Bob McMahon

NOTICE: Bob McMahon passed away at home in his sleep on April 17 2013. Bob is an exemplar of person who truly exuded 'placedness' and someo who embraced his 'Tasmanianness' with gusto and unfettered enthusiasm. Bob's life touched many people's lives in many ways and he has left his mark on the world simply by being here which is why he was a legend.

For more on Bob click here & here & here

Bob McMahon: Passionate, creative, opinionated, rogue, historian, climber, walker, wine-lover, teacher, grandfather, activist, writer – are all words that could be used to describe Tasmanian Robert McMahon. Bob lives in the Tamar Valley where he works as an outdoor instructor, but he is also a social activist and the spokesperson for TAP into a Better Tasmania, a community-based organisation that was formed in response to the proposal to build Gunns’ controversial pulp mill. An avid reader and writer, Bob approaches life with the kind of zest that you can only admire. His latest project is a walk around the coast of Tasmania, a journey he is about 1200 kilometres into. 

Interview and images Ross Taylor
Bob says "I was dragged up in Tassie. I think I clambered ashore in 1950. My oldest brother is English, but the all rest of us – the other seven boys – were born in Tassie.

What formed me, as far my love for the outdoors, was my first 15 years in a little town called Stanley in the far northwest of Tassie – that little peninsula sticking out into the Bass Strait

The big cliffs of the Nut were our playground, surrounded by the wind and the sea. Wildness was in my blood from the very first. Back then, no one had cars or telephones or television sets. I remember being taken for a drive along the north coast of Tasmania. I was probably 11, and that was my first sighting of mountains, the snow-covered Western Tiers. It had this electrifying effect on me. I had not been exposed to anything like that before in my life. I was hooked.

When we shifted out of Stanley to Devonport. We would hitchhike out to Cradle on a Friday night, just my mate and me (Michael McHugh), and we would climb some mountains and then hitchhike back again on Sunday. One night, when it was snowing like mad, we were shuffling along in our Yakka Can’t Tear ‘Ems and we got picked up by some hunters. They sat us up on the trailer on top of the dog cage – leaving us holding on in this raging blizzard as we were hurling along the gravel road. It was a good laugh.

I have poked around Iceland and I’ve been down around Tierra del Fuego, on a charter yacht through the Beagle Channel and up all the fjords and, you know this sounds a bit funny, but I think I know what wilderness is – I think I’ve looked it in the face. 

It was a moment in one of those isolated fjords, tucked in behind Mt Darwin. We’d moored the yacht – you run these lines ashore so that they wild weather doesn’t take you – and at the end of the day this grey fox came down to the water’s edge to look at us. I am thinking ‘This fox has never seen a human before’. At that moment, as I looked at the fox, I thought, ‘I know what wilderness is’." ... CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE WILDinterview