Sunday, July 7, 2024


 In this blog's relentless  hunt for interesting   books , ephemera  galore  ,  old photos , overlooked   Dead Sea scrolls  and  assorted  other flotsam , various editions  of  the  Prickle Farm ,  by former Darwin  ABC journalist , muso   and   radio personality  , the late  Mike  Hayes , have  been  unearthed. This is  an  indication that  the   book and   associated  radio  and newspaper column  were very  popular  with  the  public. 

Two  editions  of  the  Prickle Farm are shown  here, another one  somewhere  in  the   files .    

Born in Redding, England,  his father  suffering tuberculosis ,  Mike came to Australia  , via Sri Lanka, where his mother had been born , with his  parents .

He grew up in Melbourne , started as a journalist  on the  The Age  and moved to the  ABC.

In  Melbourne during the l960s  he  and his brother  formed  Australia's first true bluegrass band , the Hayes Brothers and  their Bluegrass Ramblers Moving   to Darwin with the ABC, Mike played in a band  called Brown Sugar so named  because  its members  were said  to  be coarse  and  unrefined.  

From  the Little  Darwin  jumbled  files  the  above   exclusive  photograph  shows  Mike  ,for some unknown reason  armed  with a bow and arrow, lining up  a large barramundi , a marlin  or  crocodile , perhaps a  marauding goldfish , at  Fannie  Bay , Darwin. 

After  Cyclone Tracy , Mike  and his  family took up residence on a rural property in Gundaroo , New South Wales,  which became the famous Prickle  Farm , near Canberra, where he  headed  the ABC News  team .

In fact , his untimely death at  58 on February 10 , 2003  was  raised in parliament . Senator Ursula Stephens told the house  the Prickle  Farm stories  were yarns of mayhem and mishap on a hobby farm . One reviewer, she  said,  had called them ,"Tales of rebellious dunnies, chooks who thought they  were sheep  and a sheepdog with  no instinct to muster either  sheep or chooks. " 

Hayes  had been  well known to many people working in parliament house—especially those in the Press Gallery  and the people of the Canberra region through his running commentary on the lives and the loves of the people of Gundaroo, which was broadcast on ABC Radio, and through his weekly column about the Prickle Farm, which featured later in his books of the same name.

"He was a hugely entertaining persona. He was certainly larger than life, dry, outrageously caustic and self-deprecating. He was also an extraordinarily astute observer of human nature. He was gruff and generous and he had a huge social and political conscience."

In a Sydney Morning Herald obituary , Ron Miller wrote : What can you say about a man whose writing created a world that spoke to a whole generation of hobby farmers, put the phrase `prickle farm' into the lexicon and put [the] village of Gundaroo on the world stage; whose musical talent should have made him rich; whose Easter jam sessions were legendary; whose choice of dress was somewhere between Johnny Cash and Hagrid; and whose barbecues almost without fail started out by thawing 15 pounds of chops on the hotplate because he'd forgotten to take them out of the freezer?

 The  radio series , a newspaper column  and books had captured  a  lifestyle  that  was  quintessentially  Mike Hayes.