Transcript of AE 408 – Interview: Crocs, Muppet Pollies, & the Legend of Wildman with Damian Duffy
G'day, guys, and welcome to Aussie English. My objective here is to teach you guys the English spoken down under. So whether you want to speak like a fair dinkum Aussie or you just want to understand what the flipping hell we're on about when we're having a yarn, you've come to the right place! So sit back, grab a cuppa and enjoy Aussie English.
G'day, guys, how's it going? Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. This is another interview episode, and today I have the pleasure of interviewing Damien Duffy a.k.a Wild Man. But before we get into that, guys, welcome to the Aussie English podcast, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to learn Australian English. Whether you want to understand how we speak, the accent, the slang that we use, or whether you want to sound like an Australian when you speak, the Aussie English podcast is for you!
And the Aussie English podcast is brought to you by the Aussie English classroom. So that is my product, that is the online learning environment where you guys can get courses that go with these lessons, they go with the interview lessons, they go with the expression episode lessons that are on the podcast. The whole point of this online classroom is to help you study and learn Australian English even faster. Anyway, guys, today I have the pleasure of chatting with my mate, Wild Man with Damien. He was up north at the time in Darwin, doing a whole bunch of stuff up there, running cruises, feeding crocs.
We talk a little bit about that. We talk about crocodiles. We talk about Muppet politicians. Someone who is a muppet is an idiot. So we'll use that in Australia to refer to people we don't like. It's kind of a polite way of saying that someone's an idiot. He's a muppet. So we talk about pollies - politicians who are total muppets. And then we also talk about how Wild Man got the name Wild Man and got started with his career running around Australia, photographing animals and doing all sorts of larrikin-esque kind of activities.
Anyway, Wild Man is an absolute champ, guys. I have broken down one of his videos previously, so you may have seen him on YouTube. If you want to check that out, just search Wild Man Aussie English and you'll see me break down his accent. He has a very, very thick Australian accent. It's incredibly ocker. It's actually one of my favourite Australian accents, and I have a little bit of accent envy. So make sure if you have trouble understanding anything that he says, and anything I say, to jump online and download the transcript so you can read everything that we're saying whilst you listen. Anyway, guys, without any further ado, let's get into today's episode. Let's go and chat with Wild Man.
So, I mean, welcome to this episode of Aussie English man, thank you for joining me. Thank you for- as well, letting me do that video originally on your content, that was- that was amazing and everyone listening to it was- it was right up their alley. They were loving it, dude.
Yeah, no dramas, mate. Too easy.
So I've got a bunch of questions here for you, Damian. I mean, just to start, Wild Man. How did that get started? How did you- tell us a bit about yourself? Introduce yourself and how did it all get started?
The Wild Man thing got started just because I'm a bit of a loose unit, and I kind of get it in a while. So the name kinda stuck: The Wild Man. I started off just with the photography because I do the wildlife photography thing and I needed a good name for it and I thought, Wild Man Photography is a pretty good name. And I gradually I progressed from there and thought to myself the adventures that I go on to get the photos that I get are interesting in themselves, and I'm going out to all these pristine, amazing places, beautiful landscapes. One, I'll start doing videos and they took on a life of their own. So yeah, that's hopefully kicking off.
So when did that start? How long have you been doing the photography side of things?
I think I've been doing photography for about- actually, decent photography for maybe about two and three years. I've bought a camera about four years ago and just taught myself how to use it. I've got a few hints and tips off some other people and just went from there. And- and then I've managed to get myself to where I am now. So, I was always learning. There's always something else to learn, but having a lot of fun with it, mate.
Yeah. And what are the best experience has been so far? What are the best shots that you've called or the best adventures you've been on? Or are they all good?
That, to be honest, they're all good mate, but going in the national parks, for example, Litchfield National Parks is always phenomenal. I didn't- I used my GoPro the other night to swim with the freshwater crocodile at night time and film underwater with an underwater torch on my GoPro. So, that was amazing. But basically anything, mate.
Whenever you're going out and finding wildlife, the experience in itself is invigorating, and it makes you really enthusiastic about what you're doing because you don't just walk out the side and you got like black neck stalks and crocodiles and kangaroos and snakes. And they're not just sitting at the front waiting for you.
You've got to go look for them. So it's all part of the adventure. And when you find something that's really, really exciting, then you can take photos and show other people what you saw, and that's exciting as well.
And so have you always lived up north in Australia? Did you grow up in Queensland? Whereabouts did it all- all begin for you?
Oh, mate, if I go by the legend, I fell out of a dingo's arse in the bush somewhere. No, to be honest, mate. I was born in western Sydney.
Yep, yeah. No judgement. I'm from Melbourne. No judgement, no judgement.
You know, I got released down in Melbourne, in Mornington, Mount Martha. I got a few mates in Frankston. Franga? Frankghanistan.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah.
But yeah, I've lived in and around Sydney, Parramatta, Rosedale, Mount Druitt, all the rough areas, you know? But I was pretty young then and then I moved away to the Central Coast, around Lake Macquarie, a couple of hours out of Newcastle. I've lived- I think I've been to nine different schools, you know, like I've lived out in the bush in New South Wales, I've lived near the city. I've lived on- I went to Noosa, lived there for a couple of years, went back to the other side of the Blue Mountains.
And a little one horse town called Portland that snows there. It's horrible. And then I ended up back in Brisbane and I was there for like, a couple of years, and then I went and joined the army, ended up back in Sydney doing paratrooper, then I went back to Brisbane and I was there for seven years and then I'll move to North Queensland and I was there for maybe four or four and a half years.
And then now I'm in the Northern Territory and I've finally found the place where I'm meant to be. I thought it was North Queensland, mate. But since I moved here- North Queensland will always have a piece in my heart. But Northern Territory mate is just next level. Phenomenal place.
You were at the Daintree rainforest, right?
Yeah, and so how do the two compare then? Obviously- obviously, are you just saying Darwin's a lot better, is it? Or...
Yeah, it's better for me because it's just more loose, mate. Like everything's so relaxed and chilled out here. My favourite pub's the Humpty Doo. I don't have to wear shoes when I go in there. People occasionally bring in snakes or crocodiles or ride a water buffalo in, like ,it's- it's loose! And that's what- it's the last wild frontier in this country, unless you count suburbs like Campbelltown or whatever, you know. But that's- that's too loose. That's even too much for me. But it is just- it is the final wild frontier as far as wildlife goes. Even at the end of the dry season, there is still animals everywhere.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
It blows my mind. Like, my camera has had one hell of a workout. Thank goodness, Nikon made tough cameras, but in the- it's a completely different environment. Over in north Queensland, it's a tropical rainforest and you do have pristine, beautiful waterfalls and you've got your rainforest, snakes, and all your- all your reptiles and all that sort of jazz.
And of course, you've got some crocodiles there. Small density, but some.
Yep, the salties, as well as the freshies?
Yeah, there's- there's freshies that live out on- on the tablelands out towards Chillagoe if you go further inland, but you've got a few salties along the coast. If you ask Bob Katter how many salties there are, there probably about 10 million and then waiting at your front door to mug you when you go to get up for work in the morning?
10 million too many.
Yeah, yeah, mate. But there's bugger all, man, there's bugger all up there, but in the Territory, there's heaps more and that makes me happy because I like seeing them. And of course, I work with them now, but you can't compare them. Two completely different environments. They're both as tropical as all buggery with the temperature.
But it gets hotter in the Territory. The wet seasons, much bigger in the Territory. But the sheer amount of wildlife here is just- because of it- because they're big, vast wetlands, mate.
And the biodiversity here rivals the biodiversity of places like the Amazon, you know. Heartbeats per square metre is just still off tap. So-.
Because what's the-
I'm having a ball.
What's the population of Darwin again? It's- it's like tiny, isn't it, compared to, say, Sydney?
Oh yeah. But even Cairns is small compared to Sydney, but Darwin is still, it's barely even a city. I think it barely counts as a city.
So- and it's small. There's like one main street in town. I went into town the other day and it was like, it was like just to, you know, just a rural town.
It wasn't, you know, it doesn't have all the skyscrapers and all that, you know, like what you see. It's not a very touristy place. You've got your tourist shops and whatever. They sells souvenirs and all that crap. But of course you do. It is a tourist destination, but it's not. You don't go there and think, Oh, it's a tourist town. Look, you go to Port Douglas and you like, this is very touristy, but everything's bloody expensive. But you go to Darwin and it's just like a place in Australia where people live that just happens to be awesome.
Yeah. And so for, I mean, the listeners, a lot of them are going to be people coming from overseas into Australia. And I'm sure all they will have seen Steve Irwin docos and all those, you know, TV shows showing the ten top deadliest Australian animals. Do they- should they expect to come to places like Northern Queensland and Darwin, get out of the car and be like killed by something instantly? Is that a realistic expectation?
You've got more chance of getting killed by a local mate than one of the animals at the time. So, but no, like- in the middle of the city, people- well, I've told people that I used to ride a kangaroo to work, and school, not to work, to school. Sorry. When I was a kid and they were like, Oh, really? And you're like, No, but-.
They'll believe everything you tell them. They'll believe anything you tell them. I once convinced a group of American biology students that Australia had bush monkeys, the Australian bush monkey in North Queensland.
The drop bears?
No, I can't. Yeah, no, no. The proper bush monkeys related to the slow loris from South East Asia. And I gave him this big evolutionary spiel, and we spent about 40 minutes in the rainforest trying to look for bush monkeys, and they went back to America thinking that. But as long as it's a convincing argument, you can tell them anything that they think that they're going to get off the plane and have to dodge brown snakes in the airport.
And it is vastly different. And unfortunately, because of the amount of foot traffic from people, like cars and et cetera, even in some of the national parks like you've got to really go looking for the wildlife.
So what's the best way to do that, too? And the safest way? If these people want to come to Australia and see these kinds of animals in the wild, what's the best way to do it and what's the safest way to do it? And is there any danger when they do do it, if they do it on their own as well?
If you do it on your own, unless you know what you're doing, stay in the car. You can go night spotting for reptiles and cruise along some of the rural roads, and you will see snakes. You put enough time in, you're guaranteed to see snakes in the early evening on the road after the- within the first couple of hours after the sun's gone down. Because they're getting that warmth off the road and while it's still quiet. So- and they've got to cross the road somewhere. There's no snake crossing.
But if they're going to do that, by all means, and you can even hop out of your car and take a photo, but just do it from a distance, there's no need to try and touch these animals or interact or antagonise them. You can take- and if you don't want to get out of the car, don't get out of the car. I mean, that's the safest thing. You can spot it and go, Hey, cool, and wind your window down and take a photo.
Snakes are not going to jump in your window. But as far as any other animals, and snakes included, you can go on tours. They've got tours down at Corroboree Billabong. They've, of course, got the spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise that I work on. There's plenty of different tours around there that will show you not only the places, but they'll point out animals.
And these tour guides have been working here for four years, some of them decades. So they know where to spot everything. They know how to spot it. They're good at what they do, and they can show you these animals in a safe environment and it'll still blow your mind.
And what's it like, yeah, getting up up close and personal with crocs? You recommend that is a good experience, I take it. Nothing like it?
Nothing like it, but you're exactly right, mate. When I was working in North Queensland, I was feeding four-metre crocodiles with nothing in front of me hanging, hanging a bit of chicken in a wildlife park. So that was phenomenal. But now I'm working on the river with them. It's totally different in the wild because they, the- the captive crocodiles, although they still have all the wild instincts, they're a captive animal. And they just go through the motions of the show and whatnot. But when you're out on the river, you're not always interacting with them. A lot of the time, you're just observing their behaviours and explaining their behaviours to other people. And we're watching these crocodiles out in the river, interact with each other, interact with the environment around them, including potential prey items. They can- they go and fend for themselves. They don't rely on us for food. They take advantage of it. But it's not uncommon to see one of the crocodiles swimming around with a pig or a wallaby.
And so what are your thoughts currently with the numbers of them too? Because I know since like about the 70s, they've come right back, right? They've shot up. But then now we have politicians like Katter who are saying we need to cull them again after they were already closely, you know, hunted to extinction. What are your thoughts on that?
Well, in the past, I'm pretty sure I've made my thoughts on Katter quite clear. He just- he bases none of his argument on scientific fact. It's all scare tactics and fear mongering and- and using words like infestation, plague proportions. He's trying to say that there's a fatality every year and but then he goes off and goes Oh, Queensland is- Queensland is getting ripped to pieces and there's nowhere safe to swim. It's an absolute load of rubbish, and there's enough bunch of people that would've jumped on the bandwagon saying, Oh, we can't go swimming anywhere anymore.
Now I can tell you, like, a dozen places off the top of my head where you can swim safely. Not to mention the lagoon and a flippin' swimming pool, you know?
That's it! Your own bath!
I guess, if you're that hard up, run a cool bath. But everyone's got a swimming pool in North Queensland. You've got the manmade lagoon. But the numbers were up around half a million before the shooting era, then between the 30s and 70s, they dropped down to around 3000.
That's right. Yeah, they almost got exterminated, right?
Almost. Almost, right out of this country. So at a rough estimate- and I'll say very rough estimate, numbers are between two hundred and fifty to three hundred and fifty thousand. That's what the experts reckon. But they're currently doing a study to ascertain how many there actually are in the country now, but the numbers are far lower than half a million. So you can still fit, let's say, another one hundred and fifty thousand crocodiles in comfortably before they're at a natural density.
And I've never understood this concept of humans wanting to manage the environment. But these animals have been around for 100 million years in their current form, doing just fine. Never were they overpopulated. Never were they in a plague proportion or an infestation, or never were they damaging the environment around them. On the contrary, they're very, very important as an apex predator for their environment. So for a human to go 'Nup, we should manage them!' Well, no mate. They manage themselves.
And as human beings, we need to manage ourselves. Yeah, I do agree with if there's a crocodile in suburbia going up a suburban creek like and there's a three metre crocodile there, it's got to be removed because that is a very immediate danger and it's gone right up into the middle of where people live.
But if you're living out in the bush, on a cane farm, or if you're living in a rural area and there's crocodiles around, you need to be aware of that and manage your self. And if you do so correctly, you'll never, ever get attacked by a crocodile. So-.
It seems like-.
Basically, I think that's a really way of saying Bob Katter is a muppet.
And it always seemed like one of those things is kind of like a murder happens in Melbourne. And it's- what's the answer? Oh, we'll just cull 10 per cent of the population. You know, like, that didn't solve anything like. But so what would an Australia look like without crocs?
It would have- have a pretty serious impact on the ecosystem. Because they're an apex predator, so not only do they, they keep their own numbers in check to a degree. You've got crocodiles eating other crocodiles, which they do. Only one percent of crocodiles survive anyway, from being an egg to adult. But crocodiles, young crocodiles, eggs provide food source for goannas and snakes. And then once they're born, they provide a food source for fish. Snakes, other crocodiles, sharks, birds. And once they get older, it's kind of more the bigger animals like the sharks that'll get them. And then once they're a little bit bigger, crocodiles do potentially eat each other. They are opportunistic and cannibalistic. So they're a food source not only for themselves, but for the environment around them, but they keep other animals in check.
They also are beneficial to, let's say, fish numbers. Because where crocodiles hang around, they hang around near fish nurseries and they'll prey on animals that eat fish eggs. So if you've got crocodiles preying on them, less of them are taking the amount of fish eggs, therefore, where you've got crocodiles, you've got more fish.
Everything in nature has the balance, and it's a delicate balance. If you remove a big puzzle piece out of there, everything else- it might not happen overnight. It might not happen in two months or six months or a year. But you will definitely notice a cascading effect and things will fall apart. They really will.
I think they've showed that in Yosemite National Park, right when they got rid of the wolves and the deer just went nuts and destroyed the land. Like, just trampled all the plants. The grasses weren't growing properly. The rivers actually changed their courses as a result. And then once they reintroduced the wolves, they were like, Oh, look, everything's back in balance now. And it's kind of like, Well, you need, you need the guys at the top there, right?
Yeah, yeah. So what do we need to do?
I think something similar has happened with dingoes, mate. Because where they took dingoes out of the area, they had a lot of problems and now they've reintroduced dingoes into some areas. They're attacking the wild dogs that are attacking the cattle.
The cattle are getting attacked lot less because the dingoes don't see them as food. And a lot of the feral animals like foxes and rabbits and cats, their numbers are dropping because that's what the dingoes are eating. They've been established in this country for thousands of years. They are natural apex predator here now, and they're important. They're part of the ecosystem. So don't take them out. Utilise them for what they're here to do to get rid of the actual feral animals.
So how do they control, though, the- the mixing between the dingoes and the the wild dogs? Because I would take it if you've got too many wild dogs and they start interbreeding with the dingoes, you're effectively just going to absorb that- that population of dingoes, right?
Mate, to be honest with you, that is a very, very difficult question, and I can't base that on any scientific fact because I don't have enough information regarding the interbreeding of dingoes and wild dogs. But that's a problem for someone with a bit more expertise to figure out, I think. But what they do at the moment is use 1080 poison. And 1080 poison isn't just eaten by the animals that they want to do over. It's eaten by everyone and they die a very horrible death. And then if anything else comes along and eats that carcass, they get poisoned too. So I mean, I personally think that crap should be banned.
It's used extensively in New Zealand. Areas there where you can't hear a bird tweet because of the extensive death that that poison has caused. They just go and spray it everywhere. It's ridiculous.
I know. While I was doing master's degree on the lace monitor down in Victoria here, and they were eating them from time to time. We were just like, How do we, you know, make these- I was studying them! And I'm like, You're finding them dead? And you're just like, Why? Why are we using this stuff for foxes when it's just destroying everything and anything that can fit it in its mouth?
If history has shown anything, mate, it's when humans interfere, you have problems. Case in point, the bloody cane toad.
I was about to ask you about that. So how is that going in Darwin? I take it, you would have seen it in Queensland. The cane toad in Queensland. And it's obviously well and truly made it to Darwin and beyond, and it's potentially threatening The Kimberleys now, right? And whether it's even gotten there and is going down to the Pilbara, what is the- what is it like in Darwin now that you've moved from- from Queensland, where they originated over to Darwin? Is it just the same thing, exactly the same thing?
There's toads, but there's more in North Queensland.
Like, just- just from looking around, you notice a lot more toads there. That said, there are still a lot of toads here. There's- there's more than there should be, because there shouldn't be any. But even- even on just- just basing it on anything, there's still a lot of toads. And they've had a big impact on freshwater crocodiles, on snakes, on goannas. All non-native species have really suffered from it. Birds are starting to figure it out because they grab them, flip them over and eat the gizzards out them and everything and leave the rest. So birds are clinging on, but we can only hope that other animals do so too.
Yeah. So is that happening slowly? Are they like goannas in the crocs and that becoming evasive of eating them? Because the only ones that are left are the ones that didn't eat them to begin with, or...
Pretty sure they're learning, mate, and it's just- I think now the term they used is forced evolution. Because animals, animals figure it out, you know, they adapt and overcome and they evolve. So eventually, you know, like some animals when they're born. Crocodiles are a perfect example. When they're born, they're not taught anything.
Everything is ingrained into their mind biologically. They know how to hunt, stalk and hide and do buoyancy and everything. Like they already know when they're born, which is phenomenal. They're two days out of the egg, they just know what to do. But with other animals, I believe it would work in a similar fashion where, like some animals, just know that they shouldn't eat something.
So- and that's just ingrained into them. So let's just hope that's the way it's working with these animals. It is a slow process. Evolution doesn't happen overnight, but I think when they're faced with something as detrimental as cane toads, maybe it'll speed the process up a bit.
And so what do you think the future is going to be for cane toads in Australia, especially across the north and the top end there? Permanent residents now.
They're here to stay, mate. They're part of the ecosystem and hopefully everything else around them will adapt because to get rid of them is an impossible task. Good luck to the people who are faced with that task, who have been given the responsibility of trying to rid Australia of bloody cane toads. But they haven't got to- they haven't got buckley's, mate.
As long as they don't bring something in that's worse.
Yeah. Well, no, that's always an option, isn't it? That's how we got into this mess in the first place. I was reading a study on the cane toad. Apparently because of the insecticides and pesticides they use on the crops and then the cane toads are getting covered in it, and they're also eating all the insects that have died, ingesting or getting covered in this poison. It has increased the toxicity of the Bufo toxin in the- in the poison glands, so now they're even more toxic than before.
Once again, directly due to human beings. When will we learn? The mind boggles, mate. It's 2017 and our government's more worried about spending 122 million on a plebiscite, deciding whether people get the rights, same rights as other people? I mean, has the world gone mad? Australia is going backwards, mate.
That blew my mind. The fact that the plebiscite, like it's something- I don't, you know, mind saying that I support gay marriage. But at the same time, the equivalent of 2000 teachers jobs going for $122 million could have employed 2000 teachers. Or, you know, we could probably save how many extinct species with that same amount of money if you just threw it at that instead of just a postal vote. Yeah, that was insane.
There are more things that we could have used that money for. Then there are reasons why it shouldn't have happened in the first place. I mean, there's every reason why the plebiscite is absolute bullshit before you even start on the money side of things.
It is right. Is it? I mean, I'm only voting because if I didn't vote, dickheads would and then it wouldn't go so...
And then I kind of decline.
Yeah. So, you know, you've got to get involved because at the end of the day, mate, we're all human beings. And fair enough, like all these people are saying this stupid rubbish about, Oh, and then they're going to want to marry dogs next. Or want to marry kids. That's- there was never a part of it, and that all they're doing is focussing specifically on the sex. They're going, Oh, same sex marriage means people of the same sex are having sex. Piss that off.
It's happening anyway, buddy. Yeah, they're not waiting for permission.
That's right. So- and they're not doing it in the street and fronting up. So why don't you just get over that and put that aside and just think to yourself, these are two human beings that love each other? Why don't they have the right to get married just like anybody else?
So like to me, it's as simple as that. And all these other bullcrap fearmongering that's going on, man, they're just talking out of their arse, trying to fire people up. But if this doesn't go through, all hope is lost, mate.
Yeah. To tell you what. Far out. Well, I know you've got a busy, busy schedule ahead. You probably want to hit the sack. But before we finish up, do you have any- any slang terms you'd suggest newcomers to Australia should learn. Any Aussie slang terms you reckon that- I mean, you've been used every single time I see any of you videos, you throw out about five or six, at least in 30 seconds. It's just- it's an infinite ammo for the podcast and for the YouTube channel. So are there any you think- as soon as you get off the plane, guys, learn these- these x number of slang terms and you'll fit right in.
Oh, bloody hell, I don't know, mate. Mongrels, a good one, a good word to use, it's very diverse. You can go, 'Oh, you're a bit of a mongrel' or 'You mongrel', you know, like, 'Oh hey!' 'What?' 'I'm getting half a mongrel.'
So there's a lot that- maybe don't tell them what that one means, but I don't know, mate. 'She'll be apples.' and 'No dramas' are the ones I've heard you use. Sure, 'she'll be apples', mate. She'll be apples, no drama, cane father. Like, everything's going to be right. No worries. What else?
You don't have to swear at people. You can call them a 'boofhead'. You know, if someone does something, 'Geez, you're a boofhead'. So, that's good. And a 'ningnong'. A 'ningnong', believe it or not, it's highly offensive. Okay.
A 'ningnong' is...
That's just a really nice way of saying 'You're a dickhead.'.
Oh, brilliant dude. Thank you so much for your time, dude. I really, really appreciate it. We'll have to chat again soon.
I appreciate you giving me a bill, mate, this has been an absolute hoot.
Any time, any time. Thank you very much, sir.
Alright, guys, so I hope you enjoy this interview with Damien Duffy, A.K.A. Also known as Wild Man, remember that you can find Damien at Wild Man Photography on Facebook. You can also find him at Wild Man Adventures on Facebook.
Both of these pages will be linked in the transcript below, so you can go and check him out. He does some wonderful photography as well as some videos quite a lot. Chatting about different things that he comes across in Australia, so it's a great way to practise your listening comprehension of the stronger Australian accents if you check out his videos and his posts on his Facebook pages. Also, check out his Instagram guys and that is @wildmanadventures all one word. Okay, so again, all of this will be linked below.
Massive, massive thanks to Damien Duffy to Wild Man for coming on the show. I absolutely love chatting to this guy, and we will be in touch soon to chat about what he's been up to this year. So anyway, guys, I hope you guys enjoyed the episode and I'll chat to you soon. See ya!
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