Friday, 20 January 2012

That green patch

Australia. Victoria.
Ferry back to Gippsland.
Aircraft Fletcher FU24.
Mid 1960.
Half way across Victoria,

I'm on a Southerly heading,climbing through 2,500 feet going to 4,000 feet to pass over the Grampian mountain range, they separate the wheat country to the north from the foothills of Gippsland (Dairy country) to the South and the sea.

This country is very familiar to me, as I have fertilised and sprayed weeds and insects on both sides of the mountains and when required Firebombed in the mountains.

It's a nice clear day so typical of late summer.
I'm scanning left to right to see if I can recognise any of the farms I fertilised last season. and to see if any mistakes I made were visible.
I saw a deep green patch?
It looked like potatoes? A bit strange, as all the country around is burnt brown, by the summer sun.

I would have had a closer look, but it was a bit far away and I wanted to get back to my base at Leongatha.
I was nosey OK, but not that nosey! and it was Friday! we always met at the local boozer and made a night of it.
So I forgot about the green patch for now.

A couple of weeks later I was walking down Swanson Street in Melbourne and met the farmer who owned that property, where I saw the dark green patch.
After a bit of a boisterous meeting, I invited him into the boozer for a drink.
I just couldn't wait to raise the subject of the green patch?
I thought he had planted potatoes at the wrong time and place,
Well ? that was the gossip?

At first he wasn't very forthcoming with any story? said "he knew nothing about it!  wasn't on his property!"  In fact he was getting a bit stroppy about it.

Anyway as the night went on and under a little pressure from me, he told me the story.

One day on his farm he saw a car heading up to his top field from the main road, where it was sign posted Dead End! so he expected to see it returning again shortly, as he never noticed it, he just put it down to his idea that courting couples were using the end of the road, no worries.
The dark green crop was not in his field of vision from his house or any of his lower fields so he never saw it.

The following night he thought he saw lights reflecting from the top field? and he began to think about the top road, it would seem it had got more traffic than he had noticed before, so he made up his mind, to go up and have a look about , the next day.

So first thing in the morning, he drove over his land up to the top field, and he was amazed! when he saw the dark crop in his field, he drove up beside it, to get a good look at it.
They were large bushes he had never seen before. First thing he thought? was that they were some type of new weed, taking over his field, and how to eradicate them?

Plough them back into the ground? No that might just spread it about.
OK I'll burn them? No that's no good could end up with a bush fire.
I was his next thought?
"Get Terry in to spray it, with a desiccant mixed with a diesel  carrier,"

Just then, he happened to noticed a car partly hidden in the trees, facing the field, watching him.
So he slowly walked back to his car and got his shotgun and making his way around the back of their car, he banged on it Saying" What do you think you fellows are playing at".

Before he knew where he was? they had jumped out and overpowered him and handcuffed him! placing him in the back of their car. Next thing he was off to Russell Street Police headquarters,
In Melbourne. 80 miles away.
Where my friend spent close to 24 hours pleading his innocents.
He was not a happy man when they released him. Walking down the street with his shot gun under his arm, it had been unloaded for about a month or so?
He went and phoned his wife from a phone box and asked to be picked up? after spilling out the full story of course! said for her "to meet him at the local boozer" and that was it?

There was just a slight grin on his face and he went on to say.
 "The police had been watching his field for months, allowing the Hippies to water and weed the field? with the idea of catching them all plus their crop of Marijuana".

It would have been the first and biggest bust in in Victoria.
By the time the police got back to the site it was all, cleared and gone.

But that's fate for you?


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