Press Centre

Wild Australia with Ray Mears

  • Episode: 

    4 of 6

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Mon 16 May 2016
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    8.00pm - 8.30pm
  • Week: 

    Week 20 2016 : Sat 14 May - Fri 20 May
  • Channel: 

The information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing into the public domain until Tuesday 10 May.
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 four, Ray is in Australia’s tropical rainforest, in the Wet Tropics, on the north-eastern coast of Australia. It’s the oldest on the planet, so old it stretches back to the time of the great supercontinents. 
Ray says; “The rainforest is an incredible place, it really is a land of light and shadows. Lots of places for things to hide away, and I guess it’s understandable that people might feel a little bit scared of the rainforest, but you know, really there’s nothing to fear here. It’s just a place to understand, it’s so beautiful.”
Ray starts his adventure by hitching a lift on a research crane, 47-metres above the ground, to get a bird’s eye view over the rainforest. From there he can see the geographical position responsible for this lush vegetation: the Great Dividing Range in the west, and the Pacific Ocean in the east.
Ray says: “Wow, this is an incredible way to see a rainforest. In the hectare below me there are 85 different species of trees and from here I can look straight down into the canopy...The Wet Tropics cover a tiny fraction of Australia, and yet around 40% of the country’s plant and animal species live here.”
As Ray heads back down to terra firma, the sun becomes a distant memory as he passes through layers and layers of leaves and branches - the forest’s canopy - a roof of vegetation which allows only a third of the sunlight to reach the ground. 
Ray says: “This rainforest is so ancient that all life-forms have had millions of years to perfectly adapt to their habitat.” 
One such species is the mind-boggling moth larvae, which has evolved to look like lichen, with even the way it moves appearing as if it’s being blown by the wind. There’s also the lichen spider, whose camouflage is so evolved that it snares its victims without the need for a web.
Pursuing his journey further into the rainforest, Ray travels through 400-metres of jungle on a zip-wire, and says: “This has got to be one of the best ways to see the tropical rainforest…and also it’s great fun.” 
Meanwhile, Ray’s cameraman Martin Hayward Smith has been filming an animal that can only be found in this part of the world: the elusive tree kangaroo, a marsupial which lives like a monkey and looks like a bear.
Ray says: “I understand why Martin is pleased, this is incredibly rare footage and these are beautiful, intimate shots.”
Finally, Ray gets on a quad bike for his last quest: a search for the notoriously elusive cassowary bird, a giant prehistoric flightless bird that lives deep in the rainforest, who, with its 12cm claws, is able to disembowel its enemies.
Ray’s expedition comes to a dramatic end when he encounters a cassowary with its chicks in tow. 
Ray says: “What a magnificent thing to see. That really is the pinnacle of my visit to the rainforest. It’s an iconic bird, a vital, beautiful component of this forest. It’s from a time gone by. That has to be one of the very best things you could see in wild Australia.”