I’ve been meaning to write this story for ages.
I was feeling nostalgic about Australia the other day when I was combing through my ‘stories to write’ folder and I thought ‘I gotta do this one’.
To Craig, Emma, Tank, and all my other awesome Aussie mates: Love ya!
(Top photo: Craig keeping an eye on the stove.)
Dan yanks the handbrake on his Hilux and clambers out.
“I ran over a roo on the Glenn Innis road. You guys want it? I don’t have time to do anything with it.”
We look into the back of the truck. There’s a dead kangaroo stretched out on the dusty floor.
We slide the roo onto a tarp so we can carry it up the hill to Emma’s cabin, where we’re camped. The carcass is cold, but still supple.
Craig and I grab an edge of the tarp each, and start the slog up the hill track. All the dogs trot behind us, tongues out, nostrils flared. A trickle of blood falls from the edge of the tarp. The dogs home in on it, shouldering each other aside to get their nostrils into the blood caked dust.
Half way up the track we meet Tank, Emma’s dad, on his ATV.
“Looks like good eating” he comments, peering at the roo between the folds of the tarp. “I’ll give you a ride to the top if there’s a burger in it for me.”
“Sure thing mate, come up for dinner tonight. Kangaroo steaks are on the menu.”
We lash the roo onto the back of the ATV with a frayed cargo strap. Craig and I perch on the mudguards and we bounce up the trail to the hill summit.
Craig has butchered a roo once before.
I’ve never done a roo, but I did a possum once in Tasmania.
We put the dogs on ropes.
We sharpen our pocket knives and Emma’s axe.
On a small grassy ledge at the edge of the campsite, we unwrap the roo. Flies start circling us. The body is cool to the touch, but the thick hair gives the animal an appealing, cuddly look – aside from the coil of intestines protruding from a gash in the abdomen.
“Should we take the head and feet off first?”
“Yeah. I guess. I don’t know.”
“Or maybe we could do it traditional indig’ style. Just throw it on the fire?”
“We did that with the possum. I think it made the meat taste bad from the burning hair. Maybe we didn’t make the fire hot enough, too. I reckon, cut off the head and feet, skin it, gut it. We should bleed it too probably. Like, take off the head and feet, then hang it upside down to drain out the blood. That’s what I remember my dad doing with cows back in the day.”
“Yeah. I don’t know. The only bits you can eat really are the legs and the tail anyway.”
“What did you do last time?”
“Left the guts inside. Just gonna be a stinky job taking them out anyway. I just skinned it and then cooked the legs and the tail on the fire.”
“Let’s just do that then. Old school. Shit man. I don’t know what I’m doing.”
(Below: Craig skinning.)
We carefully scrape and peel the skin off the body. Craig wants to try to cure the leather. He made a furry tobacco pouch out of the last roo he butchered.
I take some photos, handling my camera delicately to avoid smearing blood all over it.
By the time we get the roo skinned the sun is low in the sky and we are both spattered all over with sticky droplets.
“Dude! I just washed this shirt last month!”
We drape the skinned carcass over a log and crudely hack off the muscular back legs and the thick, meaty tail.
There’s an abandoned rabbit hole halfway down the clay bank. We use shovels to dig out the caved-in entrance, and enlarge the hole enough to stuff the roo’s carcass inside.
The Roo’s torso goes in the hole. We don’t want the dogs to dig it up and drag it around. We fill in the hole, and slide a couple of big heavy logs over the spot to stop KC and the others getting into it.
Craig hangs the skin on a couple of sticks to dry out.
We build the fire up. We put the meat on the fire and let the dogs off their ropes. They run headlong over the clay bank sniffing out the buried body.
Tank rolls into camp on his ATV with a couple of six packs and his pipe.
We listen to his war stories sitting around the fire. Tank has great stories about crops, and raids, court cases, gang fights and parties. When he was a few years younger Tank was notorious in the underworld and sometimes carried a gun on his hip. It’s hard to connect that character with this affable farmer, living with his family in the mountains.
Tank passes his pipe around.
Craig and I rotate the meat over the fire every ten minutes or so. The air is full of a nostril opening smell like burning hay and cold bacon.
Emma comes out of her cabin rubbing her eyes.
“Hallo Darling. Just woke up in time for dinner eh?” Tank teases her.
Emma makes a face at the charred legs on the fire.
“The dogs are going to eat well tonight” she comments, and puts a pot of potato soup on the fire.
When the meat looks like it has been sufficiently blackened, we drag it off the fire and carve into it. We serve up four plates of potato soup, each with a hunk of roo meat on the side. The meat looks grey, and unappetising.
Craig and I make an effort to eat a few mouthfuls of meat each.
“Thanks for making the soup Emma.”
Tank puts down his plate.
“This meat is fucking horrible.”
Craig and I laugh and ditch our plates as well.
The dogs swoop. They sniff at the meat, and KC even nibbles at it a bit, but then they lose interest..
Tank roars with laughter.
“Even the dogs are turning their noses up at your grub boys! Bloody lucky for you I brought up some marshmallows.”
Tank passes beers around. Craig gets out his guitar and launches into a Jimmy Barnes song. I get out my harps and join in. Tank takes off on the chorus and Emma rolls her eyes, laughing.
The next morning Craig and I wake up in clothes that smell like a dirty deep-fryer.
Tank invites us down to the house for bacon and eggs. We say ‘thanks but no thanks’ and have oatmeal for breakfast.
(Below: Emma and Craig hanging out at the cabin.)
Manny here, the guy who makes this blog.
Want to start an adventure of your own?
Download your FREE copy of my e-book: The Raw Safari Travel Hackers Handbook and learn how to see the world on $10 a day!
Everything I’ve ever learned about low-budget adventure is in this book.
Get it now, for free: click here!