April 24, 2011
Australia is an island continent with wildlife found nowhere else in the world. As the driest inhabited continent on Earth, it is a world apart, a place where successive invasions of people have made the greatest impact on its wildlife and wilderness areas. The continent's top predators are giant snakes and lizards, not mammals, and it is the only place on Earth still dominated by marsupials. Its wildlife is an astonishing mix of the surprising, the strange and the deadly. Each episode in this series is a detective story, delving into Australasia's hidden secrets to explain why its wildlife is so special.
Wild Australasia airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on Eight, Arizona PBS.
“Desert Heat” Sunday, April 3 at 7 p.m. Australia is the driest inhabited continent. Most of its centre is desert, but far from being a scorched land of barren sand dunes, its arid heart is full of stunning landscapes with a surprising abundance of colorful life. In Desert Heart, we travel with the first European explorers who saw a ‘dead heart', a bizarre, unforgiving world they did not understand. It tormented them with mirages and threw up obstacles of impassable woodlands, 400km-long mountain ranges and towering red dunes.
“Southern Seas” Sunday, April 10 at 7 p.m. Australia may be famous for sun, sea and surf, but there's so much more to the marine life in Australia than Bondi Beach and the Great Barrier Reef. Beyond the busy east coast these southern seas break all the rules – they are stranger and more spectacular than anywhere else in the world. Mermaids and dragons glide through the clear blue water, bizarre fish ‘walk' along the bottom and on tropical beaches crabs and seagulls have a tug-of-war for food.
“Gum Tree Country” Sunday, April 17 at 7 p.m. It's a classic landscape – the great Australian Bush. Vast swathes of land, dominated by eucalypts, or gum trees, have become one of the most enduring symbols of the continent. In Gum Tree Country we take you on a journey ‘out bush,' from the shimmering heat of the north, through icy, snowbound woodlands, and misty forests where the tallest hardwood trees in the world grow to well over 100 meters. And in all these places, strange animals live … Gum trees themselves are an Australian speciality – there are more than 700 species, in all shapes and sizes, virtually all of which are native only to Australia.
“Island Arks” Sunday, April 24 at 7 p.m. Over many millions of years Australia has spawned a fabulous variety of islands dotted across the Pacific. From New Guinea, through New Britain and Lord Howe Island to New Caledonia and New Zealand, they stretch from the equator to the sub-Antarctic. All are in some way related to Australia but each has its own distinct character and unique wildlife. The youngest of all is New Guinea which was an integral part of Australia until rising sea levels cut it off just 10,000 years ago.