Wildiaries founder Simon Mustoe says creating the series, a co-production with Tourism Australia, was an extraordinary experience despite some long hours and large distances (and one over-friendly jellyfish).
“The emotional bond to home is a feeling we can all understand. When we travel we seek the company of those who care most about the place they live. It has been an honour to meet some amazing people on our journey,” Simon says.
“Nature’s power to inspire comes through strongly when you speak to them. These are people you probably have never heard of but their love, understanding of and connection to the place they live is something we can all empathise with.”
“Meeting the characters and learning about Australia through their eyes has changed my life. People’s response to the series has been wonderful.”
“Today many of us live in a very fast world which is creating an anxious society. Yet during the time I’ve spent with these people who live great ’outdoor lives’ I’ve rediscovered emotions and curiosity I haven’t felt since I was a child.”
“And isn’t this what we yearn for when we travel?Isn’t it why more than two thirds of visitors to Australia seek a connection with wildlife and nature?”
“Imagine what Australia will achieve if everyone who visits here gets to feel the way we do when we watch these films.”
“And that feeling is the heart of Wildiaries and it’s why we are so excited to be part of producing these films,” Simon says.
Some of the highlights the crew encountered included a rare invitation to a Tasmanian Devils’ alfresco dinner party, capturing the first wild footage of the highly endangered Mountain Pygmy Possum and an adventure in the hanging swamps of the Blue Mountains with a pre-historic giant dragonfly.
In the Australian Alps, they visited a farmer and scientist making great strides in saving the Booroolong Frog and spent an enchanting afternoon reminiscing with the venerable Peter O’Reilly, scion of a famous family of Northern NSW nature lovers.
In the Kimberley, a night sleeping beside Lake Argyle with thousands of stars reflected across a vast horizon reminded the crew just how great it is to be alive.
Then Simon met the jellyfish. Sporting a huge crimson jellyfish sting on the side of his face after the encounter, he was philosophical, and sore.
“It was just a slap in the face to remind you that the wild is just that - wild and unpredictable and you shouldn’t get in the way of a blue blubber,” Simon says.
More mysteries were revealed on a filming expedition to Western Australia’s Timeless North and Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.
“We discovered there are several dimensions to this incredibly picturesque place that you think is just a great sweeping road. Hidden from that roadside view is an extinct volcano, mountain lakes, Satin Bowerbirds, glow worms and colonies of Koalas,” Simon says.
“In the Timeless North, some people we encountered are so laid back and wise - they have a totally different way of life and they think hard about what is around them.”
“Sitting in front of a 7 foot ancient Aboriginal mural in a cool, serene cave was an extraordinary experience. It was so obvious why this was a sacred site and how universal humanity’s search for beautiful places is,” Simon says.