Arrivals & Departures Spirit of adventure comes to Guildford for travel film festival

Photo of Gemma Nisbet

Adventurous tales including the story of WA-born Ben Carlin, who circumnavigated the globe in an amphibious jeep in the 1950s, will come to fore when the Adventure Travel Film Festival arrives in WA for the first time. 

It’s said that when Ben Carlin encountered an amphibious jeep during World War II, he remarked: “You know, with a bit of titivation you could go around the world in one of these things.”

And, unlikely though it might seem, that’s precisely what the Northam-born adventurer did, setting off with wife Elinore in a vehicle named Half-Safe (after the slogan of a deodorant brand) from Halifax, Canada, in July 1950. (The pair are pictured above in June, 1951, in Brussels.)

The couple later split up but Carlin eventually completed the journey in May, 1958. The Guinness Book of Records acknowledges him as “the first and only” person to circumnavigate the globe in an amphibious vehicle. 

Carlin’s remarkable story will be told at the Adventure Travel Film Festival, which comes to WA for the first time from May 25-27 and features original 16mm film of his adventure which was found at the University of Southern California's Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive.

The footage hasn’t been shown in public in nearly 50 years and will be presented by American author Gordon Bass who wrote The Last Great Australian Adventurer, a book about Carlin published last year.

Having begun in London, the Adventure Travel Film Festival now has outposts in Scotland and Melbourne. The inaugural WA festival will screen 30 independent travel films about everything from paddling Angola’s longest river in fold-up 1960s kit canoes to the tale of a  Swedish explorer who pushed his two-year-old daughter 650km across England in her pram.

The program will also feature 10 speakers including Perth’s Sandy Robson, who was named 2017 Australian Adventurer of the Year and was featured in Travel last year, and British rock climber and mountaineer Paul Pritchard, known for his association with Tasmania’s notorious Totem Pole. 

It’ll all take place in historic halls, churches and pubs around Guildford — particularly appropriate as Guildford Grammar School, where Carlin was educated, is now home to his record-breaking vehicle Half-Safe. 

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