Colin Hendrie runs leadership training programs throughout rural Australia for everyone from young Australian women to Singapore Gurkhas.

Story By Ken Eastwood

Colin Hendrie learnt a vital lesson in leadership – the need to depend on other people – when being chased by a rhinoceros on Christmas Day 1970. Then a Rhodesian Army officer, Colin and the platoon he was leading had been investigating terrorist activity on the Zambian border and were crossing a mud plain when the rhinoceros charged. “The signaller fell and I turned around to help him, and then I heard ‘bang’, and the machine gunner had fired, and as I turned this rhino was literally on top of me,” Colin says.

Back in the safety of the army barracks, the incident was reviewed and the platoon was criticised for killing the rhino, but Colin remained unrepentant. “When a rhino’s horn is two feet from your arse, is that the time to think about some other approach to please the rhino?” he says.

This tough-talking, iron-skinned little bloke, who was once captured by terrorists and escaped, and also served as a squadron commander in the Omani special forces, is owner and co-director of Outback Initiatives, a company based in Margaret River, WA, that runs intense outdoor programs to test and develop leadership skills. Running about 12 programs a year, the company takes groups into unfamiliar and sometimes hostile environments – caving, abseiling and hiking in extreme conditions from the Kimberley, WA, to Wee Jasper, NSW. Its most famous clients are the Singaporean Gurkhas – a special job that requires signing the official secrets act – but the company also runs part of the Australian Rural Leadership Program (see issue 104, p125), trains police and firefighters, and runs courses for young women.

This story excerpt is from Issue #105

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2016