Forging Leaders

Forging Leaders

15 Jan 2016

Reprinted with permission from Outback Magazine.

Excerpt from story in Issue 105-Feb/Mar 2016.

Colin Hendrie learnt a vital lesson in leadership – the need to depend on other people – when being chased by a rhinoceros on Christmas Day 1970. Then a Rhodesian Army officer, Colin and the platoon he was leading had been investigating terrorist activity on the Zambian border and were crossing a mud plain when the rhinoceros charged. “The signaller fell and I turned around to help him, and then I heard ‘bang’, and the machine gunner had fired, and as I turned this rhino was literally on top of me,” Colin says.

Back in the safety of the army barracks, the incident was reviewed and the platoon was criticised for killing the rhino, but Colin remained unrepentant. “When a rhino’s horn is two feet from your arse, is that the time to think about some other approach to please the rhino?” he says.

This tough-talking, iron-skinned little bloke, who was once captured by terrorists and escaped, and also served as a squadron commander in the Omani special forces, is owner and co-director of Outback Initiatives, a company based in Margaret River, WA, that runs intense outdoor programs to test and develop leadership skills. Running about 12 programs a year, the company takes groups into unfamiliar and sometimes hostile environments – caving, abseiling and hiking in extreme conditions from the Kimberley, WA, to Wee Jasper, NSW. Its most famous clients are the Singaporean Gurkhas – a special job that requires signing the official secrets act – but the company also runs part of the Australian Rural Leadership Program (see issue 104, p125), trains police and firefighters, and runs courses for young women.

COLIN HENDRIE is the founder and executive director of Outback Initiatives. An ex-Rhodesian army officer and Omani special forces squadron commander from Zimbwabwe, Colin has 40 years of experience in situational leadership. Colin started Outback Initiatives in 1994 because he wanted to do something different and lasting that combined his love for adventure and the outdoors. He created a unique experiential program which has proven to be one of the most challenging and successful leadership programs in Australia today. Colin has qualifications in bushwalking, abseiling, caving, boat and heli operations, and has extensive experience in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia and training the Ghurkka Contigent.

Back To News Stories


  • "I expanded my knowledge and awareness of myself"

    Fred Steer, Brookfield Rail Read More
  • "I loved this experience and am a massive supporter"

    Daryl D'Sousa, Australian Pork Limited Read More
  • "I will be telling others that this is the best, most effective use of a short period"

    Susan Benedyka, MD, The Regional Development Company Read More
  • "Thank you for taking on and succeeding so well with the Leadership Training Program"

    Peter Cullen Trust - Murray Darling Management Read More
  • "We have been struck by their sponanteous comments such as 'that was life changing'"

    Professor John Thwaites, Chair, Peter Cullen Trust Read More
  • "The program is based upon a tried and proven methodology"

    Tim Collins, CBH Group Read More
  • "This multi-layered experience has been the best investment of my time"

    Caroline Marshall, Crossing Point Leadership Academy Read More
  • "It was the best leadership program experience I've ever had"

    Michael Wilks, Indigenous Creek Distributors Read More
  • "It illuminated my understanding of our different behaviours and how I come across to others"

    Janette Philp, Mahogany Creed Distributors Read More
  • "I wholeheartedly recommend this program to ALL women"

    Amanda Walton, SCOOP Magazine Read More