Not all food was found in supermarkets when I was growing up in fact a few times a year we’d have family expeditions somewhere up the Hume Highway on hunts for food and I’m guessing this was a family legacy born out of the necessities of the Depression.
Mum used to tell me about how her uncles used to visit the Vic Market and bring home vegetables and fruit that were beginning to turn. We didn’t need to do that but old habits die hard and we’d often meet at Nana and Grandad’s in Brunswick and head off up the highway looking for suitable paddocks we could wander through looking for mushrooms or finding dams where we could through a piece of meat tied to a string and pull out yabbies.
Both Grandad and Uncle Phil kept ferrets so some of those trips involved finding rabbit warrens, putting nets over the outlets and waiting for the ferrets to chase the rabbits out of the holes. I still love to eat roast rabbit and usually after we got home and the rabbits were scunned I’d be given a rabbits foot for luck and I have to say it was much luckier for me than it was for the rabbit. I’d carry it around in my pocket for a few days until I suspect it got a bit woofy and Mum made me throw it out. My sisters would get a rabbits tail.
There were times when we’d spend school holidays away camping. I remember one time Uncle Phil took me with him, my cousin Phillip and a couple of others to the Barmah State Forest near Koondrook for a week. And that was real camping, fishing every day, a bush dunny consisting of a 9 gallon drum with a canvas screen pulled around three trees to give an illusion of privacy.
Those Christmases spent camping on the Murray River at Corowa, long hot days and early morning treks down to the riverbank before dawn are great memories for me. Later as I had kids of my own and tried to re-create those times I found that my sons never really got into fishing and I think that was because I wasn’t all that good at it. When I took them out as kids and never caught anything they just got bored with it until there was actually no point asking if they wanted to go because I knew the answer would be no. Diffierent times, different places.