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The Whistler

Blue Mountains   -  Australia

NATURE

Shooting Wildlife for Sport

Walter Henry Bone (1863-1934)
photo:   Local Studies Collection
Blue Mountains City Library

Shooting wildlife for sport was an advertised Blue Mountains tourist attraction in the late 1800s.

The 1889 Horrocks Handy Guide to the Blue Mountains listed six hotels offering to arrange shooting parties, including The Carrington in Katoomba, The Imperial in Mt. Victoria and The Ivanhoe in Blackheath.

The guide listed the "game obtainable" as Rock Wallaby, Scrub Wallaby, Wallaroo, Wombat, Tiger Cat, Native Cat, Ducks, Lyre Birds, Gill-birds, Satin-birds, Cockatoos, Parrots, Hares, Platypus and Possum.

Winter and Spring were the preferred shooting seasons, "as the summer days – November to February – are too hot for severe exertion." Summer fishing in the mountain streams could yield perch, black-brim, black fish, eels and fresh-water herrings.

Mr Sidney Bellingham, contactable via the Carrington, was the recommended guide.

"Mr. Bellingham has made the bush his home and lived by his gun for the past five years; he is therefore familiar with all the sporting secrets of the Mountains," the Horrocks booklet advised.

"He will ride, if desired, with parties by the bridle track from Katoomba to the Caves, shooting en route."

Bellingham was so famous in the Mountains at the time that letters would reach him addressed simply as:

Sid
c/- Carrington Hotel
Katoomba

Below is his advert in the 1888 Horrocks Handy Guide ...


The closing advice in Bellingham's ad was: "Don't go long distances up country when there is bush country, never yet shot over, within reach of the mountain railway line."

In 1899 Bellingham published a memoir Ten Years with the Palette, Shot Gun and Rifle. Blue Mountains historian and ecologist Jim Smith republished it in 2014 with additional material. Smith describes Bellingham as a "hunter naturalist" who was "torn between his desire to just enjoy, appreciate and paint the beauty of the Blue Mountains and the urge to pit his tracking and hunting skills against the local wildlife."

Smith's edition was published by Den Fenella Press, 65 Fletcher Street, Wentworth Falls, NSW 2782. It is held by the Blue Mountains and NSW State Libraries and copies are still available at $30 – by mail order only – from Den Fenella Press at the address above.

Bellingham was realistic in his book about the shortage of native game in 1899:

"Every year the native game of Australia is getting less, from being constantly shot at ... Persons going on shooting excursions is this country are often led to expect too much from hearing of the tremendous slaughter that was made among the marsupials years ago ...

"I have travelled over a lot of country both in New South Wales and Victoria, and have come to the conclusion that the Blue Mountains contain a greater variety of game, than is to be found in the plains up country. When I speak of the Blue Mountains, I mean the whole of that Mountainous country between Wentworth Falls and Mt. Victoria on the Great Western line, and Picton and Bowral on the southern line."

Parrot Shooting

Shooting parrots was a favourite sport in Australia in those days, too. On public holidays, especially at Christmas time, people set out from the towns in their hundreds, often for a week at a time, to shoot them.

"Parrot-pie is as much esteemed in Australia as rook-pie in England; and if the birds are young is quite as palatable," wrote one journalist.

"But an old parrot is one of the toughest birds that fly, and one of the hardest to kill. A parrot will carry away more shot than any other moderate-sized Australian bird, and must be very hard hit before it will drop. Perhaps this is the reason that it is considered to give such good sport to the fowler (bird-hunter)."

In 1851, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that "few of the parrot kind are particularly shy or weary, and in the forests where they abound they afford excellent sport … the sportsman will frequently arrive at a spreading and thickly branched tree on which a number of parrots are feeding, and if he has a shot of convenient size in his belt (No.6 is about the best for this kind of service) he may usually bring them down as he chooses to load and fire.

"His own patience is likely to be exhausted before that of the parrots. They will start from the tree, indeed, at every shot, but they will generally return to it at once, and other birds, attracted by the squalling of their wounded brethren will arrive at the scene of slaughter."

Today such activities seem appalling, but that Herald writer saw it differently: " … and this kind of game is by no means despicable, for parrots, large and small are capital eating, either curried, stewed, or in a pie."

The 1890 edition of the famous Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management carried an Australian section listing recipes for Parrot Pie, Roast Wallaby and Kangaroo Tail Soup, but with a warning: "Neither roast wallaby, which might be compared to our hares, nor parrot pie, not unlike one made of pigeons, would be found at the dinner-table in the hotels, but up country they are esteemed as very nice dishes."


Walter Bone (1863-1934)
with a shooting party
in the Megalong Valley
photo:   Local Studies Collection
Blue Mountains City Library


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