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Arnhem Land Adventure (Troy Crittle)

In 1998 me, Chris Simmons a University mate and now a Queensland Policeman and Andrew Dillon a Ranger from Sydney drove from NSW to the Arnhem Land Region in the Northern Territory to hunt some NT Boars. It was the trip of a life time.

It started when a mate landed a job at the Ranger Uranium Mine at Jabiru in the Northern Territory. After a year of planning and what seemed like a thousand telephone calls organising permits and contacts we where on our way. Andrew and I travelled to Toowoomba to pick up Chris and the rest of the gear. We where travelling in my Dual Cab Mitsubishi Triton. There were three guys, six dogs and a small mountain of camping gear. We decided to take Chris’s 6x 4 trailer for the extra gear and fuel that we would need for the trip into the heart of Arnhem Land. To be on the safe side a full range of spares were carried including belts and filters for the Ute and wheel bearings for the trailer. We expected lots of flats so five spare tyres, 3 for the Ute and two for the trailer where carried, as well as 5 spare tubes. I prefer to carry spare tubes rather than patches and glue. Its much easier to shove a tube in when you’re out bush and then patch it up at a later date. 

All the gear was loaded up at Chris’s place in Toowoomba the night before we left. When Chris and Andrew and I stood around having a quite beer all of us where excited about the trip. I remember being quite anxious, none of us knew what the next three weeks would bring. Would the Ute stand up to the corrugated roads and a tonne off equipment?  How would the dogs perform?  Would everything go to plan?  I don’t think I slept at all that night. 

The first leg of the trip was to Clermont in Central Queensland, Chris’s home town. Chris picked up his two dogs off his uncle who had been working them since he went to live in Toowoomba. We picked up the dogs and where on the road again by daybreak.  

This is probably a good point to introduce the dogs. I had three, Chris two and Andrew one. My three where - Lucy a white Bullmastiff cross Cattle Dog. She would lug smaller pigs on her own but preferred to bail up large boars. She was good at picking large pigs from a mob. Bill at the time was about 11 months old and shaping up well. He is a big tall dog with Greyhound, Wolfhound and Great Dane in his breeding. He’s not pretty but is fast and lugs hard. Ben was about 9 months at the time and had only been hunting a couple of times. He is a Bullmastiff, Great Dane cross and was bred by Cecil Tyce from Tottenham in NSW. 

Chris’s dogs are quite experienced and smart, hard dogs. Whinny is a small Boxer Staghound cross, a hard and crafty old dog she has caught many good boars on her own. Whinny rarely gets injured. Stubby is the star of the show. He’s an average looking red dog bred by Chris’s uncle Noel. I asked Noel what breed Stubby was and he said “He’s out of Gidgee by old Stubby”. Noel like most of us doesn’t care what breeds are in a dog as long as it works. Stubby is probably the best dog I have ever seen on big boars. He almost always gets a boar on his own out of a mob and for the amount of big boars he has caught he rarely gets hurt. One day with Noel Stubby caught two pigs over 100 kg on his own. The second he had for about 20 minutes in a dam. It weighed 115 kg at the chiller. Andrews dog Jack could be described as Stubbies apprentice. He is a large white and brindle dog bred by John Loud from Molong in Central NSW. At the time of the trip Jack was about 18 months old and working very well. Young, fast and fit he could work all day. He lugs hard and has good scenting ability.  

The second leg of the trip was from Clermont to Camooweal. We arrived at Camooweal after midnight and camped in our swags on the dry river bed. We left before daylight and crossed the Northern Territory/Queensland Border soon after. It was a fairly uneventful day travelling. We’d stop about every four hours or so to give the dogs a run and stretch our legs as well. We stopped that night at Katherine and intended camping there. After a meal we felt a bit fresher and decided to keep going all the way to Jabiru. We arrived after two in the morning, exhausted. We rolled out our swags at a billabong on the edge of town and crashed. We woke just on daylight and as I stared bleary eyed around me. I could see a sign that I hadn’t noticed the night before as it was partly obscured by a small tree. It read “ no camping, no dogs, Saltwater Crocodiles inhabit this water”. Bugger. Needless to say we didn’t waste any time packing up. We found a public phone and called Trevor who we would be staying with. Trevor gave us directions to his house and helped us unload some gear. He explained that he had to work that day but would take us hunting and crabbing that afternoon. Sounded great to us. We spent the day lazing around trying to get used to the 35 degree heat. It was September and down south we had still been getting regular frosts. 

By the time Trevor arrived home we where as keen as mustard to get a look at some NT pork. It was a bit of a drive to the hunting area as Jabiru is surrounded by Kakadu National Park and hunting is not allowed. Trevor took us to an area of private land where he goes fishing and sees the odd big boar. We put some crab pots in and flicked a few lures about, Chris caught his first Barramundi it was just legal. By this time it had cooled down and it was time to look for a pig. Because Trevor’s three girls came and the crabs pots we only had enough room for a couple of dogs. We had taken the best two dogs, Stubby and Jack. We started walking along a small gully that had the odd pool of water. Trevor reckoned that the pigs camped close to the water and fed on the nuts of the Pandanus Palm. We had only walked a couple of hundred metres when Stubby and Jack started wind scenting and charged down into a small depression in the creek. We all heard a massive snort and a splash of water. We sprinted over to the dogs. They where struggling to hold a large boar that had no ears. Both dogs were thrown off by the pig but they went back in and grabbed the boar by the cheek. Chris tipped the boar over and Trevor dispatched him with a knife thrust to the heart. He was a good boar that would weigh about 80 kg at the chiller. He was long and fat and interestingly had yellow teeth and bones, apparently from living on Pandanus nuts. Happily, we went back to the fishing. 

Two days later armed with the necessary permits and guided by Jarred we were heading into Arnhem Land. Jarred is a workmate of Trevor’s, whose Grandmother was one of the traditional owners of the land we were going to hunt. Jarred was travelling in a Land cruiser with two mates from Darwin, Matt and Greg who were keen to get stuck into the fishing. We crossed the East Alligator River and into Arnhem Land. Finally we were there. 

By this time it was late afternoon and we had about 170 km to drive to get to the beach where we intended to camp. We decided drive until we reached the Cooper Creek a rough trip of about 80km. Being brought up in the bush and having been about a bit I thought I had been on some rough roads but nothing compares to the tracks we drove over that night. It was so rough that sauce bottles in the tucker box broke; the lids came of the garlic and mixed with spilt spices and pepper, instant marinade. The PVC tube that our fishing rods where in broke and we had to back track for 30 km to look for them. Chris lost his new rod and I lost half of one. We bashed, clanged and swore for a few hours. I think that we had to be pulled out of three creek crossings but they all looked the same after a while. The Cooper was reached about 11pm and we crashed into our swags, too exhausted to eat. 

We woke at daylight and where up and rearing to go, Jarred had told us about a hunting spot only few minutes away. The guys in the Land cruiser decided to have a bit of a sleep in and we agreed to meet at a track junction. 

We pulled up at a spot just where some timbered country petered out to reveal an enormous floodplain. Around the edge of the floodplain were huge outcrops of sandstone that once were reefs when the sea level was higher. Jarred reckoned that the pigs got in under the rocks in the cool to camp. By the time we got going it was about 7 am and already over 30 degrees. We left the Ute and started walking around the edge of the floodplain. It was spectacular, like something out of a glossy Northern Territory tourist magazine. The floodplain stretched almost as far as we could see to the south east and was bordered on the northern side by more sandstone escarpments. The floodplain was covered by knee high reeds and drained by a narrow channel that wound its way northwest, toward the sea.  

I asked Jarred if crocs would be in the channel at this time of year “probably not ” he replied not filling any of us with confidence. I was hoping that the dogs didn’t catch a pig in it. 

We walked around the edge of the sandstone where the paperbarks provided good shade. The dogs disappeared and soon started barking, they chased a mob of pigs out of a sandstone cave. Sows and suckers were darting everywhere. Chris, Andrew and I  killed 3 sows held by the dogs, each about 40 kg and Jarred shot two fat suckers about 10kg each. The suckers were skinned and placed on ice, later they went into the camp oven stuffed full of bread and what was left of the spices, beautiful.  

With time running out and the temperature climbing we called it quits and walked back to the vehicle. We had only walked about 200m. We would have been happy to stay at this spot for a couple of days but Jarred and the others were keen to get to the beach and start fishing. So it was back in the vehicle and about 50km to go. 

The country that we drove through changed constantly from timbered ridges to rocky escarpment country. We saw mobs of Timor Ponies and a couple of dingoes but didn’t see any pigs until about 11 am. We had slowed down to negotiate some very deep pig digging on the track. Chris saw the pigs first; they were lying under a tree next to a drying waterhole about 200m away. We piled out of the Ute and let the dogs go. They could all smell the pigs but couldn’t see them yet. They all bolted towards the pigs and closed in fast. The pigs stood up and six blokes all let out a group “oh shit!” It was a mob of the biggest pigs I had ever seen. It was not that we hadn’t caught big pigs before it was just that all of these ones were big. Out of the 20 something pigs in the mob none of them would have dressed under 70 kg. 

The dogs could now see the pigs and closed the gap as the pigs stood their ground. Only when the dogs were among them did they run. Lucy peeled of chasing a boar about 90 kg. She caught up to the boar and had a couple of attempts to lug him. She couldn’t hold him and was happy to stand and bail. I was cursing leaving my rifle in the ute. I didn’t think Lucy could keep the boar bailed on the open ground until I ran back to the ute and got a gun so I called her off the pig and sent her after the other dogs, who I could hear barking and chasing pigs. Jarred had his 0.223 and I heard three of four shots. It took me a couple of minutes to catch up with the other boys and by then they had caught 4 good pigs. Chris had killed a sow about 80 kg that Stubby caught on his own and Andrew dealt with a 75kg boar lugged by Jack and Whinny. Jarred shot a boar and killed a large sow that Bill held. Young Ben must have been earning his keep because the boys said he came back to them panting heavily and with some blood around his mouth. He probably caught a large one and got thrown off. Still it wasn’t bad for a nine month old pup. We took some photos of the pigs and gutted the sow that Bill caught. Jarred had a tuckerbox freezer and generator on the back of the Land cruiser and planned to bone out the sow directly into it. He was also keen to get a Mickey bull if we could find one. The last 15 km’s of the trip were across a bone jarring flood plain. There was so much pig digging that it appeared that the plain had been blade ploughed. We estimated that at least 95% of the plain had been turned over during the wet. 

As we came off the floodplain we drove through some low trees out onto a beach. The beach stretched about a kilometre in each direction and curled around the corner and out of sight. On the western end of the beach was a lone clump of mangroves. About ten meters above the high tide mark parallel to the beach grew thick stands of Mimosa (Mimosa pigra). Mimosa is a serious weed of the Top End, it chokes up waterways and out competes native plants to overtake grazing land. 

Things became a little complicated when we drove out onto the beach to find a good campsite. We bogged both vehicles in the sand and then boiled the Triton trying to get it out. By this time it was after midday and very hot. We decided to rest in the shade for an hour or so. Suitably refreshed we dug and pushed enough to get the Land cruiser out and then used it to get the Triton out, easy. 

Time to catch some fish. The tides in this part of the world are enormous and when the tide was out it was over the horizon. While we were waiting for it to come in we set some crab pots around some mangroves about 500m down the beach. Late in the afternoon   Andrew, Chris and I grabbed our fishing gear and the dogs and went for a stroll down the beach. We had seen hundreds of pig tracks in the sand while putting out the pots and it looked like the pigs came out on the sand to feed on small crabs at high tide. After about 10 minutes of fishing and not getting a bite we were bored. Andrew spoke to himself but summed it up perfectly “Were not fisherman, bugger this lets get into the pigs”. Sounded like a plan. 

The sand on the beach above the high tide mark was very loose and dry and we didn’t fancy getting the vehicles bogged again so the three of us had a quick yarn and decided that the best option was to walk up the beach with two of us on the inland side of the Mimosa. First though we needed to return to the camp and tell the others what our plans were. Eight hours into Arnhem Land was not the place to be lost. We got back, had a drink of water and put collars on the dogs. Chris was ready to go first and was scanning the beach with the video camera. I heard him give a little gasp and then say “boys have a look at this”. He pointed up the beach where a large mob of pigs was foraging on the waters edge. The pigs were about 800m away and we continued to watch them as we hurried up the beach on foot. When we were still 400m or so away they finished feeding and moved off into the mimosa bush. By the time we reached the spot where we last saw the pigs it was almost dark. The dogs all raced off into the bush and soon we could hear pigs going in all directions and dogs barking. We waited by the beach, listening. It sounded like the dogs had caught a couple of pigs on the other side of the thicket so while Andrew kept and eye on the beach Chris and I looked for a way through to get to the dogs. It was very hard going and I was on my hands and knees trying to hold the torch out in front of me. Listening carefully I thought I heard dogs scuffle with a pig somewhere out in front. I crawled a bit further and the sound seemed to move away. I heard Andrew yell “get him” and a few seconds later “dogs are here”. Beauty, that meant that all the dogs were with him and we could stop crawling around. By the time we got back to the beach Andrew and the dogs had caught a good boar about 70kg. He said that the pig had run out on the beach, chased by two dogs. They caught it in the water and then the other dogs arrived one by one. They would have been chasing other pigs around in circles in the thick vegetation. We were glad that all the dogs came out quickly. We could have spent the whole night looking for them. 

We stood around the pig for a while talking about how great it was to catch pig on a beach. It was a long way from the areas we normally hunted to the sea. Something we would never do again, we said. Here’s hoping we can. 

The next morning Chris and Andrew went for a quick hunt while I fished the Mangroves. I could here the boys calling the dogs a hundred metres or so away and some time after I heard them catch what sounded like a good pig. I fished for an hour or so and caught my first Barramundi a medium one about 59 cm’s long, stoked. I continued for another half an hour and only caught a large fork-tailed catfish. I walked back to the camp and joined the boys for breakfast. They said that they caught a boar about 60kg, interestingly the first black and white one that we had seen. Jarred, Matt and Greg continued to do a bit of fishing while we started to pack up the gear. It was Sunday and Jarred had to be back at work the next morning. He suggested that we leave early and hunt a big lagoon about three hours down the track. Sounded great to us. 

The drive back to the lagoon was straight forward. We drove past a couple of wet areas that would have teemed with pigs but sadly we were pushed for time. We pulled up at the big lagoon about lunchtime. It looked magnificent. Take all the wildlife documentaries, glossy magazine articles and travel brochures about Kakadu you can imagine, it topped all of them hands down, breathtaking. 

We let the dogs out and set off around the edge. I borrowed Chris’s Browning Lever Action 0.243. Jarred also grabbed his 0.223 because he thought there was a large mob of pigs living here. We walked for about 50 metres and the dogs caught a boar about 60kgs. No sooner had we killed it and they had another about 50kg. It was hot and time to give the dogs a good drink. I wandered down toward the waters edge and had to negotiate some sloppy pig digging around a fallen Paperbark tree. I looked through the branches and saw about twenty large pigs leaving the mud in a hurry. The dogs spotted them and gave chase. The pigs bolted into a stand of young paperbarks. Chris and Jarred were walking up on my left and I heard some shots and a dog barking. A medium sized boar trotted toward me and stopped about 20m away. I downed him with a shot through the shoulders. I could hear Andrew yelling to me, thinking he had a big one bailed up I jogged off towards him. I had a lot of trouble finding him in the paperbarks; they were so thick I had to take one step forward and two sideways. I finally got to within 20m and Andrew yelled out “they’ve got a monster bailed up” I could see Ben bailing hard but didn’t know what other dogs were around. As I moved closer to get a shot the pig spotted me and bolted. The dogs bailing turned out to be Bill and Ben and were very hot. Andrew and I called then back. We couldn’t see any other dogs and needed to find them quickly in the heat. Just then Whinny and Jack turned up and going by the cuts on Jacks leather breastplate they had also tussled with a big boar. That left two dogs to find – Lucy and Stubby. I was pretty sure that Stubby would be with Chris and I had a hunch that Lucy would also be with him. Andrew held the dogs and gave them time to cool down and get a drink while I went looking for the others. I heard some more barking and shouting up in the paperbarks and headed off in that direction. Before I got too far I saw Chris and Jarred wandering back toward me. Stubby was with them. I asked had they seen Lucy and Chris said that “she bailed up a large boar but we couldn’t call her off it and Jarred is out of bullets”  I walked a bit further and gave a few whistles and a couple of minutes later Lucy came wandering back. While the three of us walked back to find Andrew they told me their version of the events. They said that they bumped into a mob of pigs camped in the paperbarks and Stubby – the only dog with them chased them. Jarred shot two good pigs using the last of his bullets. While they were looking for Stubby Lucy chased a very big boar past them and bailed it up only a short distance away. They tried to get behind the boar and grab its leg but it was having none of this. They tried to call Lucy off the pig but she wouldn’t respond. Chris was coming back to get his 0.243 off me when I met up with them but by this time Lucy had chased the pig further away. Stubby met up with them at the same time I did so he also must have had a pig for quite a while. It was a shocking run; we only got the three pigs that were shot plus the first two that the dogs caught. We had missed as many pigs as we caught, despite this the dogs had done well splitting up and catching pigs on their own but the heat and the size of the pigs made it very hard on them. We were lucky not to loose a dog at this spot. After watering the dogs and having a bit of a break we hit the road. The return trip was much easier than the drive in on Friday night. Most of the really rough creek crossings and gullies had new tracks around them that we couldn’t see in the dark. We arrived back at Jabiru just on sunset and offloaded the gear at Trevor’s. We had arranged to meet Jarred, Matt and Greg at the poolside bar at the Gagadu Resort. We had a great night, a few beers and a refreshing swim. The other guys all had to be back at work the next day so we went home reasonably early and crashed into bed. 

The next morning we spent cleaning gear and doing a bit of tidying up and sprayed the dogs. March flies are like a cross between a blowfly and a large bee and love to get into your hair if you haven’t got a hat on. Once in your hair they buzz like crazy and the first time it happened it freaked me out. Much to the amusement of the top- Enders. They we really annoying the dogs and are very persistent. The dogs had worked pretty hard over the past couple of days and most of them had a small nick or scratch of some kind. We found some flea and tick spray and applied this with a bucket and sponge. It seemed to do the trick.  

Trevor came home from work about 5 p.m. and we all went fishing at a billabong in Kakadu. It was a great spot but the fish didn’t cooperate. I caught a small Saratoga but the Barra were very wary. We drove the 20kms back to Jabiru and on the way home we went past the Jabiru golf course and Trevor showed us where pigs had been coming onto the greens and rooting up the fairways. Turning the corner into the street where Trevor lived a Dingo was standing under a street light chasing the moths. Let me tell you it’s a unique place. 

A new day and a whole new adventure. Trevor had organised a camping and fishing spot for us on private land and the owner had said that he didn’t mind if we took the dogs along, fantastic. We packed the gear and headed off about lunchtime. It was an hour and a half drive but we hadn’t planned on a tidal creek being up so we had to wait an hour for the tide to go out and the water level to drop. While we were waiting we threw in a line and again had no luck. What is it with these Barra?  This was supposed to be the fisherman’s Mecca. We were being quite casual about the fishing until we saw a bloody big croc. It came to within 5m or so of where we were standing on the bank and we all backed off pretty quickly. Chris returned to the Ute and got the video camera out. When the croc went over the crossing we were able to see the full length of it and it was huge. When we showed Trevor and some other locals the footage they said it was the biggest croc he had seen in years.  

When the sign at the crossing showed 50cm of water we thought it would be safe to cross and we had no problems. It was a further forty minutes to the place we would be camping. On the way in we saw some creeks with small waterholes and thick Pandanus that looked like it would hold a few pigs. Resisting the temptation we carried on to the campsite. The area was a small Peninsula fronted by the Timor Sea and bordered to the south by a creek about 200m wide. Chris was driving and selected a good camping spot under some shady trees. We unloaded the Ute and tinny that we had borrowed from Trevor and went to meet the neighbours. We had already been told that there were some other people fishing at the same spot. They were camped about 150m away and had two Utes and two boats larger than ours. They looked like they knew what they were doing. Maybe they could teach us a thing or two. “They” turned out to be three blokes from Brisbane and one from Kingaroy. Sorry fellas, but I can’t remember your names. They had been camped in this spot for over a week and were glad to have some company. Andrew asked about the fishing and they said that it had been lean, although they had caught a few Estuary Cod, some Trevally and a couple of Mangrove Jacks they were a bit disappointed. They had noticed the dogs tied up in camp and asked how the hunting was going. We yarned for a bit longer and decided to go and put the tinny in. The tide was half way out as we trolled up the creek. Andrew hooked a nice Golden Trevally and I caught a small one. Maybe we had broken the drought. Continuing up the creek we stopped at a fork in the stream and flicked some lures into a large snag. I almost instantly hooked a good fish that turned out to be an estuary cod about 3 kg’s. With new found enthusiasm we fished for another hour only catching a small mangrove jack. We headed back down the creek to the camp as it started to get dark. 

That afternoon the “Brisbane Boys” had said that they were keen to go for a quick hunt after dinner. Chris cooked up one of the fish in a curry sauce and rice, it was great. We collared the dogs and wandered over to the other camp. We relaxed with the other guys and had a couple of beers and let the sun go right down. After an hour our designated driver Chris rounded us up and we all piled into the Ute. Chris, Andrew and I had talked about the area we wanted to hunt and thought that the best option was to simply drive back out along the track we’d driven in on in the afternoon. We had seen quite a few pig tracks crossing the road. 

I can tell you that the three of us had been nervous up the creek that afternoon, especially when a six foot shark had swam under the tinny, none of us were confident fisherman but Ute finding pigs we knew a little more about. With four Brisbane guys standing on the back of the Ute we only had room to hunt two dogs – Lucy and Jack the other four were locked in the cage. After about one km we reached the start of the waterholes and Pandanus that we had seen earlier. Lucy and Jack started scenting very hard, Chris slowed down and about fifty metres further down the track they jumped off and bolted into the Pandanus. The dogs in the back of the Ute were going crazy barking and whining. Andrew jumped out of the truck and released them. Judging by Jack and Lucy’s reaction the pigs were close and they would probably need a hand. By now I could here Lucy barking and a dog lugging a pig, probably Jack. We all grabbed torches and ran toward the noise. Chris ran in front and I could see he was heading toward the main source of the noise. I could hear a dog off to my right and yelled to the others that I was going that way. I got to the creek where I thought the sound came from but couldn’t see anything. I shone my torch around and could see an erosion hole on the edge of the bank. I ran up to it, shone the torch and sure enough Bill was in there holding a boar about 50kg. I jumped down in there and killed the boar and headed off toward the others. Again I heard a dog that sounded like it had a pig in the creek so I jogged across to investigate. It turned out to be Lucy who had a 30kg sow in the creek. I killed it and went off to find the others. It didn’t take long to locate them. Andrew said that they initially caught two pigs and then the dogs went again and got another two. This was probably the work of Stubby and Whinny who are excellent at getting a number of pigs from one mob. We had only been hunting for about fifteen minutes and had taken six pigs. The Brisbane boys were stoked and thought that this pig hunting game was a piece of cake. We had a quick yarn and decided to quit while ahead. Besides the Brisbane Boys were going to show us how to fish in the morning. 

We went out fishing with the boys at daylight and Chris caught another nice Estuary Cod. We came in after an hour or so when the tide was out and went hunting to the same area we had the night before. I had pinched a nerve in my back on the way up and by this time it was giving me hell. So Andrew and Chris walked the creek and I drove the ute up a kilometre or so and waited for them. They had been gone about twenty minutes when I heard a shot from Chris’s 0.243. Five minutes later firstly the dogs and then Andrew and Chris appeared in the creek. They said that the dogs caught four pigs and Chris shot one. Interestingly the pigs from this area were the smallest seen on the whole trip. None of the pigs I saw along this stretch of creek would have weighed more than 60kg. I suppose the ones we caught would have averaged 35kg if we were taking them to a chiller. The pigs also looked more like pigs you would get in western NSW or Qld they had long snouts and big shoulders. A completely different type of pig than the one in Arnhem Land, maybe these pigs lived to far away from a floodplain and couldn’t get to the really top quality food. 

We had one more day at this spot and decided to return to Jabiru and then go and have a look around Darwin. By 10.30 the next morning we were packed up and heading back to civilisation. To get back to the main road we needed to negotiate several rocky creeks and as we went over the last one Chris looked to his right and saw a large boar laying under a pandanus about 20m away. I hit the brakes and Stubby and Whinny who were loose lying on top of the swags dived off and caught the boar after a fifty metre chase. The boar that was much larger than we first thought threw off both of the dogs and ran in under a bank in the creek with just his head poking out. The dogs went back in and held the boar cleanly. We were faced with a problem because there was no way we could get in behind the pig to tip him over and it was too risky to shoot the pig with the dogs holding it. Andrew was waiting by the Ute and when he saw what was going on he released Bill and Jack from the cage. Bill and Jack raced in and grabbed the pig by the ear and now with two dogs on each ear Chris was able to crouch down and grab the boar by the back leg. Andrew had come over and helped Chris dragged the pig out of the hole while I filmed. The boar was quickly killed and we checked the dogs for injuries, thankfully they were fine. The pig was the biggest for the trip and we guessed his dressed weight at around 95 kg. He was more your typical Arnhem Land pig, long and fat with a short broad snout. Its coat had a tinge of red through it, the first we had seen so far. At the main road we locked up the loose dogs and checked the equipment was still there. It was only and hour or so back to Jabiru and it gave us time to reflect on the past few days. It had been a great trip, we had caught 12 pigs in about an hours hunting and in an area where we had really only gone to go fishing. But I don’t think that it would really matter where you went in the Top End, as long as there is water you’ll find pigs.  

Over the next few days we drove to Darwin and had a look around the harbour and did some shopping. We went back to Jabiru and had a barbecue with Trevor and his neighbours. The next morning we hit the road for the three day drive home. 

There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think about this trip. An advertisement for the top end, a song we played in the car or a phone call from Andrew or Chris is enough to take me back. So much was special about the trip. The landscape, the wildlife, the pigs, the mateship. It was hard and at times the long days in the car almost drove us crazy, the dust and heat made life difficult as well. The planning and preparation was almost an obsession in itself by the time we left. But looking back that was all part of the experience, part of what made it so special. If I could go back I wouldn’t change a thing. The Northern Territory is a wild and timeless place and it’s a long and expensive trip for most of us. But if you’re a keen hunter you’ve just got to go. The rewards are tremendous.

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