs out before they all went broke.
He had his rifle hanging out of his drivers' side window and was feeling around with his left hand for the spotlight. Flicked on the spottie ... and again. "Ahh, she does not work." He chucked it behind his seat. "Two hunnerd and fifty I pay for this fucker and it does not work."
It was decided between the two of us that we'd set some yabbie pots in the dams and then try and find some game. Jaques was after a roo and maybe some rabbits but he also wanted a fox because really, he's half hunter and half consummate shooter. "I 'ave a special thing to bring the foxes in," he said.
When we got to the dam he cleared his gun and laid it carefully over the dash before he got out of the car. Wild ducks scarpered in the headlights to a black sky. I could smell the night, the oil of the trees and the funk of the dam. I threw pots into the dark water and laid their lead ropes among the cloven hoof prints on the banks. Then he backed out, to the track.
"Cattle tracks," I said. "I saw cattle tracks."
"Yes, there are wild cows here," Jaques said.
I didn't really believe him because the fences were fallen down and all the roads open to the main highway. I didn't believe his story about wild cattle and sheep until I saw them in the headlights: a mob of heifers of all different colours galloping along the track; a flock of sheep with their long tails, their wool falling away from them in strips, running through an avenue of blue gums, running from the car through abandoned city streets.