Great Book About a Wilderness Education

Book Review. “The Boy From Gorge River” Subtitle “From New Zealand’s remotest family to the world beyond” by Chris Long. Published by HarperCollins NZ. Price $39.99. Reviewed by Tony Orman

The Long family of Gorge River, on the south Westland coast between  Jackson Bay, south of Haast and the mouth of the Hollyford River, have featured in television programmes while parents Robert and Catherine also wrote two best seller books  – “A Life on Gorge River by Robert Long, and “A Wife on Gorge River” by his wife Catherine. 
Now son Chris has penned his thoughts and recollections of growing up in the wilderness environment. Hs parents sought to escape the capitalist materialistic system of urban New Zealand and carve out a self-sufficient living.
From an early age Chris helped his father catch crayfish and yellow-eyed mullet, his mother grow vegetables, did home schooling and correspondence school while at the same time he learned wilderness survival skills.
The author writes “there is a kind of beauty and a feeling of satisfaction you gain from hunting and gathering your own food that you don’t get when you eat food from a supermarket.”
As a young teenager, Chris Long would trap possums that were beginning to colonise the area and sell the plucked fur. “It was a fantastic way to explore new areas I had never visited before and it developed my tracking and bush skills.”
Keen on fishing, he would catch whitebait in season, the exercise developing positive traits in the youngster’s character. “Whitebaiting takes a lot of patience and I had all the time in the world and unlimited patience. So I returned each day at low tide and repeated the process, come rain, hail or shine.”
Reflecting on his wilderness upbringing, “the values and skills I learned at Gorge River have helped catapult me to where ever I want to go.” He had developed an admirable blend of independence, resourcefulness, resilience and a few other attributes to boot. 
So he set forth into the wider world and since leaving Gorge River has travelled to over 60 countries and six continents from the Arctic to Antarctica.
This is a remarkable story about a remarkable young man who had a remarkable childhood and upbringing. Well illustrated with excellent photographs, it’s an absorbing read, personably written and with the humility of a young man with his feet on the ground and yet eager for more adventure.
Extremely highly recommended.

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