Door to door
After our emotional pour-out, we felt ready to do what we set out to do: A movie. What we needed was a first step, so we decided to introduce ourselves to the woman in the hostel reception and see where that’d get us.
When we stepped through the door, we had the camera with us, on and rolling. I told the woman about our movie and asked permission to record the conversation. She said it was fine, so we introduced ourselves properly this time and finished it with “…now we’re finally here!”. She was pleasantly surprised to see that it was us, but didn’t hesitate to sharply lecture on our one year disappearance.
Prior to our ‘one year disappearance’ from e-mails, we had several people around the small community intrigued about Gustaf and his story. They had helped us discover facts and in the process, visited places they’d never been before and met people they wouldn’t have otherwise. And now suddenly, we were there in person, without any notice about our arrival. But after she pointed out our not-so-organized entrance, she told us about every person we should visit that might have something to tell us about Gus.
Thanks to her helpfulness, we had somewhere to start.
By the driveaway to Tut’s Whittle Wonders, is a three meter high kangaroo greeting all the visitors with a warm welcome. Tut is an eighty year old man who climbs trees to find branches that are naturally shaped in different, odd formations or shapes of faces and animals. After years of collecting, he now has a museum in his yard. Tut is just one out of many wonderful people that we met.
It’s funny, we meet one person and eventually they send us off to another, each of whom has their own stories of Gus. Some stories are the same, others vary. We’re being met by surprise, openness and outbursts like “Hedin from Sweden!”.
We meet a local legend like Cowboy Crane as well as Ian, who invites us to an overnight fishing trip in the rain forest, where we fish eel and pull up smaller sharks together. In the midst of a pitch black darkness, I sit on the ground along a stream, listening to the sound of the Tasmanian rain forest… As the sound of splashing gets closer and closer.
“Oh, it’s just the water rat!” says Ian.
Elin, safely on board the boat, laughs nervously. I on the other hand, pull my legs further away from the water.
During these few days, we get to experience all kinds of adventures that we won’t soon forget, but then suddenly everything is still and the filming appears to be going nowhere. No one mentions any new names but we still have a lead that we haven’t followed through on yet. Some of the locals have told us that Gustaf lived on a farm in Lowana, just outside of Strahan.
Lowana isn’t very big. On the road we just pass by one house, with a tractor in the driveway. We hesitate a little but not for very long this time. Instead, we just park the car and knock on the door. We think that perhaps they can give us some directions the the right house. A woman answers the door.
– Hi, we’re Viktoria and Elin and we’re making a documentary about Gus Hedin…
– "Old Gus! Yes, he lived here.” she responds without hesistation.
Thanks to that knock, we got our final three and absolutely most important interviews. We left Strahan pround of ourselves and with a gratitude towards all the people who invited us to their homes and shared their stories. Before we left, we’d never considered what a simple e-mail could do. It had taken us to the other side of the world and had in impact on other peoples lives too.
For that, we’re grateful.
Strahan is a small village with a big heart.
Thank you to all.
– Viktoria Sahl