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Olegas Truchanas
, 1971

by Ralph Hope-Johnstone

type C photograph (sheet: 59.5 x 50.6 cm, image: 37.7 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. In 1952 he made the first solo climb of Federation Peak; in early 1958, in a self-made craft, he became the first person to succeed in a solo canoe journey down the wild Serpentine and lower Gordon rivers. 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, Canberra
Purchased 2005
Accession number: 2005.64