Beginning with Bettongs

29 Nov

From very early on, Errol exhibited an intense interest and unique talent for entrepreneurial adventure. Inspired by his father, this often involved scientific exploration and experimentation. Cruise of the Zaca is an eminent example.

But when and where did young Errol first profitably demonstrate this profound talent and interest? Evidence indicates it was in connection to Professor Flynn’s research into the reproductive biology of Tasmanian bettings. In fact, Errol essentially states so in My Wicked, Wicked Ways:

“When school finished, I raced home to be at his side, to hurry out into the back yard, where we had cages of specimens of rare animals… Through Father’s activity I made my first venture into commerce. He bought all the kangaroo rats [bettongs] he could get hold of for Hobart University. I learned to set box traps in the hills of near-by Mount Wellington. He paid a shilling a head.”

Putting Errol’s bettongs to exceptionally good use, Professor Flynn published a landmark paper in 1930 on the reproduction of the Tasmanian bettong.

Here is a rare nocturnal photo of the hard-to-catch, truffle-hunting Tasmanian bettong in the act of night-jumping.

And here is a spectacular view from Mt. Wellingon of the hills of Hobart where pre-teen Errol trapped bettongs for his father’s pioneering research into marsupials.

— Tim


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  1. timerider

    November 29, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    Anyone can see the way Errol felt right at home on the California coast and Jamaica. After all California was just a hop skip and a jump across the Pacific pond. School was boring and hunting exotic animals was so much more fun!
    I was not a perfect pupil and staring out the window I fantasized my adventures climbing trees to spot and catch turtles and snakes to trade and sell. My brother and cousin trapped muskrat to sell the pelts. I enjoyed my 2 years after the Navy working for biologists to collect specimens. Errol was so multifaceted in all his experience and in the world outside of hollyrock.

  2. tassie devil

    November 30, 2017 at 3:35 am

    One can see the distance from Hobart Town to the pinnacle of Mt Wellington, which is 4000 feet high. We have a copy of a letter from Marel to a friend telling of the birth of Errol and stating that for Christmas 1909 they walked up Mt Wellington and had a picnic. A mean feat when you consider the clothing of the day plus lugging Errol. Maybe thats where his love for Mt Wellington started.

  3. Gentleman Tim

    November 30, 2017 at 4:12 am

    WOW, tassie devil!!! What wonderful information! Thank for sharing that. So cool!

    I wonder if Errol and/or his Mom and Dad ever saw any of the Mt. Wellington huts, described in the link below:


    “If you’re looking for spectacular views of the Greater Hobart area, there’s no better place to go than the top of Mount Wellington, the large mountain just to the west of the city. Rising to 1,271 m, on a clear day you can almost see forever from here. Even Charles Darwin marvelled at the view, which he described in The Voyage of the Beagle.”

    I wonder, too, if young Errol ever witnessed or heard of any leaping like this up on the Mt. Wellington “Organ Pipes”! If so, I imagine it may have inspired some of his own leaping years later in Hollywood!


  4. Gentleman Tim

    November 30, 2017 at 4:44 am

    Very Errollike of you, timerider! He was riding sea turtles in the GBR and hunting rare poisonous snakes in PNG, later assembling his own magnificent menagerie up on Mulholland. Despite all his amazing travels and adventures, though, he never had anything as dangerous and exotic as Wild Tiger Lil’.



    • shangheinz

      December 11, 2017 at 6:17 pm


      Badda bing, Billabong Tim!