Only the pause of a train in their sleepy station lured the inhabitants of Woodend, Australia from their homes to consider the faces of passengers en route to larger cities. Not that Woodend lacked attractions; quite the contrary. Standing some 1,850 feet above sea level, the town enjoyed a climate moderate enough to recommend it as an attractive summer destination. Its eucalyptus forests hid within them health resorts and mineral springs. Its rich volcanic soil, the color of chocolate, made it a thriving agricultural district that trafficked in root vegetables, raspberries and currants. Its winds, which blew wholesome and tranquil, cooled those travelers disembarking at Woodend to eat, rest and recover their nerves.
Some carried long bows and forked arrows; others harquebusses, muskets and Lochaber axes. They wore thin-soled shoes, tartan hose, knotted handkerchiefs, sky-blue caps, and garters fashioned from wreathes of straw. Thus equipped and adorned, they, the Irish nobility of Braemar, ventured into the Highland countries to hunt deer.
A parrot that favors mutton? Seems like the stuff of fable. Unfortunately for New Zealand farmers, the kea, or mountain parrot, was all too real. An 1882 edition of Littell’s Living Age reports on a “carnivorous parrot, whose love of animal flesh manifests itself in a very decided predilection for mutton.” Living high in wooded glens and recesses, this avian marauder is nocturnal, striking out only at night to nosh sheeps’ tenderest bits, the fat surrounding their kidneys.