SAS Mates meet in the remote outback of Australia



Brian “Ned“ Kelly 1 SAS Squadron Vietnam 1970-71 and Martin Ardley 2 SAS Squadron 1980s met by chance during Anzac Day 2018 in the Great Sandy Desert Australia.

My good olde mate Ned Kelly who was one of my support crew on The Long Ride Home during the across Australia leg in 2016 for PTSD Awareness and who kept me fed with kangaroo tail soup on a daily basis for my ride.

Ned had been working with the Aboriginal tribes since the mid 1970s not long after he returned from his tour of duty in Vietnam. His first involvement was resettlement of the lost tribes of the Sandy Desert during the times of government intervention of the missile testing days in the remote areas of Australia.

Ned was indoctrinated into the tribes as a tribal member and has since returned to the region to what he terms as a dream job being a research & development officer for the Martu country in general, logging of the remote waterholes, burning the country the Martu way which is what he says is the right way, involved in endangered species work, and recording stories of the old ones that are still alive in the Sandy Desert beyond all telecommunications.

Wikipedia; The Martu (Mardu) are a confederation of indigenous Australian peoples, who are part of the Western Desert cultural bloc.

Writing in 1974 Norman Tindale Norman AO an Australian anthropologist, archaeologist, entomologist and ethnologist stated that the term had been applied to several groups in this area, among them to the Kartudjara, had no tribal significance but simply denoted that the people there had undergone full initiation.

The people aggregated under the tribal designation of Martu were speakers of versions of the Wati languages, so-named because the general term among them for 'an initiated adult (man)' was wati, though in the Kalgoorlie and Mount Margaret areas, the term was puntu. Since the 80s the Martu term for person (mardu meaning 'one of us') has prevailed among the peoples at Jigalong, Wiluna, Punmu, Parnngurr and Kunawarritji.

All of these languages belong to the Wati subgroup of the Pama–Nyungan linguistic family. However, the first language for at least of these 12 groups is now Nyangumarta, spoken down to the 1980s by about 700 people from Port Hedland to Marble Bar.

Martu Wangka – a hybrid language predominantly melding Kartujarra and Manyjilyjarra, is also spoken. Some members of the Warnman people may still speak Wanman as a first language rather than Martu Wangka.

Their traditional lands are a large tract in the Great Sandy Desert, within the Pilbara region of Western Australia, including Jigalong, Telfer (Irramindi), the Warla (Percival Lakes), Karlamilyi (Rudall River) and Kumpupirntily (Lake Disappointment) areas.

Another SAS Squadron member (2 Squadron) Martin Ardley has just spent most part of the last month or so on a walkabout, wandering around the Great Sandy, Little Sandy, and Gibson Deserts, retracing some of Len Beadell’s old tracks and survey points.

Leonard (Len) Beadell OAM BEM FIEMS (21 April 1923 – 12 May 1995) was a surveyor, road builder, bushman, artist and author, responsible for constructing over 6000 km of roads and opening up isolated desert areas (some 2.5 million square kilometres) of central Australia from 1947 to 1963. Born in West Pennant Hills, New South Wales, Beadell is sometimes called "the last true Australian explorer".

Marty says; “Back in the day we did numerous army trips to Woomera blowing up things or out of things, and learning something of the background and history of the region, and also walking from Mulga Downs Station East of Wittenoom towards Port Hedland on my SAS Survival Course, may have had some bearing why he’s still wondering the district and now accidentally bumping into veterans like Ned.

Marty explains; “ I felt like a well earned bath one day and headed up to water well Number 33 on the Canning Stock Route, where I knew there was good water, I hadn’t seen anyone in about a week or so, and went about my business, when your old mate Ned turns up with his little helpers, those being his Martu tribal assistants”.

Ned is a volunteer Ranger with the Martu People from the Kunawarritji Community, and promptly asked me for my permit to be on their land. I told him ”The dog ate It!“

Keeping it short, there was a bit of to and fro before we both realised we were tarred with the same brush (Ex SAS soldiers alike) and all of a sudden we were best mates. BLOODY SMALL WORLD !!!!!

He then made me “PROMISE” to send these photos and the story to you Truck to back up his excuse for not attending the recent 2 SAS Squadron’s reunion in Brisbane during this last Anzac Day.

Truck Sams on The Long Ride Home taking a short break in Australia