A top Melbourne University agronomy professor has unveiled a project to get rid of Australia’s 25 million cattle and 70 million sheep. The plan would reduce what is viewed as excessive eating by the Australian public while tackling global warming by substituting smaller meat portions of bandicoot and kangaroo. On an exchange-rate by weight, the switch would involve about 2.8 billion bandicoots (substituting sheep) and 200 million roos (substituting steers), before allowing for any cut in consumption.

The professor is Bruce Pascoe, the university’s prestigious Enterprise Professor in Indigenous Agriculture. A problem he has yet to address is Australia’s loss of meat export income (about $15 billion). But I believe clever overseas marketing might restore such revenue. For example, Paul Hogan could tell the US to “throw another bandi on the barbie”.

Personally, I’ve sighted a bandicoot only once or twice in my lifetime. They’re shy, pointy-eared marsupials of about 2kg, and they have a cute running style described as a “gallop”. Nesting by day, they forage for insects, plants and larvae at night with their noses and long toes, leaving behind small conical holes called “snout pokes” and usefully distributing fungi spores. To waterproof their hideouts they kick a layer of soil over the top of the nest while it’s raining. They seem to ‘grunt’ happily when their muzzle chances upon food, and make a shrill squeak when disturbed, especially by multiple kinds of feral and native predators such as Professor Pascoe, who eats them. Six of nine species are extinct or threatened.

Pascoe describes bandicoots as “delicious”, and adds,“I should not know that but I do.” Legal sources say that given his Aboriginality, an Elder like Uncle Bruce would have hunting rights over otherwise-protected bandicoots outside Victoria[1], preferably involving spear or waddie rather than .223’s like the Remington M700 LTREven with firearms, Pascoe citing his near-countless Aboriginal ancestors would impress any magistrate adjudicating on his bandicoot afternoon teas. Pascoe has previously confessed to an Academy of Science subsidiary of his desires to shoot and eat roos “illegally”, presumably around his Gypsy Point (Gippsland) farmlet.[2]

I am suggesting we eat roos instead of cattle and sheep, which are incredibly destructive of soil. I personally bought a lamb roast because I know how to cook it, I have sage and herbs making it beautiful. I also eat roo. People argue against (killing) roos, saying they are beautiful and very soulful. The sight of a female roo nurturing her young, both asleep in the sun in my front yard really warms my heart. It is not disturbing to think at some stage I will shoot a young male roo illegally to get meat. A young roo is only as beautiful as a young lamb, they are still animals.

He continued that capitalist accounting systems legitimise tax avoidance in the Bahamas, so it’s no worse to shoot roos broad-scale and share the roo dividends equitably among the farm-holders – thus inaugurating the new discipline of Pascoenomics:

I don’t see that sharing the dividend of the country is descent into Communism, it’s asking us to cooperate. We should not allow some of our right wing politicans to say it is Communism and Socialism, it is co-operation because we don’t despise our grandchildren. We sensibly start looking at those things that would allow us to continue as a species.

The bandicoot-nibbling professor has been with Melbourne’s Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences since his ground-breaking appointment two years ago to bring his authentic Aboriginal know-how to Australian primary producers.[3] Thanks to ABC Education, the curricula crowd and state education departments grooming Australian students to be green/left voters, literally millions of kids to date have been brainwashed with Pascoe’s Dark Emuand Young Dark Emu tomes.

Professor Pascoe outlined his vision for the perfect Australian dinner during the prestigious Annual History Lecture 2022 for the state-backed NSW History Council on October 28.

He strongly suggests we personally learn to slaughter a bandicoot, but only with love and only when we’re really hungry:

How badly do I need that [meat]? Yeah, I am hungry, I am prepared to kill for that, I am going to kill as dingos killed a roo on my property two or three days ago, one of the most dramatic events I’ve ever seen.

There would certainly be dramas with Mrs (or Mr) Hungry Householder going after bandicoots like Canadians in pursuit of baby fur-seals. If the bandicoot herds are to be marketed as free-range fare, catching them could be arduous as bandicoots need up to four hectares per female and 40 hectares per male. Apart from healthier food and tackling climate change, a bandicoot diet should lead to peak fitness for those chasing a Sunday roast.

If the quest is too arduous, Pascoe has offered a lazier meal, namely snatching consumable roadkill from the crows and blowflies in outer suburbs like Dural (Sydney), Upper Ferntree Gully (Melbourne) and my ancestral Country of Gooseberry Hill (Perth). I’m citing from his latest book Country: Future Fire, Future Farming.[4] Chapter 4, “Future Farming – kangaroos and emus”:

There is another avenue of protein collection we might consider. Every morning in East Gippsland the road toll becomes apparent, with carcasses of wallabies, kangaroos, possums and wombats every kilometre or so. In this district it is not uncommon to find kangaroos and wallabies with broken legs as the result of being hit by a car. 

I will never forget finding one huge injured male by following his moans of agony. And I will certainly never forget the look he turned on me when I arrived with my gun. He knew exactly what was about to happen, and was ready.

Who knew Professor Bruce was a kangaroo-whisperer?

We harvest these animals with our cars, so why not use their bounty instead of allowing their carcasses to bloat? If we are going to be meat eaters, and there are good arguments for some meat in our diet, then let us be economical about our harvest … Animals killed like this almost always die suddenly, without the meat-toughening release of adrenaline into their system. 

Why don’t we have patrol vans with people licensed to inspect roadkill and harvest anything left that is fit for human consumption or could be made into dog food? A simple temperature probe is almost all that is required. Older carcasses could be moved further off the highway so that eagles and crows were not tempted to feed too close to the road. Stringent health and refrigeration rules could be set in place so that we don’t waste any resources. Harvesting that meat and the kangaroo and emu stock in our paddocks would mean we could afford to graze fewer hard-hoofed animals. (Kindle, p75 of 235).

The NSW History Council poobahs described Pascoe’s ideas at Orange as “fascinating” and “wonderful”. His lecture was held in the art deco ballroom of the Canobolas Hotel in Orange, NSW, traditional owner being the Sydney Sukkar clan (Buildcorp) . Mary McLean from the Aboriginal Land Council gave the Welcome to Country while Newcastle University’s frontier wars correspondentProfessor Stephen Gapps provided introductions.[5]

Their ABC on November 15 promoted Pascoe’s bandicoot theme on Radio National. In addition, ABC Education on December 7 re-launched its 15-part homage to Pascoe’s erudition dubbed “Aboriginal Agriculture, Technology and Ingenuity.” Moreover, somewhere inside the ABC dark fortress are legions of workers toiling since 2019 like Wagner’s Nibelungen to create a two-part epic tribute to Pascoe’s Dark Emu book.  As the ABC originally blurbed,

Over two parts, Dark Emu will see Bunurong/Yuin/Palawa author Bruce Pascoe presenting his fresh perspective on Indigenous history.

Undeterred by the book’s demolition last year by academics Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe, the defiant ABC told the Sydney Morning Herald in July 2021 that “there are no plans to abandon the project. The spokesperson has assured the show will be produced in a way ‘that deals with what’s previously not been dealt with’”.[6]

 ABC Indigenous earlier filmed Pascoe spruiking his Young Dark Emu audiobook, intoning his New Age poppycock against plangent and inspirational chords from an unseen orchestra:

I don’t want young Australians to change, I want them to think about justice . I would love them to be in love with their Country — Mother Earth —  that would thrill me to pieces, because I would then be confident  that She would be looked after and that is all we want, we want care for our Country.

Plangent background music hits a crescendo.

The audiobook he narrates is accompanied by what sounds like the same orchestra. The book is for 9- to 12-year-olds and retails at $8.99. Pascoe’s audiobook narration seems direct from the book, like

It was a very inconvenient truth that Indigenous Australians lived in permanent structures and in large communities, built dams and wells, planted and irrigated and harvested seed, and preserved and stored the surplus … we can only imagine the other Aboriginal villages and farmlands and enterprises [other than those he quotes and/or misquotes from explorers’ journals] across this vast continent that were never recorded…” 

I was wondering about supposed ABC policy against advertising commercial products, until I saw that the audiobook cover  includes the branding, “ABC Audio, Complete and Unabridged.” In the name of honesty and frank disclosure, all ABC references to Pascoe should include a disclaimer: ‘The ABC is a commercial partner of Professor Pascoe.’ [7]

In complete fairness to Professor Bruce, here’s his bandicoot blarney verbatim (except minor edits).[8]My only complaint about the History Council’s transcript is a disrespectful reference to the Prime Minister as “Elbow”.

Questioner: Bruce, you touch our hearts, I think… What’s the way forward? Where to from here, mate?

Prof Bruce Pascoe: Well, wherever we go, we do it slowly and carefully and thoughtfully. I’m talking about removing cattle and sheep from the landscape, not immediately, but I think it would be really helpful if we started eating kangaroos and bandicoots. But if we did that, we would have to ensure the health of bandicoots and kangaroos. And we’re not going to be able to exist in a country without those animals, without those grains in the short-term. But over time, if we reduce the amount we ate, because Western people eat far too much anyway, if we reduce the amount of meat we ate, as against vegetables… 80% of the Aboriginal diet in the East Coast was vegetables.

So, if we did all of those things, and transferred some of that attention toward the kangaroo and the other meat-bearing animals in Australia, but do it with love. We’re going to eat these bandicoot now, they’re delicious. I shouldn’t know that, but I do. If we’re going to eat bandicoot, we have to love bandicoot. Not for its meat, but for itself. This is what I was taught, this is the lore that I was taught. When you take a branch off the tree, you thank the tree. You ask the tree, “Is it okay if I take this small branch now, because I need it to do this other thing?” [Is Uncle Bruce channelling King Charles 111 and his potplants?] And when I was taught that a long time ago, I thought, “Oh, that’s quaint.” But what it does is, every time you reach for the plant, you think, “How badly do I need that?” And it’ll be the same with bandicoots and kangaroos. “How badly do I need that? Am I prepared to kill for that? Yeah, I’m hungry. I’m going to kill.” As the dingoes killed kangaroo on my property two or three days ago, one of the most dramatic events I’ve ever seen.

“But I think we go forward slowly, and carefully, and with love, and we reform a lot of our things that we’d inherited directly from the British, and that’s our diet. And we start changing accordingly. There’s so much, there’s so much to do. There’s so much to think about, there’s so much to study. We need experts, and we need this in conjunction with Aboriginal people who are on their land. And not just to tick a box, because that happens all the time, but to work carefully for the sake of Mother Earth. And if we think of her as our Mother, the whole idea of what we take from the earth changes, and how we take it, and how much we take. So, I can’t answer your question, except to say, ‘slowly’.

So you can now savour the lustre that Professor Pascoe adds to Melbourne University’s standing as one of the world’s top 34 universities. As the university’s associate provost, Professor Marcia Langton, said at the time re the $200,000 job (if full-time – the uni won’t say),

Mr Pascoe’s appointment provides an opportunity to further our understanding of Indigenous agricultural practices and to support him in engaging with Indigenous knowledge holders to document these ancient practices for future generations. Bruce Pascoe’s commitment to the recovery of Indigenous agricultural practices and native plants will enrich our curricula and contribute to the recognition of Indigenous knowledge as part of the mission of our University community.

Apart from Pascoe’s First Nations stature, his UoM appointment recognised his “enterprise” skills. His enterprise peers there include recognised global CEO John Pollaers of Pacific Brands, Fosters Group and Diageo PLC with credentials in advanced Australian manufacturing. Pascoe’s main “enterprise” is as a director of Twofold Aboriginal Corporation, near Eden NSW, which involved this auditor’s note to its 2022 accounts (p16) last November 25:

 We draw attention to Note 1 to the financial report, which notes that the Corporation as at 30 June 2022 had its current liabilities exceed its current assets by $913,222. Due to these conditions, this indicates a material uncertainty exists that may cast doubt on the Corporation’s ability to continue as a going concern.[9]

Pascoe’s other major enterprise is the tax-deductible charity start-up Black Duck Foods, which the accounts say involves lease money to operate on his farm. In its last published accounts (for 2020-21, what’s happened to 2021-22?) Black Duck reported farm income of $22,045 and farm costs of $46,151. Its total income of $934,209 included $860,646 donations and grants. A key donor was the Dara Foundation ($300,000 over two years). Dara Foundation directors included the wealthy family of Anne Kantor of Kew, sister of Rupert Murdoch. The Kantors are noted backers of left-wing causes.[10] 

Strangely, Melbourne University no longer touts Uncle Bruce as Aboriginal, with his official uni biog on “Find an Expert” now describing him as a mere “writer and farmer”. Under “scholarly works” the world’s 34th-ranked university includes Pascoe’s book Found, explaining, “This gentle story set in the rugged Australian bush is about a small calf who becomes separated from his family.” The calf seems safe from Pascoe, assuming the latter can spot some tastier bandicoots.

Pascoe’s opening words at Orange were that he is a Yuin, Bunurong and Tasmanian man. Genealogist Jan Holland has found that every one of Pascoe’s ancestors on both sides of his family was of British descent. Pascoe is yet to name an Aboriginal forebear who can be checked out, and the Yuin, Bunurong and Tasmanians are unimpressed. But Pascoe has other genealogical strings to his bow – sorry, make that notches to his nulla-nulla — as at various times he has presented as also being Wiradjuri, Punniler PannerKoori, a descendant of the Ballarat and Geelong Aboriginal communities, and from a tribe bordering the Wathaurong of Geelong and Colac to the northwest, along with a South Australian Aboriginal connection. He discovered he was Aboriginal at the age of 30 — no, make that 18, — no, make that 9, when he was speaking the Wathaurong language with his family.[11]

I could go on but my legal opposite-sex partner is calling me to dinner.

“What’s that, darling? Arr, not bandicoot stir-fry again!” (I wish she’d never heard of Bruce Pascoe…)

Tony Thomas’s latest book from Connor Court is now available: Anthem of the Unwoke – Yep! The other lot’s gone bonkers. For a copy ($35 including postage), email tthomas061@gmail.com.

  • [1] Under Commonwealth, Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia law, Aboriginal people are able to hunt substantially unrestricted by conservation laws. Certain exemptions apply in New South Wales and allowance is also made for residents of trust lands in Queensland. However in Tasmania and Victoria there is no special provision to take account of Aboriginal interests.

[2] At this keynote lecture, Pascoe also impressed Australia’s science leaders with his account of how a talking, amphibious whale circa 12,000BC guided his ancestors out of Bass Strait and into Victoria to avoid them getting dunked by the rising seas.

[3] As a bonus, the university announced, “The contribution from Indigenous Australians could also help contribute to carbon neutrality in food production.”

[4] Thames & Hudson and National Museum Australia. Co-author is ANU historian Bill Gammage. The publisher describes Pascoe as “an Aboriginal Australian writer”.

[5] Inaugural president of the History Council and author of Gudyarra, the First Wiradyuri War of Resistance.

[6] The SMH named Darren Dale, co-founder of Blackfella, as an executive producer of the series.

[7] Magabala Books quoted more than 300,000 sales  just to mid-2021, and 95,000 sales of the Young Dark Emu spin-off for schoolkids. Assuming sales of 350,000 and 100,000 respectively (and ignoring the audiobook), with price of $17.99 and $20.50, and royalty of 10 per cent, that’s a conservative $835,000 to Pascoe. He might have cracked the $1m by now.

[8] Would you believe, I spent an entire day transcribing his one-hour talk, before I discovered an official transcript existed.

[9] Twofold’s earlier accounts likewise copped auditor concerns, e.g. 2021: Material Uncertainty Related to Going Concern

We draw attention to Note 1 in the financial report, which indicates that the Corporation incurred a net loss of $466,107 during the year ended June 30, 2020, and, as of that date, the Corporation’s current liabilities exceeded its current assets by $542,937. These events or conditions, along with other matters set forth in Note 1, indicate that a material uncertainty exists that may cast significant doubt on the Corporation’s ability to continue as a going concern. 

[10] This foundation cancelled its charity status last May.

[11] Vague Pascoe explanations have included,

‘Some people think that my association, family association, is too slim to worry about. I’ve said that all along that these are distant relationships, but they’re important to me, as is every relationship in my family.’ The Age has reported that  Pascoe feels “obliged” to identify himself as Aboriginal after his experience with Indigenous people who helped unravel his ancestry. ‘What do you do, [say] thank you for introducing me to your family, see you later? You can’t.’


  1. An informative link, Beth, though I note it’s from 18 months ago. Interesting though that it was originally published in Crikey, which is perhaps about the same politically as the Guardian. I’m surprised it published an article with such a frankly sceptical stance toward Pascoe, and pointing out there is considerable daylight between the professional-managerial class fealty to Pascoe’s identity claims (the well-heeled in the Australian education and culture scene do love showering him with accolades and prizes only available to people of Aboriginal heritage), and the more earthy and forthright rejection of Pascoe’s claims by multiple Aboriginal mobs (not mentioned was his 1990s attempt to claim being Wathaurung, the Geelong mob — but was raused out from there too). As the kids say, awkwaaard.

    But on TT’s article here, I suppose Uncle Professor Bruce has to come up with something once in a while to justify his being a specially appointed Chair professor at the University of Melbourne (I think I recall TT finding out some time ago he’s on a salary there, but seems to do very little for it). So perhaps this hardly-trying, intellectually lazy contribution would tick the box for another year on the payroll.

    Liked by 2 people

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