How Hugh Jackman and wolverine launched diamantina safari tents

The Diamantina tent story began just after the Sydney Olympics in 2000 when I started doing product research and development to build the first range of Diamantina dome tents and canvas tents for Australia. But it wasn’t until a number of years later that I explored the viability of making premium quality canvas tents in South Africa for the Australian market. And it was Hugh Jackman who had a massive influence on my understanding of what these tents could do. This is a great story….

The year was 2008 and after lengthy testing and research, I took the plunge to be the Australian representative for a premium quality range of tents made in South Africa. This was a risk for us because these tents were new and different, and viewed to be expensive compared to what was available in Australia at the time. I had faith in my decision and pressed forward to promote and sell this new high quality range of tents because I believed they were stronger than anything else available. What I didn’t know yet was their limitations.

We were exploring new markets, and were approached to be consultants for the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust who had decided to revitalise Cockatoo Island on Sydney Harbour from an old derelict industrial wasteland, into a beautiful new campground for the public with views to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I was asked to provide advice and samples on the various types of tents that could be suitable for hire on the new Cockatoo Island camp ground.

I advised canvas tents would be the best choice for their durability and strength, and after testing alternative models, the Cockatoo Island Management agreed. It was a process of elimination to find the right tent for their needs. After 6 months of consultation and testing, we submitted our final recommendations. The decision was made to order Oztents as the initial tent shelter offering for the Cockatoo Island Campground. However after only a couple of months, some concerns were raised.

Kevin Smith, Cockatoo Island Campground Manager at the time continued to seek my advice. The Oztents were great tents, and the notion of set up in 30 seconds was appealing to Kevin, however Cockatoo Island could be a harsh environment and there were signs showing these tents would not go the distance. The combination of occasional high winds, salt air and spray from the water, and constant exposure meant the Oztents were quickly showing signs of wear and tear. I had expressed to Kevin the idea that a pop up style tent may not be the best choice for the island, and that a more durable long term option may be better. Kevin and his team went with the Oztent as their first choice so they could set up and pack up the campground after each event.

I had left a Safari Hennie Canvas Dome Tent with Kevin to test on the island, and it was set up on its own in the campground for 6 months amongst the sea of Oztents. After a couple of months use, the Oztents were deteriorating but the Safari Hennie Canvas Dome Tent seemed to be holding up well. None of us really knew the extent of the differences between these two tents at the time because we hadn’t done extensive field comparison tests yet. That is until Hugh Jackman flew in !

The movie Wolverine was partly filmed in the rustic industrial ship building yards on Cockatoo Island, and on the 8th April 2009, Hugh Jackman conducted a press conference at Cockatoo Island to launch the new movie. After arriving on the island by helicopter, Jackman entered the press conference by way of a “flying fox”. The helicopter flew above the new campground with all the tents set up.

Within minutes the high winds generated by the helicopter caused widespread destruction across the campground. Approximately 40 Oztents had been destroyed in the winds, with the scene of ripped canvas and broken poles resembling an earthquake zone. Kevin Smith was aghast to see the carnage caused, but standing alone on the grass amongst the carnage he could see one tent was still standing strong. He went over to take a closer look and discovered it was the Safari Hennie Dome Tent sample that I had supplied 6 months earlier. It was still 100% in tact and hadn’t moved! Kevin was amazed.

The very next day, Kevin gave me a call to apologise for not going with my advice initially, and proceeded to place an order for 80 of the Safari Hennie Dome Tents. Whilst these tents were not a pop up design, they only take 7 minutes to set up. The appealing thing was they didn’t need to be packed away. They could be left up semi-permanently on Cockatoo Island and last up to 10 times longer than the Oztent would in the same environment. The helicopter force proved without a shadow of a doubt our Safari Canvas Tents are made with far superior materials than the Oztent. This was the right tent of choice for Cockatoo Island. Since this time the range of tents we have supplied to Cockatoo Island has expanded to include larger models for family groups from our Safari Premium Canvas Tent range.

Thanks to Hugh Jackman and Wolverine, the Diamantina Safari Tent story began from there and 10 years later, the Diamantina Safari Tents are still being used as the preferred choice of tents on Cockatoo Island. Thanks Mr Jackman !

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