Robert Bogucki

In 1999 Robert Bogucki, an Alaskan fireman, embarked on a spiritual quest through the inhospitable Great Sandy Desert in north-western Australia. From the age 15 Robert had nurtured the idea of emulating the experience of Jesus, who spent forty days and nights alone in the desert, seeking commune with God and contending with demons. Robert was 33 years of age, cycling around Australia, when he decided the moment to test his faith had come. Abandoning his bike, he set off from the Sandfire Roadhouse and entered the desert without food and water. The Great Sandy Desert is immense, and desolate. During the northern dry season there is little life to be seen in this environment other than the sparse desert vegetation. Many people have perished in this terrain, exposed to the desert’s harsh elements, usually succumbing after only a short period of time without water.

When Robert Bogucki’s abandoned bike was discovered by tourists a search party was mounted, comprising police and Aboriginal trackers familiar with the area. The search was abandoned after 15 days, at which time it was determined that Robert had perished. His family, in the USA, believing he was still alive, organized a party to continue the search. Garrison St Clair was appointed leader of the US search and rescue team, whose arrival in the remote Australian north-west was fast-tracked by the US State Department. Many suspected they would be doing little other than retrieving a body from the bush. However, the search party was encouraged when previously undetected tracks were found in the desert sand by Ben Martin, a journalist working for The West Australian Newspaper. Public interest was inflamed and the Australian media swung into action, sending journalists and photographers to report on what was unfolding as a captivating story.

Over the following weeks the search continued doggedly, although any hope of finding Robert Bogucki alive was fading as the days passed by. Forty-three days after Robert began his spiritual quest the crew of a Channel 9 helicopter spotted a bedraggled figure in the northern reaches of the desert. Robert Bogucki had been found. Robert had trekked over 400 kilometers north of Sandfire Roadhouse, where his quest had begun. He was a few kilometers south of the Edgar Range, where the Great Sandy Desert gives way to the rain catchment area of the Fitzroy River, one of the major rivers of the Kimberley region.

Robert Bogucki had survived by eating flowers and plants. Small amounts of water were found, usually by digging in dry creek beds and waiting for the subterranean water to seep into the holes dug. He had shed over 30 kilos of body weight during his ordeal. His spirit had been tested during this ordeal. His faith in a greater life spirit, in his God, undoubtedly contributed to his survival. There have been those who have decried his quest as a folly, but others have been inspired, taking much from this extraordinary test of faith The significance of what Robert Bogucki endured has been widely acknowledged. In 2009 The West Australian Newspaper published a substantial series of articles to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Robert’s trek through the desert. In 2010 ABC TV Australia aired a dramatized documentary on Robert Bogucki’s exploit titled Miracles: Miracle in the Desert, produced by Essential Media and Entertainment, directed by Jennifer Peedom and featuring award winning actor Don Hany as Robert Bogucki. When Robert was found I composed a song, Bogucki Track (on the CD Water Of Life), as a salute to someone who inspired me to acknowledge the power of the spirit that dwells in all living things.

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 29th, 2010 at 8:21 pm and is filed under Russells Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Robert Bogucki”

  1. Michael Says:

    Great Article Russell,

    Watched Robert Bogucki on the ABC a while back, very interesting Fellow.


  2. isaac bogucki Says:

    sweet Article; like the music to.

  3. shy swan Says:

    i met Robert Bogucki while camping at the Port Hedland caravan park in July, 1999. If you knew my story of that encounter, you would be singing a very different song. Disgusting, self-centred behaviour, Mr Bogucki and Australia was happy to see the back of you.

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