Tugging tales of bush life
YOU might have missed it but one of Australia’s greatest bush characters was in court in Cairns last week after being charged with pulling a crocodile’s tail.
The appearance in court of Roy ‘‘ Gouger’’ Turner from Haggerstone Island off eastern Cape York Peninsula tells us something about the wishywashy, politically correct sooks we have become. Turner is no choirboy, but nor is he Billy the Kid. He’s a bloke in the mould of the late Northern Territory bushman Rod Ansell. Ansell became a legend in 1977 after his boat capsized off the territory coast, forcing him to live off the land for 56 days before being found.
Ansell wrote a rip-roaring read about his adventure called To Fight The Wild. Paul Hogan modelled his larrikin Crocodile Dundee character on Ansell.
But, this is where the similarity with Roy Turner ends.
Ansell’s life seriously unravelled and in 1999, aged 44, he killed a police officer in an ambush south of Darwin. Ansell was killed in the ensuing gun battle with other police.
I only mention Ansell in the context that up to the point where his life imploded, he was the quintessential bush character. It was as though he belonged to the wild and free days of the early to mid 20th century.
Roy Turner is the same. He is a man trapped in the jaws of 21st century laws and political correctness.
His only ‘‘ crime’’ was that he went and put the tail-pulling incident on YouTube as part of a promotional video for his Haggerstone Island resort. The authorities were tipped off and before you knew it Roy was on the greasy pole all the way down to the Cairns Magistrates Court and a $ 3000 fine.
Roy was also charged with possession of unlicensed firearms.
He argued he needed the shooting irons to protect his guests from wild animals. OK, so maybe he should have had a licence for the weapons. He can fight that one on his own.
Roy came by his ‘‘ Gouger’’ nickname in 2004 after he saved the life of 11-year-old Hannah Rossiter when she was attacked by a 3m crocodile while swimming in Margaret Bay near Haggerstone Island.
Roy was on a boat at the time and dived into the water. He climbed on to the croc’s back and gouged its eyes until it let Hannah go. All in a day’s work for Roy.
Steve Irwin could make crocs sit up and beg for food and put them through all sorts of psychological humiliations and the authorities would turn a blind eye.
Roy gives the tail of one ‘‘ saltie’’ a tug and he’s treated like a criminal.
Blokes like Roy give us a glimpse into a buried part of our Australian soul. We should celebrate blokes like Roy, not flog them with a bridle.