Avoca Roo Shoot recalled

ON THE HUNT: A photo from the Avoca Roo Shoot with Joe Ellis in the centre. Picture: Supplied.

ON THE HUNT: A photo from the Avoca Roo Shoot with Joe Ellis in the centre. Picture: Supplied.

In the 20th century, when the Fingal Valley was filled with fit miners, farmers and Forestry workers, the region was home to champion sportsmen and innovations that led the way internationally.

CULLED: The Bennetts wallaby was one of two species hunted during the Avoca Roo Shoot.

CULLED: The Bennetts wallaby was one of two species hunted during the Avoca Roo Shoot.

But it was a sporting event centred in Avoca that attracted national controversy in the less than 15 years it ran.

The Avoca Football Club first organised the annual Avoca Roo Shoot in 1961 in response to the Tasmanian Animals and Birds Protection Board’s decision to label wallabies an agricultural pest.

The regulatory body allowed an open shooting season for several years to deal with their swelling numbers.

The Avoca Roo Shoot was intended as a sporting, social and fundraising event, in which participants would hunt two common species of wallaby.

Families in Avoca and Royal George housed shooters from throughout the state during the carefully supervised cull which received the tick of approval from police and the RSPCA in 1968.

A fella in New South Wales decided you couldn’t do that to animals and started a campaign to stop [the Avoca Roo Shoot] - Mary Knowles

But Greater Esk Tourism founder Mary Knowles said the fun came to an end in the 1970s when an interstate activist caught wind of the event.

“A fella in New South Wales decided you couldn’t do that to animals and started a campaign to stop it,” she said.

Mildura man Arthur Queripel bought full-page advertisements in Tasmanian and mainland newspapers speaking against the shoot and later held a special public meeting at Avoca attended by only himself.

A photograph depicting animal cruelty, later proven to be a set-up, created outrage Australia-wide.

The controversy caught the eye of state politician Neil Batt who called an end to the program in 1975.

Later attempts to revive the Avoca Roo Shoot proved unsuccessful.

The stories and successes of sportspeople in the Fingal Valley will be the focus of an exhibition to launch at the Avoca Museum and Information Centre on Sunday.

A Sporting History of the Avoca District will feature trophies, uniforms and memorabilia from towns throughout the region.

The world’s first Correct Weight Siren, created by Barny O’Connor, will be on display.

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