Ruling the roost: Meet Donald Trumpet, the loudest resident of Pine Creek

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Back Roads


Karen Michelmore


January 15, 2018 07:30:45

Video: A rooster named Donald Trumpet is said to have the loudest mouth in Pine Creek, according to its owner. (ABC News)
(Back Roads: Karen Michelmore)
Pine Creek’s menagerieOn this patch of the world, cluttered with rusted machinery, spare parts and the odd buffalo skull, life moves slowly and with dry wit.Along with Hodgie — a former rodeo champion — Donald Trumpet is joined by a kelpie named Possum, and a quickly-expanding boar named Balloon.”I’ve had a fair bit to do with animals through my life,” he told ABC TV’s Back Roads program.”I grew up with animals and horses were my passion for a long, long time.”I travelled the rodeo circuit for a fair few years; starting to feel the pain from it now, but it was good fun at the time.”I still enjoy going to watch a rodeo once in a while.”

Possum the dog is just one of the animals Chris Hodge has in his life. (Back Roads: Ron Ekkel)
Town history still a lure for fossicking localsPine Creek has been all about gold, since the early days.That is, until the last gold mine halted over a year ago — for now and as the mines have stopped, the population has dwindled. While it is quick to evade the farmer at his rural block, Chris Hodge named the rooster after hearing the noise it made.’Hodgie’ as he is known to locals in the Top End, lives on the outskirts of the remote mining town of Pine Creek, 225 kilometres south of Darwin on the Stuart Highway.”I call him Donald Trumpet, because he’s got a big mouth,” Hodgie explained.”They sound pretty well alike when this one makes a noise, big mouthed thing it is.”Wakes me up at half-past five every morning. She meets communities whose good humour and inventiveness will inspire and uplift. (Back Roads: Ron Ekkel)
Digging for golden leftoversThese days Hodgie, now 70, spends his days prospecting for gold, going over well-trodden ground that Chinese miners first burrowed out with pick and shovel more than 140 years ago.He does have some secret spots but is not inclined to share details of them.”What we do is walk around these old tailings dumps and hopefully pick a bit of gold they have missed,” he said.”You can see here, someone else has been here before us and they’ve dug a hole there and probably found a bit of gold, or a bit of steel.”If it was gold, they’ve got it … we haven’t.”

Chris Hodge says he enjoys gold prospecting because it keeps him actively walking since he gave up rodeo. External Link:

Donald Trumpet likes to evade anyone who comes nearby. (Back Roads: Colin Jones)
“A few years ago, when there was a hell of a lot of miners here, it was a booming town but nowadays it’s pretty quiet and people are suffering from it,” Hodgie said.”I mean, you’ve got to have some sort of industry otherwise it’s going to just be a town of the past.”But the lure of shiny objects still keeps fossickers like Hodgie in Pine Creek.”I like gold — I mean gold means a dollar doesn’t it, so who doesn’t like gold?” he added.”There’s a lot of rubbish here and that deters a lot of people.”We get a lot of caravaners come through and hook up their detectors and come out here and by the time they spend half a day digging up pieces of tin and boot nails and lead shot, I think they go to cleaner ground in other goldfields.”But we still keep looking for it here — sometimes we find it.”I don’t intend to start an apprenticeship at my age, so it’s pretty good I think.”Watch Back Roads on ABC TV 8pm MondayPast episodes or extras are on iView or at

#BackRoadsHeather Ewart returns to the Back Roads of Australia, to discover more resilient country towns and the inspiring people who live in them. I’m pleased I don’t have to put up with the other one.”

Former rodeo rider-turned fossicker Chris Hodge, ‘Hodgie’, was the one to name Donald Trumpet. Photo:
The population of Pine Creek has dwindled from a few thousand to a few hundred. A gold prospector in outback Australia says a pet rooster named ‘Donald Trumpet’ is the loudest resident in Pine Creek, giving residents a wake up call like no other.The aptly named Northern Territory pet was named after the President of the United States, but he is a world away from the White House.
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