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Green ant tea, anyone?
January 11, 2013 6:41 PM   Subscribe

Major Doctor Les Hiddins was survivaling in the wilderness long before Bear Grylls. He did it with compassion, intelligence, and good humour. (No, he isn't dead.)

Les was selected by the Australian Army to "research survival in northern Australia". Apart from the MLW 3-2-7 - the 'Survival' pamphlet from the ADF's 1987 Manual of Land Warfare (since updated, presumably) - Major Hiddins was also responsible for the late-80s-early-90s ABC television series "Bush Tucker Man". Come, visit Australia and its weird fruits and crab-things. This is the first season:

Ep. 1 - Arnhem Land
Ep. 2 - The Wet
Ep. 3 - The Desert (part 3)
Ep. 4 - Prince Regent Gorge
Ep. 5 - Rainforest (part 2) (part 3)
Ep. 6 - Coastal (part 2) (part 3)
Ep. 7 - Doomadgee
Ep. 8 - Aurukun

Extra bonus: Rory O'Donoghue's iconic "Bush Tucker Man" opening tune
Further bonus: Want to learn to play the tune? Rory has some tips: 1, 2, 3
posted by turgid dahlia 2 (36 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
My childhood! (I'm not that old, but VHS is a wonderful thing.)
posted by titanium_geek at 7:03 PM on January 11, 2013


Damn that theme song is catchy! These are great - thanks turgid dahlia.
posted by jet_manifesto at 7:28 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Les "discovered" the lovely and supremely ascorbate-replete Kakadu plum, several of which now grow in my greenhouse. He's a fair dinkum bloke in my book.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 7:29 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I watched the first episode and enjoyed it thoroughly.

But really, Australia, nobody's thinking of invading you. You're the country the rest of us run from screaming. Snikes and speyedas and shaks and that lot.
posted by absentian at 7:31 PM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bush Tucker man! My favourite superhero.

Directly responsible for my brother and I eating different kinds of ants as kids, to find out what they tasted like. Turns out, if they smell bad, they taste bad.

Don't eat bullants.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 7:34 PM on January 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Growing up in the UK I loved the Bush Tucker man and watched the show avidly, as did a lot of my friends. Strangely though, now I live in Australia, I would bet that Major Les Hiddins is probably more famous among my contempories in the UK than in Aus itself.
posted by JustAsItSounds at 7:38 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


World's best hat.
posted by flabdablet at 7:45 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


He is, and has always been, this woman's formicidae cook of choice. He's hot. And cool. He set up a retreat for Vietnam war vets way up north.
posted by Kerasia at 7:49 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


i never knew trampolines were an effective measure against drop koalas, but it makes sense, doesn't it?
posted by pyramid termite at 7:51 PM on January 11, 2013


I had no idea he was a doctor.
Or alive.

But really, Australia, nobody's thinking of invading you.

But.... refugees! We're being swamped! Etc...

If you like Bush Tucker Man, you may get a kick out of the Bush Mechanics.
posted by Mezentian at 8:15 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was going to post this a few years back - and found some clips on youtube - but the shear fucking racist bullshit that youtube comments can be depressed me and - as we all know that all Australians are racists - I preferred not to. Thanks TD, great post
posted by mattoxic at 8:15 PM on January 11, 2013


I'm talking Bush Mechanics, not Les Hiddens
posted by mattoxic at 8:16 PM on January 11, 2013


But really, Australia, nobody's thinking of invading you.

The Japanese were during WW2, and gave it a solid try. Les goes into their story in one episode (I forget which, possibly season 2). This was the army of wily, zealous killers that kicked the British empire out of the deepest Burmese jungle while riding on nothing but flat-tyred bicycles. But come Australia... they hardly made it off the beach.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 8:23 PM on January 11, 2013


If you grew up on a little island you can't really be expected to get deserts.
posted by flabdablet at 8:46 PM on January 11, 2013


From memory the Japanese did manage to get a mini-sub into Sydney Harbour, but they didn't actually try to invade Australia. They thought about it, and probably would have eventually.
posted by Mezentian at 8:47 PM on January 11, 2013


Some info on what I'm on about; it's probably in there somewhere. Had a quick browse of the season 2 episodes but cant find the bit I'm thinking of - I believe at most it was just a small recon mission which failed disastrously, though not due to any active repelling by the Aussie armed forces. The geography alone did them in.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 9:07 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


...though not due to any active repelling by the Aussie armed forces...

Yeah, we have a pretty small military, but that's okay. If the bad guys invade, we just move our troops a couple of feet to the left. Something will end up getting the enemy.

Off-topic fun Aussie fact: there's a wireless network in range of me and the name of the wireless network is 'Hack this and Ill smash ya'.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 9:29 PM on January 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Much better than Bear Grylls!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:50 PM on January 11, 2013


That hat! It was a great show.
posted by MT at 11:11 PM on January 11, 2013


I always found it reassuring to be defended by an army that could foster a character like Les Hiddins. And that hat.

Great show.
posted by N-stoff at 11:38 PM on January 11, 2013


But really, Australia, nobody's thinking of invading you.

Invasion day is but three weeks away
posted by mattoxic at 11:54 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


So it is! Better get some flags for the car.
Maybe replace my 'Fuck Off We're Full' sticker on the car.

The usual.
posted by Mezentian at 12:20 AM on January 12, 2013


Go Les! But as I found out recently in Darwin, it's considered poor etiquette to munch on stray green ants from your neighbour's fence while standing in line at Happy Foodland..
posted by Ahab at 12:39 AM on January 12, 2013


The Japanese were during WW2, and gave it a solid try.

Not really true. What the Japanese were doing in WWII were not invasion attempts, and the best evidence we have available demonstrates that, though elements were promoting it at one point, the majority (including the army and PM) were against, and it was never put into action. The wikipedia page on it is quite decent.

On bushtucker man, I remember seeing an episode where he ate some freshwater mussels - a couple of years after I had myself eaten some freshwater mussels. I felt much reassured by his comment that "you'd have to be pretty hard up to have a crack at these, not the most palatable bush tucker", as I'd found them pretty close to chewing tyre rubber on my attempt.

Made me think some of the other shit he ate must have been delicious!
posted by smoke at 2:08 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bush tucker tours are still quite popular in some places.
I'm not so adventurous, so I passed on the witchity grub pate, but I am told it was interesting, and potentially delicious.

We then got bogged down in the age old: is it vegetarian discussion.
posted by Mezentian at 2:21 AM on January 12, 2013


Just wanted to pop into my own thread and say that Bush Tucker Man is probably one of the best things ABC has ever done. The other best thing the ABC has ever done is Peter Yeldham's Captain James Cook. Australia is simply incapable of making such excellent television these days.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 2:37 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


to be fair, he's not perfect - he did spend time advertising Fosters on the teev.

"2 cans, per man, per day, perhaps"
posted by russm at 3:41 AM on January 12, 2013


Ha! I remember that. I wouldn't mind him advertising beer, but...Fosters? Cheez.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 3:42 AM on January 12, 2013


I assume he advertised Fosters internationally. I'm not sure I have ever seen any advertising in Australia for Fosters. Or anyone drink it, other than me. Once.
posted by Mezentian at 3:48 AM on January 12, 2013


Fifteen years ago we still drank it here, I do remember those ads.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 3:49 AM on January 12, 2013


yeah, the problem isn't the advertising, it's that it was for Fosters.

I've not watched FTA TV in years, but Fosters seemed to do an advertising push every few years to try to get Australians to buy the stuff.
posted by russm at 3:52 AM on January 12, 2013


I assume he advertised Fosters internationally. I'm not sure I have ever seen any advertising in Australia for Fosters. Or anyone drink it, other than me. Once.

used to be big in the seventies. When I was a kid I was forever getting cans out of the fridge for my old man, now my kids tote James Squire IPA, sometimes Mountain Goat, and - if the day is hot enough - Little Creatures Pale Ale. Cooler days sees them bringing me White Rabbit Dark Ale, or perhaps a Kilkenny or even a Coopers Ale.
posted by mattoxic at 3:11 PM on January 12, 2013


But.... refugees! We're being swamped! Etc...

When you're in a swamp you can often find refugees by feeling around under the reeds at the edges. I'll just take a few of these to ship offshore and boil up later.
posted by flabdablet at 7:26 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


absentian: " But really, Australia, nobody's thinking of invading you. You're the country the rest of us run from screaming. Snikes and speyedas and shaks and that lot."

This North American thinks "most poisonous continent". No thanks. (Sorry. I understand it's also lovely down there. Just INFESTED WITH MAMMOTH POISONOUS SPIDERS.)
posted by Lexica at 9:37 PM on January 12, 2013


Major Doctor Les Hiddins was survivaling in the wilderness long before Bear Grylls.

As Dick Proenneke would have surely said: "You can't beat that."
posted by y2karl at 12:52 AM on January 13, 2013


The weirdest thing is that there is another wilderness survival Les who is not Les Stroud.
posted by team lowkey at 1:30 AM on January 13, 2013


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