24. Interview #1 Survival Specialist Cockatoo Paul


[00:00:05] Hugh Sifu: All right guys, welcome back to Thoughts of a Random Citizen. I'm your host as always, Hugh Sifu and today we have the first of interviews to be had on this podcast. I could not be more excited. We have Cockatoo Paul, a survival specialist here in the outback of Australia. It's a really good conversation, I hope you guys will enjoy. I did just want to give a small disclaimer that unfortunately, my dumb ass decided to record this on a brand new software and my computer couldn't hang. The quality is pretty good throughout, however, there is some spotty parts.

You shouldn't notice it, but if you do, just know that I'm aware of it and it has been fixed for future episodes, so don't think that it is all garbage from here on out. I just want to let you guys know while I'm aware. Other than that, it's an excellent conversation and I hope you guys enjoy. All right, welcome back guys. Paul, Cockatoo Paul, thank you for being here today. This has been a few weeks in the making.

[00:01:19] Cockatoo Paul: Yes, it has been.

[00:01:21] Hugh Sifu: We will probably get your bird on here at some point in the background so I'm excited for that. I just wanted to say, I appreciate you coming on. You have the honor of being the first guest on this podcast that I've done.

[00:01:36] Cockatoo Paul: I feel honored and privileged.

[00:01:39] Hugh Sifu: Just let us know a little bit about your background and what you do in day-to-day life.

[00:01:47] Cockatoo Paul: How far back do we start? Like mum and dad having sex in the back when they had children? Maybe let's now move forward a few years. I left home when I was 16, I've been a professional musician my whole life. The main reason why I was a musician is because I wanted to spend the least amount of time working so I could spend the most amount of time studying and I studied nature. That's what I studied, that's what really floats my boat. Music Shmusic, anybody can do it. Nature, that makes my heartbeat.

[00:02:21] Hugh Sifu: Yes, I said that you were the survival specialist so I'm definitely excited to get into that. We had a conversation before this a few days back and it was pretty much the fact that you started to do music and then you transitioned away from it. To get into the music really quick, you host something every week at the Arts Factory and you're always the opener and closer. While most people in today's day and age will have that little thing with the foot? I don't know music at all.

[00:02:54] Cockatoo Paul: The stomp boxes is what they call it.

[00:02:55] Hugh Sifu: Yes, and then they record a thing and then they replay it back. You don't do that, you just play like fucking four instruments at a time and it's fucking impressive. How long did that take to get there and how do you play fucking that many instruments at one time? Just described the set up, I guess.

[00:03:13] Cockatoo Paul: Okay, the set up, it looks really ghetto and I made it to look really ghetto because when people are watching me play, they're like, "Holy crap, this guy actually making this sound live." Basically, what I have is I have maybe a 1.5 by 1.5 meter board and there's little slots cut in it so then I can sit on what's effectively like a Cajón. A homemade Cajón with a backward facing pedal on it which I hit with my left foot. With my right foot, I hit a snare drum and I have a hi-hat as well, so that's my three-piece kit. Then I have a five-piece kit on that same board, I can also add a hi tom and a low tom.

[00:04:04] Hugh Sifu: For those of us who don't know, what is a hi tom in a low tom?

[00:04:08] Cockatoo Paul: They're basically different size drums, it's just one with higher note, one with a lower note. Most people aware of what a bass drum sounds like or a kick drum most people call it. That's the biggest one, then it's your high and your low toms. I have those foot-operated as well so they have their own pedals and then I have another thing with the cowbell and you can switch around. It's got a clapping stick or a tambourine on it so I can't change it in between songs, I can't play them all at the same time. I have a big crash as well. You haven't seen my whole setup, you've only seen the three-piece.

[00:04:45] Hugh Sifu: Well, the three one is impressive enough.

[00:04:46] Cockatoo Paul: Then I play guitar, I have two maracas on my wrist and one in my hand. If you play guitar, give that a go, it's really easy. Get those little egg maracas, put it in the palm of your hand and just play. You'll get used to it, it really puts a different aspect to the sound and I play a didgeridoo at the same time. Effective is just like five to seven-piece percussion, guitar. I play banjo, I play mandolin, I play banjo-mandolin, mandola and Irish bouzouki and banjo really badly and ukulele, but I choose not to because fuck you ukulele and what you stand for.

[00:05:29] Hugh Sifu: Well, its impressive as shit, I'll tell you that. Do you have a place where we can throw on to where people can go listen to that? Do you have a channel or anything like that?

[00:05:41] Cockatoo Paul: No, but you can Google Cockatoo Paul and music and you'll find me playing stuff on there. I have a YouTube channel with a little bit of my bushcraft stuff on it too, but it's not what floats my boat. It's I don't put any time, effort, and energy into promoting myself because I just like being me. I go along doing my stuff. If you want to come along for the ride, come along. I'm not there to impress anybody, I'm there to make myself happy.

[00:06:10] Hugh Sifu: That's why you're on this podcast, because I'm the same way. Speaking about what does float your boat, you are obviously very, very in-tune with the natures, essentially, how to walk around and just survive. You have a survivalist course that you did pretty heavily especially before COVID and we're not even going to go in the fucking COVID, but take us through what you would typically do on a weekend and getting people on the bush and then what's the longest you've just gone out in the bush and freaking Bear Grylls it or Cockatoo Pauled it?

[00:06:48] Cockatoo Paul: I wouldn't Bear Grylls it, I'd be dead in a week. To answer your first question, I basically run the structure of the school on is no man left behind, which is you have to do that. You have to work at the slowest persons pace, but generally what we do is I take them down on my property. I have a pretty good set up down there with a teepee and bush kitchen, an open fire pit and long drop toilets, outside baths shower, two minutes’ walk to the river. What we do is even though my main love is edible and medicinal plants, that's what I've been studying the longest, but for most people that's not very applicable because they're from every country on the planet.

It's not much point talking too much about plants, so what we mostly concentrate on doing is things that is applicable in all environment. How to use a knife properly, how to make shelter properly, how to keep yourself warm, how to keep yourself dry, how to use a machete, how to dig a hole, how to make fire with sticks, make aboriginal weaponry, navigating using the stars and the sun and none of this sun rises in the East and sets in the West bullshit either, because it fucking doesn't.

Well, twice a year it does, but generally it doesn't. The astronomy side of it is quite a large chunk of the course, because it's really important. If you don't get lost in the first place, you don't have to worry about any of the other shit. It's all that stuff, rope-making, knot-tying, stone tools, just the basic things that humans have done forever and most people don't know how to even light a fire without a cigarette lighter anymore. They don't, most people don't do that.

[00:08:28] Hugh Sifu: That is correct.

[00:08:34] Cockatoo Paul: Well, it's not necessary. We can still do it, we're physically able to do it, but it's just not necessary now in our in our life.

[00:08:41] Hugh Sifu: Well, you've just brushed over how many questions I had, but I'm just going to dive into the most recent one which is the one of the more serious questions that I wanted to ask which was that exactly. Do you think that it is an issue moving forward that we've lost that basic skill? You told me that you had a course that was more not teepee set up. You would bring people out and just rough it like literally bring a knife and you just go. You said that, again, no man left behind, the weakest link essentially. You couldn't do it anymore because people just couldn't put up with it, even for a weekend.

[00:09:24] Cockatoo Paul: Yes, it's too hard for most people and that's not a reflection on them. I've had a lot of practice on this and I can literally sleep on a bloody barbed wire fence in a hurricane. I'm really fine at just roughing it, but for most people after a couple of days of not sleeping properly because they haven't taken the time to go and make that bed thick enough because I don't know how to cut grass thick enough, but fast enough to be able to accomplish that goal. That's the problem with most people when they get stuck in the bush is because they haven't done all that stuff. They don't normally do that. You see me with a Machete and I’m like oh I’m going to chip a tree down, this is how you do it. I'm like, "Whack, whack."

Four whacks generally for something that's six inches across. That sucka’s is on the deck with the machete if it's me doing it. Twenty minutes later, they're still there, chipping away little bits like-- That's just practice. I'm not blowing bloody smoke out of my own ass but I've been doing that for a long time because of course you get good at it. The same as anything else.

Most people don't encounter the problems in their everyday life than when I take people into the bush. It is too hard for most people but that's because it takes them 15 chops to take down a small tree. It takes them half an hour to dig up something where I've had lots of practice and it takes me three minutes. I can get all my stuff done in a day in an hour or something. That's how long it takes me to get my stuff done, your general day-to-day stuff. Drag your firewood and get your fire going, make a bed, get your stuff organized whereas some people, it takes them half a day so they couldn't do it, it was too hard for them.

[00:11:11] Hugh Sifu: All right. Let me just ask you a more direct question: If x, y, z scenario happen and shit hit the fan, what percentage of people do you think wouldn't make it past the first month based on things that we used to know every day because it was essential? Even 200 years ago we used to know it every day. Our grandparents' grandparents used to live by this and now it's crazy how quickly things change and how focused on the now we are. How many people do you think wouldn't be able to go back to that basic skill that we all used to know?

[00:11:42] Cockatoo Paul: I would say the percentage would be very small. The people who live in Western societies-

[00:11:52] Hugh Sifu: Okay. That couldn't make it or that could?

[00:11:54] Cockatoo Paul: They wouldn't make it. Most people in the Western culture wouldn't make it.

[00:11:57] Hugh Sifu: Okay, so a higher percentage would not make it.

[00:11:59] Cockatoo Paul: High percentage of people who live in the Western culture just would not make it. If you did something as simple as turn the power off.

[00:12:05] Hugh Sifu: Yes, literally.

[00:12:06] Cockatoo Paul: Yes. I've had this chat with many people before and they are like, "Oh, we'll just go fishing." I'm like, "So, what? You and the other seven million people who live in Sydney are all going to go fishing, are you? How many fish have you caught in your life?" "Oh, well, I've watched a lot of Rex Hunt." I'm like, "That's not how you do it. You can watch Jackie Chan movies, that's not going to make you a bloody blackbelt, mate." You got to get there and dig some holes. You got to get out there and catch some fish and do the things. No, I'd say very few people in Western cultures. Some people who, they were used to-- I know this sounds weird. The poor people have got a better chance than the rich people.

[00:12:43] Hugh Sifu: Yes, 100%.

[00:12:44] Cockatoo Paul: Which is because more about being able to be adaptable and a bit okay with roughing it. I've literally had people come down to my school and are freaking out because they have to shit in a long drop toilet. That's just unacceptable. I'm like, "Dude, you've got toilet paper and a seat. I'm not making you have you hang in--"

[00:13:04] Hugh Sifu: This is a survival course, what did you expect?

[00:13:06] Cockatoo Paul: "I'm not making you hang over a log and use bloody grass to wipe your date with. You're having first world problems, man, get the fuck over it." Honestly, it would literally be a dog-eat-dog-world. It would be horrifying. People always say, "What would you do if the shit hit the fan?" I'd say, "Well, I'd be out in the bush." They'd go, "Oh, we'd come and find you." "No, you wouldn't find me, the fuck you'd find me. If you know how to track, you might." If I knew somebody was tracking me, then I'd obviously try to avoid leaving tracks. No, it's not a good scenario.

You asked me a question before. The longest I've spent in the bush was, I tried to do a year. This was in a spot in the Northern Territory, called Point Stewart, which is east of Darwin. I wanted to do a whole year out there. I've been going to that place for 10 years beforehand and lots of different times of the year. Knew the area like the back of my hand. So many of the resources. Permission from the countrymen, the local Aboriginal people, or indigenous Australians if you want to get politically correct. They don't. They just call them countrymen.

It is generally what they like to be called, those Yawnee fellows. So, permission from them to do what I wanted, or do what are culturally appropriate. I lasted seven months. Fell out of a tree, busted myself up bad. Did a little stint in hospital and then next year I came back on the same day and rejoined the thing and did the last five months. I did do the whole year, but I had a break in the--

[00:14:43] Hugh Sifu: You had what with you when you did the seven months? You just went out there with what and survived?

[00:14:47] Cockatoo Paul: My general kit that I have is a hammock and a tarp, yes. A blanket and obviously the bird. Then I just have my knife kit which you've seen. In my knife kit, is a 1944 Australian army edition Machete which I've adapted and elongated the handle and put a big, heavy knob of steel on the end, good for busting the shit up. I've got another knife, Spanish army from-- I bought that in 1987 when I bought the Machete. I use a Leatherman wave just because it's got the tools open. Any of those multi-tools are really good, and obviously a knife sharpener. Yes, you got to have a knife sharpener.

[00:15:34] Hugh Sifu: Absolutely.

[00:15:36] Cockatoo Paul: That's my basic kit. Then from that, you can make everything else. I deliberately didn't take fishhooks. I deliberately didn't take rope. I deliberately didn't take anything, except for, I have to have Ibuprofen with me because I suffer from migraines really badly. If I've got three days' worth of migraines I could dehydrate and die, so I have to have those Ibuprofen. I'm taking Apo-amitriptyline now which was from the doctor, said that was good, and I haven't had a migraine since. So, yay for medicine.

[00:16:15] Hugh Sifu: If you guys have migraine problems, that's the solution.

[00:16:18] Cockatoo Paul: Apo-amitriptyline.

[00:16:20] Hugh Sifu: Speaking of your bird-

[00:16:22] Cockatoo Paul: Mr. Pickles, yes.

[00:16:23] Hugh Sifu: Yes. Is that his-? [crosstalk]

[00:16:24] Cockatoo Paul: Mr. Pickles. Yes.

[00:16:25] Hugh Sifu: I had no idea. It's been with you since you were 18. It lives for, what, 80 years? There he is. He knows we're talking about him. How did you go about that? Explain a little bit of that because it's a cool freaking bird. Yes, and he obviously knows that we're talking about him. He's been with you, he sleeps in your area. Just go into details about how cool this bird is.

[00:16:53] Cockatoo Paul: He is pretty epic. He's 32. I've got him off the RSPCA because he had a calcium deficiency in the egg.

[00:17:01] Hugh Sifu: In the what? Sorry?

[00:17:02] Cockatoo Paul: A calcium deficiency. That's why his feet are a bit weird. He was small. He just had his eyes open. He was a tiny little baby. He was about as big as two big cigarette lighters side by side, so quite small. I had to get up every two hours when he was a baby and feed him at nighttime. Then we hitchhiked together for seven years and then I bought-- He had a foldup birdcage. Then we lived in cars and vans and motorhomes till I was about 35. Then I bought a block of land when I was 40. I'm 50 now and I've been living off that block of land for 10 years. He's been with me the whole way.

[00:17:43] Speakers 2: That's crazy.

[00:17:44] Cockatoo Paul: Me and that bird, we're virtually-- Apart from maybe a week, we've spent the entire time together. He wakes up when I wake up in the morning. He goes to bed on dark. He's pretty high maintenance but he's also really chilled, providing you just maintain him. That's what he needs. As long as he's got food, as long as he's not thirsty, as long as he's not getting harassed by anything, he's quite cool. Never had his wings cut. He can fly perfect. He flies around at home.

[00:18:13] Hugh Sifu: That's brilliant.

[00:18:13] Cockatoo Paul: It stuns people when they see him and they're like, "Your bird can fly? What the hell? Outside and you're just letting him fly everywhere?" I'm like--

[00:18:20] Hugh Sifu: It's crazy because you just let him sit around and walk away and he just chills and he doesn't do anything. So, I assumed that he couldn't fly because he would just fly away but, no.

[00:18:29] Cockatoo Paul: No, he can fly.

[00:18:29] Hugh Sifu: It's like a brotherhood or something. It's crazy.

[00:18:31] Cockatoo Paul: Yes, man, he's chilled.

[00:18:32] Hugh Sifu: He's got how many years left? I mean, he's going to be as old as you.

[00:18:35] Cockatoo Paul: 60 to 80, they normally live and then some apparently lived over a 100. I don't really know if there's anything that's been properly documented that long but they do live a bloody long time.

[00:18:50] Hugh Sifu: Yes, just for the survival side of things, I know you said you took him out for the entire total of a year in which you've lived in the bush. I've played Assassin's Creed, I'm not super into it but you can get birds to really help you in the outback. Has he been trained to do stuff in that regard or is he just a homey?

[00:19:15] Cockatoo Paul: I wish. No, actually I tell you what. No, he did once. He brought me a Lilly Pilly once which I thought was really cute. That's an Australian bush fruit. [crosstalk] over and he dropped it right on my foot and I was like, "Oh, interesting, there's Lilly Pillies around here." I tracked him because he's pretty easy to track on the sand because of his gammy feet and I just tracked him back and found the Lilly Pilly, but, generally, no. Useless.

Birds, in general can, yes of course. Understanding birdsong is something that I teach people on my survival school. If you did not really know each species of bird individually, you can tell if birds are making an alarm call or if they're fighting or if they're doing their first thing in the morning when birds are all-- they all make their morning noise and their late-night noise. That's just basically what you're saying. I'm here who else in my species is in this area, are we too close together? That's what they're doing, but during the day when they're making their noises and everything, you can follow that sound to find sweet things, water. Those birds, frog song, looking for different types of animal tracks, the language of the bush takes a long time to learn to read it, but does it help you? Oh, yes. That's one thing I do on the school, actually.

We will be just walking through the bush and I'll go, "Shh, listen everybody. Can you hear that?" They're like, "What?" I say, "Listen through the bush. Can you hear that?" There's a guano over there," and they're like, "What?" Then it might be 300 meters through the bush and then I go straight to the guano, they're like, "How the hell did you do that?" They think it's some voodoo magic trick. I'm like, "Did you guys hear the birds? They don't sound like they're happy, right? Do they?" There's four different species of birds all going nuts at the same time.

Something there's disturbing them, and after a while, you get used to the sound of some birds of-- There's something up high that's dangerous, there's something down low that dangerous, actually they have a slightly different call for that, then you go at that time of the-- In that environment. It's most likely to be a guano or a carpet python possibly. Mostly, it's going to be a guano, and they freaking out, thinking I'm some sort of Voodoo master. I'm like, "Man, I just listened to what the bird's telling."

[00:21:38] Hugh Sifu: Really quick, what the hell is a guano?

[00:21:41] Cockatoo Paul: Sorry, a guano is in the varanas family, they're basically-- If you're familiar with Komodo dragon, they're like small ones, but not small. We get them around where I live which are two meters long or six-foot, over six foot long. They are all muscle. They are strong, critters dude.

[00:21:59] Hugh Sifu: Man, the amount of crazy critters, if you will in Australia is freaking insane. Do you think that you'd be able to easily adapt, go into South America, Africa, and Asia and be able to have that same base knowledge as a carryover, or would it be a bit more of a learning curve? I'm assuming you'd be fricking fine.

[00:22:22] Cockatoo Paul: If you can skin a rabbit, you can skin an elephant. It's basically the same. All birds are same. All fish are the same. Look, that's a very general statement. Of course, your hunting techniques and stuff will change obviously because you're hunting different animals or you're fishing for different fish, or you're trying to trap a different type of bird. You got to understand what those birds eat, their general day-to-day. How they get around? What they do? That will obviously change. The main thing as I point to early that stuff's people up is they don't know how to light a fire. They don't know how to dig a hole. They don't know how to do basic bush survival stuff.

I can take that with me anywhere. I would be in a much better position, but I don't know all of the edible plants of Africa, but I know lots of a weeds. We have lots of our plants grow there as well. We have this thing-- There was an author called Tim Lowe, who put it really, really well and he said, "The McDonaldization of the natural world." What we're doing is because our plants and animals we're moving them from country to country, continent to continent, we're getting some this weird homogenous, I can go and do bushtucker walk in the middle of London and see the same plants that I would see in the middle of Sydney. This is happening all over the world. The ecosystem is changing everyone.

[00:23:53] Hugh Sifu: In regards to finding edible plants and stuff, if you were in a place like Africa, I've always wondered, have you ever seen Princess Bride? You know how you said, "You've never seen Princess Bride." Anyways, he like built up some deficiency immunity to a poisonous, whatever. Is there a way that if you go and you're not sure if it's poisonous enough, can you just taste a bit of it? Do you do that? How would you go about not knowing if plants are edible in gaining that knowledge if we were in a world where you couldn't communicate? I guess you could find people and ask, but you just don't mess with it.

[00:24:32] Cockatoo Paul: The safest way to do it is you learn that plant by plant by plant, that's the safest way to do it. There is a universal edibility test, which is the idea you're supposed to rub it on the inside of your wrist, put a little bit on your lip, wait for five hours. Put a little bit on your tongue, wait for five hours. Look mate, you'd be starving by that time that happens. Honestly, your nose is the first thing I go to. I'll go and pick a plant, I'll squash part of it and I'll smell it and certain chemicals, after all, you get to know the smell of, which are dangerous.

A lot of people will know things like the smell of marzipan, which is spicy cyanide smell. There's other things like oxalic acid which you can taste really easy and too much of that's not good for you. Honestly, there's no shortcut, but the way I teach people to do it is I say, "Go and learn all of the things that tastes good that are poisonous first. Then very gingerly taste everything else." That's an absolute emergency situation, generally speaking, you learn them one plant at a time get to know that sucker so you can be driving at 100 Ks an hour and you know it's the right one. That just takes practice. You got to get to know each plant from the time it's a tiny little seedling, to the time it's a massive tree or a fully mature weed or whatever. There are no shortcuts. Everything's edible once. There you go, that's an easy way to do it.

[00:25:58] Hugh Sifu: That is true. Speaking of surviving. Again, these next two questions are a bit more politically charged, I guess in meaning, but I know that you just are not political, I guess but just I don't know people seem to freak out one way or another. The new craze, I don't think I prepped you on this one but you'll give me an honest answer so I'm excited. The new craze I guess is veganism and all that. That is obviously indeed fact that we have a bit of a luxury, cushy life and we have the ability to mass-produce all of that stuff. Could you go out in the wild and survive that way? If it was shit hit the fan in-- yes.

[00:26:44] Cockatoo Paul: As far as I know. I have actually looked into this because I'm the kind of person who really likes to get to the bottom of things. I don't let my own belief system get in the way of facts. I'm just very hard on myself because I like to believe true things, I don't like to believe bullshit. As far as I can tell, there's no vegan, not primitive people, that's a really shit way to put it. There's no vegan traditional people of the lands anywhere that I can find. Look, I think vegan people definitely have the moral high ground. I think the way that we farm animals and stuff is fairly atrocious.

Going out and killing animals itself is no fun either. I hunt but I don't enjoy the killing part of it. I enjoy the eating part of it and the chase part of it. That first time you go into the bush with a spear that you made yourself with a rock and you go out and you track that animal and you get close enough to it to be able to out with it and put a spear in it, and then scan it with a rock and make fire with two sticks and cook it on the fire, that's old school shit.

When you learn how to do that and can do that comfortably and easily, you become more of a human, not less of a human for killing something, you become more, that is us. That's what we are. We are that people. We are not supermarket dwellers. We've become supermarket dwellers, but that's not who we are. As you said, we have the luxury to be able to be vegan, so why shouldn't we? As long as you're eating properly and your balance right. I've seen plenty of really sick-looking vegans do though.

[00:28:26] Hugh Sifu: Vegan cat.

[00:28:29] Cockatoo Paul: Don't know. Cats are supposed to eat meat, mate so are dogs, don't go kidding yourself.

[00:28:36] Hugh Sifu: 100%. I guess before I ask the next question, I just want to highlight the fact that man, you know so much about freaking tracking, it's insane. We are on the volleyball court in the middle of arts the other day, and you're telling me which direction the rain came from because of the way it splashed over the sand, the leaves. I was like, "What the actual hell?" Just showing me like-- How long did it [crosstalk] I know. He's like honestly, it's crazy. Prop to that, people think I guess that living in the bush is this more primitive way, but the amount of knowledge you have to have. The amount of knowledge our ancestors had was not minimal, not by any means.

[00:29:20] Cockatoo Paul: No, at all.

[00:29:22] Hugh Sifu: Do you want to speak a little on that?

[00:29:23] Cockatoo Paul: Yes, tracking. Look, it only comes with practice. I teach people tracking on my school because it really is a hell important thing to learn. It's not easy. It takes a lot of practice and being able to recognize individual kangaroos and Wallabies that are on my property because of their foot length, their stride length, being able to recognize that one of the kangaroos who was around there, he had a really weird left claw so I always knew it was him cruising around because it was slightly off to one side rather than the other. You become kind of familiar with the individual animals from their tracks. I always consider myself, like I take people out the bush and I'm like, you can see where this-- Look at that one bit of sand on top of that leaf. Why is that there? and they're like, "What the fuck?" but I consider myself a novice at it really and that's mostly because I spent a couple of years in the desert and some of the aunties out there, you just shake your head what the fuck?

[00:30:34] Hugh Sifu: Aunties?

[00:30:36] Cockatoo Paul: The older original ladies, they're the-- The men can track too obviously, but the old original women, man, they're like crazy good [laughs]. They could tell you where a beetle farted. Nut stuff. It's fun and it's really-- It keeps you amused too. The main thing that I find going in the bush, the biggest problem is boredom. They get bored if you don't keep yourself amused. You've got some way a shelter built or like I said I'd take a tap and a hammock, house is done in five minutes.

[00:31:14] Hugh Sifu: Now what? Where's my phone to play some games.

[00:31:18] Cockatoo Paul: No buddy. You keep yourself busy, you drag firewood in, you go and collect food. Sometimes I'll make random stuff out of bush materials just because it's fun and just to challenge myself and make an extra 10 meters of rope because you got a spare day and you're like I'll just do that.

[00:31:36] Hugh Sifu: You made a hammock out of grass, I know that. Just trying to do whatever. So just kind of going back to that political second question, I know your answer to this and I thought it was one of the best answers I've ever heard in regards to this question, but being a survival specialist and being the main argument for gun advocates, people who don't want to get rid of that, mostly in the US because I'm pretty sure that's like one of the last places, in Australia especially in a US view point, people think that Australia just no guns period, although I've talked to quite a few people in Australia own guns so it is a thing here.

[00:32:20] Cockatoo Paul: Yes, you can buy a gun.

[00:32:21] Hugh Sifu: Yes, you can own guns. It's a bit of a difficult process, but not too difficult that you can't do it so, something that people might not know, but what is your opinion I guess, of that whole argument of all right, if shit hits the fan, we need our guns to protect ourselves. [laughs]

[00:32:38] Cockatoo Paul: No.


[00:32:41] Cockatoo Paul: You could, but are you really going to go and shoot your neighbors? Like really? Do you? Or are you going to invite them in and go and okay, you got two feet and a heartbeat mate, the garden's going to need some tending, go and dig a hole. You don't have to do it with holding a gun to their head. If they want food, mate, they'll help you dig the holes. The other thing is if it gets to a point where there's no power, it's pretty difficult to manufacture gun powder from the bush once the chain of command goes down though I think I read somewhere that you guys have enough bullets in the U S to shoot each other 12 times over or something.

I don't know if that's entirely valid or not, but that's a lot of fucking bullets man, but even so, they run out and they can malfunction. I always think that if you know how to use a spear, you can make that sucker yourself or make a bow. If that's your culture, the American culture, you can make a bow. Learn how to do that. Other thing it's quiet and if the shit hits the fan, you want to be tiptoeing through the bush, not shooting the gun, and let every bastard know in 10 kilometers around that there's someone out there still alive. At least they'll know you're armed but then they're more likely to fucking shoot you if you're armed. Whereas if you've got a bow or a spear or a quiet weapon, a snare, you you're a much better position.

[00:34:06] Hugh Sifu: Yes, that was the answer right there at the very end that I just love, because it's something that you don't really think about like yes, I have that gun but at the same time-- Now everyone knows where you're at and what you're doing and they want that gun.

[00:34:19] Cockatoo Paul: They want that gun. You might be asleep at nighttime or there might be five of you-- If there's five of you and Terry's on guard duty and he hasn't been trained how to do it properly, I could put a spear through Terry or sneak up behind and put a knife in his back and then I've got all your guns. Not applicable. Guns are good man, they're great for hunting, they're awesome but they have their place and in this survival situation, even if I had a gun, I'd still be using a spear or a bow.

[00:34:52] Hugh Sifu: Cool. I love that answer, but going back to just acquiring knowledge on all things, you have a library of 4,000 books you told me at your house. I don't 3v3n know if I could read 4,000 books by the time I'm freaking that age. What's like kind of the books that you read and then what would be like the most recommended top two books that you could suggest to people, because I myself love reading and I think that it's extremely beneficial?

[00:35:27] Cockatoo Paul: I have a reference library. I have very few novels and if I read novels, if I read a fictional book, it'll normally be like what I call like a historical fiction. So, something based around an event, like a dramatization of it or something but I don't have any book like that and if it's not a reference book as such, it's more likely to be-- I have a couple of hundred books on people who've survived, crossing seas and climbing mountains and getting stuck in the bush, being hunted by headhunters. All the different things, army escapees, you know those kinds of things, what people do to survive, stories of survival.

So, I have loads of those, but most of them are textbooks. They would sort of go in the order of maybe like plants, animals, Aboriginal culture, not just Australian Aboriginal culture but culture worldwide. I have a large science section. I have a pseudo-science section as well, because I like to find out if what I believe is true and the easiest way to do that is to raid what the claim is and see if it's true or not instead of believing it blindly. The reason I have so many books is because before the internet, you either went to the library or you had to go and ask somebody in the field, or you could go and buy the books that they had written.

So, I just started collecting books and for years, and years and years I was collecting. I had milk crates full of books. In Darwin, I had my Northern territory plant and animal books stashed down underneath the stairs of my mate's place and I'd go there and I had a dozen milk crates full of books and then I got to Sydney and I'd have other milk crates full of books there. I just had like in Adelaide and Melbourne and like all the hallway around the country had stashes of books everywhere, and then when I finally bought some land, I did a road trip, pick some of them up, my mate sent a load of them up from Sydney and I finally amassed my library together.

I just got rid of a load too so I probably have about three and a half thousand books now because I got rid of a lot of them. I donated them to-- There's a friend of mine, his mom, she's a coordinator, she goes out to Aboriginal communities and brings the books, brings all those books and others out to Aboriginal communities. I do that kind of stuff. It's fun. I do lots of free stuff. I charge good money for what I do, but I do lots of free stuff because I know that I'm giving people stuff for free is also good.

[00:37:57] Hugh Sifu: Yes, if there's something-- I saw on the Australian dollar or something, it actually says on the dollar, it's like give a dollar or something charity, and I was like, well, that's nice. They have that on the dollar.

[00:38:09] Cockatoo Paul: Really?

[00:38:10] speaker 2a: Yes. I can't remember where it is. I took a picture of it, I can go find it.

[00:38:13] Cockatoo Paul: Five kangaroos mate.


[00:38:16] Hugh Sifu: Yes, pretty much. Here it is. It is the donation dollar others. [crosstalk] It's a dollar coin and it literally has like a little green color on the back and it just says donation dollar. It's a dollar, but it's literally just like give to help others so that's kind of crazy. I don't know if that came out during COVID or what but there it is. I've never seen that one.

[00:38:39] Cockatoo Paul: No, I haven't seen that one. I've seen the $2 coin with little things on it.

[00:38:45] Hugh Sifu: Crazy:

[00:38:46] Cockatoo Paul: It's cool. Part of what I like to do I teach people about nature and stuff. I like to do that because I think it's a really valuable thing, and for honestly, 90% of people who I teach, they're probably never going to use that shit again, but some people go, okay I get it, right, I want to start learning this stuff. I've had so many emails and phone calls and Facebook messages going, bro, you changed my life, I don't believe it. I'm here in Costa Rica now. I'm living on a beach with a manchette. I owe you one dude. For people who've just gone, okay, yes, yes, I can do this, and some of them just do my hour long bushtucker walks that I do here at the arts factory.

Other people have come and done weeks or months at my house and you just turn them into bush ninjas. If they want to learn it, we're humans, dude. We can do this shit. We have steel now. We're not doing it with sharpened rocks anymore champs.

[00:39:52] Hugh Sifu: So back to the books really quickly, did you have one that you'd recommend for everyone?

[00:39:56] Cockatoo Paul: Yes, easy. SAS survival handbook by John Wiseman.

[00:40:00] Hugh Sifu: SAS is that's the English right?

[00:40:04] Cockatoo Paul: Yes, he is English. It's a really good publication. It's got a dozen different or so different issues of it. The old original big square one's really good. It just takes you through all the basic stuff. Some of the information in it is not correct. There's nowhere near enough plants and animals in there if you're looking for that kind of information but for your basic fire, lighting, shelter building, navigating, trapping, rope making, knot tying, it covers all those kinds of things, really quite well and quite easy. Lots of pictures. You can work a lot of this shit out for yourself. For a starting book, SAS survival handbook, John Wiseman, go and buy it. You can get them in an Op shops, they're not that hard to get.

[00:40:56] Hugh Sifu: All right so we'll chuck that in on the notes as well to this episode if you are interested in that. Then I noticed that you were talking about how, you said change people's life? Have you found that this lifestyle has been more freeing, has it made you happier? Do you think that it would make, I guess a broad society having to deal with because obviously nowadays we have depression and all this because there's been some studies and stuff that say because we have so many more new things that we have to deal with and our brains are designed to be in that survival mode and we have to identify what the problem is because like hearing somebody walk and now that we have-- We don't have that, we live in a fricking house with four walls and a society where there's not going to be a lion just coming into your cave at night and mauling you that people now had that kind of form of like, whether it be anxiety or depression because our brains are trying to figure out what the issue is when there is none. There is no issue.

[00:42:06] Cockatoo Paul: That's an interesting take on it. I've never really thought of it like that. One worry that I don't have, that I think is always nibbling at the back of most people's mind is what would happen if the power went off? If you're listening to this at home, I want you just to sit down and just think for a minute, where's your water coming from? Where's your heat coming from? Where's your food coming from? If any of those things were to come to an end, which would happen if the power went off, what would you do? For me I have a plan B.

There's a huge prepping community around the world. They all have this idea of store as much food as you can, buy a gun and protect it. Yes but that's only as good until either everybody's dead around you. Then if you're not stored, while I'm planning on leaving another 40 years, if you got 40 years’ worth of food, do you know how to forage. Do you know how to keep yourself alive without all that shit?

What happens if somebody comes who's got more guns than you? Then what do you do? Then you're out on your ass or you are dead whereas I need a machete and if I don't have that I can make stone tools. I'm not very good at it but I can do it. I can skin a rabbit with a rock, no probs. It's a great weight off your shoulders. It's just like that's something I don't ever have to worry about.

[00:43:34] Hugh Sifu: The knowledge. I feel like that's what is going on in a broad sense of society today. This is bringing out the topic a bit larger but instead of tackling the actual problem and meaning if shit hits the fan how do I survive day to day. They do a quick fix or they're fixing the wrong thing and meaning they're storing the food and buying guns but then they don't know how to survive once that's gone. That's not, you know what I mean? Preppers be known.

[00:44:04] Cockatoo Paul: Yes. I think it's a good start and I think a lot of people who do prepping, they do know how to skin an animal. They do know how to hunt, a lot of those people and some of them know foraging and stuff to a certain level. That's good or know how to grow their own food and everything. Yes that's obviously a really good way to go about it. Have all of the things but just realize that if you don't have that foraging, if you don't have the ability to look after yourself with nothing else except for a knife and if you don't have a knife with a rock right, right.

If you can look after yourself with the most basic tools of all then you're going really good if you can do that. If you can't do that, learn how to do it because if the shit hits the fan, man, you need to know how to do that. I'm hoping it never hits the fan because I love people. I don't want to see people dying on mass. I would help as many as I possibly could but there's only so, as soon as a group gets too big then politics start coming into it, small group politics not large company based politics but those kinds of things becomes problematic. Also, to feed a large band of people if they're fucking useless like most people are, man your workload is going to increase dramatically.

[00:45:23] Hugh Sifu: Oh yes. You can't grow enough plants in the world for that.

[00:45:26] Cockatoo Paul: No. Get two or three people together who aren't scared to get in and give it a go then you're right but most people are like, Oh I'm hurting. Yes, yes keep digging. You need to dig more. I know it hurts. I know it's hard, I've done it. I know how hard it is.

[00:45:44] Hugh Sifu: Well Paul I appreciate it so much unless there's anything else that you want to let people know about. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast man.

[00:45:54] Cockatoo Paul: It's been a pleasure mate. Look, the only thing I would say is humans we've done a pretty good job of stuffing this planet up. We have a really good opportunity to look after it so we can keep on going. We've got a chance. We've got a good chance.

[00:46:12] Hugh Sifu: 100%

[00:46:13] Cockatoo Paul: We should take it.

[00:46:14] Hugh Sifu: Especially if we remember what you said earlier in the podcast which is something that I usually repeat on most of my episodes. Which is facts and logic rule the day. Don't get so tied up in one fucking opinion because you could be wrong. Be okay if somebody tells you that you're wrong and be happy with it.

[00:46:33] Cockatoo Paul: Yes, that's it. That's a subject for another day.

[00:46:35] Hugh Sifu: Yes, that's a whole other podcast.

[00:46:37] Cockatoo Paul: Thanks. Have a good one you guys.

[00:46:38] Hugh Sifu: Cheers. Thanks Paul. Thank you so much guys for listening to Thoughts of a Random Citizen. Hope you all enjoyed that interview with Cockatoo Paul. I know I definitely did. He is a character. If you want to get in contact with Paul or anything that he does I will attach his information on the show notes below. If you'd like to check out anything to do with Thoughts of a Random Citizen, as always head over to toarcunited.com T-O-A-R-C Thoughts of a Random Citizen united.com. Other than that, I will talk to you guys next week and enjoy.