Olegas Truchanas 1923-71

Olegas Truchanas dreamed that 'Tasmania can be a shining beacon in a dull, uniform and largely artificial world.' His photographs of Lake Pedder bear testimony to the tragic loss of wildnerness.

Geoff Parr's response

A brief life

Olegas Truchanas as born in Lithuana in 1923. As a refugee in West Germany immediately after World War 2, he became involved with the Bavarian alpine photographers around Munich. Truchanas arrived in Tasmania in 1945, and took to exploring solo the unknown areas of South-West Tasmania, such as the Gordon River. He traversed rugged terrain of horizontal shrub and flood-prone rapids, accompanied by a specially made aluminium kayak and his camera gear. Unfortunately, he valuable collection of photographs and equipment was destroyed in a bush fire in 1967. Truchanas recorded the environment of Lake Pedder, before it was flooded in a Hydro-Electric Development in 1972. He would stage audio-visual lectures in Hobart to stir public opinion against the development. His slides were accompanied by the music of Sibelius and Delius. While Truchanas' efforts failed to save Lake Pedder, he was successful in his fight to save the last remaining Huon Pine forest in the Denison River, which now bears his name. He was tragically downed after falling into the Gordon River on 6 January 1972.

Excerpt from Olegas Truchanas' opening speech to exhibition of paintings about Lake Pedder (19 November 1972)

Tasmania is not the only place in the world where long-term, careful argument has been defeated by short-term economic advantage. When we look round, the time is rapidly approaching when natural environment, natural unspoiled vistas are sadly beginning to look like left-overs from a vanishing world. This vanishing world is beautiful beyond our dreams and contains in itself rewards and gratifications never found in artificial landscape, or man-made objects, so often regarded as exciting evidence of a new world in the making.

The natural world contains an unbelievable diversity, and offers a variety of choices, provided of course that we retain some of this world and that we live in the manner that permits us to go out, seek it, find it, and make these choices. We must try to retain as much as possible of what still remains of the unique, rare and beautiful. It is terribly important that we take interest in the future of our remaining wilderness, and in the future of our National Parks. Is there any reason why, given this interest, and given enlightened leadership, the ideal of beauty could not become an accepted goal of national policy? Is there any reason why Tasmania should not be more beautiful on the day we leave it, than on the day we came? We don't know what the requirements of those who come after us will be. Tasmania is slowly evolving towards goals we cannot no%y see. If we can revise our attitudes towards the land under our feet; if we can accept a role of steward and depart from the role of conqueror; if we can accept the view that man and nature are inseparable parts of the unified whole-then Tasmania can be a shining beacon in a dull, uniform and largely artificial world.

quoted from Max Angus The world of Olegas Truchanas Hobart: Olegas Truchanas Publication Committee, 1975, p. 51