Alex Mitchell obviously has not changed over the years. He was one of my reporters on the Mount Isa Mail in the early 60s, when we were regularly printing “scoops.”

How did he get so much from the Labor Party and Trades & Labour Council meetings? I can’t tell you now – there might be some harbouring a grudge still. But they nearly caught him one night! As his editor he was a worry for me – but the stories were good. I recall him coming to work one morning with a black eye and a few facial cuts and bruises, courtesy of the infamous Pat Mackie of Mt Isa strike fame.

He blotted his copybook once. He wrote about the rooster that stood 3ft 6in tall and weighed, if I recall correctly, 56lb. I had left Alex to finish the edition and the newsagents were waiting for the papers when I checked the final proof and saw his story on the front page. I said to Alex: “Have you seen this rooster?”

“No”, he replied, “but it’s right. They had to take it out to Strettons’ property out of town because it was kicking the chookhouse down.”

It was too late to change the page. The ABC picked up the story and ran it on their state news and a couple of metropolitan papers urgently wanted pictures.

I found out a couple of fellows in the pub set him up – they let him overhear their conversation about the “rooster” and, when he questioned them, reluctantly let him in on the story.