Tales From Down Under












(By Bill McAlpin  7.3.10)

In 1978, I made my first trip among the Aboriginal people of Australia. On that first visit, I had with me, a young man named Alan, who had known a few of these leaders, and Christians in the area. We came to the area because I had received an invitation to come with my tent to conduct some tent meetings. So, this was my get to know you visit.The first day we arrived at Kyogle N.S.W., we went to the home of Gordon Nagas, a respected leader among the Christian Aboriginal community. After our greetings, and time to settle in, a young man named Wayne Walker, wanted to take us hunting. Being already told this would be the case , I had brought my guns. Wayne did not talk to me, but knew Alan, so all day long Wayne would look at me, but never directly talk to me. But then, that is another story.

As the day moved on, we shot several kangaroos. My heart almost sank, as he took aim on a beautiful parrot. As I protested, Wayne said, ” that’s good tucker, we’ll eat him tonight.” Stopping at a stream of water, a couple of turtles were caught. Several hours had gone by, and nearing the end of the hunt, Wayne spotted a huge carpet snake. Without a blink of the eye, Wayne pulled that 12 gauge shotgun up to his face, Bam! Bam! That snake was history. Out of that tree he fell, with Wayne there, grabbing him, and throwing it around his neck, showing off his prize.

Returning to Gordon’s, a fire was started in the back yard. The parrot and goanna were first to go on the fire, along with the turtles. While they were cooking, someone pulled out that huge carpet snake, skinned it and started cutting it up into small pieces. That snake turned out to be 8 feet long. It was taken inside to be cooked in the stove, while some of the kangaroo was shared out, to be eaten later.

As time moved on, I was given my first taste of food that had been part of the Aboriginal diet for many hundreds of year. I reasoned, if this tucker had sustained these people, I had better give it a try. After all, in Florida, we had eaten rabbit out of the orange groves, deer out of the woods, alligator tail and frog legs out of the Everglades, so why not……

By this time it was nearly midnight. It had been a long day, so I started excusing myself. When someone said, “wait, you can’t go yet, you haven’t had any snake, it’s almost ready to eat.”……”No,” I said….”I’m too tired.”….. and out of there I went…….. I had already decided that me and that snake were not going to get together, now or till Jesus comes.

The next day a church service was arranged, where I was to preach. Gordon Nagas, and several men got into my white Toyota van to travel the 45 or 50 mile trip to the church. We were to have service in a Methodist church that had an Aboriginal pastor. As we traveled along, I noticed that Gorgon had a brown bag tucked in tightly to his side…Not thinking much of it, I said, “Brother Nagas, what do you have in the bag?”…….

He looked at me, then looked back to see if anyone was listening, looked again, and whispered, “it’s some of that carpet snake we cooked last night, I’m taking it to the pastor.” ……”Oh” I said, that’s thoughtful of you.”……Just then Brother Nagas said,”you didn’t get any last night, did you?” Looking back at the men again, he said, “I think I have enough for you and the pastor.”….

Having to think quick, I replied, “its probably been a long time since that pastor has had any, “why don’t you make him really happy……give him my part . Before the service, I saw Brother Nagas giving that brown bag to the pastor, and a big smile came over his face. It made me do a little smiling myself, after all, I thought, there’s not a greedy bone in my body!


(By Bill McAlpin 7.4.10)?

Because of the cultural and social customs of the Aboriginal people, when we were in tent meetings there was always the need to hunt. The host community was responsible for supplying meals for those who traveled to the services. Usually they came from other areas and needed lodging as well as food. So, almost every day someone needed to hunt for the meat supply. Usually I was volunteered to take my van, guns and ammo on the hunt.

I remember one day, we went on our expected run to the bush to gather some roo for the evening meal. We were traveling along on a dirt road. The men had decided we would spot roos from the van and make it an easy hunt. So, we started looking up into the trees and along the roadside. We had some success and were headed back to the tent, and went by a farm, with a large pond in a fenced pasture. There were horses grazing in the field.

Suddenly someone hollered “stop …stop”….”I see some ducks on the pond”…. I stopped, but said at the same time, “that’s private property”….They paid me no mind as one of them jumped out of the van with the 12 gauge shotgun in hand….The thought came in my mind…..I can see the headlines in the local paper…. “Yankee Tent Preacher Arrested for Trespassing.”

With no time to protest, bam!,bam!bam! went the shotgun. I looked and the horses were kicking up their heels and going in all directions. At the same time, ducks flew up out of that pond, squawking as they disappeared into the sky. The sights and sounds had me looking at the farm house and thinking, they have called the N.S.W. police. If we don’t get out of here, someone else will be doing the preaching tonight, because I will be in jail…

As I tried to make my case as to why we needed to be gone A.S.A.P….the guys just laughed at me…….. Brother Bill they said “we black fellows can hunt anywhere we want to” this land was ours before the white man came. And we still have the right to go anywhere we want to and hunt for roo and anything else we need for food.”…..

I replied that may be good enough for you to stay out of jail, but in case you haven’t notice I am not black….. With that they started to laugh and laugh. They thought that was the funniest thing……nevertheless…I stepped on the gas and got out of there as fast as I could, expecting to see blue lights in my rear view mirror just any time….

One of the highest compliments  given to me, was made when I was with some Aboriginal men.  One of them  stated “you may be white on the outside, but you have a black man’s heart. ” We had different skin colors and different lifestyles, but I had been accepted.  Paul wrote in I Cor 9:22, I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

NOTE: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED  billmcalpin@aol.com

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