Joe the bounder in the pub
Strangers think they’ve had one too many, but the pub regulars are no longer jumpy when a kangaroo they call Joe breasts the bar
By BILL WELLS
Joe’s no lounge lizard, but he is easily the biggest bounder among the regular drinkers at his local pub. Everybody moves over when he nudges up to the bar to get his “morning special” – a handful of indigestion tablets.
Who is going to argue with the close personal friend of a licensee – particularly when the friend is a 2.1 metre-tall kangaroo?
Joe sprang into the local life-style at the Gipsy Point Hotel near Mallacoota, Victoria, 12 years ago. He was orphaned after his mother was hit and killed by a car. The licensee, Dorn Davis, and her late husband, Doug, nurtured him carefully until he was fit enough to head back to the bush.
But by then it was too late. Joe was well and truly hooked on bar life.
He tried the wide open spaces a couple of times running with a local pack but before long headed back to the hotel.
“He is as gentle as can be, but he certainly is a smart one,” said Dorn as Joe stretched out a paw for a second round of his favourite digestion tablets.
“He thumps in here like a shot if he thinks there is something going on, which has shattered a few strangers who feel sure they are seeing things.
“He doesn’t like beer, which is just as well because we would have to bar him.
Alcohol of any sort would make him sick and might even kill him. Joe is more of a foodaholic. Indigestion tablets and nuts are his favourites, but he doesn’t turn his nose up if he’s offered chocolate biscuits.”
Joe’s also a bit of a pool fan, but doesn’t see any point in using cues. He could have become the pub champ, but none of the regulars will take him on in a two-paw game.
Not that Joe wastes too much time with the boys at the bar. Like most pub bounders he never confuses conviviality with business and wheeler-dealing.
He has learned to open almost any door with a quick two-paw jiggle, but he restricts his breaking and entering prowess to the guest rooms where he carefully sorts out the tea and coffee packs before getting stuck into the sugar.
“He usually sneaks only into empty rooms,” said Dorn, “but occasionally he makes a mistake.
“One of our guests left, convinced the place was haunted by a giant kangaroo.
“Fortunately Joe always plays it cool when he gets sprung. The only time he landed in trouble was when he went into one room, ate all the sugar, and then for dessert swallowed a lot of sleeping tablets he found.
“He just managed to tot-ter out to a tree in the garden before falling asleep. He spent the rest of the day there flat out.”
Middle-aged by kangaroo standards, Joe’s idea of bliss is a full stomach and a patch of warm grass to sleep on, but he doesn’t mind a game or two between snoozes.
His favourite playmate is Dorn’s three-year-old grand-son, Paul, who sees him as a sort of Hopalong Cassidy.
When Paul is not around, Joe, being a bit of a bounder, dallies with the birds, specially a big, cynical looking currawong that can hop almost as fast as he can.
He also seems to like playing pat-a-cake with any seagulls wandering through the pub garden, though they don’t seem too happy about being on the receiving end of Joe’s straight lefts.
That seems to be the only exercise he gets unless you count toying with the pub piano, which could explain the indigestion tablets!
– Australian Women’s Weekly, Wednesday November 5 1980.
Mallacoota is a small town in the East Gippsland region of Victoria, Australia. At the 2006 census, Mallacoota had a population of 972. At holiday times, particularly Easter and Christmas, the population increases by about 8,000. The Gypsy Point Hotel is no longer trading.