The inspiration behind Crocodile Dundee
Sergeant Glen Huitson
DARWIN, Australia -- Aug. 1999
The rugged Australian whose feats of survival in the outback inspired the movie character Crocodile Dundee, was killed in a shootout with police, officials said Wednesday.
From a hiding place in bushes along a highway, Rodney Ansell, 44, ambushed and killed Sgt. Glen Huitson on Tuesday, police said. Another officer, Constable Jim O'Brien, returned fire, killing Ansell during the confrontation, 30 miles south of the Northern Territory capital of Darwin, ending a 12-hour search for a man who had attacked a nearby house the night before. The gunfight was a dramatic end for a man whose survival instincts and rough wilderness manner made him famous as a symbol of Australian toughness.
His barefoot body, found with two high-powered firearms, did not carry any identification and police said they had not established a motive for Ansell's actions.
"I am at a loss to say anything about the motive at this point of time," assistant commissioner John Daulby said. "If this person wanted to secrete himself he could have easily done that, if he wanted to escape he could have easily done that, he was a bushman."
Ansell became a local hero in 1977 after surviving two months in the rugged country of the Fitzmaurice River
Stranded with little more than a rifle, a knife and his two dogs, he survived by shooting wild cattle for food.
A timely visit by 4 people from Palumpa Station, approximately 100 miles away, saw Ansells ordeal over.
Station head, Big Rupert, Raphael, Christopher and cattle manager Luke McCall were Ansells rescuers.
, a re-enactment documentary film was made with Australian writer and film maker Rachel Percy, and later turned into a book. In it, Ansell tells of his exploits and that the loneliness of his ordeal had not bothered him -- but he did miss female companionship. Ansell tells how his small boat is overturned, how he is "not lost, but stuck" in the remote Australian bush for seven weeks. He recalls the loss of his supplies and equipment, the search for fresh water, finding food, and setting up a camp. He talks of his dependence on his resourcefulness and inner strength.
"You must believe me, it was not that big a deal," he told reporters.
An interview with Ansell by British journalist Michael Parkinson captured the imagination of actor-writer Paul Hogan and inspired him, Ken Shadie and John Cornell to write a screenplay about an outback superstar. "Crocodile Dundee" became an international hit in 1986. Much of the movie's humor about how an Australian bushman would react to life in the big city was inspired by Ansell's book tour in Sydney. He insisted on sleeping in his sleeping bag in the five-star Sebel Townhouse and was mystified by the bidet, a scene recreated in the movie, which was followed by a 1988 sequel. As was the character of Crocodile Dundee, he is also said to have been mystified by the city, and he convinced his chauffeur to divert his route so he could pick up some parts for his Toyota. The blond, blue-eyed Ansell, a crack shot and a tough bushman, was named the Northern Territory's 1988 Territorian of the Year for inspiring the film that put the Australian outback on the map.
Ansell's fortunes fell and financial difficulties forced him to sell his Melaleuca station property in the early 1990s. He blamed the Northern Territory government for not compensating him properly during a disease-eradication program that cost him 3,000 head of cattle. He was also reportedly bitter that he never profited financially from the two movies he inspired.
In 1992, magistrate James Hannan said Ansell had fallen from grace when he was convicted without sentence of stealing 30 cattle valued at AU$7,200. He was also fined and released on a two-year bond for assaulting Mainorou Station manager John Harrower. He had also threatened Harrower with a one-metre steel bar.
An acquaintance of Ansell's, former Katherine resident Chips Mackinolty, said Ansell was pleasant but intense.
"He was a crack gunman and a very tough bushman who hunted buffalo in Arnhem Land in the 1980s," Mr Mackinolty said.
"Doing that sort of work you don't waste bullets, you aim to kill the first time," he said.
On Monday night, police responded to reports that a man had fired shots at a local house, shooting off the index finger of one man and injuring another. Assistant police commissioner John Daulby said police now believe Ansell was responsible for that attack, although they don't know what provoked it.
About 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, two police officers were preparing to dismantle a roadblock that they had set up in hopes of capturing the unidentified attacker, when a motorist stopped to ask for directions. Shots flew from the roadside, wounding the motorist in the back and piercing the seam of Sergeant Huitson's bulletproof vest. His partner returned fire, killing Ansell.
Mr Daulby said it remained unclear whether Ansell was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and whether he knew the residents of the house he had attacked the previous night.
Sgt Huitson's funeral will be held on Saturday August 6th
Ansell was separated from his wife, Joanne, and had two adult sons, Callum and Shaun.
He had been living on Urapunga Station in the Roper River near the Gulf of Carpentaria.