Ray Mears Goes Walkabout

LIVING CHANNEL – Sundays from 14 October, 10pm

The aboriginals of Australia have a tradition of travelling their country, maintaining their culture, looking after the land, telling stories and visiting family. It’s a practice they call Walkabout. In this series Ray Mears follows suit as he makes four journeys through the wilderness of the Australian Outback. These are journeys that encompass many of the themes of Ray’s world – discovery, the natural world, indigenous culture, adventure and survival. Above all, they represent Ray’s desire to be open to new ideas, new ways of doing things, new experiences. Australia presents a fabulous opportunity to show this, encompassing so many different natural habitats, with a rich indigenous culture and many tales of exploration and survival.

LIVING CHANNEL – Sunday 25 July, 4pm

Everyone’s favourite survival expert Ray Mears dons his rucksack and heads out into the wilds of Canada – one of the greatest wildernesses on the planet. High on adventure and incident, Ray follows in the footsteps of the explorers who first entered Canada’s tough and unforgiving environments. Part history, part survival guide, each episode sees Ray venture into a different area of Canada’s beautiful interior.

DOCUMENTARY CHANNEL – Saturday 8 May, 8.30pm

Ray Mears is journeying through the wilderness of the Australian Outback – but he’s not alone. Along the way, he is joined by local experts who can enrich Ray’s journey and deepen his understanding of Australia’s unique bushcraft. Over the last decade the name Ray Mears has become recognised throughout the world as being an authority on the subject of Bushcraft and Survival. He has also become a household name through his television series: Tracks, World of Survival, The Essential Guide to Rocks, Extreme Survival, Trips Money Can’t Buy with Ewan McGregor, The Real Heroes of Telemark, Bushcraft Survival, and more recently, Wild Food. These programmes have reached out and touched the hearts of everyone from small child to grandparents.

They are enjoyed by many because of Ray’s down to earth approach, his obvious love for his subject and the empathy and respect he shows for indigenous peoples and their cultures. In Ray Mears Goes Walkabout, Mears is following in the footsteps of John McDouall Stuart, one of the unsung explorers of Australia. His contemporaries, Burke and Wills, tend to get the attention for their ill-advised, fatal south-to-north crossing of this continent. They were typical of their age, setting out with an army of men, food and equipment, determined to conquer the land rather than work with it.

But Stuart had a very different approach, travelling fast and light – much closer to Ray’s own attitude to travel. Stuart’s early forays into the Outback provided him with the knowledge to forge a route across the continent. It’s the skills that Stuart acquired on these journeys that Ray focuses on, showing how to wring water from these arid lands. He travels this burnt, inhospitable landscape, bringing alive the story of Stuart and his men and gaining ever more respect for those early explorers as he goes. The aboriginals of Australia have a tradition of travelling their country, maintaining their culture, looking after the land, telling stories and visiting family. It’s a practise they call Walkabout.

In this series Ray Mears follows suit as he makes four journeys through the wilderness of the Australian Outback. These journeys represent something very close to Ray’s heart: the most important thing that can be learned when travelling is to be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. For Ray, this is the only way to promote understanding and learning. Australia presents a fabulous opportunity to show this, encompassing so many different natural habitats, with a rich indigenous culture and many tales of exploration and survival. Go walkabout with Ray Mears on the Documentary Channel, Saturdays at 8.30pm from 8th May.

SUNDAY 25th December

Ray follows in the footsteps of William Dampier, the first Englishman to set foot in Australia in the concluding part of his walkabout in the Australian Outback. Dampier landed in north-west Australia over 80 years before Cook claimed the continent for the Crown. Ray approaches the coast by sailing lugger as he embarks on his own exploration of the area. 

A remarkable man – part botanist, part privateer, part explorer – Dampier was also a meticulous author who recorded all his experiences of these first explorations – including what Ray considers as possibly the earliest written record of how to make fire by friction. 

North-west Australia is world famous for its art, and the most renowned is the rock art of the Kimberley area – something Ray has wanted to see for years. There are several different styles going back tens of thousands of years, and among them may be clues to some of the first travellers to this continent. Ray joins artist Juju Wilson for a journey through this landscape of rocky gorges, rivers and waterfalls as they discuss the art and the very real part it still plays in Aboriginal culture. 

Coming full circle, Ray visits the final rock art site on the coast, seeing truly ancient images of boats and canoes. He ponders whether they were drawn by the first travellers to Australia, recording their arrival, or by natives witnessing Dampier setting foot on an Australian beach.

Sunday 18th December

Ray has spent much time in Arnhem Land and is keen to discover more about the inhabitants’ closest relatives – the Torres Strait Islanders to the North of the mainland. Ray island hops, discovering more about this little-visited part of the world. 

The islanders live a modern life today, but their island lifestyle has helped them retain much of their bushcraft and knowledge, a way of life dominated by their island location. Ray spends time with the Island Elders, learning how they use the flora and fauna around them, delving into the history of their ancestors, who had a reputation as fearsome warriors protecting their precious land. 

Ray learns of the incredible survival tale of 16-year-old Barbara Thompson, who, in 1842, eloped to marry her sweetheart. 

Shipwrecked in the treacherous Torres Strait waters, she survived through luck and fate, and lived on Prince of Wales Island with the Kaurareg people. From being a scared, traumatised girl, she learned to fit in and become a valuable member of the tribe. She was eventually rescued five years later by the crew of HMS Rattlesnake and her unique story was recorded by the ship’s artist.

SUNDAY 11th January

When Ray Mears meets ‘Bush-Tucker Man’ Les Hiddins, they appear to have much in common, not least their love of the wilderness and indigenous people and their contributions to Bushcraft. Ray and Les take a trip across Les’s home state of Queensland. Their journey starts in the jungle of the East Coast – full of ‘tucker’, strange dinosaur-like nests and plants that leave a sting like no other. Here, Ray sleeps in a ‘swag’ rather than his usual jungle hammock and shows how the buttresses of the local trees provide an opportunity for impromptu Bushcraft. 

Ray and Les visit Cape Tribulation on their way to Cooktown and tell of Captain Cook’s journey up this coast. As they journey, Ray and Les find that they have similar views on many things. Heading inland, they take a draining drive across the unchanging terrain of Queensland. Finally, they reach the crash site of World War II bomber Little Eva. The site, which can only be reached via helicopter, symbolises how and why Les first became interested in Bush tucker.

SUNDAY 4th January

In this new series, Ray begins his journeys through the wilderness of the Australian Outback in the desert. Deserts have a particular beauty unmatched in the natural world – places of great stillness, life there is reduced to the basics. Ray explains what to take for a journey into the desert and how to pack a vehicle so that it becomes a mobile headquarters. Australia has no large land-based predators, so it is perfect for sleeping out under the stars and there is nowhere better to do that than the desert. 

Ray is following in the footsteps of John McDouall Stuart, one of the unsung explorers of Australia. His contemporaries, Burke and Wills, tend to get the attention for their ill-advised, fatal South-to-North crossing of this continent. They were typical of their age, setting out with an army of men, food and equipment, determined to conquer the land rather than work with it. But Stuart had a very different approach, travelling fast and light – much closer to Ray’s own attitude to travel. 

Stuart’s early forays into the Outback provided him with the knowledge to forge a route across the continent. It is the skills that Stuart acquired on these journeys that Ray focuses on, showing how to wring water from these arid lands. He travels this burnt, inhospitable landscape, bringing alive the story of Stuart and his men and gaining ever more respect for those early explorers as he goes. 

The aboriginals of Australia have a tradition of travelling their country, maintaining their culture, looking after the land, telling stories and visiting family. It’s a practise they call Walkabout. In this series Ray Mears follows suit as he makes four journeys through the wilderness of the Australian Outback.

These are journeys that encompass many of the themes of Ray’s world – discovery, the natural world, indigenous culture, adventure and survival. Above all, they represent Ray’s desire to be open to new ideas, new ways of doing things, new experiences. Australia presents a fabulous opportunity to show this, encompassing so many different natural habitats, with a rich indigenous culture and many tales of exploration and survival.

Desert
Deserts have a particular beauty unmatched in the natural world. They are places of great stillness where life is reduced to the basics. As a continent with no large, land- based preditors, Australia is perfect for sleeping out under the stars and there’s no- where better to do that than the desert. Aboriginals believe that when they leave the land, the land will die. This is more than just superstition as there is a very delicate bal- ance at work between hunter gatherers and the lands they inhabit. Ray travels with an aboriginal tracker whose skills are still used by the Australian police force today.

4th January, 8.30pm on PRIME