More than 20 years on, we were headed back. 20 years since DC Green, Andrew Ferguson and Mick Campbell rst ventured out here had done little to stem the rumours and innuendo coming from Salt Bush. It was still outside the bound, buried in an endless expanse of red earth, ocean and obscurity. Too small for anyone to give a shit about and too inhospitable for all but a select few. And who were these few? What kept them here? What brought them here in the rst place? These were the questions that hovered in our minds as we set out. This was supposed to be my country, Australia, but Salt Bush was no country I knew. It is a different Australia. One you can hear about, or read about, all you like but won't believe until you actually go there.
Despite the rumours of violence and intimidation there had been some signi cant changes since those fateful early missions. The surf industry for one had made inroads here, something believed impossible as recently as a decade ago. Kelly Slater came here and broke every rule in the book by shooting one of the region's most ercely protected waves. Billabong secured the help of a colourful local identity to give their team safe passage in the area. Dion Atkinson scored a cover shot here and was banned for life.
Those small wins had been counterbalanced by other signi cant losses, however. The proliferation of meth-amphetamine here being one of the bigger ones. A vile drug conducive to radical spurts of activity, productivity and inevitable psychosis, it's hard to think of a substance less suitable to the barren earth and general listlessness of Salt Bush. How it would manifest when combined with our mission and the erce localism was anyone's guess. As we set out the rumour mill was running hot. Bull, the elder local famous for blasting shotgun rounds over the heads of visiting surfers, was still around. Crazy Ed had just been released from jail, again. And Ghost was a certainty to show up on the cliffs the moment a camera was pulled out.
We'd seen things we never thought we'd see from Salt Bush. Visions of green splendour that the world now knows is very worth protecting. But how long would this golden age of press freedom last? The land remained as remote and lawless as ever. A place where a quick shove, or rock hurled from the top of a cliff, meant instant untraceable death. They say trends are a reaction to what came before and with great secrecy had come a need to know what secrets Salt Bush held. Now that the secrets had been exposed, who would be the rst to be made an example of?