Brimming with western promise
Don’t ask me about last month! It all happened hundreds of kilometres inland where a water person like myself would never venture now*. It came about that I got conned into towing a tinnie out of my comfort zone into the Far West.
“Hey Chaos, have you ever caught a Murray Cod?”
We were sitting around on Neil’s boat and, over a bottle or two of Bundy, we had started into sailing and fish stories … at one point he had to get up off his seat as his stretching arms weren’t enough to show the size of the fish.
“I don’t believe a Murray Cod grows to that size?” I queried as Neil walked the length of the saloon.
After a lot of talk I agreed to drive out to a place near Narrabri to watch – or even catch – one of these monsters.
“You won’t be disappointed, Chaos. This is the right time of the year to catch a good feed out west.”
A few days later found me climbing the windy and steep road up to Dorrigo and beyond.
The road disappeared into a fog of low cloud with signs saying beware of suicidal kangaroos. One little grey with a joey was standing on the side of the road as I came around the bend. I stuck my head out of the window waved my hand and yelled.
“Don’t you dare! Think of your baby.”
It must have been the way I said it, as she made a strange face and with a shake of her head she turned and disappeared into the scrub. The other thing I had to worry about were the echidnas that used the road without a care in the world. They could puncture a tire. Within the first 100 kilometres I had many brushes with death.
Suddenly out of the mist was a great huge bullock standing in the middle of the road. I swerved to miss him and the next thing I was pushing through a mob of cattle. Luckily I was not going fast so I was only shouldering them out of my way. A bloke on a horse came out of the mist.
“Hey didn’t you see the sign saying cattle ahead?”
“No mate! The mist was too thick, but I had slowed right down.”
There was the sound of a roaring engine thundering behind.
“You’d better move, mate, that’s a logging truck coming fast and I’m sure he can’t see much either.”
I put the ute in gear and put my foot down. I was thankful I never saw the truck. It was many hours later when I spotted Neil’s truck and boat trailer parked on a side road.
“What took you so long Chaos?” Neil saw that it was going to be a long story. “Don’t worry you’re here and it’s only about 10 clicks to the river, just follow me.”
I was happily driving along behind him until he suddenly veered off to the right, I continued straight.
The road had disappeared and I was heading down this very slippery slope. I could see the river about 300 metres ahead. I wasn’t slowing, in fact I was picking up speed. Suddenly the ute and trailer were airborne flying over the river surface until with a huge splash it hit the water. Luckily the river wasn’t deep at this point so I opened the door and waded to the bank.
“Bloody Hell, Chaos! Now you’ve frightened off the fish!!
Ringing the NRMA for a tow took about six hours so we had a good time fishing while waiting … not that we caught much. So much for the two metre Murray Cod that Neil was going on about. The trip back was about the same as the drive out minus the cattle. It was one tired Chaos who arrived home vowing to let others go over the mountains in search of fish in the future … when I only had to walk a short distance from the house to catch a good feed. Little Person cooked up a beautiful oven baked bream – one of my favourite recipes.
* At the dawn of time Chaos (aka Bob Flatt) worked as a stockman in the Gulf. His book Bull From The Bush published by New Holland Publishers is still in print.
Oven Baked Bream
4 plate size bream
3 onions sliced
1 teaspoon of crushed garlic
1 glass of dry white wine
½ cup of fresh marjoram
Salt and ground black pepper
200g pitted black olives
½ cup of virgin olive oil
½ cup fresh basil and parsley chopped
With three tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, add onions and garlic. Cook for two minutes then add white wine, olives, marjoram, salt and pepper.
Place each fish in foil and pour over the mixture; close up foil then place into an oven at 180°C for 15 minutes. Serve in foil with it open, and place the basil and parsley over the top.