Rabbits and the Roberts family
Ken Roberts contributed this photograph and story about his father Jack Roberts to the National Museum’s 1992 ‘Grey Invasion’ rabbit research project. Ken’s story illuminates some of the ways Australians have experienced rabbits – welcome source of income, readily available food item (not just for human consumption!), and family companion.
In a letter to the National Museum dated 19 November 1992,
Jack Roberts age 15, 1943 at Nuntin Road, Boisdale, Victoria on his parents share farm. Between morning and night, milking and farm work he and [his] brothers would check the rabbit traps set the previous day and use ferrets to catch rabbits. The average catch was 15 to 20 pair per day. Most of these were transported 1½ miles [about 2.4 kilometres] down the road to Ridley’s corner to sell to Harold Symonds for 2 to 3 shillings a pair. The picture shows the rabbits (9 here) as carried across the handlebars – they were also strung over the middle bar. Some nice young rabbits were kept for the family to eat and sometimes boiled up for the chooks. The skins of these were hung over frames and then sent to Melbourne by train to sell to Goldsborough Mort and J. Kennan and Sons. The price was about 5 shillings a pound. He was paid 10 bob a week and keep to work on the farm and the extra rabbit money helped him save up for his bike amongst other things. His mother had a pet magpie, rabbit
and dog and he can remember how she had them all playing together happily.