This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the Port Phillip branch of Field & Game Australia, which formed originally as a region of the Victorian Field & Game Association.
The original minute book has survived and it is a treasure trove, recording everything from the original goals of the organisation to a list of swan recipes, published to encourage members who were reluctant to participate in a control program organised by the Fisheries & Wildlife department. “This is the first time that shooters have been used as a tool of wildlife conservation and management,” president Doug Hemingway said in a letter to members. “We are therefore most anxious that the experiment is a success.” For the record, devilled, roasted, casseroled and paired with apples, oranges or a truffle sauce were recommended. The swan season ran for four weeks in late 1961, an emergency measure after other methods failed to stop them causing damage to crops and pastures.
An early newsletter headlined ‘What your subscription has helped achieve’ notes the proclamation of Jack Smith lake and Lake Coleman as State Game Reserves and that 40 more were in the pipeline.
Members were informed that ‘Game Reserves are useless without qualified staff to manage them,’ and the organisation had successfully lobbied government to recruit 12 new staff to the department for that purpose.
Interestingly, the spectre of
anti-hunting lobbying is present even in the earliest communications from Field & Game.
‘In the coming year, besides continuing and expanding our social activities, we envisage much more active member participation in the practical aspects of our campaign for better hunting in Victoria. Those who oppose our objectives do so, we believe, only because they are not aware or do not understand our point of view. Yet, up to now, they have been successful in promoting their views at the expense of ours simply because they have been more unified, and better organised. This is something field shooters must also achieve.’
Port Phillip president Nigel Loughridge said only the first few years of records were in the branch’s possession. “We don’t know where the rest of them are, they are missing in action. It would be great if someone had them tucked away and could reunite us with them.”