My most memorable meal: No. 4

MAJ.-GEN. J. M. Rockingham tells about The day I dined on “jackeroo” stew

September 15 1956
My most memorable meal: No. 4

MAJ.-GEN. J. M. Rockingham tells about The day I dined on “jackeroo” stew

September 15 1956

MAJ.-GEN. J. M. Rockingham tells about The day I dined on “jackeroo” stew

My most memorable meal: No. 4

At seventeen, having just left school, I found myself as a “jackeroo” in Western Australia. A jackeroo is a young man learning to run a sheep or mixed station in Australia. He gets practically no pay but lives with the family instead of with the rest of the hired hands.

At the time of this tale, some six weeks after arriving for my first experience of farming, I was to break up and seed six hundred and forty acres of sand plain, eighteen miles from the nearest neighbor. I was to do it with a team of twelve horses, and supplied only with bully beef, dehydrated vegetables, bread and jam at monthly periods.

The first day was spent in digging for water which I struck at seven feet, but the flow was so slow that it took about two hours to slake the thirst of the horses. Watering, feeding, grooming and harnessing all the horses three times a day left little time for the preparation of food and so my meals were few and far between and consisted of bully beef and tea.

After several weeks of this eating routine 1 decided to set rabbit traps around the perimeter of my camp fire. At first the rabbits were wary, but one night I was startled out of a fitful sleep by the snap of a trap closing! followed closely by

another. I leaped out of bed and found two rabbits in the traps. By the time I had inexpertly skinned them it was time to start to get the horses ready for the day’s work, and too late for breakfast.

A fairly big kangaroo fell prey to my rifle toward the end of the day. That night 1 put the rabbits in a stew pot with some dehydrated vegetables, ate some bully beef and worked on skinning the kangaroo until I was too sleepy to do more.

No time for breakfast or lunch the next day.

The following night saw the kangaroo skinning finished, most of the meat was in the stew pot and I threw the rabbits in as well. In the morning as I was starting to get the horses ready and had my stew cooking, I heard the most infernal noise nearby and rushed over to find a parakeet, locally known as a “twenty-eight” because of its cry. in the trap. It was dead by the time I reached it. so 1 plucked it and put it in the stew too, along with a few more handfuls of dehydrated onions, potatoes and carrots.

No time for breakfast again!

Thus, over three days, was prepared the most memorable meal of my life, which I ate with a circle of rabbits sitting in the firelight watching me. ★

GF.N’. J. M. ROCKINGHAM COMMANDS THE FIRST CANADIAN DIVISION.