May 2011

Encounters

Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz

Archduke Franz Ferdinand & the Platypus

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

On 17 May 1893, the newly launched SMS Kaiserin Elisabeth – a battle cruiser of the Austro-Hungarian Navy – steamed into Sydney Harbour. It bore a most distinguished passenger, no less a personage than the 29-year-old heir presumptive to the dual crown of Austria–Hungary, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

A 21-gun salute was fired, civic dignitaries went aboard to bow and scrape, and a large crowd gathered to witness the royal disembarkation.

His Imperial Highness waited until the fuss died down, then slipped ashore in mufti. Five months into a world tour, he was a man with a mission. Australia was home to many strange and exotic animals. The archduke was determined to kill as many of them as possible during his 10-day visit.

Accompanied only by his personal taxidermist, three counts, a major-general, the Austrian consul, the Archduke Leopold of Tuscany, a zoologist from the Vienna Museum and the NSW minister for public instruction, he set out by special train for Narromine, 450 kilometres west of Sydney. A local squatter laid on 20 horsemen to drive the game. The shooting began almost immediately. By lunchtime on the first day, the moustache-twirling, loader-assisted Franz had dispatched five kangaroos. At each kill, the archducal entourage dismounted, doffed their hats and shook his hand.

After some barbecued chops – “half-cooked meat burned on an open fire” – and a bottle of hock, the fusillade was resumed. Ducks, this time. Next day, it was kangaroos, pelicans, brolgas, eagles, hawks and parrots. With nothing left to exterminate, the party moved 100 kilometres to Mullengudgery where the archduke massacred bush turkey before breakfast and emu before lunch. To his great delight, the royal sportsman also brought down a pair of black swans. All told, he bagged about 300 head, including koalas, wallabies and possums.

Then it was back to Sydney for High Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral and a quick inspection of the meat preserving works before heading to the Wollondilly River to fulfil a “burning desire”.

At dawn the next morning, poised in silence on the riverbank, he trained his gun on a “narrow, black, moving line”.

The platypus was still an object of scientific fascination. The fact that it lays eggs had been confirmed only nine years earlier. But Franz Ferdinand wasn’t a scientist. He was a sportsman. With the “greatest joy”, he blasted it out of the water.

Franz Ferdinand loved a good slaughter. During his lifetime he killed an estimated 300,000 animals.

Eventually, in June 1914, he got a dose of his own medicine.

Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz

Shane Maloney is a writer and the author of the award-winning Murray Whelan series of crime novels. His 'Encounters', illustrated by Chris Grosz, have been published in a collection, Australian Encounters.

Chris Grosz is a book illustrator, painter and political cartoonist. He has illustrated newspapers and magazines such as the Age, the Bulletin and Time.

Cover: May 2011

May 2011

From the front page

An Orchestra of Minorities

Welcome to The Summer Library: selected extracts from the best new books this summer

Close to Home: Selected Writings

Welcome to The Summer Library: selected extracts from the best new books this summer

Climate Justice

Welcome to The Summer Library: selected extracts from the best new books this summer

Pub test: 2018

The only way is up


In This Issue

John Howard on the rise, 1984. Image courtesy of the National Archives of Australia.

What’s right?

The future of the Liberal Party

A rapscallian's resort, Central Park. © Cameron Davidson / Corbis

Wanted for loitering

Central Park, New York

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Owners of Australia

Australia’s rich list

'Caleb’s Crossing', By Geraldine Brooks, HarperCollins, 400pp; $32.99

‘Caleb’s Crossing’ By Geraldine Brooks


More in Arts & Letters

Image of Les Murray

Les Murray’s magisterial ‘Collected Poems’

How to approach a 736-page collection by Australia’s greatest poet?

Image of a bushfire

Fair judgement without surrender: Chloe Hooper’s ‘The Arsonist’

The author of ‘The Tall Man’ tries to understand the motivations of a Black Saturday firebug

Still from Cold War

Pawel Pawlikowski’s perfectly formed ‘Cold War’

Not a moment is wasted in what could be the Polish director’s masterpiece

Still from I Used to be Normal

Female fandom and Jessica Leski’s ‘I Used to be Normal’

They’ve been dismissed and patronised, but Beatlemaniacs, Directioners and other fangirls are very self-aware about their boy band ‘affliction’


More in Encounters

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Rupert Murdoch & Kamahl

Mark Oliphant & J Robert Oppenheimer

John Monash & King George V

John Howard & Uri Geller


Read on

Image from ‘The Beehive’

The lady vanishes: ‘The Beehive’ at Sydney Festival

Zanny Begg and Philippa Bateman on their enigmatic film that explores the unsolved disappearance of Juanita Nielsen

Image from ‘Primavera’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art

‘Primavera 2018: Young Australian Artists’ at the MCA

This exhibition of the up-and-coming asks complex questions about who we are

Fusion

Welcome to The Summer Library: selected extracts from the best new books this summer

Zebra and Other Stories

Welcome to The Summer Library: selected extracts from the best new books this summer


×
×