A Brief Biography of a Bushman

Luke Campbell, aka ‘captain loose’, spearing his tea north of Broome. Photo credit: Dee Kramer

Three knives descend swiftly into the water in the far north. Slaughter under the eventide, darkness sets in. A lone hunter, betraying a palpable hardness beneath the shadows, takes in his prize. At times driven to the edge of madness, the boy from the city is all but gone….

Luke Campbell, a friend who I’ve grown up with, lives in Gormanston, Tasmania – a small, quiet place that’s threads away from becoming another of the state’s ghost towns. Luke prefers to live on the fringes of civilisation, and I’m following him there right now. To give you a better idea of this bloke, who’s unlike anyone I’ve met, here’s a few of his (mis)adventures.

Luke, Cranky and Bull (the camel)
  • Hitch-hiking around Australia near a dozen times, often without shoes or money.
  • Swapping his car for a fishing rod.
  • Shooting a kangaroo (while working as a roo shooter) only to rescue the joey and hitch-hike up the west coast of Australia with it in his backpack.
  • Making off with a barramundi (under his coat) from the Radisson Hotel in Scarborough, WA, after catching it from the hotel’s pond with a hand-line baited with chicken and cheese.
  • Pretending he was a butcher, before being chased out of the shop with a cleaver (after badly butchering a side of meat).
Bull, well accustomed to Luke’s antics

Yes, Luke is crazy, I’ve never met anyone crazier, but over the years he’s managed to focus his boundless energy to accomplish some amazing things.

He’s walked from Alice Springs to Broome on foot, across the Tanami desert. Armed with a couple of camels, a friend and a compass, Luke made this epic trip in around three months. This journey, which should have garnered much attention (like the journey of the much publicised Robyn Davidson), occurred almost unnoticed. Luke is a terrible marketer. But then again, his trip was never about that.


Luke also introduced me to the late, great Malcolm Douglas, an iconic Australian bushman who he went on many adventures (by boat) in the wild, coastal Kimberley country with. Malcolm taught Luke to film documentaries, of which Luke has made several, on culture and country, which you can see here. His business is called Wyldeclan. Luke also played an integral part in preventing a gas plant from being developed at James Price Point, near Broome.

I’ve been around Australia with Luke, lived in various places with him (including the suburbs of Darwin, where he turned his bedroom into a forest), walked towards a cyclone with a trailer tied to a camel with him, and I’ve been on one of his overnight camel tours, roughly 90 k’s south of Alice Springs.

He also once woke me up from a nap with a shotgun. Cheeky bugger.

Luke – front; me – far right; returning from our journey near Cyclone Nicholas. Photo credit: Dee Kramer

Besides being a mate, Luke is a gold mine for a story (obviously). I’m always sniffing to see what he’s up to. I’m currently heading to his house with two professional photographers – one who’s taking a drone for some aerial footage – and a musician/friend, all of us who have grown up together. We’re going to explore the ghost towns of Tasmania (of which there are many) and perhaps sleep in one beneath the stars.

Story aside, Luke, like any good friend, is just great to talk rubbish, play guitar and drink a few beers with.

Should be an interesting trip.

7 thoughts on “A Brief Biography of a Bushman”

  1. Hi Tope love your story about Luke. Steve and I would love a copy.Enjoy your trip. You will love Gormo. Take care Shirley Campbell.


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