SERIAL NO. 15603192.

Foreword by Frank Mancuso

The reader should not be fooled by the title; more than the history of a weapon it is the summary of the events, little bits from the life of a man, that have seen it alongside the author of this article.


But the weapon is unique, it served alongside its owner in the Police of Northern Territory, Australia.



It is not a military surplus in the strict sense, but it is not the first time that apparently off-topic articles appear on these pages. And it will give me the opportunity to talk about its manufacturer in general, and, more specifically, of its first production of double action revolvers.

Author is Bob, a keyboard-pal of this site, even if he is literally on the other side of the world, in the Australian state of Queensland.


Author mounted on a brumby he captured and broke in while stationed at Borrooloola in 1968.
Depicts him wearing the station issued firearm, a surplus WW2 Smith & Wesson 38 revolver.


These days Bob has major health problems; despite the great distance we want to let him know that we are close to him.


Merry Christmas, Bob.



Prior to 1994 the Northern Territory Police Force had a Firearm Policy that allowed serving police officers, who had passed probation and had accrued at least 12 months police service, to buy their own personal handgun as their duty sidearm.

The privately purchased sidearm was classified as an “official police duty weapon.”

As a result of personal preferences there were a whole range of various makes, calibres and models of handguns owned and used by different NT police officers.

 Many police had multiple and various weapons and calibres for different situations.

The wearing of a sidearm was not mandatory or popular in the Northern Territory Police Force at that time.  Mainly because much of the work involved wrestling with drunks and aggressive people and then a sidearm can become a handicap.

If a sidearm was carried it was usually in a shoulder holster under the uniform shirt and high up in the armpit. It was quite comfortable, concealed and accessible in that position.  Also it did not hinder or handicap the wearer while wrestling or restraining aggressors and it was out of sight and reach of offenders under the uniform shirt.



On 2 October 1978, the Northern Territory Police Force recruited the “Class of 29 of 1978”.  A recruit in the group named Ross Stephen HARRIS had a family relation with business affiliations with Sturm Ruger in the USA.

Constable HARRIS made an application to Commissioner McCauley to allow the import of 50 Sturm Ruger .357 revolvers, with the intent that they could be sold to serving NT Police Officers, as per the current “NT Firearm Policy”.

Commissioner McCauley agreed to the acquisition and authorised Sturm Ruger to stamp each revolver with the NT Police Badge on the top of the cylinder strap. The revolvers were to be consecutively numbered from 1 to 50, in addition to the normal Sturm Ruger serial number. Commissioner McCauley was to receive number 1 of the 1 to 50 series.

In 1979 the Northern Territory Police Force received the 50 Sturm Ruger .357 magnum, revolvers as per the order.

Prior to the delivery of the revolvers the Northern Territory Police Force had sold and allocated the revolvers to serving police officers who had previously requested one and paid the $225.00 cost.

My revolver was number 25 in the 1 to 50 issue.

In those days metal piercing ammunition was available for the .357 magnum, as it was originally designed in 1935 as a “car stopping” handgun.  With the claim that a metal piercing round could crack the engine block of a vehicle of that period.

I formed the habit of loading my revolver with three metal piercing rounds and three 158 grain hollow points consecutively, so as to provide penetration and stopping power if required.

At that time I was a 3rd class Sergeant at Nhulunbuy where I had been stationed since 1976.

Nhulunbuy (or Gove) was an isolated bauxite/alumina mining town on the edge of Arnhem Land operated by Nabalco.

It had a population of approximately 3000 European mining employees and support staff and an indigenous population of about 500.

The Nhulunbuy Police Station was manned by 16 police, consisting of a 1st class Sergeant, as Officer in Charge, three 3rd class Sergeant’s and twelve constables.



The Northern Territory Government banned crocodile shooting in 1974.  As a result crocodiles were protected and special permits were required that provided National Park Rangers or Police, in special circumstances, with permission to “destroy or capture and relocate” troublesome reptiles.

As time progressed crocodiles became more and more prevalent and bold and the “permit to capture and relocate” plan was impractical, ineffective and irrational.

It became obvious to people responsible for public safety that the law protected crocodiles but disregarded human public safety.


On the 8 October 1979, a honeymooner holidaying at Nhulunbuy was attacked and killed by a crocodile while skin diving at Rainbow Cliffs Beach.  

I was the Sergeant in charge of the investigation that recovered the body. The crocodile was captured and killed.  I later gave evidence at the Coroner’s Inquest regarding the investigation.

Professor Harry MESSEL was researching crocodiles and barramundi in the Northern Territory at the time, and was regarded as an expert on both.  He had previously stated that crocodiles were not a danger to humans and would not attack them under “natural” conditions.  This supposition gave many Territorians a false sense of security.

Professor MESSEL allegedly made a statement reported in the NT News that Trevor GAGHAN must have been tormenting the crocodile for it to have attacked him.

The factual evidence presented at the Coroner’s Inquest debunked Professor MESSEL’s hypothesis and brought a new realisation to the danger of “living with crocodiles”

The Inquest was an emotional incident as the new wife of the deceased had been on the beach watching her husband dive when she heard a terrifying scream and saw crocodile jaws encircle her husband’s torso and drag him out to sea.

The Officer in Charge of Nhulunbuy Police Station at the time was 1/c Sergeant Christopher HUNT, and he organised to have the crocodile that killed GAGHAN put on display in the Nhulunbuy Town Centre to alert citizens of the danger.


Crocodile on display in Nhulunbuy Town Centre.


The GAGHAN fatality made citizens of Nhulunbuy very aware of the prevalent crocodile danger. Police recorded 29 reported sightings in recreation and camping areas between 24 Sept 1979 and 17 April 1980.

As a result of the clear and present danger posed to citizens by the ever increasing crocodile numbers clandestine operations were instigated to remove the reptiles from community areas, beaches and popular camping areas before they could initiate an attack or create a threat.

An important part of the operations was that the crocodile’s body had to always be recovered and buried in some remote location where it would not be found.  This was to ensure the secrecy of the operations.

During these operation’s I always wore my Ruger, .357 magnum revolver in a soft leather shoulder holster held high up into my armpit under my police overalls.  This kept the weight of the revolver on my shoulder where it was comfortable and kept the revolver well above the water when wading through swamps and creeks to shoot or recover crocodiles.

The .357 magnum was never the primary weapon on these operations but a back-up weapon for close quarter protection and coup de grace of injured reptiles.


Nhulunbuy Police had received numerous reports of a crocodile estimated at 16 feet in length that was sighted on regular occasions circling the boats in Gove Harbour.

Gove Harbour was a yachting anchorage and a popular public boating, swimming and recreation area, so the decision was made to have National Parks and Wildlife from Darwin attend and remove the crocodile.

On 11 October 1979, only three days after the GAGHAN fatality, National Parks and Wildlife Officers from Darwin flew to Nhulunbuy to relocate the “Gove Harbour Crocodile”.  I was the Nhulunbuy police representative and observer with the team.

The Parks and Wildlife Crocodile Team consisted of Dave HIGGINS, John BUNCE and Wayne Bishop. They were all expert crocodile handlers and professionals at their jobs.

The original plan was to capture and relocate; which meant blinding the crocodile with a spotlight and then approaching it at speed and harpooning it with a barbed spike with a line attached.  Once that was accomplished the crocodile is allowed to tow the dinghy around the harbour until it is exhausted and can be “muzzle-snouted” and hauled aboard.

But this crocodile was too smart and cunning and would not allow the speeding dinghy to get close enough to use the harpoon.

After several attempts the decision was made to shoot the reptile, and harpoon and recover the body. I was not the shooter.

But the shot was 1.5 centimetres too high.  It caught the top of the crocodile’s skull and ripped a small portion of bone off its head.  The impact was enough to stun the crocodile long enough to close the gap and use the harpoon.  It was muzzle-snouted after a struggle and hauled aboard.


Parks and Wildlife Team and author loading crocodile into dinghy


The crocodile was still alive but a portion of the brain was exposed by the missing piece of bone. To me the next decision seemed obvious and simple.  But the decision was made by the hierarchy of the Conservation Commission to fly the crocodile to the Darwin Crocodile Farm for veterinary treatment and possible recovery.

Those academics evidently knew nothing about “post-traumatic stress”.  The psychological stress on a possibly 100 year old reptile critically injured and captured from the wild.  That stress is enormous and irreversible.

However the seats were removed from the Cessna 402, twin engine aircraft that had been chartered to bring the Parks and Wildlife Team to Nhulunbuy and the crocodile was sedated then loaded and flown to Darwin’ s Yarrawonga Zoo for veterinary attention.

About a week later it was realised that the crocodile would not survive and it was destroyed and put out of its misery.

Galarrwuy  YUNUPINGU, a tribal leader and activist of the Yunupingu Clan, claimed the crocodile,  he referred to as “Baru,” was his father and the clans Tribal Totem. He demanded that it be returned to its tribal home for proper burial.


NT News article on Galarrwuy Yunupingu and Gove Harbour crocodile


Rumour spread through Nhulunbuy that because I was the Nhulunbuy Police’s senior crocodile investigator and had been with the National Parks and Wildlife Team when “Baru” was captured, that I had shot Galarrwuy’s father. That was not true.  I was not the shooter on that operation.

The NT Government acceded to Galarrwuy YUNUPINGU’s demands for the return of “Baru” and contracted a world class taxidermist to mount and preserve the reptile.

In 1985, the mounted and preserved crocodile was returned to Nhulunbuy and officially presented to Galarrwuy YUNUPINGU and his clan at an extravagant ceremony in Nhulunbuy

The Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) was present at Nhulunbuy to record the ceremony.  They had also flown to Nhulunbuy some months earlier with a recording team and produced an hour documentary called “Crocodile” that was part of a series called “Threshold.”  The “Crocodile” documentary began with the GAGHAN fatality and culminated with the return of “Baru” to Galarrwuy Yunupingu and his clan.

I resigned from the NT Police in 1984 and was living in Queensland.  The ABC contacted me there for information about the crocodile attacks on the Gove Peninsula and later flew me to Nhulunbuy to record the crocodile stories on site for the “Crocodile” documentary.  

Due of my local knowledge I was able to lead the filming team to crocodile habitats and areas where they were able to film large crocodiles still roaming free in the wild.


Author (left picture) at the Ceremonial return of “Baru” to Galarrwuy Yunupingu and his clan in Nhulunbuy.   



In 1980 late at night, Nhulunbuy Police received a message from the Gove Harbour Master stating that he had received a garbled radio message from a ship in the harbour stating that the vessel had been seized by a mutinous crew and the officers were being held hostage and threatened by a man with a knife. No further information was available.

Arrangements were made to have a police boarding party conveyed to the vessel by the Nalalco Nhulunbuy Tug Boat.  All the night lights had been removed or covered so as not to signal our position or intention.

I organised a boarding party of all the available police officers and we were a fully armed and a formidable group. 

There was Sergeant Eddie JOSEPHS, a Vietnam Infantry Veteran; Constable Mick BRENNAN, a Major in the Army Reserve Norforce regiment, Constable Dave BENSON, one of Constable BRENNAN’s Norforce soldiers; Constable Roger (Rocky) MAYER, a highly graded Black Belt martial artist who specialised in close quarter combat and knife fighting techniques and a number of other police, about ten in all.

Each was armed with a rifle or shotgun and a sidearm.  I had a short barrelled, seven shot self-loading “Street Sweeper” shotgun and my .357 Ruger in a shoulder holster under my overalls, plus a bandolier of shotgun cartridges over my shoulder.

We had no actual intelligence on what had, or was actually occurring on board and surveillance indicated that all was quiet with no movement on deck observed.

My instruction before boarding the tug was no talk or noise. As soon as we boarded the vessel we would form a line across the upper deck behind cover and prevent anyone from moving fore or aft. Anyone apprehended was to be subdued and restrained as quickly and silently as possible.

Someone asked what happens then?

I said I didn’t know.  We did not know if the mutineers were armed or where the hostages were so I would just have to make it up as we went along.

We soon uneventfully boarded the ship and took up positions across the deck.  All was quiet with no-one visible and no movement. Sergeant JOSEPHS brought everyone’s attention to a big red sign on a large storage tank in front of us that read “Highly Inflammable. No Naked Flames”

The ship had its normal navigation lights on and everything seemed normal except that no-one was present nor had anyone challenged our boarding.

The lights in the bridge were on, so Sergeant Josephs, Constable Mayer and I made our way silently to the entrance hatch.   Constable Mayer turned the dog handle and it was not locked.  He quickly opened the hatch door and Sergeant Josephs and I jumped inside guns levelled at the ready.

Soft music was playing and all the ship’s officers were in their dress uniforms and were having a cocktail party.  Everyone seemed jovial and happy.

An officer who spoke English approached us and I explained why we were there.  He laughed and said it was a communication misunderstanding.

He said the captain had called for help because one of the crew had attacked another crew member with a knife, but someone had thrown boiling water over him and he had run to his cabin and they had locked him in.

 The officer stated that the man was very big and very strong and very violent and the captain wanted him removed from the ship.

Sergeant Josephs returned to the police on deck to take them off “high alert”.

Constable Mayer and I followed the Officer below deck to the offender’s cabin.  All was dark and quiet.  I had a tactical torch to blind the offender in the darkness and the Officer quietly unlocked the cabin door and opened it.  Constable Mayer and I rushed in and the offender was on his bunk but before he could gain his footing Constable Mayer had him subdued and he was quickly handcuffed.

The very big, very strong man turned out to be about five foot two and sixty five kilos, but he was indeed angry and violent.

We conveyed him to the Nhulunbuy Watch house and later got an interpreter so that we could question him regarding the alleged offence.

His story was that he had been shanghaied. He went out shopping one day in his home town in Taiwan and woke up sometime later on board the ship.

He was not able to contact his family, was not paid any money and was poorly fed, so as a result he was very depressed and very angry.

We referred the matter to Customs and Immigration and I believe the ship’s owners paid for his air-fare back to Taiwan as they did not want him back on board the ship.

Evidently the confusion over the radio communication with the Gove Harbour Master had occurred because the ship’s officers were all Norwegian and the crew were all Taiwanese so dialogue between officers and crew was sometimes misconstrued.


On the 13 October 1980, Baakurra MUNYARRYUN, an aborigine woman was attacked and killed by a monster crocodile at Cato River in Arnhem Land.

I was the Sergeant in charge of investigations. 

The woman had been washing her dishes on the river bank when the crocodile launched itself at her.  Biting her around the waist and dragging her into the river.

A few nights previously the woman had been camping on the river sandflat with her relatives.  She had some blankets and personal items with her in a four gallon drum with its top removed.  Next morning the drum and its contents were missing and large crocodile tracks were visible from the river to where the drum had been and back to the river.

Senior Constable Graeme (Luvy) BROWNING and I arrived at the scene late at night. We launched a 14 foot dinghy and searched the attack area with a spotlight.  A very large crocodile cruised alongside the dinghy seemingly unperturbed by our presence.  Its tail and head overlapped the dinghy fore and aft. 

The crocodile looked me straight in the eyes then it silently submerged without a trace.  Senior Constable BROWNING said, “I think he just took your number”

But my previous crocodile experiences had taught me that this crocodile was stalking us and he was not afraid. We camped on dry land until the morning.

I radioed a request for assistance from the Parks and Wildlife Crocodile Capture Team and also for additional staff for river search duties for the deceased.

The Parks and Wildlife Team were my previous colleagues from the Gove Harbour Crocodile incident. They were the best in the business; Dr Graeme WEBB and Wildlife Officers Dave HIGGENS and John BUNCE.  What they didn’t know about crocodiles was not worth knowing and it gave me great insight about procedures to be adopted in future.

The Park’s and Wildlife Team located the crocodile’s lair next day. It was a big, deep, vertical hole in the river, beside the river bank and just below the river water level so that it was not apparently obvious.  The main tell-tales were crocodile slides leading into and out of the hole.

The hole was about twelve feet deep and twenty feet in diameter. Dave HIGGENS and John BUNCE prodded to the bottom with long harpoons, not knowing whether the crocodile was home or not.  Graham WEBB who carried a .44 magnum, and me with my .357 magnum, stood guard with revolvers drawn, in case we encountered any unpleasant surprises. But apparently the crocodile had long since departed.

However the harpooning Wildlife Officers hit something hard and metallic at the bottom of the crocodile lair. After some manoeuvring they hooked out a four gallon drum that the crocodile had taken from the river sandflat a few nights earlier. It had contained the deceased woman’s blankets and personal items. 

The drum had been crushed into a cylinder about six inches in diameter and was full of holes like a colander.  Evidently crocodiles like to chew and play with things as toys - hence the crushing and the tooth holes.

That afternoon the search team recovered one leg and the torso of the deceased woman and I secretly and quickly had them transported to Nhulunbuy for post-mortem examination.

The removal of the deceased’s body parts enraged the local Cato River aborigines as they could not conduct their tribal ritual burial without the body. 

Also the clan and relatives of the deceased requested that the crocodile not be killed as it was sacred to them and their “Tribal Totem.”

They believed that they belonged to the crocodile - the crocodile did not belong to them.

I argued for the destruction of the crocodile but a tribal elder said to me “if she fell off a cliff, would you come and remove the mountain?”  So they kept their crocodile.

I gave evidence at the Coroner’s Inquest into the death and at the request of the Magistrate, Alastair McGregor, presented the crushed four gallon drum to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory where it is currently on display with Baakurra MUNYARRYUN’s story.


The author with the drum recovered from the Cato River crocodile’s lair.


In October 1988, Alex BURURRU a 25 year old aborigine man was fatally attacked by a crocodile at the same location on the Cato River.



In mid-1980, aborigines camping on Nhulunbuy Town Beach reported that two white men had just stolen their fishing dinghy and outboard motor and were heading out to sea.

I was on duty at the time and I knew the offenders would have to go past the Gove Peninsula Surf Life Saving Club to get to the open sea.  Senior Constable Graeme (Luvy) BROWNING was the president of the Surf Club and working there at the time.

I armed myself with my .357 Ruger revolver and my 12 gauge shotgun, and then Constable Roger (Rocky) MAYER and I attended at the Surf Club.

Senior Constable BROWNING had a “rubber ducky” rescue boat at the Surf Club and he volunteered to take one of us to intercept the offenders in the stolen dinghy. He could only take one due to the size of the “rubber ducky”.

NT Police Sergeant’s had special legislated powers to stop, detain and search ships and vessels at sea, plus I had the 12 gauge shotgun, so I went in pursuit with Senior Constable BROWNING.

Constable MAYER was to organise assistance and arrange a reception party for when we returned with the offenders.

The “rubber ducky” soon caught up with the dinghy and I signalled for the two men on board to return to shore.  But they just laughed and gave us “the finger.”

They were in a far larger boat than we were so I presume they believed that we were no threat to them and not in a position to force them to return to Gove.

However they had not seen our artillery.  I had placed the shotgun in a rifle carry bag to protect it from the sea spray before departing and I had also loaded it with six rounds and left the breech open for safety.

I removed the shotgun from the carry bag, dropped a cartridge into the breech and released the slide and was ready for action.

I stood up in the “rubber ducky” and fired two shots over their bow.  From the look on the offenders faces the incident was suddenly was not quite so funny.  But they still did not turn the dinghy for shore.

I asked Senior Constable Browning if he could get a little closer and we approached to about thirty meters from them. I fired another two shots over their bow and shouted, “Turn for the beach or the next ones are for you,” and I drew a bead on the tiller man.

They appeared to have a short conversation then eased off on the throttle and turned back to Nhulunbuy Town Beach with us following persuasively close behind.

I had radio communications with Constable MAYER and ascertained that he had recruited Constable Bill BRISCOE to assist him with the apprehension of the offenders.  The two were a very capable pair of police constables who often worked together as an outstanding and impressive team.

The two offenders may have thought that they could evade arrest by quickly beaching the dinghy and running off into the nearby bush before the police could drive a vehicle along the beach to their landing site.

But unbeknown to them the aborigine owners of the dinghy had been watching the saga unfold from the cover of the bush and they were not happy about their dinghy being stolen.  So as the offenders approached the beach landing, the dinghy owners suddenly appeared out of the bush and dispensed some summary justice, aborigine style with sticks and boomerangs.

I radioed to Constable MAYER and BRISCOE what was happening but they were having difficulty with loose sand on the beach and that delayed their progress.  I told them there was no hurry, the matter was in hand.

Eventually police arrived at the “beach landing” site and the offenders were happy to surrender to them.

They were arrested and taken to the Nhulunbuy Watch house and when the fingerprint and identity checks were done it revealed that the  offenders were “persons of interest” (POI’s) from interstate with extensive criminal histories.

They were both bailed but failed to appear for Court. They had previously vowed that they would never return the Nhulunbuy again, so we regarded that as a good outcome.


I had a good rapport with most of the citizens of Nhulunbuy as a fair policeman; so many people would tell me things that they may not usually tell other police. In late 1980 a Nhulunbuy resident arranged to meet me secretly and he confessed that he had been feeding a large crocodile in the town lagoon.

The town lagoon was approximately two kilometres long and two hundred metres wide and was directly adjacent to many of the Nhulunbuy residential areas where young children played.

The man said that he had seen the crocodile while walking his dog around the lagoon and the next day on the same walk he threw the crocodile some pieces of meat when it appeared.

 He had repeated this procedure every day for the past eighteen months. 

Once when the crocodile was on the other side of the lagoon, he hit the water with a stick and the crocodile submerged then shot up close and took the meat.  So he thought he was training the crocodile to come to him.

But he had noticed recently that when the crocodile submerged then shot out of the water, he was getting closer and closer to where he had been standing at the water’s edge.

In the last few weeks he had retreated from the water’s edge to the top of the bank, as when the crocodile shot out of the water it would be close to where he had been standing previously.  He thought that the crocodile may be stalking him.

Many young children use to play around the town lagoon catching “Yuppies” for freshwater fishponds. So it was a very serious and urgent threat and situation.

I did a reconnaissance of the area with Constable Roger MAYER and we decided the best plan was to mimic the actions of the man with the dog. Constable MAYER was an archer and had a fishing bow that could fire a fishing arrow with a line attached to a barbed head. The plan was to fire it into the crocodile so we could retrieve the body once I had shot it.

It seemed like a simple foolproof plan.

I presumed the crocodile would surface approximately 10 to 15 metres from the water’s edge, where the meat was thrown.  I would be standing on a gently sloping bank about two meters above the water level which would give me a perfect shot looking down at the crocodile’s head.  The only shot being between the eyes for an instant kill.

My rifle of choice was a Winchester model 88, lever action 243. It was fitted with 6-24x40 telescopic sight set to 6 for this shot.  It was an extremely accurate and powerful rifle.  I wore my .357 Ruger in a shoulder holster as a back-up weapon in an emergency.

We arrived at the scene and everything was perfect - clear blue sky - no wind.  We could see the crocodile cruising along the other side of the lagoon, approximately 200 metres away.

The man walked with his dog to the rendezvous point. Hit on the water with a stick and threw in the meat - then moved quickly away.  I took his position and Constable Mayer was positioned behind a tree out of sight five metres away.

I saw the crocodile submerge and I shouldered my rifle and pointed it to my presumed target area and waited for the crocodile to appear. 

But I had underestimated the intelligence and cunning of the crocodile. It came charging out of the water like a torpedo, straight up the bank at me. It was no use to look through the scope or try to sight; it was suddenly only two metres from me. I pushed the rifle forward and instinctively fired it like a pistol.

The crocodile reared up on its hind legs, towering over me and then somersaulted backwards into the lagoon. Constable MAYER had not had time to draw his bow.

There was not a ripple on the water but I said to Constable MAYER, “I think I got him”. 

We had a dinghy moored nearby with a barbed crocodile harpoon in it. We manoeuvred the dinghy over the spot where the crocodile had somersaulted over backwards and I prodded the bottom of the lagoon with the harpoon and soon found him.

We fastened a few crocodile harpoon barbs into him with lines attached and pulled him ashore with a motor vehicle and loaded it into a police vehicle to take to a secluded burial site.



Nhulunbuy Town Lagoon crocodile loaded into police cage.

Constable Roger Mayer on “Burial Duties”


My impromptu shot struck the crocodile just behind the eyes and destroyed his brain, so he was dead instantly.

He was 14 feet long with the last two sections of his tail missing.  So that would have given him a total length of about 16 feet.  He was six feet around the girth.  What a monster for the Town Lagoon in a populated area.!!


Late in 1980, Nhulunbuy Police received information that one of a group of people using a Flying Fox Swing, late at night, at the Giddy Rock Pools had gone missing. 

The group were suspected drug abusers and were partying at the Rock Pools playing a game they called “Crocodile.”

The game entailed jumping from the Flying Fox Swing into the rock pool and shouting out “Crocodile - Crocodile,” with each person in the group taking their turn to jump. The missing person had jumped but had not called out “Crocodile.”

The others in the group were not concerned at that time as they believed he would sneak up on them in the darkness and try to frighten them as they all sat around a big camp fire.

However after some time when he had not appeared they started calling out to him. But he did not reply. 

They did a quick search of the Rock Pool and adjacent area to no avail, so reported the matter to the Nhulunbuy police.

I was not involved in the initial search and only called in to take charge two days later when no progress had been made. That made investigations difficult due to the loss of evidence in the intervening period.

The initial investigators had searched the pool where the Flying Fox Swing was located and the adjacent and adjoining bush in case the missing person had wandered off disorientated.

The Giddy’s Rock Pools is a series of rocky pools in the Giddy River about 60 kilometres from Nhulunbuy.  Some of the pools are up to a kilometre long and forty metres wide and others are only very small.  The river runs deep and wide during the wet season and reduces to a trickle during the dry season leaving just large deep pools.  The incident occurred during the “Dry Season”

The Flying Fox Swing Pool was about 800 metres long and 40 metres wide.  It had a narrow inlet, feed by a waterfall and a narrow outlet in the form of a deep gutter feeding the next lower pool.

On my arrival I immediately had nets placed at the top inlet and the lower outlet of the pool to ensure that anything still in the pool at that time stayed in there or got caught in the nets.

My belief was that if the missing person drowned his body should bloat and float to the surface in about two to three days and would possibly be caught in the lower nets.

The rock pool had deep caverns undercutting the water edge and I organised scuba divers to search the caverns. But they found no evidence of a crocodile lair or body parts of the missing person.

Other searchers spotlighted the Flying Fox Swing Pool and other large adjoining pools during the night in an attempt to locate crocodile’s, but to no avail.

After another three days of searching nothing was found and the nets at both ends of the pool were still intact so the investigation was abandoned.

It was my belief that the Giddy Rock Pools did not contain a sufficient food supply for a permanent crocodile habitat and that any large crocodiles in the area were only migrating.

The fact that both ends of the Flying Fox Swing Pool had been open for two days before my arrival made establishing factual conclusions impossible.

There were rumours that the missing person was attempting to disappear and lose his identity but no reasonable evidence for, or against, that supposition was ever presented or established.

No crocodile was ever located and no body or body parts of the missing person was ever found.

I gave evidence at the Coroner’s Inquest and an open finding was the result.



Water buffaloes were abundant at Nhulunbuy.  During the “dry season” when natural vegetation is sparse they would wander into town to graze on the park lawns that were watered and maintained by the Nhulunbuy Corporation.  They were usually quite peaceful and placid.

In 1981, a heavily loaded mine truck struck and injured a large water buffalo that had ventured onto the roadway.  The injured beast escaped into an area of thick lantana scrub.

 The police officers who attended the scene were armed with a rifle but the scrub was too thick and entangled for them to pursue the buffalo with a rifle.

1/c Sergeant Christopher HUNT, who was the Nhulunbuy Officer in Charge at the time, requested I attend with my .357 revolver to track the injured animal and destroy it.  I soon found and followed a blood trail left by the injured buffalo and I carefully made my way through the lantana scrub following the track.

I came into a small clearing and I could see the buffalo leaning on a tree for support about nine metres away.  He appeared to be having difficulty standing and his head was drooping with blood running from his nose.

With his head down and in that position it gave me a perfect shot to his forehead.  I knew that if I did not kill him with the first shot he would instinctively charge me and in the thick lantana scrub I had nowhere to move evasively.

I indexed a metal piercing round on single action and took a carefully supported shot off a small branch.  The projectile struck the buffalo between the eyes and he immediately fell to the ground dead.

The buffalo’s horns measured 1300mm from tip to tip.



In 1981, the Northern Territory Police obtained information that large quantises of illicit drugs were being transferred from overseas suppliers to Australia via fishing trawlers operating in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Someone in the NT Police hierarchy in Darwin decided it would be good “proactive policing” to have police board and search fishing trawlers during their operations in the Gulf.

The plan was to surprise the fishing crews and catch them unawares and search for drugs and unlicensed firearms.

Constable Martin GOODE and I, both of Nhulunbuy, were nominated to be the first “Boarding Party”.  We had no idea of what we were supposed to do and we had not received any training or instruction for the operation.  I wore my Ruger .357 magnum in a shoulder holster under my police overalls.

We were collected from Nhulunbuy by the Police Motor Vessel “Salloo” that was captained by Sergeant Wayne TAWNY and operated by an additional crew of two. We proceeded to the Gulf of Carpentaria where many fishing trawlers were busy chasing the seasonal prawn migration.

The plan was that we would be lowered from the Sallo in a “rubber ducky” manned by one of the vessel’s crew.  Then we would speed up alongside a working trawler and jump aboard and conduct our search.

The plan was absolutely insane and foolhardy to say the least. 

The working trawlers had their nets deployed so if we missed our footing or lost our grip we would be taken straight into the trailing nets and drown.  If we were lucky enough to evade the nets we would be taken by the numerous sharks following the trawlers catch.

The trawler would be motoring at trawling speed, so the operator of the “rubber ducky” had to match that speed and keep it constant for us to align our boarding point. 

But beside that the trawler would be rising and falling, ten to twenty feet, with the wave action of the ocean. The “rubber ducky” was also rising and falling but at a different rate to the trawler as a result of the trawler’s wake.  So not only did we have to align our boarding point but we also had to align the rise and fall of the trawler and the “rubber ducky” so that everything coincided for a successful jump from the “rubber ducky” to the trawler.

Once aboard we did not receive a warm welcome.  Not because of any contraband on board but because the captain and the fishermen all believed boarding and searching in those circumstances was so dangerous and life threatening to everyone involved.

If someone falls overboard a working trawler cannot stop or turn quickly, especially with trailing nets deployed and full of catch.

Also anyone who has ever been involved in searching a fishing trawler or ship knows that it cannot be done by two men at short notice while the vessel is working and steaming at sea.  Obviously any contraband would have disappeared overboard long before we had an opportunity to locate it.

To return to the Salloo, Constable GOODE and I had to jump from the trawler back into the “rubber ducky” which was not quite as difficult as jumping from the “rubber ducky” to the trawler, but not easy or risk free.

We boarded three working trawlers during our boarding party operations.  We found no illicit drugs and all the firearms we located were correctly registered. 

The boarding operations were suspended by Sergeant Tawny the Salloo’s captain, ostensibly due to rough seas, but I suspect Sergeant Tawny realised the risk of the operations and was protecting Constable Goode and I from imminent danger.


Policer Motor Vessel “Salloo”



Trawler  NR Tasman before boarding


Shortly after the boarding operations were completed the trawler operators and fishermen formed a deputation and took a petition to NT Police Commissioner Peter McCauley objecting to the boarding party procedure on the grounds of workplace health and safety.

Commissioner McCauley agreed with the deputation and instructed that no future boarding of working trawlers at sea would occur.


During the 1981 to 1984 period I systematically removed crocodiles from community areas, beaches and popular camping areas before they could initiate an attack or create a threat.

I always carried my .357 revolver in a shoulder holster under my overalls as a backup weapon but my primary weapon was always a Winchester model 88 .243 rifle.

Some of the crocodiles removed during the period 1981 to 1984


1984 - 2017  RETIREMENT

I retired from the Northern Territory Police Force in 1984 and moved to Queensland.

In order to keep my Sturm Ruger .357 revolver, I became a member of a Queensland pistol club and satisfied the legal requirement to do six competition shoots per year.

The revolver was always cleaned and maintained meticulously and was accurate and in perfect working condition.

It has fired many high potency hand loaded .357 rounds and has never failed or needed corrective maintenance.

My idea was to one day leave my revolver to one of my son’s in my Will.  It would have been part of my story and the legacy of my past working life, but none were interested in obtaining a Concealable Firearm License.

So on 8th June 2017, I sold my Sturm Ruger .357 magnum revolver, serial number 15603192, number 25 of the 1 in 50 special issue, to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory where it is currently on display, with this, its story.

At the time of the sale my revolver was the only one of the 1 to 50 special issue Sturm Ruger’s still in the possession of the original purchaser.


Written by Robert James Haydon on 20 October 2018.