The Emu War


From Veritable Hokum. Check them out!

And yes, this Emu War actually happened. Roughly 20,000 emus migrated into the Eastern Wheatbelt area, discovering newly cleared farmland filled with crops and watering points for sheep. They liked this supply of food and water and were ambivalent toward the soldier settler (and other) farmers’ tough run of grain prices and droughts.

Since these were ex-soldiers facing ruin (from drought, grain prices, broken subsidy promises, and emus – blame the killer emus!), they liked the idea of using machine-guns (2 Lewis Guns) against the birds in the same way they’d used them against opposing infantry in WW1. This didn’t go anywhere near as well as expected. Emus are faster, harder to kill outright, and generally not running straight at a machine-gun embankment; so their casualties were low.

Two attempts were made at an emu cull, but ultimately the government decided to offer a bounty on emus instead. Later they went with the tried and trusted move of building a fence to keep the emus out of agricultural areas (along with dingoes, wild dogs, rabbits, kangaroos – although the latter laugh at attempts to build a fence they can’t jump over).

11 thoughts on “The Emu War

    1. Sorry, can’t take credit for the cartoon. The link takes you to the artist. This did take place near where I used to work (Nungarin).

      Now they don’t complain about emus, they complain about wild dogs. Oh, and they still get problems with rainfall, especially in winter – 11 to 19% less winter rainfall since 2000 thanks to climate change.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I had to Google where Nungarin is. I lived in WA for a few years mostly in Freo and Geraldton. I worked at the Mid-West Chamber of Commerce for 6 months to a year. My uncle is an elder of the Noongar people and comes from Narrogin.
        The drop in rainfall sounds serious. I woud’ve thought it was fairly low to start with.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It was already low, yes. Basically it means that you don’t get any wet years any more (the recent “wet years” were actually average or a bit above). The blessing has been that farmers are much better at turning water into grain than ever before.

        I’m originally from Wagin. Which family was your uncle from?


  1. That whole “keep them fenced” thing had a reprise in East Africa. Eland are docile, hardy, produce lots of milk and good quality meat, and can survive where a goat would starve. There was a project for a while to try and domesticate them. The problem was building a kraal they couldn’t jump out of.

    Liked by 1 person

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