Thredbo survivor Stuart Diver turns podcast host in new series The Elements

Thredbo's general manager Stuart Diver is the host of a new five-part podcast series looking at some of Australia's most well-known natural disasters. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos
Thredbo's general manager Stuart Diver is the host of a new five-part podcast series looking at some of Australia's most well-known natural disasters. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

In the 24 years since he was pulled out of the rubble, Stuart Diver says his story of survival has been told "hundreds of times", to the point where every minute detail of the Thredbo landslide and ensuing rescue are still well known decades later.

Though he may have been the only one to emerge from the remains of the Bimbadeen and Carinya ski lodges, Diver says there's a common link between himself and other natural disaster survivors.

"None of us feel like we're celebrities or we've done something special, we're just normal people who have gone through unfortunate things," he told The Canberra Times.

"There is a common thread about how they got through something traumatic and how they got through the next years and decades and continued to survive."

That common thread is central to Diver's latest role as a podcast host, telling the untold stories behind some of Australia's biggest natural disasters.

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The Elements, which launched earlier this week, is a new five-part podcast series delving into how the disasters unfolded, as well as telling the story of the people who survived the odds, using archival audio, soundscapes and never-before-told accounts.

Episodes include the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race disaster, the Black Summer bushfires, the Newcastle earthquake and Cyclone Tracy.

The show's final episode sees Diver being joined by survivors and their first responders, speaking on how to they have lived their lives after a tragedy.

Diver is not alone in the podcast, working alongside Slade Gibson - the audio producer behind The Teacher's Pet - with voice acting done by Boy Swallows Universe author Trent Dalton.

While being the general manager of Thredbo Resorts is his day job, Diver says he has always had an interest in getting into podcasting.

"It's a good medium to tell long-form stories and get deeper than you would normally," Diver says.

"The timing has been interesting and the idea for the podcast had been kicked around for the past three years. It has taken time to come fruition.

"People have really good stories to tell about getting through trauma and hardship."

Stuart Diver said there was a lot of similarities between his own story of survival and that of others feature in the podcast. Picture: Supplied

Stuart Diver said there was a lot of similarities between his own story of survival and that of others feature in the podcast. Picture: Supplied

Australia has had more than its fair share of natural disasters, and while the podcast could have focused on dozens of events from across the years, Diver says there was a simple reason as to why the series chose to focus on four.

"There was a science behind it. It's called The Elements, so there's one representing water, one for earth, one for fire and one for wind," he says.

"We also wanted to go for something the general public would know about and would also appeal to an international audience.

"The key is, that regardless of all the different experiences that came out through the podcast, there's a huge amount of similarities in people who have survived trauma."

In spite of many of the stories of tragic events that are told throughout each of the podcast's episodes, a theme that emerges from early on is one of positivity from survivors in the wake of the natural disasters.

It's a mantra that Diver has chosen to focus on when reflecting on the events of that July night in 1997.

"That positivity that comes out of it is absolutely crucial," he says.

"If you look at my life, or the people who we spoke to for the podcast who have been through something traumatic, the key, they said, was rather than focus on the negatives such as what was lost or the hardships they went through, they all have the ability to focus instead on the positives that came out of it.

"In today's society, it's very easy to slip into focusing on those negatives and focus on the fear and the unknowns. Something that has resonated with me and how I live my life, is that you can either wallow in it, or use it to learn and grow and use it to make a positive life.

"We do, as a society, focus on the past and what went wrong and we do need to move on and forward."

The podcast will be released weekly, focusing on a different natural disaster. Picture: Supplied

The podcast will be released weekly, focusing on a different natural disaster. Picture: Supplied

In many of the situations that emerge from the podcast, whether it was people stranded for days at a time at sea or people trying to avoid a wall of flames during Black Summer, Diver says he was in awe of the stories featured.

He also says the podcast is a chance to shift some of the negativity in the narrative often associated with the natural disasters.

"Humans are absolutely incredible and their mental strength is incredible, and no one knows what you can do to survive until you are put in that situation, and that's the inspiration with these stories," he says.

"People have often said to me that 'I could never have survived something [like Thredbo]', but that was something that I was saying to the others."

It may only be early days since the podcast's first episode was released, but Diver says there could be the potential for future episodes.

"We could also branch out overseas and look at things like Hurricane Katrina," he says.

"There are so many stories we could tell and delve deeper into them."

  • The Elements is available to download on leading podcast platforms. Episode one is available now with new episodes released weekly.
This story 'Positivity is crucial': Stuart Diver's new role as podcast host first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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