As part of the project at Four Acre, Phil was lucky enough to meet an amazingly well-travelled man who shared some of his story:
Australia is the biggest beach in the world. But they’ve got Great White Sharks. I used to swim every day... and the city gents, the office workers they’d all go for a swim. Beautiful water. This one fella had been swimming 16 years and one morning he went in and a Great White bit his leg off. Though his mates dragged him out the blood loss killed him. But the people still go swimming and surfing and the Great Whites still come circling.
We went up to the tropics and I made friends with an Aboriginal man. The Aboriginals are allowed to hunt any animal... We hunted with them, catching turtles. They cut them open then we had to look away cos the killing is sacred – the spear goes through the shell with a hook and they use that to pull it on its back and kill it. They gave us turtle meat, meat off a shark, Manatees, doogong, they spear and eat. Whatever they kill they bring to all the families.
...Live on the beach, throw a fishing rod and catch my tea, then move on to the city. Torpedo Rocks. The sky gets strange colours in Australia. Green, blue, pink, the whole place on fire. I saw an Aboriginal man dive in the water with a 20-foot tiger shark. They know the behaviour of the animals, the spiders size of my hand, the striped sea snakes.
How extraordinary that some people will never envisage what you’re missing, what you’re going to miss. I’ve not missed it, it’s changed me. I appreciate both humans and animals now, what good they do. It’s been a wealth. The Aboriginies are great taxidermists, great carvers. I’ve seen the Last Supper carved onto a pearl...