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A Bull Terrorised Campers in a Northern Territory Caravan Park

Everything was fine until a tourist sprayed it with a hose. Then it got mad and was eventually put down.

by Ian Thomas Ackerman
Jul 29 2015, 1:01am

The bull and a portable clothes horse. All images via the McArthur River Caravan Park.

On Monday a feral bull wandered into a Northern Territory caravan park and caused so much havoc it had to be put down. A German tourist, in a poor show of bovine understanding, watered the animal with a hose, which inspired it to start attacking people. At that point the police were called.

To get a better sense of this very Top-End story, we spoke to John White, owner of the McArthur River Caravan Park on the Gulf of Carpentaria.

VICE: Hey John, can you start from the beginning? What happened?
John White : So we were sitting down probably around 5:00, and one of the park people came up to me and said, there's a bull in our caravan park. I just said, really? I've never seen that before.

I arrived to see this German tourist—I don't know why—but he had a hose and decided to give this bull some water. Of course, this upset the bull and it started chasing him around some trees. He then climbed a tree to get away.

We backed off and the park manager went down close in a ute. But when he got out, the bull spotted him and charged him. The only way he could get away was to jump back into the tray of the ute.

So what did you do next?
There were quite a few people in the park and I started telling people to keep away and just let it settle down. We called the police and decided to let them deal with it. The problem was that as more people got involved, the bull became more agitated.

There was a guy in the park who thought he was stockman. He had 50-millimetre black water pipe, so he went up and cracked the bull over the back with it. Well, that made the bull even crankier, you know? So the guy ended up running.

It was like the Running of the Bulls in Spain. We had people going everywhere, which was a concern because the bull was large with horns. It would have caused a reasonable amount of damage if it had caught anyone. It was Northern Territory style. This is what happens in the Northern Territory, and not anywhere else in Australia.

A tourist takes refuge behind a caravan

How did you get the bull under control?
I rang the Borroloola police, because if it needed to be put down we weren't authorised to shoot it. So we kept the people away and he roamed around for a bit, and we corralled him out through the gates. Then the police arrived and the bull attacked the police vehicle. At that point they decided the only way to make people safe was to kill it. They had a high-powered rifle and put it out of business.

Where did the animal come from?
We've got a number of feral cattle wandering around Borroloola, but usually they don't come into town. For whatever reason, this animal decided to come in and cause some havoc.

So do you blame the tourist with the hose?
Yeah, I don't know what possessed him to do that. I wouldn't have gone within 40 feet of the bull. They breed a lot of rodeo bulls up here, so there are some pretty aggressive animals around. You don't go around giving them a drink if they look thirsty. It's just not on. That'll be the last time that guy tries to give a bull a drink anyway.

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