Un­sung hero

Glenn Rob­bins re­turns as bum­bling ad­ven­turer Rus­sell Coight in All Aussie Ad­ven­tures

Geelong Advertiser - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE - * This satir­i­cal in­ter­view was sup­plied by Net­work Ten

Coight: “My fa­ther, Rus­sell Coight Se­nior, was a great man, he taught me ev­ery­thing I know about bushcraft, out­back sur­vival and gun safety. I’ll never for­get his last words, ‘ Are you sure the safety catch is on…?’”

When Rus­sell Coight ( Glenn Rob­bins)* walks into the restau­rant, heads nat­u­rally turn. Whether this is due to his celebrity sta­tus or the fact he ac­ci­den­tally knocked over a tray of empty wine glasses re­mains un­clear. But one thing is – Coight’s back.

“I don’t reckon I ever went away. Not a day goes by that some­one doesn’t come up to me in the street want­ing an au­to­graph, a selfie or some sort of com­pen­sa­tion pay­out. That’s the last­ing im­pact of my TV show,” Coight says.

Af­ter apol­o­gis­ing for be­ing late ( his “sat nav got lost”) Coight asks for a steak ( well done) and a pot of beer, and so break­fast be­gins.

The ob­vi­ous ques­tion is: where has this TV leg­end been for the past decade or so?

“My wildlife park keeps me pretty busy, es­pe­cially now that the RSPCA has lifted their ban,” he says.

Coight’s wildlife park, lo­cated just out­side of Dar­win, re­cently made head­lines when an over­seas tourist was hos­pi­talised.

“In hind­sight the crocodile pet­ting zoo was a lit­tle am­bi­tious” he ad­mits, be­fore or­der­ing a sec­ond beer ( to re­place the one he ac­ci­den­tally knocked over).

But just be­cause Coight has been ab­sent from our screens doesn’t mean the pi­o­neer­ing pre­sen­ter hasn’t been busy be­hind the scenes.

“I’ve had a bunch of shows in de­vel­op­ment,” he says. “Boot

Scootin’ With the Stars al­most got up and my new con­cept

Out­back Ninja only stalled when the pro­duc­ers re­fused to al­low live am­mu­ni­tion on set.”

Coight’s dis­dain for rules and reg­u­la­tions (“the nanny state”) be­comes ob­vi­ous the longer you talk to him.

“TV’s be­come so safe, so bor­ing. You can’t smoke, you can’t have beer, you can’t re­fer to women as a sheilas – un­less their name ac­tu­ally is Sheila, it’s crazy…” he says.

As well as his TV work, Coight has re­mained pas­sion­ate about shar­ing his love of the out­doors with the younger gen­er­a­tion.

“Kids are our fu­ture, but so many of them miss out on learn­ing ba­sic life skills: hunt­ing, track­ing, rolling their own cig­a­rettes,” he says.

Coight re­cently took a group of in­ner- city kids into the out­back. “That was a top trip,” he says. “The aim was ba­si­cally to get them off their com­put­ers and teach them sur­vival skills; how to hunt, how to find wa­ter, how to avoid get­ting lost.”

The fact that sev­eral mem­bers of the group did in fact get lost and had to be air­lifted to safety does not seem to bother Coight.

“They learnt from the ex­pe­ri­ence. They found an in­ner strength. And if only I could have found them it all would have worked out. But then the bloody news­pa­pers got onto the story,” he says.

Spend any time with Coight and you quickly re­alise he has a love- hate re­la­tion­ship with the press.

“I was up in North Queensland re­cently help­ing to re­build a school class­room that had been de­stroyed. Not one news­pa­per men­tioned the amount of hard work I put in. All

they talked about was the fact that I was the per­son re­spon­si­ble for de­stroy­ing the class­room in first place. What does that tell you?” he says.

When Coight talks about his own up­bring­ing, it’s clear where he got his bush skills from.

“I grew up in the bush. Mum and Dad owned a farm, we used to move a lot. I’d of­ten come home from school only to dis­cover they’d gone again. That’s where I learnt my track­ing skills,” he says.

At the men­tion of his par­ents Coight be­comes vis­i­bly emo­tional ( the third beer may well have also played a part).

“My fa­ther, Rus­sell Coight Sr, was a great man, he taught me ev­ery­thing I know about bushcraft, out­back sur­vival and gun safety. I’ll never for­get his last words, ‘ Are you sure the safety catch is on…?’”

But could there be a softer side to this hard- bit­ten bush bat­tler? For a start, there’s the much- hyped re­lease of his first fra­grance, Koight.

“I helped de­sign it per­son­ally. It’s a mix­ture of eu­ca­lyp­tus and wat­tle, with base notes of diesel. Avail­able at all good ser­vice sta­tions,” he says.

Then there’s ru­mours of ro­mance with a cer­tain TV per­son­al­ity.

“I’ve al­ways con­sid­ered my­self a con­firmed bach­e­lor, but a few months back I was lucky enough to make a guest ap­pear­ance on The Real Housewives of Alice Springs,” he says. “I was help­ing out one of the ladies with a rodeo seg­ment and, let’s just say, some­thing went click. Turned out to be her lower back.

“We plan on dat­ing as soon as she’s out of the body cast”.

Back to All Aussie Ad­ven­tures, Coight ex­plains what view­ers can ex­pect from this new se­ries.

“One dif­fer­ence this time around is that we’ll be fo­cus­ing a lot more on camp cook­ing,” he says.

“I’ll be whip­ping up some amaz­ing bush tucker in the camp oven. The recipes have gone up a notch – wait un­til you see my cro­quem­bouche damper. We’ll also be hav­ing a mys­tery box – each week you have to guess what mar­su­pial I’m cook­ing with”.

Of course, for many peo­ple the thought of “go­ing bush” is pretty daunt­ing. Coight of­fers his No. 1 piece of ad­vice:

“Al­ways re­mem­ber to take wa­ter. Un­less you’re go­ing north dur­ing the wet sea­son, in which case take an um­brella. I’d also rec­om­mend throw­ing in a copy of my best- sell­ing guide­book, Coight’s Camp­ing Com­pendium. You’ll find hun­dreds of handy hints for head­ing bush. It’s also ed­i­ble ( in an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion) and – if na­ture calls – the last 20 pages are printed on soft dou­ble- ply pa­per.”

By this stage the plates have been cleared and the owner is hov­er­ing. “Reckon this bloke wants an au­to­graph” sug­gests Coight. ( Turns out he wants Coight to move his car as it is block­ing the restau­rant’s load­ing dock).

Be­fore he leaves, Coight talks about what he’s most proud of. “It would have to be my work help­ing to pro­tect our pre­cious na­tive wildlife,” he says.

“I was lucky enough to re­cently have a rare species of pygmy pos­sum named af­ter me. Sci­en­tists didn’t even know this crea­ture ex­isted un­til I drove over one up in the Kim­ber­ley. It’s now known as Coigh­tus Ex­tinc­tus.” And, with that, Coight turns and leaves the restau­rant.

Man of the land: Rus­sell Coight ( Glenn Rob­bins).

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