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Goat racer wins to take top job

Goat racer wins to take top job

The Queensland Law Society has this week elected a new council, including a new president who boasts a rather unusual hobby.Brisbane-based lawyer John de Groot has been elected to the top job…

The Queensland Law Society has this week elected a new council, including a new president who boasts a rather unusual hobby.

Brisbane-based lawyer John de Groot has been elected to the top job and will take up the role in January next year, balancing the weighty role with his avid passion for goat racing.

Yes, goat racing.

A respected lawyer, author and teacher, de Groot spent much of his childhood in the tiny town of Barcaldine in outback Queensland, and was once the jockey of what was considered "the fastest goat in the west".

"My goat, Thunder, was a fantastically fast goat," said de Groot in an interview with Lawyers Weekly last year.

"The other advantage I had was that the finish line was in direct line with our house, so he always took off in a straight line heading for home, which is what goats do."

But de Groot hastened to add that his childhood days of goat-racing glory eventually came to an abrupt end.

"One day, someone suggested to the goat racing official that the race should be run in the opposite direction. I thought, 'I hope Thunder doesn't still head for home.' But of course he did, and as soon as the whistle went he reared, swung around and took off full-pelt for home, much to the enjoyment of the crowd and to my absolute embarrassment and disheartenment. It was the only race Thunder lost," sighed de Groot.

With such legendary status as a goat racer, de Groot last year injected $2000 into the annual Barcaldine goat races (now known as the John de Groot Cup) in an attempt to revive the sport by making it the richest goat race in the country.

Such is de Groot's passion for the sport, he also published a book titled Memoirs of a Goat Racer & More, which is an account of his life in the bush and all the adventures that came with it.

"I'd been nagged by the kids to write down all the stories I had told them of growing up in Barcaldine which they enjoyed because it was so different to what they had experienced as city kids," he said.

Folklaw's favourite story gracing the book's pages is the tale of ill-fated Piggy, the little black piglet inherited by the de Groot family when they moved into their new Barcaldine home.

"When we arrived, we heard squealing coming from half a tank buried in the garden and there was a little black pig looking up at us saying, 'Feed me!'" said de Groot.

"Eventually, he started escaping from the tank because he got so big. He ultimately disgraced himself by turning up in the lounge room at one of my mother's afternoon tea parties, so after that the butcher took him away. Unfortunately, he returned to us as selected cuts."

While Folklaw frowns upon the apparent heartlessness of the ladies attending that particular high tea, it only hopes de Groot's newfound responsibilities don't stop him from pursuing what is a rather awesome past-time.

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