Australian-Canadian writer, anthropologist, big-wall climber, former soldier. Mainly, I just read too many Wilfred Thesiger, HW Tilman and TE Lawrence books at an impressionable age.

I studied for a BA in foreign languages (Arabic and French) and security studies before completing a Master of Anthropology – both at the ANU.  My research focuses on political and ecological perspectives in anthropology, hoplology and conflict ethnography – in particular interactions between state actors and remote-living peoples (nomadic and mountain societies) in High Asia and North Africa.

Other research interests include traditional societies and the sociopolitical construction of “indigeneity”; the anthropology of borders (especially as it relates to small-arms trafficking); global and local forms of Islam; and the evolution of jihadism in a hyper-connected world.

I’ve conducted fieldwork in fairly diverse locations – the Thailand/Burma border, Cape York (Aboriginal Australia), all over the Arab World and in Mali and Mauritania.

See the “Writing” tab for a complete record of my published work. Content on this blog is also permanently catalogued by the National Library of Australia and is available here.

I have a working proficiency with the French and Arabic languages and a basic knowledge of Kuuk Thaayorre. I have provided and can provide a translation service.

I run a Twitter feed which used to feature daily haiku but now, given the times, tends towards a focus on current affairs. My LinkedIn profile can be found here.



Below is a selection of some of my favourite kayaking, climbing and mountaineering adventures.


Traditional rock climbing up to 5.12a and ice climbing to Wi5.


Ozymandias (winter), Mt Buffalo, Australia

Bunny Bucket Buttress (solo), Blue Mountains, Australia

– First Ascent of Ijtihad, an offwidth crack at the end of the world, Cape Raoul, TasmaniaAustralia

First Ascent of Natural Selection, Mt Darwin, Tasman Glacier, Southern Alps, New Zealand


– First Ascent of Young-Elliott Route, North Face of Mashanig, Hajhir Mountains, Soqotra, Yemen

– First Ascent of A’sh Al-Rukh, Jebel Hawari, Soqotra

– Mariage Traditionel, Wanderdu (with Amadou Gourou, the son of the village chief of Garmi), Hand of Fatima, Mali

 North Pillar of Kaga Tondo (solo), The Hand of Fatima, Mali


– The Squamish Stroll: One-Day Linkup of Shannon Falls, The Papoose, The Malamute, The Chief, The Squaw, Squamish, British Columbia

Phyllis’ Engine, Garibaldi Range, British Columbia


Becky-Chouinard Route, South Howser Tower, Bugaboo Range, British Columbia

Northeast Buttress, Mt Slesse, Cascade Mountains, British Columbia


– The Tantalus Traverse (car-to-cable crossing in 48hrs), Coast Mountains, British Columbia



– Crossing of Bass Strait by Sea Kayak, 2011

– Circumnavigation of Morton Island by Sea Kayak, 2014

– Junior Winner of NSW Marathon Canoe Series, 2008

– Junior Winner of the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic, 10hr 27min, 2008

Some Other Fun Times:

– 30hr Entrapment in the transit lounge at Cairo Airport during the Egyptian Revolution and a 56 hour foodless layover (robbed and broke) in Algiers Airport

– 26hr unintentional waterless day in the Sahara desert between Timbuktu and Douentza, Mali

– 30hr prison sojourn in the Malian desert


11 thoughts on “About

  1. Pingback: Hajj Al-Sahara – The Hand of Fatima | Dispatches from the Periphery

  2. Hi Elliott,

    I just finished reading your blog about the death of your friend Ash in Syria. I take my hat down to you for honouring his memory. Thank you

  3. I read your tribute upon reading the article discussion with his mum via media source. Beautiful & heartfelt but what I relate to is the honesty, respect & integrity in your words for your friend. True honourable words in his memory and whom he was morally and the humanity he felt. A trait that is lost today in many. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Dear Blog Author

    The National Library of Australia is interested in contacting the author of this blog with regard to its possible inclusion within PANDORA: Australia’s Web Archive. We were unable to locate any contact details onsite and are requesting that if you are interested in your blog being archived that you contact us at: webarchive [at] nla.gov.au.

    You can see more details on the Archive at the link below. http://pandora.nla.gov.au/about.html


    PANDORA team

  5. Mr Elliot, I was wondering if you could provide more information on your military background. Your bio on the ABC site mentions you being a former soldier. I’m interested in better understanding your service. Was your service in the Canadian, Australian or another nations armed forces? Which corps/branch were you in? Rank? Did you go overseas on any operations? Thanks for providing this information to better understand your perspective.

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