Bushie’s Backyard – One Man’s Artistic Nature…
Tasmania’s 2015 Go Behind the Scenery Campaign…
As a butcher, Craig “Bushie” Williams was a pretty good artist. And it was as an artist that he turned into a bloody good bush guide. Misadventure. That’s what Bushie calls it.
It was 17 years ago, just before they opened the new lookout at Sideling Ranges, above Scottsdale. There was a big signboard up there showing all the landmarks. Until someone pinched it. At the council they knew Bushie was a handy artist, and asked if he could quickly shoot up there and knock out a panoramic sketch for a new plaque for the big opening. Righto, he said, grabbing his pad and pens.
‘It must have been peak tourism season,” he says. I’m sitting there trying to sketch this panorama, and tourists are pulling up, asking ‘What bird’s that?’ “Superb blue wren. That’s a pink robin, and that’s a yellow-tailed black cockatoo.” ‘What’s that tree?’ “It’s a sassafras, that’s a stringy gum.”
” ‘Are you a tour guide?’ ‘No, I’m just trying to do a sketch.’ Another one would pull up. ‘What’s that?’ ‘Oh, that’s a wedge-tailed eagle, and that’s a brown swamp harrier.” ” ‘Oh, are you a tour guide?’ ”
Driving home it occurred to him that he hadn’t known just how much he knew about the bush and pretty much everything in it. So he thought he’d give that tour guide caper a go.
It was how he got the nickname after all: sixth-generation descendant of the first Van Diemen’s Land convicts; son, grandson, nephew, brother and uncle of four generations of forest rangers; they couldn’t keep him out of the bush when he was a boy.
“SO CHEEKY AND INQUISITIVE, SMART AND INTELLIGENT…THEY’RE LIKE KITTENS IN PYJAMAS.”
So Friday afternoons after school his parents would drop him off out the back of Mathinna, where they lived in the deep north-east, and he’d head off with a pocket knife, bait, cat gut, hooks and tin of baked beans to spend the weekend living off the land and bringing home snakes and all sorts of great stuff.
Which is pretty much what he gets to do now with his Pepper Bush Adventures (minus the snakes, of course). Takes people out for a taste of bush food, a spot of wildlife, a panorama of some of the best scenery on the planet and a lifetime of bush knowledge.
Bushie’s Backyard reveals thousand-year-old trees, 222 individual species of plants up on Ben Lomond alone; pointing out pademelons, quolls, bandicoots, wallabies, wombats and – guaranteed – platypus. “You’re going to see at least five species and probably without putting your glass of wine down.”
And what’s that one? Eastern quoll. Probably Bushie’s favourite creature, especially the babies. “So cheeky and inquisitive, smart and intelligent….bouncing around with those little white spots on them, they’re like kittens in pyjamas.”