Australian Geographic - - Your Say -

Your Defin­ing Mo­ments in Aus­tralian His­tory in AG 146 [about Aus­tralia’s first royal visit, by Prince Al­fred], over­looked a sig­nif­i­cant en­vi­ron­men­tal as­pect of the 1867 royal tour.

Eight years af­ter Thomas Austin re­leased two dozen wild rab­bits at Bar­won Park,Vic­to­ria, he hosted Prince Al­fred. By this time

Austin’s rab­bits had “mul­ti­plied mar­vel­lously” so the Prince could be con­fi­dent of a good day’s sport. Mel­bourne’s The Argus re­ported: “The Prince, who was kept go­ing with two breech-load­ers…shot as many as 410 of the en­tire num­ber [of rab­bits]. He is un­der­stood to be an ex­cel­lent shot, and ex­tremely rapid in his fir­ing. This mag­nif­i­cent sport, which had all the ex­cite­ment of a battue with­out the draw­back of tame­ness in the game, proved so en­joy­able that His Royal High­ness de­ter­mined, in­stead of leav­ing first thing in the [fol­low­ing] morn­ing, to wait till 3pm and have an­other pop at the rab­bits.”

The royal de­ci­sion for a sec­ond day of shoot­ing threw the royal tour off sched­ule.When the

Prince re­vis­ited Bar­won Park in 1869 for a shoot af­ter a sec­ond tour Down Un­der, rab­bits had spread widely and were caus­ing un­told dam­age.The rest, of course, is his­tory.


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