Carol & Freddy Osler-Weppenaar were both born in South Africa and trained there in the art of flying trapeze. But they trained at different times and only met some years later when their two flying trapeze acts were both engaged to perform in the same show in Paris. Romance sparked and together they formed one of the most sensational circus acts of the era.
As the Flying Oslers they performed in five Royal Command Performances (2 x British; Spain; Sweden and Monaco) and won the Circus World Championships in London in 1978. Even though he had broken 9 bones in his body on separate occasions during his career (many while learning to do the famous triple somersault), when Freddy dislocated his shoulder in Perth, Western Australia, he discovered that that was the one injury a flyer could not recover from and for the first time in their adult lives they settled in one spot. Utilising the experience they had gained in show business, they produced the shows for Atlantis Marine Park in Perth for many years until they became bored with living in one city and took off on the road again, producing circus shows in South East Asia, Australia and finally for Weber Bros Circus in New Zealand.
During their travels through New Zealand they fell in love with the country and its people and decided that they would try to settle down here and finally kick the road-dust from their well-worn boots. And the place they fell most in love with was the Bay of Islands. But for people who have spent their lives on the road and no business experience, the decision as to what to do to earn a living in the Bay of Islands was not an easy one.
But there was the genesis of an idea. Because of the amount of injuries on the flying trapeze, Freddy had always tried to imagine a method for safer landing than the hopelessly misnamed 'safety net' of the flying trapeze which was nothing more than a giant trampoline and everyone knows how badly one can be injured on one of those. And if he could invent something like that, then members of the public could participate on the high trapeze and surely that would be an attraction that could constitute a business?
So experimentation began in 2003 at Canvasland in Levin to develop a continuous-inflated landing bag. Freddy tested the experimental units by diving from the 2nd story balcony at the factory in Levin and – because the early versions were failures – frequently winded himself badly. But finally success was achieved as a result of the combined talents of Freddy and Brendan Duffy (proprietor of Canvasland and Mayor of Levin) and the resulting bag was so successful that it was soon realised that it enabled a host of other activities, many of them circus disciplines such as high wire, etc.
And thus Action World was born…