Back in the 90s I used to watch Bush Tucker Man, an Australian documentary television program that followed Les Hiddens as he roamed around Australia in a Land Rover looking for bush food. Here’s a great clip if you’ve never seen it.
I loved that show. Once I figure out how to get Region 4 discs to play on my computer, I’m going to order the complete collection.
This morning I swung by my local lake to watch the sun rise through cold fog. It was a beautiful, crisp morning that reminded me of the winters of my childhood back in Alberta. As I was about to leave, I met Dave, an old local who lives next to the lake. Dave has lived in the area for decades and his parent’s were there for decades before him. He talked of the forest that filled the park, the bog that existed before the city turned it into the lake and the large houses from the 1800s. He talked about the lumberyard he used to play in, the garden he used to grow and the chickens he used to raise “before it was cool”.
Dave had a tattoo on each forearm. On the left, he had a linesman working up a pole, and on the right he had the IBEW logo. The IBEW is the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, a labour union, and I know their logo well. My Father was a linesman with Telus and AGT before that, so I’ve seen their logo and heard their name more times than I could count.
I have a soft spot for nostalgia and I could have spent all day talking to Dave. As we were parting ways, he told me feel free to stop by if I’m in the area. I hope to take him up on that offer.
My wife introduced me to her friend Kris Kjeldsen shortly after her and I met. He was born in Chicago, but moved to California when he was young and in the 60s he was a lifeguard at Zuma Beach in Malibu. By the late sixties, he had sailed a trimaran to Hawaii before hatching a plan to move on to New Zealand. There, he headed up north to Pawarenga, swapped his car for a horse — appropriately named Freepass — and made his way into the bush to build a home, start a family and live the good life. Clearly, this is the stuff of legend.
Eventually, his love of water and his location in the Pacific came together and he began designing and building Waka Ama — Polynesian outrigger canoes. It’s impossible to measure his impact on the world of outrigger canoeing, particularly in his adopted country, but it is likely what he will most be remembered for. His brand, Moana Nui, can be found all over the world.
I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with Kris and have visited him at his new homestead in Ngunguru a few times. I’ve paddled one of his personal canoes, eaten fish he had caught and read books from his library. These are all fairly minor things, but Kris is a huge inspiration for me and these little things add up. His approach to life and understanding of the natural world is second to none and I am grateful that he would share any of it with me. My wife has spent much more time with Kris and has plenty more to be grateful for.
He was excited to hear about our plans for Gambier Island and we looked forward to sharing more with him.
Last night we found out that Kris passed away on June 30, 2011. He lived an amazing life and has left behind an incredible legacy, but I am saddened by all that I will miss.
His eldest daughter has moved north, into his home and she’ll be running the business with her family. I don’t imagine this was an easy decision, but I’m very happy the story continues. I look forward to visiting, but it will be hard knowing that Kris won’t be there.
My daughter will have been too young to remember him, but my son might. Either way, they will both hear the story of a man who rode into the bush, was welcomed into a culture and became a hero.
I first discovered Ryan Tatar’s photography quite a few years ago, through a shared love of the work of Thomas Campbell, and I’ve been following him ever since. I have a huge soft spot for ethereal surf imagery and cross-processed photography, so his stuff warms my heart. He recently launched the Sea-Farer, a collection of imagery that inspires him, and it has quickly become a daily visit of mine.
I recently posted about some photos that Bill McTigue took while surveying the Arctic in the 50s. Bill also took this photo of Sir Edmund Hillary after arriving on the first plane to land at Marble Point, Antarctica in 1957. Actually, this was the first wheels-to-dirt landing in all of Antarctica. Wheels down, indeed.
The May issue of GQ features an incredible story of three young boys surviving 51 days lost at sea with almost no supplies.
There were, as it turned out, three people on the boat. Three boys. Two were 15 years old and the third was 14. They were naked and emaciated. Their skin was covered with blisters. Their tongues were swollen. They had no food, no water, no clothing, no fishing gear, no life vests, and no first-aid kit. They were close to death. They had been missing for fifty-one days.
It’s an amazing story, I only wish it were longer.
A friend of my wife and I spent a good part of his life living and hunting in the bush of New Zealand’s North Island and the photo above is a collection of some of the spears and arrows he has made over the years. I wish I knew more about his time in the bush, the house he built there and the life he created for himself. Someone really should write a book about him, it would make for a great story.