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Surviving The Kimberley

Mike Atkinson braved wild, crocodile infested waters and extreme temperatures to recreate the survival of two German aviators lost in the Top End wilderness more than 80 years ago. 

By Tamara Howie

The adventurer’s self-shot documentary of his solo expedition will make its debut in the Top End, with screenings in Darwin and northern Western Australia, 12 months after the completion of the six-week sojourn. 

Atkinson, aka Outback Mike, became fascinated with the story of Hans Bertram and Adolph Klaus-mann – who were stranded in the Kimberley in 1932 – after watching a documentary as a nine-year-old.

The pair survived for five weeks after their seaplane ran out of fuel, before being rescued by the local Aboriginal people who found them, near death, in a cave. 

Last year Atkinson, a former defence force pilot, followed in their footsteps in an ultimate survival challenge – and filmed every step of the 450km expedition, solo.

“It’s super difficult doing an expedition and filming it too,” he says.

“If I want to go and pick a bush cucumber, I can’t just go and pick it up and eat it – I need a shot of me picking it up, every step. Something that should take one minute takes 30,” he says.

The adventurer’s documentary Surviving The Kimberley, screens in Darwin with all profits going towards the Balanggarra Rangers who made the trip possible.

Atkinson first attempted the expedition a decade ago, but his busy career meant he was unable to make a second attempt until last year – which gave him plenty of time to plan and time for drone technology to become accessible.

“I tried the same trip 10 years ago but I only had two weeks off work and it was in the middle of the Wet season,” he says.

“A cyclone hit within seven days, but it taught me all the problems with the filming so I’ve had 10 years worth of thought go into the final product.”

Sun 18 Aug | 7.30pm | Deckchair Cinema | See the event listing

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