It was always going to be a tough day.  In the great card game of life, sometimes you get dealt a horrible hand.  Today was the closing play on one of those.  My good friend and hunting buddy, Mike, was cremated this afternoon.  He made the most of a bad deal and fought a courageous battle against cancer, with good humour and a positive outlook to the end, these last few years.

At the request of the family, it was a simple ceremony with only family and few of his closest friends present.  It was not that Mike lacked friends.  In fact, we often joked that Mike knew “everybody”.  He was an affable guy, always keen to start a conversation with anyone.  Mike was prominent in a number of pursuits.  He hosted a base station for the VKS737 network, the radio channel for Aussie outback travellers, and most days chatted with far-flung friends on that network.

My friend was also active in the Jeep Club, having completely rebuilt a WWII US Army jeep, which he greatly enjoyed driving about the place, and attending Jeep Club meets.  As a former regular soldier in the Australian Army, a Sergeant in Heavy Vehicle Recovery, he liked to recognise ANZAC Day and similar memorial days.  After his time in the army Mike went into mining, civil earth works and farming.  Everywhere he went, Mike collected lifelong friends.

It felt like Mike and I had known each other since school days, but that is not the case.  We first met only a few years back, when he responded to an advertisement that I had posted on the notice board at the local supermarket.  I was selling a large, custom built, gun box that I had advertised as a “tool” box.  Within a minute of arriving at my house to inspect the box we both established a common interest in shooting and hunting.  We talked for nearly two hours before Kathy suggested we should sit down over a cuppa tea.

Mike and I clicked from the first second we met.  It turned out there were many similarities between our respective families and we all got to know each other over the coming years.  It took little time for Mike and I to get out camping and hunting.  We were very much on the same wavelength, with near identical attitudes and opinions on most things.  With our wives, we also enjoyed numerous outings on the tablelands.  A particularly excellent adventure was driving around Spain and Portugal, in a three week window of opportunity between Mike’s cancer treatment requirements.

Mike and I had some great times together.  Camping and hunting was a special passion for both of us.  In the last year we just had to adapt our approach to Mike’s diminishing capabilities.  We had some memorable camping and hunting adventures, even as Mike’s ability to hike through rough country, chasing deer, became more restricted.

I will miss my mate greatly.  He was a very likeable guy, a good friend and companion, with a host of friends and acquaintances.  I never had any reason to doubt that he was anything but a devoted husband, father and grandfather.  I will continue to hunt with his son Pete, and grandson Mitch, and I am sure we will have some great adventures as well.  When we sit around the evening camp fire, after a day of adventure in the bush, I will always think of my old, true friend, Michael Roulston.