Outback Adventure Online: Bush Tucker Man, Jack Absalom, and Roothy!

As someone who's more interested in retro-tech than hi-tech, I'm usually what people call a "late adopter." I have a real fondness for real stuff as opposed to digital stuff and, in general, feel like I spend way too much time staring at a screen and not enough at the sky, water, and woods right outside my door.  

So, when YouTube first came out, I deemed it nothing more than a storage place for jittery, grainy, pointless, self-shot videos and didn't give it much notice. That is, not until my online searches for outdoor and bushcraft authors outside the U.S. kept leading me back to YouTube. Watching movies and TV shows by outdoor legends that I could never find in the U.S. was like finding that elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! And as much as the curmudgeon in me tried, I could no longer help but love YouTube for giving me these pieces of outdoor adventure gold. 

In amongst my searches, I found a few classic Aussie outdoor adventure television shows that showcase their great land and offer some really good bits of outdoor skills information. Check them out: 

The Bush Tucker Man

Les Hiddens is "The Bush Tucker Man." A Vietnam vet and major in the Australian army, Hiddens travels Australia's remotest lands to research edible wild foods (known as "bush tucker" down under) to aid in the survival of military personal (downed air crews in particular). He works extensively with Aboriginal people to learn their methods of living off the land and research labs to test various food sources, and then produces maps that showing which bush tucker can be found in each region.

Hiddens has a personable style. It's great fun watching him tour the bush, depending on the episode in either a vintage Land Rover and Landcruiser, sporting his trademark Akubra hat with a big .44 Magnum croc blaster slung in a cross-draw rig as he "whacks-up a pretty flash bush camp." You'll find yourself wishing you could sit around the fire with Les, sample some of the wild food he collected, and enjoy a beer as he retells his latest adventures. 

My Aussie adventure and bushcraft library never disappoints! 

My Aussie adventure and bushcraft library never disappoints! 


John "Roothy" Rooth, formerly of "Australian 4WD Action" magazine, is an expert in offroad travel in a country that takes that endeavor very seriously!  

Roothy, a funny and fun hearted Australian, bangs along difficult tracks in Milo, his beloved old Toyota Landcruiser that keeps up and even sets the pace for much newer rigs. He's also a master bush cook, so if you like camp cooking, you'll enjoy learning a whole new batch of recipes from the land down under.  

If "the Handbrake" (Roothy's wife) lets him out of the house, it'd be fun to sit around the fire with Roothy after a long day of driving challenging tracks, crack a beer, and listen to his non-stop comedy routine!

Jack Absalom

Jack Absalom is the newest find for me and has quickly become a favorite! His shows appear to have been shot in the early '80s, and while Hiddens and Roothy prowl around in tough-as-nails, purpose-built 4x4s, Abaslom drives a tinny-looking Mitsubishi econo-station wagon. You want to laugh, but there's something about Abaslom's personality that lets him pull it off with great style.

He comes across as an old school "mans-man" from the Greatest Generation, the type of guy who's done and can do just about everything with his hands, including become a successful enough painter to open a gallery showcasing his works of art. And, while he's an amiable, folksy story-teller, you get the impression that he'd have no problem knocking someone on their tail if the situation called for it. 

Abaslom's show and book, Road to Survival, while dated, are excellent. Some of the mechanical advice would be tough to pull off with modern machines, but points out a useful and realistic body of knowledge that seems to be mostly overlooked in modern survival training.