bWeb & Crocodile Safari Man)
When Keith Adams loaded his wife, sister and dog into
his Buick in 1955 for an expedition from Perth to
the Gulf, the film he took of his travels was the
first real Australian nature film. And, as he tells
DANNY MORTISON, it made him a millionaire.
people take for granted a trip to the Top End but
to do a trip back in 1955 in an old Buick from Perth
across the Gibson Desert and north to the Gulf may
well have been considered lunacy.
such a journey made by Keith Adams with his wife Audrey,
sister Margaret, and a crazy fox terrier named Tiger
which he caught on a home movie camera changed his
journey turned unknown diesel engineer Keith Adams,
into a millionaire as he later travelled Australia
and then the world showing the film from the wilds
of Australias north.
Northern Safari is on video and the adventure enclosed
in a book by Keith.
shows how human ingenuity can get you through the
also wanted to prove to people in his home town of
Perth that what he talked about from his trips to
the Gulf were true.
used to tell people about my adventures in the outback
and they just wouldnt believe me, so I decided
to take the movie along on this trip just to show
them what it was like. I never knew it would be so
popular, Keith said this week from his home
76, Keith still likes an annual pilgrimage to the
Gulf where he travels across to North Island in the
Edward Pellew Group.
1955 they travelled in an old Buick without backup
or radio and followed the camel trails that crossed
the wastelands of the Gibson Desert in outback Australia
to the Gulf of Carpentaria and returned down the West
at the Townsville Bulletin remember lining up at the
picture shows in Brisbane in the late 60s with
their dads to see what was then unique footage of
Snakes, crocodiles four times the size of his boat,
sharks that would normally eat you, scorpions and
a multitude of our exotic Australian birdlife, make
this an adventure to live over and over again.
film is as rough as the tracks Keith had to cross,
as beautiful as a western sunset and as dirty as the
millions of flies which descended on their base camp
in the Gulf country when they were cooking, but its
the stuff pure adventure is made of.
as cheap as a washer on a crank case housing had them
stranded in the heat of the Gibson Dessert, forcing
Keith to pull the gearbox down and manufacture another
part out of a piece of tin en route.
the way out of the Gulf country his vehicle and trailer
get stuck in a creek up to the axle. In 1955 power
winches were yet to be invented and the method used
to extricate the vehicle has you cheering for the
science of invention.
30 years he went on to make millions of dollars screening
the film himself in every state in Australia, and
then in the US, Canada, England, South Africa, Rhodesia
and New Zealand. It broke hundreds of town hall box
office records and in some cinemas he did better than
The Sound of Music and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Hogan wasnt even an apprentice rigger on the
Harbour Bridge when this guy showed how the real Crocodile
Dundee got out there in adventureland. Keith paid
for his original trips to the Gulf by snaring a few
crocs, in the days before the saurians were protected.
The way he catches stuff is nothing less than amazing,
but thats just how it was in those days.
encounters with the Aborigines of Central and Northern
Australia and film of how they collected and cooked
food is an education in itself.
the decades before the slick stories of Attenborough,
the imitative Crocodile Dundee, our own Bush Tucker
Man and Steve Irwins jumping on the backs of
crocodiles, Keith was out there living the adventure
and recording it for his film.
film has only recently been put onto video and is
worth a place in any home if only to show the younger
people of Australia there is something bigger and
better away from the video games.
has also transcribed his rags to riches life in a
book Crocodile Safari Man in which he tells not only
of the sharks in the ocean but those ashore, the doubting
Thomass who reckoned he should pack up his swag
and go home when he wanted to show his film.
is a wonderful thing, in hindsight, especially after
you have done the hard yards, as Keith and his companions
women did a great job at the camp site, allowing Keith
to gather the food. Tiger was a terror and has you
gasping every time he escapes from the vehicle to
attack snakes, emus, crocodiles, fish, scorpions,
goannas anything that moves.
was no newbie to the Gulf Country having
made a living out of part-time hunting away from his
regular job as a mechanic, a skill which kept him
mobile through some pretty dire straits in the north.
is the original Aussie Battler who made a film, which
is now the only movie in the world that shows the
rugged crossing of the Gibson Desert and the way life
in the Outback during the 1950s.
remarkable journey was recorded by Bill Harney, then
caretaker of Uluru (Ayers Rock) who wrote in his book
To Ayers Rock and Beyond;
never cease, for only a week before Peter and I with
Loridja went west, a black heavy sedan with a trailer
carrying an upturned dinghy came over the desert land.
From the sea shores near Perth they had come, a man
and two women, their destination Borroloola on the
McArthur River which flows into the Gulf of Carpentaria
- a run of over 2500 miles across Australia on a hunting
and fishing holiday. Not since Charles Sturt's day
has a craft been transported over such waterless land.
Such then was our westward run, a bush track somewhere
in the direction of the doggers and camel trails in
the years gone by."
can order the book, Crocodile Safari Man or the video,
Northern Safari by telephoning 08 9341 1944 or write
to Keith Adams, 13 Rinaldi Crescent, Karrinyup WA