Walkaway once base for rabbit industry

Neville ThompsonGeraldton Guardian
A truckload of rabbits arrives in the mid-1940s.
Camera IconA truckload of rabbits arrives in the mid-1940s. Credit: Image courtesy of Sandra Playle

Rabbits have long been a pest in Australia's agricultural areass.

Geraldton was a late starter in industry moves to profit from the rabbit plague, belatedly adopting a catch, process and export system which was well established in the Eastern States and southern WA.

In a better-late-than-never bid in mid 1934, 25 men and their camping gear were transported in three trucks from Mt Gambier in South Australia to start trapping rabbits in the Walkaway area.

Their first catch was between 400 and 500 pairs trucked into the Central Ice Works in Armstrong Street and loaded into two specially constructed freezing rooms.

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When sufficient rabbits were in store, they were sent by refrigerated rail van to Fremantle for export to the UK and the US.

I can recall truckloads of rabbits coming into the ice works at the end of World War II, with Punch Shelton managing the acceptance of the rabbits to be strung in pairs on long wooden poles suspended on cooling coils in the freezer rooms. One of the delivery drivers was Dick Patience, recently released after Australian Army service.

Dick later moved on to successfully farm in the district.

The photo shows the arrival of a consignment of rabbits in a utility and trailer in the mid 1940s.

Image supplied courtesy of Sandra Playle.

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