King of Thieves. Hero of the Wild West. Pirate menace of the Brotherhood of Buccaneers. Errol Flynn is an icon of the Golden Age of Hollywood. But before he made a name for himself as the swashbuckler of the silver screen, Flynn lived the life of his future film counterparts in his native Australia.
In 2003, the city council of Hobart, Tasmania, named a small park in the city’s affluent Sandy Bay suburb Errol Flynn Reserve, laying claim to the nautical landscape that likely influenced Flynn’s seafaring endeavors and iconic roles. The Battery Point Sculpture Trail cuts through the reserve; the bold, white-painted steel numerals 1909 adorn the green space, a tribute to both Flynn’s birth year and the famous Hollywood sign.
Flynn was born on June, 20, 1909, in Battery Point, Tasmania. He grew up surrounded by sand and sea, watching ships sail in while dreaming of adventure. After he was expelled from the all-boys Shore School in Sydney, New South Wales, for allegedly seducing the school’s laundress, Flynn spent the next five years travelling between Australia and Papua New Guinea in a futile search for riches. A publicized boating accident led to him being discovered by the Australian filmmaker Charles Chauvel, who gave Flynn his first film role as Fletcher Christian in the 1933 film In the Wake of the Bounty.
After that life-changing role, Flynn went on to have a luminous film career that spanned three decades, during which he played a handsome and devilish rogue both on and off the silver screen. An unrepentant hedonist, Flynn indulged in women, drinking, drugs, and partying, but he especially loved adventure. He traveled to Spain as a war correspondent during the Spanish Civil War. He attempted to enlist in World War II at the height of his career, but the lingering effects of malaria—contracted during his time in Papua New Guinea—led him to fail the physical exam.
Flynn helped develop a tourism industry around river rafting in Port Antonio, Jamaica, where he lived in an opulent mansion. And he was in the Sierra Mountains with Fidel Castro, filming the Communist revolutionary for a documentary about the Cuban Revolution, on the night that the country’s then-president, Fulgencio Batista, was overthrown and Castro assumed the role of Prime Minister.
Flynn passed away on October 14, 1959, at age 50 in Vancouver, British Columbia, from a heart attack. His presence in the city and his cause of death were direct results of the extravagant life he had led; crippled with debt and suffering from a number of untreated ailments including coronary artery disease and cirrhosis of the liver, Flynn had come to negotiate the lease of his historical luxury schooner Zaca to a Canadian businessman. Even with the lucrative days of his career far behind him, Flynn arrived in Vancouver in true rakish form; accompanying him on the trip was his girlfriend, 17-year-old actress Beverly Aadland.
Know Before You Go
Located at the base of Battery Point, directly across the bridge over the Sandy Bay Rivulet.
The Battery Point Sculpture Trail, which pays tribute to Errol Flynn's legacy, consists of nine numerical sculptures, each representing an important date or figure in the history of Battery Point. The Trail spans across the Sandy Bay waterfront, from Salamanca Place to the Marieville Esplanade.