Image for Ruby, Camilla, and all that lovely prickly, tasty, delicious gorse ...

*Pic: Ruby and Russ Chudleigh 2016. Photograph John Hawkins ...

The Ramp (and below) November 2016. Photograph John Hawkins


For the past twelve years two elegantly large West Australian ladies, Ruby and Camilla, could have been seen walking sedately through the village of Chudleigh for their reward - an ice cream purchased from the village store. They were on the way back from my property as they have a specific and unique interest in gorse.

These two ladies have a little known but ancient skill for dealing with prickly desert plants. By wrapping their tongue around a prickly branch they can run their mouth up the branch and remove each and every prickle in one clean sweep! This, for a gorse hunter, is a vision magnificent to behold because not a thistle, ragwort, blackberry or gorse may be found on their patch. These gentle giants amaze and amuse tourists and residents alike!

More important in Chudleigh than Clinton versus Trump has been Ruby and Camilla versus the Meander Valley Council. 

Earlier this year a local resident applied to the Council on behalf of Ruby and Camilla regarding the introduction of camel rides over the beautifully sited Chudleigh showground.  The aim was to further enhance the potential of Chudleigh with its already famous Melita Honey Farm, Cast Jewellery/coffee shop, Periods of Time Museum and Margaret’s well known Chudleigh Store .

In an email to Council employee Rick Dunn, cameleer Russell Broome outlined the requirements for his planned tourist operation including the necessity of building a loading ramp to enable Ruby and Camilla to be safely handled.

Dunn replied:

“I have had confirmation that the Chudleigh Show Society are the title owners of the land and as such, Council has no involvement ...  and suggesting that Russell should contact the Show Committee and its President. 

The requisite permission for the use of the Showground was granted by the Show Committee and Russell built a camel loading ramp and platform out of Tasmanian treated logs at the Showground entrance.

Shortly after construction and with the business under way, a building inspector from logging HQ at Westbury was ordered to investigate the possibly of non-compliant cameleer’s construction. This was no private timber reserve in the centre of Deloraine but rather a small wooden construction built for a non-logging purpose to amuse and entertain two camels in downtown Chudleigh. 

Photographs were taken and the mounting platform and ramp were measured and inspected - then the big guns entered the fray in the person of general manager Mr Gill who wrote to the Chudleigh Agricultural & Horticultural Society Inc:

“I write to you in respect of a camel mounting ramp ... Building works appear to have been constructed without building and planning permits ... Demolish all unauthorised work or apply for and obtain all relevant permits by submitting all required documentation and payment of applicable fees.”

The Meander Valley Council with its small army of architects, planners and inspectors were now hot on the case regarding this possibly unlawful ground-breaking enterprise.

The offending ramp up to the mounting platform was debated and discussed, and a new chapter of planning law precedent is to be written over this interesting and unusual construction.

“Hang on a minute” wails Russell the frustrated cameleer,  “I thought you people wanted ‘no involvement.’”

The US presidential debate is forgotten and a series of lengthy council meetings are organised and held.

Russell can only assume that, in their wisdom, logging HQ in Westbury thought that Ruby and Camilla would kneel on the oval and then be mounted from the ground, thereby allowing Lawrence of Arabia and his allies to climb aboard.

Obviously Russell, an experienced cameleer, thought otherwise while building a solid ramp, a platform, and a specially designed loading chute to ensure safe and easy mounting.

A new directive came through from the commissars executing the Hodgman Liberal government’s Fairer, Faster, Cheaper planning scheme, declaring that an all-around safety balustrade enclosing the mounting platform was required.

Ruby and Camilla went weak at the knees at the thought of being boarded by brats climbing over a fence on the edge of their platform.

R&C thank the camel experts from the Ministry, sorry Council, for acting in their best interests by trying to prevent tourists leaping unannounced onto their unsuspecting backs.

According to Logging HQ, an architect and his drawings are immediately required, substantial fees need to be disgorged, disabled access must be considered and the angle of the ramp altered, thus requiring months of negotiation in order to allow Council a considered input into this highly complex but most interesting project.

I have to report that Russell, our only Chudleigh cameleer, has thrown in the towel because with no further funds available after the initial $6,000 his will is now exhausted, his temper is frayed, and the fight has gone out of him.

The storm blew over in the same week that Hilary was Trumped. Ruby and Camilla are moving across the water, beaten by bullshit. It should be noted that they are both light on excretion as only a little goes in, however prickly, and even less comes out, and to put it mildly they have got the hump. As a result the ladies have asked me to put out the following press release:

Too much grass, too little sand, too much rain, and too cold. but worst of all - no dates. The only saving grace was that lovely, prickly, tasty, delicious gorse followed by a soothing ice cream.

We will soon be eating dates under a palm tree in sunny Queensland.

Miss youse all,


*John Hawkins is a Sandhurst-trained former British army officer, now an Australian resident of almost fifty years. For the past fourteen years he has been enhancing the Bentley landscape in the Chudleigh Valley, Tasmania. He is well known for his two-volume standard reference on Australian Silver, and for his knowledge of the Life and Times of Erich Abetz.

EARLIER on Tasmanian Times ...

A plantation in downtown Deloraine

• Andrew Wyminga in Comments: If John and the intrepid cameleer had first applied for a substantial government grant and fast-tracking status for “a major new tourism development” (preferably in one of our National Parks where gorse is rife) exemptions would have been obtained from building regulations and Council approvals and Ruby and Camilla would now enjoy celebrity status (photos with cabinet ministers). The laudable “roll up your sleeves” and “fund it yourself” approach just does not work here anymore.