Growing up in the small country town of Casino in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales was a great place for a youngster back in the 1960’s. The Richmond River was our playground and my friends and I spent many a long day down there, we even use to ride the rapids on inflated car tyre tubes during the flood times, something that is greatly frowned on by authorities today, but back then it was normal and great fun and it taught us to be self-relient and confident in our ability to look after ourselves, and the river gave us a close bond with nature, something that is lacking with many city kids of today. Nature Deficient Syndrome they call it!
Birds have always been an interest of mine and as I grew older I started keeping racing pigeons, although back in those days there was no racing pigeon club in town and many of the birds we kept were of doubtful breeding. The southern racing pigeon federations use to conduct races from Casino back in those days, and as boys we spent every spare hour during the winter months catching the many strays that stayed in the town after these releases. Come summer, and the wet season would see most of these birds die from what I now know was coccidiosis, brought on by the dirt floors in the chicken coops where most of us kept the birds.
My family left Casino in 1964 and moved to Brisbane. I took my birds with me and as a 15 year old joined the Queensland Homing Society and raced with my father for a couple of years before giving them away to pursue the other activities of a young man.
In 1984 with a wife and young family I finally started back in the sport, which was never real far from my thoughts over the years. I re-joined the QHS and that same year I won my first club race and flew the birds out to 700 miles, all with just 32 race birds! I don’t think I could do that today!
In 1987 I won my first QRPF Open Federation race when I clocked a very good yearling cock in from Cobar, 510 miles at 8pm on a very dark cold night in the middle of July (our winter). It remains today as one of the many highlights I can vividly recall of birds arriving home over the years.
Over the next 17 years I continued to race with QHS winning numerous races and club championships.
In 2004 I retired from my job and my wife Val and I moved to the eastern suburbs of Brisbane and I joined the strong Cannon Hill club. One rather unkind individual told me “I was racing with the big boys now and they would show me how it’s done”. I am pleased to say over the last 8 years I have won the strong Cannon Hill club championship 6 times. I have never been worried about competition. The better it is the harder you try!
In 2014 I finally won the Qld Racing Pigeon Federation Open Averages. I had been close in previous years, sometimes leading the averages coming into the final long two day races, but these races have never been my strong point, not nearly as consistent in these races compared to the on the day races. In 2014 I had a great year, one of those years when everything went right, although it certainly didn’t look that way earlier in year. The birds were very healthy but the peregrine falcon took a liking to my loft and attacked the birds repeatedly during the late summer months, day after day she would turn up when the birds were out and not yet fully packed up and working. I lost several and a number were injured but when she finally gave up, the pigeons really took off and raced very well that year..
Late in 2014 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had an operation in March 2015 to remove the cancer, which prevented me from racing the first series of races in 2015, all told I missed the first 8 races that started in early May that year. I still managed to run 4th in the Open Fed averages but only 3rd in the Cannon Hill club averages, which shows just how strong the club really is.
I am pleased to say my Doctor has advised me that I have a greater than 95% chance that the cancer is gone for good, so on with the pigeon racing!