On January 6 1956, a man named John Stuart died in remote Southwest Tasmania on a climbing & exploration expedition into the region. Although it was summer, Johndied of exposure to freezing conditions 9 days into his journey, shortly after summiting Federation Peak & spending the next 3 days walking through snow with cold & wet equipment. John’s expedition partners were unable to bring his body temperature back to a reasonable level due to the extreme cold, unrelenting conditions & the poor equipment that was in place at the time. After John passed away, he was buried under a huge rock on what is now known as Stuart Saddle in his honor. John Stuart just happens to be the great uncle of a good friend of mine, Rob Saunders. Rob took it upon himself to research the history of John Stuart and Stuart Saddle and decided to embark on a journey to find the grave and pay his respects on behalf of 4 generations of his family and ensure that this particular part of his family history and Australian climbing and bush walking history was not lost with time in the minds of the very few who knew about this tragic story.
Thanks to the varying skills of our 6 man team, we had an incredibly successful journey. We located the grave promptly on day 5 thanks to the help and information received from experts of the region, Bruce & Rosalie Davis, Kevin Doran and Stuart Graham. On day 6, 4 out of our 6 man team managed to summit federation peak from different sides, making the most of our 1 day weather window. The deteriorating weather marked the end of our time on the plateau and we started our 3 day journey back to the car with our heads held high.
My mission was to document this journey in film, aiming to put together a touching & emotive story that will hopefully inspire its audience to respect the outdoors, the history of a place as well as their family heritage.
This is was the adventure of a lifetime and I count myself incredibly lucky to share it with such a good bunch of mates. Our trip wouldn’t have been made possible without the people that supported our endeavor and showed sincere interest in this historical chapter in Australian climbing and bush walking history. Huge thanks to Marmot Australia, SCARPA, CLIF Bar (Unique Health Products), XTM Performance, Osprey Packs, Optimus Stoves USA, Katadyn USA & Kong (Outdoor Agencies) for supporting us with essential equipment and nutrition necessary to survive in such wild places!
I look forward to sharing more of this incredible story in film with you all in due time. Below are a selection of my favourite images taken over our 10 day journey into the ever humbling Southwest National Park.