Ian Johnson 1998
Strahan, Tasmania has a lot going for it. It remains one of my favourite places (though I don't have to live there.)
If going there, among many other things check out the pine headstones in the graveyard. Simple epitaths for young men killed in the hazards of early west coast work These are largely burnt now I think and their meaning is probably already changed forever by the visitor's interpretation centre which has managed to subvert this and just about every appropriate understanding of the area. Check also the beautifully designed piners boats sunk in their off-season at their moorings south of town.
To the story.
At Strahan, the local ducks had been playing havoc with the prodigious traffic.
The locals gave them their own crossing. We happened into town around the same time as Big Belching Bills Bizarre Brass Band (or something like that - no, I lie again, it was the Burnie Brass Band.) Whatever, it was something to behold - they set up across the main street from the Hotel and blasted the bloody town with Christmas Carols. Too good to miss. We got some drinks and took to the upstairs veranda (no one else in sight yet the box seats in the house.) They played and sang to us for an hour or two.
In all that time, the ducks skirted (no, waddled) around the swelling crowds to their crossing (marked by yellow webbed waddling foot marks - single file.) Back and forth from the water side (where the concert may have been offending their peace) to the shop/hotel side (where the bakery just happened to be conveniently located.)
Not one instance of J-walking. (D-Waddling??)
My friend loves ducks. I think they're filthy buggers. Even if they can walk a straight line in the season of good cheer they can't be house trained.
Isabelle, (my gorgeous god-daughter) has the right attitude to ducks. Asked by her friends at dinner what she was serving she replied Donald. She loves ducks too. She also likes to encourage her friends eating cheer by labelling venison, Bambi and roo as Skippy.
Some of her friends have turned vegetarian.
She is probably too young to encourage her Chinese friends with Lady or Tramp or even Lassie.
But that is not completing the Strahan story, a local elaborated.
Apparently, under gruelling Strahan traffic conditions the local ducks or more precisely local duckettes were being decimated at an alarming rate. This was exacerbated upon escalation of the bakery business across the main waterfront road from the wharves. Such was the concern that a local luminary, alderperson, parliamentary hopeful and wag labelled the town as Gay Duck Town. There was not a female duck left in the place.
Perhaps the bloke ducks had the good sense just to hang out on the bakery side. The way to duckette eternity is through the stomach.
Uproar grew as the Gay Duck Town mantle began to stick.
Not much gay bashing gets done in Tasmania without the Hobart contingent of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Group getting in on the act. And they have been extraordinarily ready to act up in all sorts of ways - I have a few stories about that - at a later time. Perhaps to save the ducks from any embarrassment that exposure may bring, or for whatever reason, the gays elevated the predicament to one of national exposure.
The press ran with this for some weeks. The good hearted from all corners (leastwise of Australia) sent their duckettes forth. The town was flooded with female ducks. The drakes did not seem to be tempted and the towns mantle held.
In red-necked pride, the town welcomed the belated observation of some Anatidaen expert that suggested the duckettes were not the right breeds. Well, who would know that? Apparently the drakes are choosey. The call went out for an appropriate type of spouse. Ducks again flew in from far afield. Drake heaven.
Soon ducklings everywhere. The killing fields were awash with young duckies.
If Tasmania is well known for anything it is road kill. My friend even feared venturing onto the open road as all the guides she read described the terrible sight which greets everyone on our roads.
Strahan was determined to keep this out of their own back yard (or main Street.) The fellow who started this whole furore agitated for a special street crossing for webbed footed travellers. This was warmly embraced by the entire Council which promptly had its street painter expedite the solution.
The same fellow then decided that the whole story would be worth another run. "Strahan Drakes No Pansies" and "New Crossing: Strahan Drakes Strut their Stuff". Again, the story was reported nationally - very good for business.