Attack of the 14-foot bird


If an Englishman’s home is his castle, an Australian’s home is his fortress.

As a new arrival in Alice Springs I was offered a tip on home security. Get a mongrel pup and pay some blackfella a carton of green cans to come round and give it a hiding. The pup will never forget the hiding and, for the rest of its days, will bark like a maniac at every blackfella that comes within a hundred yards of your fence.*

I was reminded of this when seeing the “snarl windows” on fences when walking into town.


For many years a large proportion of Alice Springs homes were built by Territory Housing and so complied with Darwin’s building regulations. This meant a three-foot high cyclone mesh fence, to which folk bolted a few posts and some iron sheets. But the bottom part was always left open, thereby allowing the dog a bloody good opportunity to go for your ankles and scare the bejaysus out of any passer-by.


Does this happen in all outback towns?

Thankfully, some sort of progress has been made. Maybe mongrel pups are getting harder to come by, or people aren’t prepared to pay the carton of green cans required for training purposes, but this piece of backyard sculpture certainly scared the hell out of this whitefella!




* A reader recently emailed me to ask, “Did you actually do that?!” I promise: I didn’t. And I avoided the generous giver of advice thereafter.