Home » Australia » JEAN SHEPHERD–Travel–Australia, part 3

JEAN SHEPHERD–Travel–Australia, part 3


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Well, ten minutes after I get to Australia, this buddy of mine says, “Listen, you really want to see some sport, you really dig sports?”

I say, “Yeah.”

He says, “I’ve got this friend, Freddy, he’s got a boat.  We’ll go out and really have some sport.”

I say, “What do you do?”

He says, “Well, you know, just it’s a big sport here in Australia.  Come on out.  I’ll surprise ya.”

I say, “What is it?  You like fishing?”

“No, no, wait till you see, mate.”  He says, “Come on, let’s go out.”

We went out in the boat.   The Pacific Ocean is a curious kind of dark jade green and it stretches all the way from Australia to the Antarctic.  We went around a big bend in the shoreline and there was a bay and these beautiful combers come rolling in.  They have a surf in Australia that you just wouldn’t believe—It just comes in, these long waves just come rolling in endlessly.  Well, I see these boats out in the water.  I’ve got on my bikini bathing suit, the whole bit, and these Australians, of course, have giant muscles.  Muscles all over.

We’re out there in the boat and I say, “What’s going to happen?”

He says, “Wait till you see, mate.”

And then I see.  Here is a boat near us with two Aussies in it and one guy has this little motor going like mad, and the other guy’s standing up in the bow, both dressed in these bikinis.  All of a sudden the guy in the bow is hollering at the guy at the motor, who is maneuvering the boat and I can’t see what they’re trying to do.  The big combers are coming in, the guys are yelling back and forth and the guy in the bow goes schoooo! and he dives in and he bobs up like a cork and he’s moving like you never saw—he’s moving like a shot through the water!


I say, “What’s he doing?!”  And then I see.  He’s got something in his hands!  He is holding the fin of a shark!—guys dive in and jump on the back of a shark—and they grab ‘em by the fin!  The object is to see how far you can ride the shark before he disembowels you or something.  He’s riding on the shark and the other guy takes out after it with the boat and they’re yelling and hollering, “Oh woo oh!” and you see the guy who’s sitting on the shark—there’s a wake going up around his chest because the shark is about two feet under water.

The guy pulls the shark up so you see its nose and it is mad!  You see these two little red bee-bees looking around—it’s not often you have a guy sitting on the back holding on the fin!  And the shark dives, sounding, diving straight in the water and the guy lets go, ruuuup!  Up he comes like a cork and the boat goes over there like mad to pick him up because instantly of course, what happens is the shark wants to do something about it.  So the next trick, the second act of the drama is whether or not the guy can get to the boat.  It’s not over yet, he’s swimming like mad and with that I see the shark coming around with the big fin and they drag the guy into the boat and they all cheer and laugh and then they’re all set for another big moment.  They wait for another shark.


Well, I thought to myself, “This, boy, what an event for The Wild World of Sports!”  You know, there is something about living on the frontier (After all, Australia is a frontier compared to the rest of the world.) that makes people have a sense of—I don’t know what it could be except—courage.  Fantastic physical courage.  They really have got this thing, so I was very impressed by all the stuff I saw.

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End of Part 3

Sydney, Martinis, and ANZAC DAY to come

Stay Tuned



1 Comment

  1. Stu Tarlowe says:

    Well, back then, Shep saw shark-riding as an example of courage. But in our enlightened society of today, we know that’s not real courage; real courage nowadays is coming out as a drag queen.

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