The roots of travel

01 Nov


Dear fellow Flynn fans,

here is the likely source that started Errol`s travel bug.

On October 6th of 1922, the highly innovative film maker- photograher Frank Hurley arrived at New Guinea via waterplane. The “Seagull” had departed from Port Moresby and arrived at the banks of coastal town Kaimari after a misty 400 mile flight. Meanwhile the 50 ton two mastered motor schooner “Eureka” had brought the equipment for Hurley`s projected documentation of tribal wild life deep within the jungles of the world`s second largest island. Entering at the Gulf of Papua their route took them up the Fly River admidst seaming mongroves and luxuriant rainforests.

The Australian adventurer had already participated at an Antarktis expedition in 1911 and was a member of the meticulously assembled crew on the “Endurence”- expedition of Ernest Shackleton.

Readers of Sydney based newspaper “Sun” were holding their breaths and hoping for pictures of headshrinking cannibals. They were not denied, even though most pictures of ritualstic ramblings had to be staged. Missionaries, that had been dispatched to this former British colony half a centuary earlier, already were a big influence wherever Hurley went.

His drum accompanied dia shows of blended & coloured pictures came to film theaters all over Down Under. In 1923 the boisterious bushman Frank Hurly presented his documentaries “Pearls and Savages” and “With the Headhunters in Papua”and became all the rage amoung youngsters. A 14 year old Flynn may subconsciously have set sails right there and then.

Hurley tried to up the ante with a film called “The Lost Tribe” in order to take his tour to the US and take Americans by storm. Full of antisemitic clichés (the churlish chief…) he fantasized about the Sambio clan from Lake Murray being an ancient israelite people. While a disaster in the States it became a success in Germany. It may have triggered the interest to visit New Guinea of a certain Dr. Hermann Erben, he himself a passionate globetrotter and phanatic photographer.


And it could very well have influenced another famous film maker in Hollywood. Obviously for the sake of showmanship Hurly`s first encounter with the tribesmen is shown in his film as a human hunt ducking slings and arrows from left and right. Sounds a lot like the opening scene of “Raiders of the lost Ark” if you ask me.

Infinite more info can be achieved in Alasdair McGregor`s book “Frank Hurly: A Photographer`s Life”.


— shangheinz


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  1. Gentleman Tim

    November 1, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    What a Tremendous write-up, travelheinz! Frankly, from Cricket to Hurling – I mean Hurley – you are great, Sport!!

    This story about Hurley would be a great ice breaker.

    • shangheinz

      November 1, 2014 at 5:43 pm

      Thanks Gent, here is the icing on the blog…

      • Gentleman Tim

        November 1, 2014 at 9:37 pm

        Can’t wait to watch this one, photoheinz.

        P.S. Looks like Simon Nasht did this one (too)! I thought his work on “Tasmanian Devil – Fast & Furious” was Fabulous!)

  2. David DeWitt

    November 1, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Wonderful post, great job!

    • shangheinz

      November 1, 2014 at 5:46 pm

      Dave, your praise means the world for me!

  3. rswilltell

    November 6, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    As always, expert research and writing from Heinz. Ralph Schiller

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