Starting at the end of May 2002 our three member crew toured Australia for ten months and everyday we spent in this phenomenal country left a deep impression. It is, as far as I’m concerned, a place everyone must visit at least once in their lifetime. This massive continent contains some of the oldest rainforest’s, hundreds of the most awe-inspiring beaches, countless tropical islands and is home to some of the most beautifulest cities anywhere. Prehistoric, diverse, multicultural, vast, exotic and occupied with some of the friendliest people on the planet…Australia…the land down under! Away from it all lies a great desert called “The Outback“ A suitable name to be sure. Just 300 kilometers west of the fair city of Brisbane, in the Columboola region is Miles, a tiny town in the heart of kangaroo country. The town itself is not much more than a wide spot on the road, but is home to some very lively men, like their forefathers they are of good strong stock and with kindred spirit continue to tame this rugged land. Hard working, hard drinking men with lots of character who still manage to maintain their adventurous nature. One such man is David Gold, who makes his living doing the thing he loves most….hunting in the outback!
Hello! My name is Mike Smith. I am the touring editor for Traveler’s Digest. My crew and I travel the globe seeking adventure. While we were planning our tour to Australia, I made contact with David, through his website, to discover more about hunting safaris. I had spent a great deal of time as a young man reading about Australia and having lived most of my life in the plains of Texas, felt a connection to the Australian way of life. The outdoors was also a big part of my life and when it came to hunting I was quite comfortable with a rifle.We had been touring all over the Pacific and after spending two months touring from Perth to Sydney, we decided to drive north along the east coast to the city of Brisbane. The mid size city was built around several rivers and was quite scenic. After a few days exploring the area, we took the four and a half hour drive west, anxious to get into the outback.
The ever-changing landscape kept me occupied and offered hundreds of photo opportunities. Late in the day we arrived in Miles. After downing a Coke in a small roadside store, I called David on his cell phone and was looking at postcards when he walked in. I had never met him before and thought he was the store clerk when he spoke to me. Only three minutes had passed since I had called him. Very small town! David was both energetic and calm. Have you ever met a man that you instantly liked? Luckily, I have met a few, and David was one. I liked him the moment I met him. He had arranged for us to stay with an associate that owned and operated a large ranch. He gave us the directions, we shook hands, and he said he would meet with us later in the day. Good deal! We were anxious to unwind and would catch up with him over some supper back in town.
Driving for about twenty kilometers we reached the cut off sign and followed it toward the ranch. The small lane off the highway was secluded and kangaroos were bouncing along everywhere. Not knowing that he had called to inform his friend of our approximate time of arrival, we spent two hours snapping photos and true to our nature…arrived late. Shooting photos in Australia can become quite habit forming…believe me!
The ranch was owned and operated by Lindsay Noud, a man with calloused hands and a giant heart, who had pretty much built the ranch by himself. There were little unmarked lanes running all through the land, each heading off to a private cabin. I might add that each one was strongly built from native trees found on his own property. The cabin he gave us was huge and surprisingly well furnished. The kitchen had all the fixings for several days of caffeine, coffee and tea. Nice!
Later in the afternoon, feeling almost starved, we drove the twenty odd kilometers back to the town of Miles and met David in a roadside restaurant. Leaving the restaurant, after a fairly good meal, we strolled over to one of the small local pubs and enjoyed a few games of pool and of course several cold drinks. After a few hours, we parted company and agreed on a time to go on our first hunt. It would be the following night, giving us time to unwind and familiarize ourselves with the area. I am fortunate to have been traveling with my best friend, Dakota, and we would definitely be ready just after dark. Our third comrade, a usually very adventurous young lady, wanted no part in being in the wilderness after dark with three armed men…. she was obviously the sane one!
The next day, we had a home-cooked breakfast provided by Lindsay, our host, and then spent the rest of the day hiking along the river. The forest and the surrounding land were thinly covered in trees and other outback vegetation and just walking along the river, mostly dry due to a drought, was an adventure in itself. As we climbed over and around large rocks and in and out of small canyons, we were entertained by enchanting, yet unfamiliar, songs from some Australian birds. Heading back before dark, Lindsay called us to a great supper of steak and vegetables that he prepared himself. Looking at Lindsay with his burly demeanor, one couldn’t imagine him with an apron, but there he was… what a good fellow!
David arrived right on time to enjoy the meal and after some quiet conversation it was time to pack into his four wheel drive truck and hit the bush. This night we were to hunt kangaroos, which are plentiful and actually so numerous as to become pests at times. The night was filled with anticipation and energy. David knew the area well and soon led us to a secluded field with several large kangaroos. They are not easy to hunt to say the least. They can move like a deer and jump like a frog. About the time you think you have a shot…”boing” they’re gone. It was the most exciting hunt I can remember. Your skill level and hand/eye coordination, as well as your night vision, were tested to the max. It was a great night. In a matter of a few minutes, I shot two of them and then had the favor of kicking back and watching David skillfully clean and prepare the meat. Here nothing is wasted and the meat goes to support some of the impoverished Aboriginals. Watching his demeanor I could tell that he was a natural born and skilled hunter. Even though I was unfamiliar with most everything in this wild country I felt comfortable in his company. The entire scene was unforgettable…the dark, the wild animals, the call of strange birds, the swinging lamp, from the back of his truck and the eerie glow it cast added to the mystery of being here… in the great outback… it all just felt right!
The next day was spent similar to the first, but we did get to do some target practice with Lindsay’s small caliber rifle. As we grew more accustomed to surroundings we walked further and further from the ranch. Every step was increasing our utter awe as we started to develop a real connection to this inspiring land and even to the wild birds with their deep and haunting melodies. Our experience on the ranch with Lindsay and the night hunts with David was phenomenal and even after the first full day, knew it would be embedded in our memories for life.The second night of hunting was even greater. This night we were to go after wild hogs…boars! Those unpredictable critters with large and dangerous tusks…now….that’s hunting! We drove along some small roads for about an hour and after a few more minutes of plowing through a field of sweet sorghum, we spotted two large hogs. These creatures are extremely intelligent and don’t just stand around passively while being shot. They scatter, run for miles at a time and at the very least drop to the ground, so as to foil your shot. Here we were, staring up at a blanket of stars under an Australian night sky, rifle in hand and hunting some of the most dangerous animals in the world….What could be more exciting?
As the truck came to a stop I spotted the precise area where the two large hogs hit the ground. Immediately drawing a bead, I fired one round. The 223 caliber bullet hit the largest of the two hogs directly in the ear. The shot was from over a hundred yards and in the black of night. From the time we spotted the hogs to the time one lay dead only three minutes had passed. Not a bad start! With the first hog dead we turned our attentions to the second. David had, by this time, released his two pit bull attack dogs and they were in the hunt. Their deep growling and thrashing could be heard in the near distance. They quickly made the tackle. The dogs were well trained and obedient. It took them less than four minutes to pin down the 240-lb. hog. The three of us ran to where we heard the hog snarling and as we got close enough with the small flashlight we saw that the two dogs had secure grips on the hog’s ear and rear legs. Placing my booted foot on its neck, I squeezed a 20 gauge slug into its head slightly behind the ear and the hog went quiet, not feeling a thing. Again, as before, David hoisted the hogs onto the back of his truck with a small pulley and began the cleaning process. I held the light, Dakota watched and the dogs, having been put back into their cages, fell asleep, their work done. The stimulating experiences of hunting in this untamed land will always be a treasured memory.
Back at the cabin, lying in the bunk under the warmth of the quilted covers, I relived each moment…over and over. The nights visions had refreshed many previous and treasured memories and with them all swimming in my head, I fell fast asleep. The cool breeze and the sweet song of night birds was the ultimate conclusion to another great adventure in the wild Australian outback. We stayed with Lindsay on his Columboola Country ranch for three glorious days and will never forget him or the land he married. Come to Australia, visit the great outback and make yourself at home in the Columboola Country and enjoy some of Lindsay’s great cooking, the stimulating atmosphere of being on his bush ranch and with David Gold spearheading you on a great hunting safari…you are in for the time of your life. Say hi from Mike Smith and they’re sure to treat you to some cold beer and kangaroo stew.
To everyone…young or old….get to Australia, have the ultimate adventure with our good friends at the Columboola Country and revitalize the bushman deep within you. Do it for yourself! It’s an absolute must do while you travel through this magical land and remember, when you’re in Australia, it’s….”No worries mate!”