Tuesday, August 25, 2015

"Seen any pigs?"

The capybaras are still on my mind but I think in this post I’ll mention them only in the context of pigs. Because capybaras are just enormous guinea pigs, right? So it’s a leap but I’m going to write about pigs, or more specifically, my meeting with the kind of folk who like shooting them.

Along the Broke track, through the karris and spear trees, I came across two four wheel drive utes. I was heading into town for supplies and pulled over because it was a section of road where only one car could pass.

The first driver wound down his window, so I wound down mine.
He was skin-headed and scarred about his face from some recent misdemeanour.
A younger passenger in a hoodie and sunnies smiled at me.
The single cab ute was backed with a tray full of dogs. Half of the tray was open and three lurchers, lanky hounds wearing leather chest harnesses and feathering hairs about their snouts started up a racket when they saw my pup. The back half of the tray was a cage, filled with more serious-looking dogs.

“Gidday love!” the driver had a voice like a box of rocks. “Seen any pigs?”
“Um, no.”
“What kind of dog you got there? She a bit of rotty maybe? She’s a nice looking dog, you know. What are you up to, darl? We’re going up the Shannon. Seen any marron? Maybe you’ve seen some pigs? What are you up to tonight? Seen any pigs?”

He looked a bit pinned as he kept talking. His mate with the sunnies just smiled at me. I said I’d be back and drove off, waving to the next ute-load of men and dogs, laughing to myself. I thought folk like that were extinct down south. I thought we were all so bloody civilised in these heady, literary days of coastal town gentrification. The last time I came across men and dogs like that was on the outer fringes of Darwin in the 1980s. It’s story time, darl, I told myself as I drove into town. For a writer that encounter was good hard copy delivered straight to the brain. How excellent.

The thing is, that as I was driving home again my mind became beset with the most awful Deliverance scenarios. (“It’s awful quiet out here.”)

What if they were waiting at my house when I got home?
It started raining pretty hard and I turned on the windscreen wipers and headlights.
Maybe they had found my house in the bush? How was I going to boot them out? How many dogs did they have again?

“They come down through Middle Earth,” a friend explained to me. “Collie, Boddington, Darkan, other places. They come down through there to hunt feral pigs.”

I drove the ten kilometres of bush tracks to my new house, doing my own head in the whole time, and of course they weren’t there. Sorry to let you down. They’d gone up the Shannon like they’d said they would.
But I locked the gate anyway. I kept it locked all weekend because … because … I didn’t want two ute-loads of pig shooters and their dogs driving into my place. I stowed an axe under my bed as well.

I’m learning all the time here. I’m developing half decent lies to queries from sketchy strangers who I’ve met so far at my new home.
“Hi! So where is your husband?”
“He’s out the back having a shit/ having a shower/ fixing that dodgey fence.”

“Gidday love! Seen any pigs?”
“Yes!” (Points away from the house) “About thirty kilometres west from here along the Chesapeake Road. I saw mobs of them, just yesterday.”


  1. They sound a little bit like the types of lads I used to kick around with before I moved to the city.

    The young bloke in the sunnies and hood—the one who kept smiling but didn't say anything—my educated guess is that he'd probably had a little bit too much to smoke.

    1. It occurs to me that I forgot to mention: just because I said I used to get around with blokes like that, does not mean I'm trying to imply that I think they're probably harmless or anything. To the contrary, I think you're wise to bullshit about having a bloke around. Do you own a rifle?

  2. I so knew it was going to be like that out there Sarah. I could just tell from driving around Walpole, trying to imagine myself living there to escape the hordes. I could see it was redneck country. I live in more civilised country, but I still carry a baseball bat in my car. I've only had to pull it out once, in Albany, but I sent some young arsehole running wide-eyed in the other direction. But I'd be fucked if there were 2 of them!!

  3. What did Bruce Wayne's mother used to say when she called him in for tea?

    Dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner,
    Dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner,

  4. I commend you in every way. If we all lived our lives based on distancing from every wayfaring fear we would live no life worth living.