THE WILD MAN FROM BORNEO by Nancy Chapman

Nancy Chapman shares one of the stories about her husband Mike who ventured far and wide within Australia and beyond.  We look forward to reading more of their adventures in the coming months.  Nancy is photographed with her grandson Luke.

When his one month Holiday came due,   Mike decided to fly from Sydney to Wyndham, to visit his friends working with Aborigines on their self-designed houses at Oombulgurri.

Loading his old denim duffel bag with extra sets of work clothes and basic toiletries he set off, waving his large family goodbye at Sydney airport.Fifty Five Plus 23 Mike

Oombulgurri is situated well down the Fish River, which is an extension of the Cambridge Gulf in far north western Australia. The river is extremely tidal rising and falling about 30 feet with the tide.

On arrival at Wyndham airport, Mike’s duffell bag could not be found, but because the tide was falling rapidly, he couldn’t wait to look for it.  He was told it would be sent on when it was found.

The bag never came.  So each day, working with his friends and indigenous locals, he bathed in a muddy dam every evening in his undies, and slept in his trousers.  Next day he would bathe in his trousers, wash his shirt, throw it over a bush to dry with his socks.  He had a wonderful time and helped enormously with the building.

Fifty Five Plus No 23 Nancy

At the end of the month the family all went to the airport to meet Dad.  They recoiled in horror as a 6’6” gruesome creature advanced towards them.”What’s the matter guys ?” it said, ”aren’t you pleased to see me?” He’d had no comb, razor, toothbrush, soap, or change of clothes for a month! His boots were flapping, toes showing through his socks, shirt and trouser legs in shreds.  Wild hair and bushy beard completed the picture.  He cleaned up well on arrival home.

The photograph shows Nancy and family 30 years later – Cilla, Ben, Nancy, Clare, Edith, Justin and Gabrielle, met Mike at the airport.

An insurance claim compensated handsomely for the missing luggage.  Six months later a call from Sydney airport asked Mike to come and collect his missing bag. It had been sent to Wynyard in Tasmania by mistake.