I was a kangaroo meat inspector

In the early 60’s I hitched a ride from Brisbane to St George (Google Maps ref: 28° 2’23.43"S, 148°35’12.40"E) to start my new job at the St George Kangaroo Meatworks. I was to meet my boss at a motel in St George then start at the meatworks the next day, but he asked me to help clear out a Company cool-store in the town. i think this was a test because I had to help unload roo carcasses from a cool store with a cooling system that had broken down a few weeks before!

The roos were rotting and crawling with maggots, surprisingly, after about half an hour the stench didn’t seem to matter and we managed to clean the store out in a couple of hours then back to the motel for a shower, meal and sleep.

The next day I was driven to the meatworks which was about 10kms out of town, I was told to see the foreman who would tell me what my job was. The foreman asked if I had ever been a meat inspector! because my work was to be the Meat Inspector and that Bob, who was leaving, would show me how to be a meat inspector.

I went over to where Bob was working and asked what the meat Inspector did he replied that a meat inspector looked out for worms and if he finds worms he must put that meat on the Sydney pile and the meat without worms went on the Germany Export pile. When I asked Bob what a worm looked like he said he didn’t know because he had only been a meat Inspector for two days and was sick of it, but he did say it was OK to just divide the meat into 2 more or less equal piles!

Ten minutes later when I became the new meat Inspector. I soon discovered a worm, they were long, pale coloured tape worms which were common in the gut of kangaroos then, they seemed pretty obvious to me, I guess Bob wasn’t very observant or just didn’t care.

Water at the meat works was pumped from a bore and was only plentiful on Wednesdays so every Wednesday the place was hosed down and we all had a shower, washing during the rest of the week was kept to the absolute minimum.

My home at the Kangaroo meat works was an old army tent behind the main boning shed, amongst piles of bones and millions of crows which made sure I was awake when work started at sunrise. There was a worker in the tent next to mine who refused to work unless he had shot a crow through a hole in his tent roof before he emerged from in his sleeping bag!

Another larger tent contained a family of 3 kids one who was aged about 12 worked in the meat works as one of three boners, he couldn’t read or write, the boss had to sign his pay slip on pay-days. This kid’s father was one of the roo shooters who supplied the company, he would spend weeks in the bush and stored his “kills” in cool stores around the district ready for collection by the company.

Friday night was pub night and we would all pile onto the back of a truck (including the 14 year old boner) and travel into St George to the pub where fights were between soldiers (must have been a army camp near by), ringers and other “Wild West” type characters who all wore riding boots and cowboy hats. the 14 year old boner stayed in the car park but occasionally a middy of beer was taken out to him.

I lasted about 4 weeks at the St George Kangaroo Meat works as one of their longest serving meat inspectors before I decided to move on to Roma via Surrat where I was almost arrested for vagrancy

I was a kangaroo meat inspector

Murray Swift

Tallebudgera Valley, Australia

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This is a true story!!

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