Press Centre

Wild Australia with Ray Mears

  • Episode: 

    2 of 6

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Mon 02 May 2016
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    8.00pm - 8.30pm
  • Week: 

    Week 18 2016 : Sat 30 Apr - Fri 06 May
  • Channel: 

The information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing into the public domain until Tuesday 26 April
“I love Arnhem Land, it’s one of my favourite places on our planet. There’s a wildness here that is really profound, it touches you deep inside…it really justifies the existence of wild areas, to remind us of how our planet really should be.” Ray Mears
In Wild Australia, Ray Mears delves into the spectacularly diverse Australian landscape to look at some of the weird and wonderful life forms that are able to live and survive in the land Down Under.
From the expansive waters of the Great Barrier Reef and the vast wilderness of Arnhem Land, to the teeming Cooper Creek billabongs and the ancient heartland of the rainforest, each episode sees Mears explore the dramatic physical geography of the region, the extreme weather conditions that occur there and the wildlife species that have adapted to survive in those environments. 
Mears encounters rare and extraordinary creatures, such as the prehistoric cassowary bird, the weedy sea dragon, and the tree kangaroo, as well as witnessing a three-month-old humpback whale calf learning to swim in preparation for the long migration to Antarctica. Ray even ventures deep underwater himself as he gets up close with some giant manta rays and green sea turtles.
Travelling among the dense eucalyptus forests of the Bush, the scarlet sands of the Red Desert and the dramatic shoreline of the southern coast, Mears meets with local wildlife experts and guides, witnesses the ancient tradition of farming with fire, makes his way through a giant flock of magpie geese as he traverses some dried up mudflats, discovers a gallery of ancient aboriginal art and comes face-to-face with a giant saltwater crocodile.
Ray says: “I love Australia, it’s one of my favourite places. Sometimes it just feels amazing to be alive in a wild place like this.”
In episode two, Ray is in the wetlands of the Northern Territory, in Arnhem Land, one of the most remote wilderness landscapes of Australia.
Beginning his journey at Mount Borradaile, on the edge of the sandstone plateau overlooking the Cooper Creek flood planes, Ray says: “There’s a wildness here that really sings in the landscape, it’s beautiful…Sometimes it just feels amazing to be alive in a wild place like this.”
It’s an area that is home to not only a vast array of native birds but also to Australia’s most deadly predator: the saltwater crocodile.
Visiting at the very end of the dry season, after seven months without rain, Ray says: “It might seem that this is a very strange time of year to come to a wetland – the dry season - but actually this is one of the very best times to come here. With the water so dried out, the wildlife is concentrated at the billabongs. That makes it much easier to find.” 
Travelling by boat to the Cooper Creek Billabong where all wildlife, including huge flocks of magpie geese, whistling ducks and pigmy geese, is gathered, waiting for the rains, Ray says: “Although this may look like paradise, there’s a good reason I’m in a tin boat and not a canoe. There’s a hidden danger lurking in the mist.”
These wetlands are the main breeding grounds for the saltwater crocodile, the largest living crocodile in the world, and as the floodwaters have retreated, all the crocodiles are gathered in this area, competing for the limited territory.
Ray says: “All the way along this billabong, every fifty or so metres, there’s a crocodile that’s got just its eyes and its nostrils out of the water, watching, doing the ‘I’m a log’ trick…croc city this is…This isn’t the creature to play with if you come to Australia. That is the top predator in this landscape. It’s an animal you have to pay respect to.”
Reaching the widest stretch of the billabong, there’s a surprising sight for Ray, some animals that you would more likely expect to see on an English farm: pigs.
Introduced into Australia by the first European settlers, the numbers of pigs living wild in Australia is now estimated to be over 23-million, with Ray saying: “It’s funny to see those pigs here. Of course, they’re an introduced species, totally alien to this environment, but they do very well here. And the crocodiles like to eat them of course.”
Ray then witnesses a giant saltwater crocodile effortlessly pulling a 200-kilo pig carcass from the edges of the billabong under the water, to which Ray says: “That, if you ask me, is the most dangerous predator to be found on the planet Earth.”
Heading down the billabong, Ray reaches stone country, the rocky outcrops that lie above the flood planes, a remote and sparsely populated territory that also houses a gallery of ancient Aboriginal artwork.
Ray says: “Aboriginal people have been in Australia fifty or maybe even sixty thousand years, and some of this rock art could be tens of thousands of years old…Aboriginal people are very good storytellers, they have amazing stories that are very important to their culture.”
Ray also joins locals Connie Nayinggul and her grandson Moses on a fishing expedition to catch some barramundi, which they then cook in a traditional ground oven using paper bark. 
Ray says: “Barramundi is a prime delicacy in Australia’s top restaurants, but in my opinion it’s best like this, cooked and eaten in the wild.”
Finally, Ray travels with land manager Greg Towns across the dried up mudflats, through giant flocks of grazing magpie geese, to help burn away large meadows of alien and destructive grass that is killing the native birds. 
Witnessing the dramatic spectacle of farming with fire, Ray says: “Wow, that’s a salutary lesson on the power of fire. The front of that fire is moving like a racehorse, you wouldn’t want to get caught in front of it.”
With his time in this particular part of Australia at an end, Ray says: “I love Arnhem Land, it’s one of my favourite places on our planet. There’s a wildness here that is really profound, it touches you deep inside…it really justifies the existence of wild areas, to remind us of how our planet really should be.”