Because New Year’s Day falls in the middle of summer in Australia, we decided to go camping on an isolated beach at Malacoota Inlet, halfway between Melbourne and Sidney. The six of us included my sweetheart Felicity and two Aussie Rules footballers who were best mates with my friend Tony Tighe who had recently died on a Mt. Everest expedition. Although “Yank” was a bad word in Australia because of the recent Vietnam massacres, the mutual friendship made me more than acceptable to those who had not seen Tony since High School. I had been good friends with him in Leysin, Switzerland the winter before the expedition. Tony had been with me when I broke my leg skiing and I was with Tony and Jilly when she broke her leg skiing. I also had loaned them my Triumph 250 to go to Spain for Jilly’s recovery for a few weeks before Tony left for Tibet and Jilly went back to Australia. So I was well welded into an Australian mate-ship, one of the strongest personal bonds in the history of humanity.
There wasn’t much to the town of Malacoota on January 1st of 1973: a campground and a combination milk bar (the Aussie word for grocery store), a gas station and a pub – all in one building. So when we went for beer, there was only one place to go. And on the holiday, the take-out store was closed so we had to sit on the lawn of the mostly outdoor pub if we wanted to rip into an ice cold tube.
While we were cooling off in the hot afternoon, a well-know visitor to the Malacootans, but unbeknownst to us, hopped in for a look around – a nameless kangaroo that frequented
the pub but never once paid for a drink. Although that was normally an unforgivable sin during those years, the locals easily forgave the animal because it was not qualified for the dole – the Aussie version of welfare.
The roo started by paying a visit to the kids to earn his keep. Then he had a bit of salad-grass, and went on to mooch some peanuts, which gave him a bit of a thirst. And like all good Aussies, Rick Brown offered the down and outer a bit of the amber fluid, which it quickly lapped up.
Then, slightly pissed (Aussie for “drunk,” not “angry”) it tried to kiss every Sheila in the joint. Drowsy from all the excitement, it settled down for a quick nap with both sets of legs crossed before hopping away without saying “goodbye.”
Rick and roo.
A nap before an uneventful farewell.
Rick had a friend at the Australasian Post, and they published the photo “Rick and roo” in the March, 1973 issue. I carried a copy for years, but finally lost it in one of my many moves. I’ve searched for it online, but to no avail. But I still have the original copy of the photo that I took with my Canon F-1 that I’d scored in the duty-free store when I left Tehran.
Kangaroo drinking beer.