The history of Australia, like that of most nation colonized after the Renaissance, is littered with crackpot ideas. But few ideas are more crackpot than those devised by people who read Lamarck, misunderstood a few key points and never read Mendel, Darwin or Galton at all.

Such people – one Aloysius Macomber of North Kilsyth was one – tended to evolve baroque breeding schemes that seemed primarily based on the idea that the mythical chimera had been created by patient animal husbandry rather than by storytellers hoping to be fed.

Macomber in particular was fixated on the idea that his cattle would be preyed upon by wolves and bears, and apparently unaware that neither of these creatures existed in great numbers in Australia. He wanted to breed a cow that was better able to defend itself, and better able to survive the drought conditions that so frequently obtained in Australia. For this purpose, he proposed to hybridise cattle, kangaroos and dogs.

The plan ended in tears and animal corpses, since when penned together, the animals would tend to fight with each other until one or more of them was dead. Macomber did at one point succeed in raising together a joey and a calf, but unfortunately for his breeding plans, they were both males (they did have a long and happy life together, though).

By the time that serious scientists were starting to re-examine the works of the now-deceased Mendel and unravel the mysteries of genetics, Macomber was also deceased, although unlike Mendel, he had hung himself from the rafters of the barn that had all too frequently been vandalised with the legend “Moo-Roo-Bark” by his scornful neighbour, William Slicington.

Suburbs near Mooroolbark:

Chirnside Park Chirnside Park Lilydale Lilydale
Chirnside Park Mooroolbark Lilydale Lilydale
Croydon Mooroolbark Mooroolbark Lilydale
Croydon Mooroolbark Mooroolbark Montrose
Croydon Kilsyth Kilsyth Montrose
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