Discovering Olegas Truchanas During Dinner

Last Saturday evening I had the best seat in the house at the Australian Canoeing Awards Dinner

… I was the MC.

One of the awards was made to Terry Bolland. The award was presented in honour of Olegas Truchanas.

During the evening I learned that one of the attendees at the Dinner, John Borojevic, had met Olegas when John was seven years old. I spoke with John about him and was enchanted by Olegas’s story.

I am profoundly disappointed that I had not heard about Olegas’s story until then. The National Library of Australia holds a collection of Olegas’s Lake Pedder pictures.

Dan Sprod’s biographical entry on Olegas can be found here. (I have discovered that Dan is a friend of John so this really is a small world story!)

I found this excerpt from a speech Olegas made in 1972:

Tasmania is not the only place in the world where long-term, careful argument has been defeated by short-term economic advantage. When we look round, the time is rapidly approaching when natural environment, natural unspoiled vistas are sadly beginning to look like left-overs from a vanishing world. This vanishing world is beautiful beyond our dreams and contains in itself rewards and gratifications never found in artificial landscape, or man-made objects, so often regarded as exciting evidence of a new world in the making.

The natural world contains an unbelievable diversity, and offers a variety of choices, provided of course that we retain some of this world and that we live in the manner that permits us to go out, seek it, find it, and make these choices. We must try to retain as much as possible of what still remains of the unique, rare and beautiful. It is terribly important that we take interest in the future of our remaining wilderness, and in the future of our National Parks. Is there any reason why, given this interest, and given enlightened leadership, the ideal of beauty could not become an accepted goal of national policy? Is there any reason why Tasmania should not be more beautiful on the day we leave it, than on the day we came? We don’t know what the requirements of those who come after us will be. Tasmania is slowly evolving towards goals we cannot no%y see. If we can revise our attitudes towards the land under our feet; if we can accept a role of steward and depart from the role of conqueror; if we can accept the view that man and nature are inseparable parts of the unified whole-then Tasmania can be a shining beacon in a dull, uniform and largely artificial world.

What a remarkable life! Making the award to Terry has given me the opportunity to contemplate Olegas’s work and legacy. Forty years on I think his message is even more important to share.


I am grateful to Stephen Downes for sharing his link to Olegas in Stephen’s 2004 Buntine Oration. Stephen found news of Olegas in Strahan, Tasmania on his visit to Australia. I sense that Stephen and Olegas are kindred spirits in many ways. I think they have a very close connection through photography.

Photo Credits

Terry Bolland

Olegas Truchanas

Australian Canoeing Strategic Forum 2011: Day 2

The first session of Day Two of Australian Canoeing’s (AC) 2011 Strategic Forum shared good practice from state organisations.

Ian Heard of Canoe South Australia (CSA) reported on a Board performance enhancement process underway. CSA held a Strategic Forum in August this year. I liked Ian’s summary of the Forum as “fun and fellowship”. He pointed to five pillars of CSA strategic planning: governance, financial management, education, training and safety, high performance, community development and participation.

A number of priorities arose from the CSA Forum were itemised by Ian. These included re-invigorating the Education and Safety Committee. CSA has made a determined effort to engage with assessors and assure the uniformity, integrity and credibility of courses. Ian concluded his presentation with a discussion of CSA’s talent identification program and the Team Paddle Challenge and noted the role volunteers play in running these programs.

Andrea McQuitty talked about work undertaken by Canoe Tasmania (CT) in the last year. She discussed the delivery of relevant and current services to the Tasmanian paddling community. I really enjoyed Andrea’s discussion of CT’s role in proving services to paddlers in their pathways through the sport. I liked the idea of celebrating and supporting diversity. I liked too the idea of an agile state organisation that can meet continuing and changing needs. CT’s current activities build on a long-term (30 year) record of providing courses and paddling experiences. CT Presentation

Sharon Swoboda of Canoe Victoria (CV) reported on CV’s year. Her first points were about the Strategic Forum and the development of a new strategic plan plan with a ten-year vision. A Recreation Forum was held after the Strategic Forum to address a different membership group. A club forum was held at CV’s AGM. All work this year has focussed on pathways for all membership groups (paddlers, volunteers, officials, coaches) to identify and support their goals. CV are seeking government support for multi-sport venue in Melbourne. Other initiatives this year have included a focus on junior participation (using the British Canoe Union’s Paddlepower model) and joining the Australian Sports Commission’s After Active School Communities. Sharon concluded her talk with a discussion of the success of a major initiative: a sustainable participation opportunity for indigenous paddlers. The program includes basic skill instruction and opportunities to become instructors and guides.

Sarah Aulin from Canoeing Western Australia (CWA) presented her report of last year’s work. She discussed the drive to become a relevant state organisation for WA members. 1000 schoolchildren were involved in CWA’s Paddle Academy last year. This creates an important opportunity to transform participation into engagement. Sarah discussed the Avon descent, Paracanoeing initiatives and talent identification. CWA are developing inclusive strategies. Sarah concluded her talk with news of  Ocean Safe Paddling Be Safe launch.

Tony Hystek presented information about PaddleNSW‘s year. He noted membership numbers and the growth of open water clubs. He reported on a drive to develop an Open Water coaching award. He pointed to issues with sprint clubs and the drift of junior athletes to talent identification clubs. He signalled a disappearing volunteer structure for sprint canoeing. PaddleNSW has worked to develop a Paddle Australia program. NSW Maritime is now involved with PaddleNSW in the development of a start paddling, safe paddling DVD (20 minute). Tony will share the script with state organisations to ensure any state variations are included.

The morning’s presentation was concluded with Paul Pascoe’s Presentation on information technology.

Australian Canoeing AGM and Strategic Forum 2011

It is Jacaranda time in Sydney.

It is Australian Canoeing’s AGM time too.

The meeting is being held in the New South Wales Institute of Sport building on Figtree Drive in the Sydney Olympic Park.

It is the 62nd AGM held by Australian Canoeing (AC).

The Forum includes topics on:

  • Participation, Engagement and Action
  • Olympic High Performance
  • Technical Committee Updates
  • Education and Safety
  • Coaching and Officiating
  • Better Practice
  • Insurance
  • Information Technology

The Annual Report is available online at the AC website.

Photo Credit