Interview: Hanlie from Action Ads

Hanlie - Action Ads hiking in KnysnaYou all know Hanlie as a co-owner of Action Ads but few of you know her as a fisherwoman, handywoman, hiker, camper, avid reader, artist and cook (whether in the kitchen or on the braai). Get to know her better…

WM: Almost everybody i meet wants to know how you got the nickname “Rockspider”?
Hanlie: I grew up in the Freestate speaking Afrikaans. When I moved to Knysna my first English speaking friends gave me a choice of two nicknames: (a) hairy back (b) rockspider. Which one would you have chosen?
WM: Ha ha.

WM: Your comments are are integral part of Action Ads. When did you first start writing them?
Hanlie: Many many years ago when we were still doing things the old fashioned way – before computers. I physically took a black pen and wrote on the transparencies before they went to the platemaker.

WM: From them, it’s obvious that you have a love for the outdoors? Did someone install this in your upbringing?
Hanlie: Yes, as a child we spent every holiday either in the bush or at the seaside, and always camping in tents. To this day I find it hard to pay for luxury accommodation like a chalet when I can take my trusty tent.

WM: Which are your favourite outdoor spots in Knysna?
Hanlie: I used to go camping at Brenton on Lake when there was still a caravan park. It was so strange to sit round the campfire at night and look at the lights of Knysna town across the lagoon. Another favourite spot is Knoetzie – especially up the river where it is absolutely quiet except for the loeries calling.

Hanlie - Action Ads

WM: And elsewhere in South Africa or out of country?
Hanlie: The Kalahari. My mother grew up there and it’s in my blood. Any desert will do.

WM: You recently holidayed in Zambia with hippos and more. Where were you and what was your best experiences?
Hanlie: I went to the South Luangwa National Park. It is very remote and very wild. The best thing was a walking safari with two guides – one with a bird book, the other with a rifle – and feeling completely safe in the presence of lion, leopard and loads of elephant.

WM: You’re obviously a child and lady of Africa. What, in your heart, makes you South African?
Hanlie: Never a boring moment! I recently spoke to a friend who emigrated to Australia and he said the only thing that gets him down is that it’s so boring. He would even welcome a hijacking or being robbed! And of course the access we have to wild open spaces of all sorts – the sea, the mountains, the deserts, the rivers. Imagine living in Hong Kong?

WM: Where were you before and when did you come to Knysna?
Hanlie: I came to Knysna in 1981 straight from the University of the Orange Free State where I just completed an honours degree in Prehistoric Art.

WM: What was your career before Action Ads?
Hanlie: I lived at Knoetzie and did woodwork. And fished. A lot. I once stayed there for 11 days in a row never coming into town. Just living off the ocean. It was very liberating. Pretending to be a strandloper.

Hanlie - Action Ads

WM: How did Action Ads come about?
Hanlie: My business partner, Julie Gosling, worked for a similar publication and when they amalgamated with another company we decided to break away and opened our own paper. That was 27 years ago.

WM: At 12 500 copies per week, you’re probably the biggest publication in Knysna. Where to in the future?
Hanlie: Biggest publication on the Garden Route. We’ll just carry on as before. No need to scratch where there’s no itch, is there?

WM: You’re an avid reader? Which book have you read recently that everyone should read?
Hanlie: Steve Jobs’ biography. Shackleton’s journey to the South Pole. Mallory’s quest for Everest.

WM: Looking around your garage and house, it’s notable that you have an unusual hobby. Tell us about it?
Hanlie: I collect anything old, rusty, used and turn them into things that can be used or things that are good to look at. Recycling if you like. Old wooden gates turn into tables. Rusty bowls become lampshades. My workshop is a mystery of things collected over many years. In all kinds of places. The Karoo being my favourite place for picking up stuff. Shopping in the veld.

WM: Where do you see yourself in 2020 and what will you be doing?
Hanlie: I’ll be 63 then. I don’t see that I’ll be doing anything differently. Maybe a bit more fishing. A bit more camping. A bit more time in the workshop.

Hanlie - Action Ads art


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