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.
BRUCE MUNDAY, ALDINGA, SA