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Nourlangie Safari Camp, Episode 1 - Flemming Jensen

07 May 2015

Flemming Jensen. Flemming Jensen.

Nourlangie Safari Camp, here is 9SLK is anybody listening? (My radio code) The Diaries of Flemming Jensen, 1968-1969

My name is Flemming Jensen and I was born in 1946 in Copenhagen, Denmark. I'm from a bricklayer family. Both my grandfathers, my uncle and my father were bricklayers of trade.

I've always wanted to go travelling. I think I got it from one of my grandfathers, who as a young bricklayer went down to Europe as a ‘Naver.’ It was and still is an old tradition among European craftsman when they have finished their education. They leave home in order to learn something new from other places and try to make a living by working with their trade in different countries. If they want to be real ‘Navers’ they only returned home after three years and one day.

In Denmark, they were called ‘Navere’ which was an abbreviation of ‘Scandinavians’ i.e. people from Scandinavia. There was a great respect for these tradesmen. They had achieved a high level of professional knowledge and experience from their long stay abroad and had learned to cooperate in a social community which favoured big ethical and human demands on the individual.

"I decided to travel 'round the world.’ It was my goal."

I often heard my grandfather's stories of his exciting journeys when I visited him while I was an apprentice. He was a man I looked up to. He had lived a life I admired and his influence has clearly had an impact on the goals I have set.

While I was an apprentice I used my vacations to hitchhike around Europe to get some experience in traveling on my own. It was at that time that I decided to travel 'round the world.’ It was my goal. Later I was joined by my buddy Gerner who wanted to do the same. I got my certificate in April 1968 and spent the time up until July to work hard to save up for the big ride.

Then July 23rd arrived. We had to go. Farewell to my parents, friends and my grandfather and then we left.

At the time, also known as the time of ‘hippies’, it was very popular for young people in Denmark and Europe to go to India and Nepal. So did we, but we also wanted to continue and therefore we applied for emigration visas to Australia, where we figured to be for a while.

The tour went through the former Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, Asia, India, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Timor, Bacau, and from there to Darwin where we arrived on Tuesday December 10th 1968. That is another story, but that is not for now.

My visa said that I could bring fifty dollars to Australia but I had only one dollar so I got a temporary visa for thirty days to obtain the fifty dollars.

It was a tough time in Darwin. It was hard to get a job here before Christmas and especially with the heat which was a bit of an ordeal.

In Nepal my buddy Gerner bought a fine drum which he often used to great irritation to me, but he was pleased with it, and he dragged it faithfully all the way until we arrived in Darwin.

In Darwin it was withdrawn because of the skin and he had a few days to send it back to Denmark. When he returned to the Customs office, they had burned the skin and the drum was sent back to the airport. He had dragged it unsuccessfully for more than three thousand kilometres. That was just bad luck.

Both Gerner and I came through this time and Christmas was, after all, a special one, with a can of vegetables, six frozen hamburgers and canned apricots.

The time had come when Gerner and I decided to separate. It had happened before on our trip. This time he wanted to go fast to Melbourne while I was not in a hurry.

I actually needed to go my own way. He decided to set off a few days before me and then it would be a long time before I saw him again.

The money we had earned was spent and my finances were not so good. I had written home and asked my parents to send some money from my account in Denmark, but it took time. A long time!

Meanwhile I stayed mostly at the beach which was a bit like hell because of the heat and the million mosquitoes that also lived here. I really looked forward to things changing.

In the next episode, Flemming, carrying a backpack and an umbrella down the Stuart Highway, meets Allan, the owner of a safari camp, who takes him “far from everywhere”.

Flemming Jensen Flemming Jensen "about to enter an aboriginal reserve".

Reproduced with permission: Kakadu National Park Cultural Heritage & Biodiversity Management Unit.