A true love-hate re­la­tion­ship

Shepparton News - - VIEW POINT - rhi­an­non.tuffield @shep­p­news.com.au RHI­AN­NON TUFFIELD

The very first time I be­came ac­quainted with the Vic­to­ria Park Lake pel­i­can was about three years ago as I ate hot chips with my friend on a park bench.

It was a balmy evening in Novem­ber and we had just sat down when my friend stiff­ened, eye­ing the pel­i­can about 20 m away.

She had al­ways been afraid of birds — and gi­ant species with deep snap­ping beaks to match were def­i­nitely no ex­cep­tion — so she sug­gested we move to an­other spot.

‘‘Don’t be ridicu­lous,’’ I ex­claimed. ‘‘It’s just a bird, look how cute it is.’’

I’d barely brought an­other chip to my mouth when the thing leaped off the pier and into the air, mak­ing a grace­ful nose­dive for us.

My friend and I both screamed, dropped mul­ti­ple chips and ran for the safety of my car, where we re­mained.

The pel­i­can eyed us from our spot as it fin­ished our chips, and I still thought it was beau­ti­ful.

But in the way you would say a nymph is beau­ti­ful.

The pel­i­can now re­minds me of a wild emu named Char­lotte that resided in the ru­ral Queens­land town of Wondai, and makes me won­der if a lot of small towns or sub­urbs have a res­i­dent an­i­mal that amazes and ter­rorises res­i­dents.

The peo­ple of Wondai equally loved and hated Char­lotte, who wan­dered the town’s streets look­ing for lo­cals to be fed by or to chase.

The pri­mary school even had a Char­lotte drill, where a siren would sound and the chil­dren were rounded up and locked in a safe area un­til the emu left the grounds.

It was a shock to the en­tire re­gion when she was struck and killed by a mys­tery car in 2014, which made the front page of the news­pa­per.

The town even went so far as to bury her, and then saved money to im­mor­talise her with a statue.

When I moved back to Shep­par­ton six months ago, the pel­i­can at the lake was nowhere to be seen, and I con­tinue to feel sad that I’ll never truly know what be­came of it, or that a statue was never erected in its honour.

Per­haps it found an­other town to ter­rorise or hope­fully a fish and chip shop owner took it in and now all it does is sit on a cush­ion all day be­ing fed bite-sized pieces of grilled f lake and burnt chips.

Wher­ever it is, I hope it’s happy.

Re­la­tion­ship: Shep­par­ton’s res­i­dent pel­i­can was feared as much as it was loved.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.