Alby Mangels

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Albertus Zwier "Alby" Mangels (born 16 November 1948) is an Australian adventurer and documentary film-maker widely remembered for his World Safari adventure travel films (World Safari, World Safari II, and World Safari III).[1]

Early life[edit]

Zwier Albertus Mangels was born in the Netherlands on 16 November 1948.[2] His father Johannes (Jos) was a leather tanner. His mother was called Adrianna (Sjann). Mangels and his family moved to Australia in 1955 where they settled in South Australia. After about eighteen months in Australia his parents separated.[2] His mother remarried but died of cancer when Mangels was fifteen. He left school at fourteen.[3]

Mangels had a large variety of jobs, being a chicken farmer before and after his first World Safari[4] and his last being in Murray Bridge doing brickwork.[3]


Mangels set off in 1971 with friend John Fields on what was supposed to be a one-off trip. It turned into a six-year odyssey through several continents, which they filmed. The resulting film, first shown in Australia in 1977, was a considerable success and Mangels continued to travel through the 1980s, filming all the way. Two more World Safari films were made from this subsequent material.[1]

The films[edit]

The films featured Mangels and his constantly changing cast of companions travelling, on a shoestring budget and seemingly with little forward planning, throughout various wild areas. Mangels took a cavalier approach, both to natural and human hazards, relying on a variety of rickety vehicles, losing his ship to fire, travelling through a number of areas where guerrillas were active, and becoming involved in a number of unusual business enterprises. Mangels discovered that audiences responded to his risk-taking behaviour and featured more and more of it in his later films. While he may have played up the risks in some cases, he and his companions suffered a number of serious accidents and injuries along the way, the most notorious being an accident during the early filming of World Safari II. An accident resulted in his friend, Piers Soutier, becoming a quadriplegic and eventually dying from complications a year later. Mangels postponed the continuation of the film to remain with Piers, looking into the available facilities for disabled people during this time. The accident prompted Mangels to design a new form of wheelchair (which won Australian design awards including the Premier's Award for Design Excellence) and to found the charity DAD (Disabled And Disadvantaged children) with his sister, Maria Snel.[1][5][not in citation given][6]

Mangels (and Field) also spent some time living with the local inhabitants in many locations, often working for room and board or just to get to know the local culture of each area.

Mangels became famous for an array of attractive female travelling companions, with a quota per film approaching that of James Bond. Mangels did point out (on-camera in his third film when meeting another one who had seen his previous films) that with the years it took to make each film the numbers were not so unusual.[1]

Mangels also has a strong conservation theme running through all of the films. Mangels' voiceover narration for the films, as well as the many places he chose to visit, often emphasises the need for the preservation of both wild places such as forests, and wild animals such as gorillas.

He was one of the pioneering travel advocates of the 1970s, showing the possibility of travelling as a way of life, similar to what Peter Jenkins and William Least Heat Moon had done with their best-selling travel books of the 1970s and 1980s.

After the financial failure of the third World Safari film in the late 1980s, Mangels dropped out of the public eye in Australia for several years but during this time produced his Adventure Bound series that aired all over the world and received some of the highest ratings ever achieved on the US Travel Channel.[citation needed] Adventure Bound first aired on the Travel Channel in 1996 and was largely made up of footage from the three World Safari films with some additional footage. Fans have been bemoaning the lack of Alby Mangels material since the show finished[7] but finally Alby has placated his fans with the recent release of over seventy titles (including some never before seen material) digitally remastering his entire back catalogue for commercial sale on DVD at his official website.

In his documentary Point and Shoot, film-maker Matthew VanDyke cited Mangels as a major influence.

Recent work[edit]

A companion book to the films, Alby Mangels' World Safari, was published in the 1980s. Lynn Santer authored Mangels's authorised biography Beyond World Safari in 2007.[2] There are also reports that a feature-length Mangels biographical film is in production with multi-awarded Hollywood veteran producer Paul Mason and in 2010 he was rumoured to have been approached to appear on Dancing with the Stars.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d Crouch, Brad (18 November 2007). "A wild man finds peace". Herald Sun. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Santer, Lynn (2007). The Alby Mangels Story: Beyond World Safari. Docklands, Victoria: JoJo Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9803547-5-1. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Young, Annette (20 December 1984). "Brickie turned film maker salutes with another epic". The Age. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Smith, Margaret (10 July 1977). "'Divine Discontent' led to Adventure". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 69. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  5. ^ "About". Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "dad". Archived from the original on 26 June 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  7. ^ "Restless Me". Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  8. ^ "Wild man invited to join dance show". Herald Sun. 19 December 2010. Retrieved 14 July 2010. 

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