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Rodney William Ansell (1 October 1954 – 3 August 1999) was an Australian cattle grazier and a buffalo hunter. Described to be from "the bush", Ansell became famous in 1977 after he was stranded in extremely remote country in the Northern Territory, and the story of his survival for 56 days with limited supplies became news headlines around the world. Consequently, he served as the inspiration for Paul Hogan's character in the 1986 film Crocodile Dundee. In 1999, he was killed in a shootout by policemen of the Northern Territory Police.

Early life Ansell was born in Murgon, Queensland, to George William Ansell and Eva May Ansell, the third of four children. He then moved to the Northern Territory at the age of 15. As a young man, he made a living hunting feral water buffalo in the Top End, the meat being exported to foreign markets.

Later life In 1985, Ansell borrowed money and secured a pastoral lease in northern Arnhem Land. He started up Melaleuca, a cattle station 140 kilometres (87 mi) east of Darwin, near Kakadu National Park, named after the Melaleuca paper bark trees which dot the landscape. The Ansells built their homestead on the station, not far from the Mary River. In the 1980s, he found himself in a protracted dispute with the Northern Territory government over the controversial Bovine Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Eradication Campaign (BTEC). To comply with BTEC, Ansell was forced to kill 3,000 head of feral buffalo on his property. He had originally planned to capture and domesticate the animals, creating a pastoral herd that would have afforded his family a comfortable lifestyle. Arguing that money spent on the BTEC program "would be better spent on research on AIDS," Ansell considered the destruction of the animals an outrageous waste of good livestock.

Three neighboring graziers were eventually awarded $100,000 in government loans, but Ansell was never compensated for his losses. Mimosa pigra weeds also began taking over the floodplain, rendering it useless. With no money to fight the invasive weeds, the Ansells were forced to sell their cattle station in June 1991. The couple's 15-year marriage soon disintegrated and the Ansells divorced. Depressed, unemployed, and cash-strapped, Ansell began growing marijuana, later becoming a user of amphetamines.

In June 1996, he began dating Cherie Hewson. The couple lived at Urapanga Station, an Aboriginal outstation on the Roper River about 483 kilometres (300 mi) south of Darwin. Over the next several years, the couple's drug addiction became more destructive, culminating in a psychotic episode that ultimately claimed Ansell's life in a shootout with police.

Death Ansell was killed following a police shootout on 3 August 1999. The deadly altercation began at approximately 10:45 a.m. on the roadblocked intersection of Stuart Highway and Old Bynoe Road, near Acacia Hills. Ansell had ambushed veteran Sergeant Glen Anthony Huitson and his partner, rookie Constable Jamie O'Brien, with a shot from Ansell's .30-30 lever-action rifle deflecting off a police car and fatally striking Huitson in the abdomen, below his bulletproof vest and severely injured onlooker Jonathan Anthonysz in the pelvis and lower back. A gun-battle immediately erupted involving numerous officers of the Adelaide River Police Station. About five minutes into the fight, Ansell was shot dead. O'Brien killed Ansell with a shotgun after unloading on Ansell's position with his Glock pistol, having missed all his previous shots. The battle ended the authorities' 12-hour search for an attacker who shot and seriously injured two nearby residences (David Hobden in the eye and Brian Williams in his index finger) the previous night. Ansell's girlfriend Hewson was with him but escaped before the gun-battle occurred; she fled, eventually turning herself in to Brisbane police on 7 August 1999.

Although police were at a loss to explain Ansell's motive (he could have easily escaped the roadblock had he chosen to), it was later determined that Ansell had been raving about Freemasons prior to his death; he was distraught, apparently convinced that Freemasons had kidnapped his two sons and were now stalking him. During the coroner's inquest, psychiatrist Robert Parker made the following observations on Ansell's mental state before his death:

There is no doubt that Ansell was affected by amphetamine intoxication prior to his fatal interaction with Sergeant Huitson...Ansell's behaviour prior to the initial shots being fired is consistent with amphetamine intoxication with restlessness, hypervigilance, anxiety, anger and impaired judgement (DSM IV). He was also affected by a paranoid psychotic state which is typical of chronic amphetamine use.

Parker also determined that Ansell and Hewson had developed a shared psychosis, stating:

...the two of them developed a shared delusional state or folie a deux...It is possible, therefore, that one or both parties had an underlying vulnerability to mental illness which was enhanced and sustained by their regular use of amphetamines.

An autopsy of Ansell's remains showed he had suffered 30 entry wounds or grazes, all caused by shotgun pellets; the fatal injury was caused by a pellet that had perforated his aorta. The cause of death was determined to be "haemorrhage from multiple gunshot wounds involving various parts of the body." Following the request of his sons, Ansell was given a full Aboriginal burial at Mount Catt, Arnhem Land. His funeral was attended by his sons and parents.

First Name
Middle Name
Last Name
Full Name at Birth
Rodney William Ansell
Other Names
Rodney William Ansell
Rodney Ansell
Rod Ansell
44 (age at death)
Date of Birth
Date of Death
Location of Death
Eye Color
Hair Color
Murgon, Queensland, Australia
Star Sign
Cattle grazier, buffalo hunter
Occupation Category
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