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The Bush Tucker Man.

[picture of Les Hiddins the Bush Tucker Man, (c) ABC TV, jpeg] Les Hiddins, the Bush Tucker Man, the man in the hat, is back with a new series of eight episodes on ABC television: Bush Tucker Man, Stories of Survival 6.30pm Saturday. 1996 -->

The first episode was screened on ABC TV on Saturday 8 June. It traced the Coffee Royal Affair (1929) following the forced landing of Australian hero Kingsford-Smith and the crew of the Southern-Cross aircraft on the banks of the Glenelg river in the far north Kimberley after encountering bad weather. Unable to contact searchers by radio, and ill prepared in terms of survival gear, they had to sweat it out and make do with the meagre food supplies on board and with what they could scavenge in the bush, until found several days later. The name Coffee Royal stems from a bottle of spirits which was on board the aircraft and was added to some coffee. (Alcohol is best avoided in survival situations.)

One of the aircraft flying in to participate in the search, the Kookaburra, was forced down in the Tanami Desert with engine trouble. It was unable to take off again because of thick scrub and the crew of two, also ill prepared for such an event, perished before help arrived.

The second episode (shown Saturday 15/6/96) was set in the opposite extremity of Australia - Tasmania. Alexander Pierce escaped the cruel prison colony of Sarah Island, Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania's bleak west coast, in the company of seven other prisoners. In their battle with dense scrub and rough country they found precious little to eat until they turned to cannibalism, eating the weakest in turn. (Does this count as bush tucker?) Pierce was the only survivor. He was recaptured, and confessed all, but he was not believed as the authorities thought he has covering for his mates! Returned to Sarah Island, he escaped again with one companion - and ate him too. When recaptured he confessed and he was believed this time. He was tried and hung in Hobart.

Other episodes:

Episode Shown Subject
3 Saturday 22/6/96 The ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition.
4 Saturday 29/6/96 McDouall Stuart's bottom to top crossing of Australia.
5 Saturday 6/7/96 The evidence for a Dutch settlement in Australia 100 years before the commonly accepted starting date for European settlement.
6 Saturday 13/7/96 The tragedy of Lasseter's Gold Reef.
7 Saturday 20/7/96 Ludwig Leichardt's 1844 expedition from Moreton Bay to Cape York and Victoria settlement in Arnhem Land.
8 Saturday 27/7/96 1848 - Edmund Kennedy's expedition to Cape York, fatal.

The new series is good watching but is more studied than the original and its first two episodes did not completely recapture the original's easy-going style, although things had loosened up by the third programme.

These days Les Hiddins is in civvy street but the Land Rover Defender 110 station wagon that he is driving seems to be an Australian Army-style Perentie having the slightly extended rear-chassis with lifting-eyes and jerrican holders, and the army-style bull-bar up front. He drove an Perentie 4x4 soft-top in the first Bush Tucker Man series.

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