Inspiration From Many

Graham Cahill. — May 15, 2014

It’s not lost on me that I live a life far less than ordinary. That’s no fluke, it’s something I’ve navigated towards since I was in primary school (I distinctly remember looking at what was normal and shunning it from an early age). Yet to say I have travelled this path without forms of guidance is a complete untruth. Like just about everyone, I too have sought inspiration from the lives of others. To many of these people I owe a debt of gratitude for playing a part in being where I am today.

Leading this crew of motley characters is without a doubt my Dad. The old man and I have motorbiked, hiked, driven and camped all over the country. From as far back as my addled brain can recall, I’ve undertaken hairbrained adventures with my Dad. From days spent on a three wheel motorbike with my dog Sam, fishing gear and an old blue tent to freezing nights hiking the Wandoo, right up to today where we still enjoy a night cap and dream up our next trip (thinking that the El Camino in Spain is on the cards....). Without a doubt, my Dad has been one of the brightest lights I’ve followed over the years. Thanks Dad.

Sunday afternoons watching that utter Aussie icon, Mr Malcolm Douglas shaped my young mind like clay on a potter’s wheel. I need not explain the attraction here, I’m fairly sure you share my feelings towards Malcolm and his larrikin approach to exploring outback Australia. I never did get to meet Malcolm, yet he too played a very large role in my life. Still today I catch myself smiling at the similarities as Didj (my staffy) and I, covered in mud or sand, woop with joy at yet another close call or a salmon on a beach is bled out. Thanks Malcolm!

Few of you will have heard of Robyn Davidson, you perhaps will though as her movie takes hold. She wrote the book “Tracks”. She walked from Alice Springs to the Ningaloo coast, solo with 4 camels and her dog Diggity. I read Tracks as a young man and have ever since held her courage and spirit high. Robyn had a dream which she worked bloody hard into becoming a reality. Still today she is one of my biggest heroes. Thanks Robyn.

Alexander Supertramp. I doubt there has been more controversy surrounding someone’s story as that of Christopher McCandless. Chris chose to suck the guts out of life in a way he saw fit. His way didn’t fit with that of society, in fact it even angered many who read of his story in the book (and movie of the same name), Into The Wild. For me however, I got just what it was Chris was trying to do. The fact he died as a consequence is a tragedy but for me, it was not a life wasted. Thanks so much Chris.

Even today when I somehow hear the theme music I get excited; The Bush Tucker Man was more than just a TV show to me. It was a gateway into a slice of Australia I was determined to experience. Les Hiddens epitomised all that I wanted to emulate. While my mates at school could name the latest top 10 music hits I was busy rewatching Les and cataloguing the bush tucker he explained on the ABC. Thanks to The Bush Tucker Man I have a deep and keen following of not only our bush foods but also an ever increasing awareness of the plight of our indigenous brothers, as well as a continuing hunger for our early explorers’ journals. Thanks Les, I owe you a beer mate.

I still remember driving up to Bunbury (the big smoke) from Pemberton with the old man to watch World Safari in the community hall. Albey Mangels could wear the hell out of a pair of short shorts, knew how to explore, travelled like he was born to do so and all the while, inspired a generation of arm chair adventurers. I still enjoy kicking back on a lazy arvo and throwing World Safari on the TV. There is absolutely no doubt that Albey was a one of a kind and someone who had a massive impact on not only my life but the lives of countless others (something he still does today with charity work and documentaries). Cheers Albey!

Lastly but not at leastly, growing up in the south west, bare foot and filthy dirty, my weekends would never have been the same had it not been for Harry Butler. He gave a form of education that I honestly believe is lost on kids today. Looking for animal tracks in the sand, identifying plants in the backyard, knowing birds by their calls; probably sounds uber nerdy to the youth of today but Mr Butler had in me a captive audience. I still have a couple of his books, thumbed, scribbled in, torn and battered. Thanks Harry, you made Pemberton come alive!

While I would never put myself in the same league as the folk I have just listed, it honestly is my utmost hope that perhaps I can inspire just one or two folk to get out there and as I like to say, suck the guts out of life.