Friday, April 2, 2010

Weird Australian History About Bunnies.

This photo was taken in about 1956 in a VERY small town called Ringarooma in North East Tasmania. That is me on the end behind my cousin and my (late) Nanna is watching us. Nanna owned a dairy farm on the outskirts of the town.  All of my family know where Ringarooma is of course. The geographic information is for readers who have never heard of it.

In Australia, towns are measured by how many pubs they have. Ringarooma is a one pub town.  It's a small town by anyone's standards.

The next photo is the Ringarooma pub, circa 1956.  These days it looks a little less fresh than it did back then.

My 'weird Australian history' is about the general area in the 1920's.  The photos are just to give you a general idea of the area and to help cast your mind back.

We all know that there were no rabbits in Australia before European colonisation.  But in the early days, some bright spark thought it would be a good idea to bring bunnies from Europe out to this country.  Before you could say "here comes Peter Cotton-tail" Australia was overrun with rabbits and they were a plague and a menace.  In the 1920's the folk in the Ringarooma area were fed up and started a baiting campaign.  I don't know what their poison was, but it effectively killed truckloads of rabbits.  Unfortunately it effectively killed truckloads of magpie birds also because they ate the dead rabbits and possibly the baits as well. Unlike the rabbits, the magpies were virtually eradicated from the area.

Back then, folk did not always think through the consequences and environmental impact of their actions.  There was an impact because the magpies ate moths and butterflies and caterpillars and now there were very few predators for the moths, butterflies and caterpillars.  Caterpillar populations exploded all over the countryside.  In 1926 they denuded the land of every scrap of vegetation.

Now for the weird history so pay attention. . .  The caterpillars were so thick on the ground that they even covered the railway tracks.  They made the railway tracks so gross that trains couldn't run until the tracks were clear.
That's right - Caterpillars stopped the trains.
I think that's weird.

Footnote: Obviously I was not the photographer.  My mother took the photographs with her little Kodak Brownie camera.
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  1. They are great photos.
    Caterpillars stopping rail services - now that's an interesting turn of events.
    I was just talking today about a trip my dad made to Victoria in the 50's. He remembers being impressed by the number of brown rocks in the paddocks. And they they all got up and hopped away. Introduced species such as rabbits and cane toads have definitely proved problematic.

  2. The pub could certainly do with being restored to it's "former glory" but at least they still do a good feed :-)

  3. Interesting post. Caterpillars stopping trains? Wow.

  4. Great Post!! Love the history, what a story. Thank you for showing day-to-day life on the other side of the world. I love it. You take wonderful photos also. Keep up the good work.


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About Me

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Townsville, Queensland, Australia
I have worked as a Biology lab assistant, Pathology lab assistant, geochem lab assistant, land tenure researcher, hospital and prison chaplain, parish care coordinator and part owner of a small business. I have studied some science (no degrees) and have a theology and a chaplaincy certificate. I still love science of all types and enjoy studying theology. Science and theology belong together. At present I am a work-at-home Grannysaurus.

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