Times Past: February 28, 1966 | The Canberra Times

news, history, Canberra history, Times Past

Ants are not quite the typical exotic animals one hopes to encounter on a safari. But on this day in 1966, one Canberra man, with a special dislike for bull ants, had just returned to the city after embarking on a “collecting safari” in the Blue Mountains. Keeping him company as he journeyed back to Canberra were bull ants – not just a select few, but several hundreds of them which he stored in jars. Mr WJ Kelly’s mission to collect the ants was not fueled purely by hatred for the insects – his seven-year-old son had been bitten two years before, causing a life-threatening reaction. “The antivenom produced from these ants will be used to desensitise my boy,” Mr Kelly said. After his son’s reaction, Mr Kelly had contacted an allergy specialist, who contacted the Commonwealth Serum Laboratory in Melbourne. The laboratory did not have stock of the necessary type of serum or antivenom, but advised the collection of about 50 poisonous ants from which venom could be extracted. So Mr Kelly, armed with jars, chloroform and some Boy Scouts and volunteers, began his hunt for the venomous ants, which was very successful – proven by the great army of ants he brought back with him. Visit: trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/11617672


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