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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Olegas Truchanas, 1971

Ralph Hope-Johnstone

type C photograph on paper (sheet: 59.5 cm x 50.6 cm, image: 37.7 cm x 30.4 cm)

Olegas Truchanas (1923-1972), photographer and conservationist, came to Australia in 1948 having fled Lithuania during World War 2. Settling in Hobart, he bought a camera and began to explore. Among his notable undertakings were a solo climb of Federation Peak – an awesomely precipitous quartzite monolith at the south-eastern end of the Arthur Range – in 1952; and the first known journey down the Serpentine and Gordon Rivers from Lake Pedder to Strahan on the west coast – an epic solo paddle Truchanas accomplished in a kayak he designed and built himself. As a volunteer instructor Truchanas taught canoeing, photography and bushcraft to many Tasmanian boys. In the early 1960s the Hydro Electric Commission and Premier 'Electric Eric' Reece announced a plan to dam the rivers of South-West Tasmania and flood Lake Pedder. Truchanas's images were widely shown in a strong, yet ultimately unsuccessful bid to save the unique area. Another of his solo battles, to save a Huon pine forest in the South-West, was won in 1971. Now the Truchanas Huon Pine Forest, it lies in the Wild Rivers National Park. At the age of 49, Truchanas died accidentally while canoeing on the Gordon.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2005
© Estate of Ralph Hope-Johnstone

Accession number: 2005.64

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Ralph Hope-Johnstone (age 54 in 1971)

Olegas Truchanas (age 48 in 1971)

Subject professions

Activism

Visual arts and crafts

Related information

The Companion

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Olegas Truchanas, 1971 Ralph Hope-Johnstone
Olegas Truchanas, 1971 Ralph Hope-Johnstone
Olegas Truchanas, 1971 Ralph Hope-Johnstone
Olegas Truchanas, 1971 Ralph Hope-Johnstone

Giving a dam

True south #1

About Face article

22 May 2020

Ensconced and meditative in crisp Tasmania, Joanna Gilmour pays tribute to passionate green advocate and photographer Olegas Truchanas.

Sydney city (Patrick White and Tom Uren, Hiroshima Day demonstration), 1984
Sydney city (Patrick White and Tom Uren, Hiroshima Day demonstration), 1984
Sydney city (Patrick White and Tom Uren, Hiroshima Day demonstration), 1984
Sydney city (Patrick White and Tom Uren, Hiroshima Day demonstration), 1984

The activist A-list

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2007

Dr Sarah Engledow examines a number of figures in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery who were pioneers or substantial supporters of the seminal Australian environmental campaigns of the early 1970s and 1980s.

Rock Island Bend. Franklin River, South West Tasmania, 1979 by Peter Dombrovskis
Rock Island Bend. Franklin River, South West Tasmania, 1979 by Peter Dombrovskis
Rock Island Bend. Franklin River, South West Tasmania, 1979 by Peter Dombrovskis
Rock Island Bend. Franklin River, South West Tasmania, 1979 by Peter Dombrovskis

Written in Water

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2005

Olegas Truchanas and Peter Dombrovskis, photographers and conservationists, shared a love of photography and exploring wilderness areas of Tasmania.

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© National Portrait Gallery 2020
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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.