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Full Circle

Day 127: Katherine

Katherine, Australia 
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Tomorrow's handbags. Bluey and Janelle's French collection.
Michael Palin - Full CircleHaving shown me the sights, it's time for business. Peter swings the Cessna to the south-west, heading for 'Bluey' Pugh's farm, or 'station' as they call them out here. After a couple of hours Peter checks his course then leans forward over the joystick.

'That's his place down there, I think.'

'You don't seem very sure?'

'No, never am.'

He settles for another cluster of buildings further on, where mudbanks squeeze the lazy red waters of the Victoria River into a narrow steam.

'That's the one!'

Bluey and Janelle Pugh have been farming crocodiles for five years. This being Australia 'Bluey' has red hair and a red moustache. Together with their young daughter, Raine, they live in a characterful outback house with a corrugated iron roof, brick floored verandah and cluttered, companionable concrete-floored living rooms. A flock of white cockatoos flies up as we land in the field outside, and kites and the small but distinctive wedge-tailed eagles circle above, constantly in attendance, waiting for what the crocs don't eat.

Bluey is a big man, given to running his hand lazily across his close-cropped hair. When he talks his delivery is slow, soft and unhurried. The crocodile market is mainly French, he says. His best crocodile skins go to Gucci, Cardin and Hermés, and currently fetch around twelve dollars fifty per centimetre, about five times as much as those of alligators. Alligators, on the other hand, are cheaper to feed, requiring only prepared food in the form of a biscuit.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 127
  • Country/sea: Australia
  • Place: Katherine
  • Book page no: 182

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