QUEENSLAND COUNTRY HOSPITALITY

By Steve Ricketts

My father, Jon Ricketts had spoken often about the delights of “Yellow Belly”, or Golden Perch, a fresh water fish caught in western Queensland streams.
He had eaten Yellow Belly a number of times, during his spell as south western Queensland area manager for the Shell Oil Company, in 1975.
When I called into the Dulacca Pub in early May, 1982, I happened to mention to a local, who had been fishing, (at St George, I think), that I had never tasted Yellow Belly.
Problem solved. Quick as a flash, he produced an esky full of the fish for me to take with me, back to Brisbane.
Memories of this exchange came flooding back, when, (on May 4, 2019) Channel 7 Brisbane, featured an item on the revamped (pink) Dulacca Hotel.
In ’82 I was on assignment for the Brisbane ‘Telegraph’ newspaper. I had covered the Toowoomba and South West Clydesdales’ State League match against the Redcliffe Dolphins on May 2, at Bassett Park, Roma. (I also had to file a story for Rugby League Week).
Before stopping at Dulacca, my photographer, Roman Biegi and I had been to former Brisbane Valleys’ and South Sydney forward, Charlie Frith’s cattle property, to conduct an interview.
Roman was the designated driver, and, in those days, that meant a six pack every so many kilometres, or a pub stop. Wrong, I know, and I am grateful to be alive, and grateful that no-one was killed.
The hospitality at the Dulacca pub was sensational, although some of the regulars were a bit down in the dumps as a result of Toowoomba’s 37-0 capitulation to Redcliffe.
Roma product, Arthur Beetson, (a former Australian skipper and then coach of the Queensland State of Origin side) was supposed to play for Redcliffe, the club which he captain-coached. But his mother had passed away earlier in the week, and he excused himself from playing duties. The crowd of 2,500 had hoped to see Arthur in action, but he only ran on, and kicked off.
Redcliffe charges, led by the likes of Vic Tighe, Steve Bullow and Colin Part, always dominated the Clydesdales, who had put up a brave showing against Wynnum-Manly the week before. Best for Toowoomba, who were coached by former Valleys’ star, Jeff Gill, were Joel Duke and Tony Loxley.
Now, as for the eating qualities of the Yellow Belly? I didn’t mind them, by my wife, Marie reckoned they tasted ‘muddy’.
The esky full of Yellow Belly was not the winning gift I thought it would be. But it’s the thought that counts.
Photo: Steve Ricketts (front and centre) with locals at the Dulacca pub in May, 1982
Photo 2: Colin Part.

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