Territory Stories

The citation : Northern Territory Police Museum & Historical Society



The citation : Northern Territory Police Museum & Historical Society


Northern Territory Police Museum & Historical Society


Citation; E-Journals; PublicationNT; Citation






Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).; This publication contains may contain links to external sites. These external sites may no longer be active.




Northern Territory Police Historical Society; Northern Territory Police Force; History; Police; Periodicals

Publisher name

Northern Territory Police Museum & Historical Society

Place of publication





v. 6 no. 5

File type



1839-3918; 1839-390X


Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Northern Territory Government



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Citation address


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wmdowsdls proVIded a graveyard tbr dead flies, beetles and an occasional desiccated frog. Barbara would bellow, 'Take it or leave it!' when tourists eyed the greasy stew, curry or stroganoff- all originally from the same enormous pot. Lying next to the meat dishes in the lukewarm Bain Marie were grey potatoes and shrunken peas. Wiping her sweaty brow with a tea towel and flicking a strand of dusty red hair from her eye, Barbara would slop the food haphazardly on to thick china plates bearing the logo of Commonwealth Railways. Under a thick mangle of red dust, packets of Marlboro cigarettes, boxes of Redhead matches, tins of Log Cabin ready rubbed, an ancient Kodak film, cans of shoestring beetroot with rust -spotted labels, a packet ofModess, and a can of baked beans, stood silently waiting to satisfY some customer's great need. Further along in a little huddle all on their own were flyspecked tubes of Colgate and a packet ofRinso. Bare foot prints, thong prints, cowboy boot prints and sandshoe prints stood out clearly in the dust covering the crumbling linoleum floor Another plastic strip curtain led from the exterior into the bar. Evidence of recent repairs to two of the archaic and battered stools, used as weapons during a brawl, bore mute testimony to Fred's prowess as a Jack-of-all-trades. An endless fraying towel, printed with beer labels, ran the full length of the bar and curved away into some dark forbidding corner. Like Dad'sArmy, bottles of Galliano, whiskey; Bacardi, Bundy, gin and ouzo lined the wall behind the bar. Higher shelves held rows of rocks. Everything from copper ore from the Isa toAnthony's Lagoon ribbon-stone created much conversation and argument, but none more so than the specimen in the big greenJar. Fred had capitalised on 'the greatAustralian rock hunt' back then. Little old ladies of the blue rinse set, muscly tattooed youths, retired bank managers and excited children combed the great continent for agate, amethyst, aquamarine, beryl, topaz, tourmaline, opal, quartz, amber, jade and garnet. Coach loads of eager rock hounds would descend on 'the Caves' to buy their mandatory chocolate coated ice-cream and turn the roadside gravel over in a desperate bid to find their El Dorado. At the height of the craze Fred was selling half a tonne of gibbers a week. It was quite by accident that I happened to be at 'the Caves' when NeilArmstrong first set foot on the moon. It was also my birthday. With two reasons toce1ebrate, Harry and I stayed longer than we'd planned. The jukebox leapt to the wailing strains of Rolf Harris singing Two Little Boys and the smell of stale onions wafted into the bar from the kitchen. It seemed as though, in the euphoria of man's successful moon mission, nothing would dampen the exuberance of the crowded bar. My birthday was toasted repeatedly by denim clad stockmen and visiting strangers alike. Roger Miller's, King of the Road could be heard over the roar of cheers. Attention again focused on the big green jar. 'Get it Down, Fred!' chorused the happy drinkers. Fred reluctantly agreed to show it around for just five seconds. With much pomp and ceremony Fred showed the crowd, never letting the jar out of his hands. He placed it back on the high shelf as ifit held a fragile dinosaur's egg of infinitesimal value. 'It's petrified wood!' yelled Billy Bowen from Brunette. 'Na, Ya wrong, Billy. Its volcanic lava from the 'Curry!' answered George, the dogger. 'Bullshit!' exploded Jim fromAlroy.' Getting close', murmured Fred with a knowing smirk. The sudden arrival ofa white skinned, politely spoken tourist caused a hush around the room.Although the English gentleman was suffering dreadfully from the 50-degree heat, he made a heroic effort to be nonchalant in the face of such a bawdy crowd of locals. His first beer did little to quench his searing thirst. By the time he'd downed his third he was more than a little inebriated. 'I say old chap', he said to Fred, 'may I book a room for the night?' Fred was delighted to oblige. By evening the unsuspecting guest would have parted with many more dollars on beer and a further amount for accommodation, plus of course the cost of a meal or two. The gentleman would sleep soundly in the thick stone walled unit. The bush air conditioner would help cool the place down and he probably wouldn't even notice the huge grey wolf spiders or the big black Volume 6, No 5 - October, 2000, Page 5

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