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My Oz trials - For Bruce Beresford, Christmas in the Outback meant spiders, snakes and his aunt stripping naked in the intense heat

Features | By Bruce Beresford

A Christmas tree in the Outback

For Bruce Beresford, Christmas in the Outback meant spiders, snakes and his aunt stripping naked in the intense heat

When I was a teenager in the 1950s, my parents always took my sister and me, in December, to a relative’s farm about 300 miles from Sydney. The journey took most of the day, chiefly on unsealed roads. The farm was over 3,000 acres, and around 20 miles from the nearest town. There was no power to the house, which meant no fans to alleviate the intense heat. Flies and mosquitoes were abundant, and thousands of them were unattractively embedded in the sheets of sticky paper that hung from the ceilings of every room. There were spiders and snakes – both of deadly varieties – and so many rabbits that I learned to shoot them with a .22 rifle while sitting in a chair on the veranda. Kangaroos and emus ambled around the property in considerable numbers, with the former shot regularly by my uncle to provide food for his...


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