COOL HAND was up this way for a couple of days last week doing all the usual things — visiting his mistress, shooting wildlife, engaging in a punch-up outside the RSL and generally being the essence of indiscretion.

How a man in his late fifties holding down a top job in the bureaucracy can carry on with his lifestyle amazes me — and everyone else for that matter. He reckons he comes up to see his old mum and dad but they say they haven’t seen him for months. He spends more time up here drinking, shooting and cavorting with women — especially Suds, his mistress — than he does in his fancy big office in Hobart.

Maybe his colleagues and his minister have discovered that productivity increases dramatically when he is absent!

He spent hours in the club this week explaining how he found the site of The Don’s cottage. Personally, I didn’t have a clue that Bradman had a bolt-hole up this way for quite a few years during his playing days. As you will know, The Don was a fairly reticent sort of a turkey and he needed somewhere to get away from all the media attention. Nothing elaborate, mind you, just a simple weatherboard shack with oiled boards, a tin roof and a dunny out the back. He built it himself after Jardine’s bodyline tour and somebody torched it at about the time of the Indian tour after the war. Jessie never came with him but he apparently didn’t mind his own company.

You could have knocked me down with a feather when I was told about The Don having an association with the area. It so excited me that, being a bit of a local historian, I had a look for the title details and the precise timing of his purchase and sale and all that. You wouldn’t believe it but there was nothing there. Nothing at all. Not a sausage. The Don was a squatter. Oh well, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised because they say he was pretty careful with a quid.

They reckon Plunger lit the match under The Don’s place but the The Rat wouldn’t have been far away. They were five or six then but very mature for their age. Anyway, its hardly worth a visit now. Some of the stone work in the chimney is still there but the rest is mainly blackberries and possum poo.

If you get up that way don’t confuse The Don’s site with where Errol Flynn did his usual tricks. That’s about half a mile further up the gully on a beautiful ledge with a view to New Zealand. Or so it seems. Errol’s place wasn’t torched. Being a fairly flimsy affair it was just eaten up by the bush, as it were, when Errol went off to fame, fortune and lots of … fun.

The people around here these days are just as entertaining as they were in the old days. Fingers, for example, would have gone down well with Fagan and those other rough types that Oliver Twist fell in with for a while. Fingers does a lot of garden work and odd jobs around town. He spends every Wednesday at Widow Headlights place — Headlights is not her real name of course — and, while the garden still looks pretty ordinary, Fingers has made a fortune. He’s lifted just about everything except the carpet but she thinks he’s lovely and Mr. Plod can’t convince her otherwise. For a gardener, Fingers seems to spend a lot of time inside the house but Widow Headlights may have a lot of indoor plants for all I know. She’s not a bad looker either.

Fingers and The Rat also do the rub-downs for the footy team, The Steers. They used to be called The Bulls but not having won a grand final since Hawke nutted Fraser in 1983 they’ve been called The Steers for the last twenty years or so. They had the chance to win the big one last year but Dandylegs missed from the edge of the square — dead in front he was — just before the bell. Dandylegs now works on a cattle property out west of Winton in Queensland and none of us care much if he’s got a new set of teeth or not.

The big thing up here is fishing

The big thing up here is fishing. Just about everyone worth knowing does a bit of fishing, most from small boats, a few from larger boats, some fish the lagoons and a few fish from the beach. I reckon the only way to enjoy beach fishing is to take a radio and a carton of stubbies. Fishing from the beach is very boring business — not unlike counting flies after Mr. Flick has been around.

Our area proves the point that fishing is a very democratic business. You really do get all types from all walks of life, whether they have a shack nearby or just blow in for a day or so and camp on the beach or with friends. We’ve got blokes who have done time and others who have made squillions and won fancy awards on New Year’s Day; heterosexuals, bisexuals and homosexuals — the fish don’t seem to mind them so we’re quite relaxed too; lots of lawyers who probably should have done time; quite a few doctors who can fix up any nasty cuts and the like on the spot — when they’re sober; and a few great sporting identities from times past,

Jockstrap and Bungles would have to be the most entertaining fishermen around here. Good blokes, nice families, like a drink and generally your average citizens but they’d make a fortune if they were on television, just being themselves. The trouble is that Jockstrap is a bit of a dreamer and Bungles is, at best, a very amateur fisherman. Bungles learned all he knows about fishing from Jockstrap and that is not what you’d call a good start. They have run out of juice half way to Freycinet; run out of juice fifty yards from the jetty; just missed countless big rocks, grazed a couple of small rocks and just hit a few nets; usually forget the radio and often forget the key to the boat, a problem that is usually discovered after the boat has been launched; and they have lost and replaced most of the items on the boat; but they do catch a few crays, scale fish and squid. And they reckon they do enjoy what they are doing, and that’s about all you can reasonably expect.

Perhaps their greatest adventure was when they went out in pretty rough weather — no one else was on the water — to pick up Jockstrap’s wife’s brother’s partner’s net, or something complicated like that. Jockstrap tends to be a bit complicated. The Rat saw them while he was checking his wallaby snares along the top of a bit of a cliff up the coast a few miles from the jetty. Well, it was a real doozy of a performance according to The Rat who is definitely not the sort of cove who is given to exaggeration. He said that at one stage Jockstrap was way out on the bowsprit with half his body hanging over the end of the lurching bowsprit, tugging at the rope between the buoy and the end of the net with Bungles lying on Jockstap’s legs and hanging on to his shirt. The Rat thought they might be trying some new position for sex but, on observing the waves and the proximity of the rocks, concluded that it was just one of their usual cock-ups. Jockstrap could not free the net so Bungles eventually got one of his rare flashes of genius and pulled a pocket knife out of his pocket, opened it and jabbed Jockstrap with the blunt end and, thrusting the knife next to his mate’s ear, screamed; “Here! Here! Cut the ****ing rope before we’re ****ing drowned.” Sensing the abject terror in Bungle’s voice, the bold skipper slashed the rope, made his way to the wheel and, with Bungles thrusting an oar against the rocks, put the boat in gear and headed for home. The Rat said he needed his brown corduroys just watching!

Stand by for further reports on this and other local matters in the near future. I just can’t wait to tell you about Goalpost, Tugger, Dribbler and the promiscuity that is rumoured to take place up the creek in summer. I’ll also fill you in on the New Years’ Day picnic.