In 1956 when
Bob Love and myself were given an assignment in Tasmania, little
did we think that "Chasing Birds" would be condoned or encouraged
by HQ in Sydney - but let me clarify something. These were not
the two-winged or two-legged variety, but a rather rare species
22ft long and 18 inches in diameter with an umbilical cord stretching
up to its mother. (photo)
This bird had a vertical transmitter coil in it's nose and a vertical
receiver coil in the rear, it's function was to transmit a signal
to the ground which would be changed by certain ore bodies then
picked up by the receiver coil and sent to the recording instrument
in the cockpit of the Sycamore
Tasmania is rugged on the west coast with some trees growing to
250ft - so it was inevitable that the bird would be collected
by some of these. When this happened, a novel approach was employed
to pinpoint the crash site on the forest canopy - a toilet roll,
ready to unroll and with a sizeable river pebble jammed up the
centre would be thrown out, it would spiral down and mark the
I recall a funny side to the toilet roll story. Rosebery in 1956
was quite a small town but did boast a hardware store, The Hudson
Bay Trading Co, so imagine the young girl shop assistant's face
when we walked in and asked for dozens of toilet rolls, not mentioning
their ultimate use!
Going in on foot and recovering these birds proved to be an impossible
task, no way can toilet paper on the canopy top be seen against
any bright specs of sunlight, the undergrowth is dense and dank,
and in areas of "the horizontal" the ground can be well below
the large trees that grow horizontally with their own false floor
maybe 20ft above ground.
Peter Mayman and myself attempted one of these unsuccessful and
in hindsight very risky rescues just a mile or so out from Rosebery.
Our supplies consisted of a large bar of chocolate and some matches,
very quickly we were lost and it was only the Mine hooter that
gave us a bearing to head out.
There were times when the bird came back damaged but it was always
repairable (see photo above).
How true the saying
A BIRD IN THE HAND IS WORTH TWO IN THE BUSH!