Cape Town - Doc Martin's Martin Clunes is on a quest to explore the islands of Australia in this 3 x 1 hour documentary series that starts on ITV Choice (DStv 123) on Sunday, 20 August at 19:00.
With more than 8 000 islands to choose from, Martin visits sixteen which provide a fascinating insight into the diversity, history and challenges of island life in Australia.
“I’m on an 8 000 mile odyssey right around the continent, to discover what these far-flung places tell us about Australia and its people,” Clunes explains.
“Each island is a microcosm that tells us something different about our world. Australia’s islands have it all: exotic creatures, spectacular marine life, and of course the different people who inhabit them.
“Whether they’re relative newcomers or they’ve lived there for generations, these are the resourceful, extraordinary people who call these islands home. This is my voyage around the adventure playgrounds, the best-kept secrets and the astonishing surprises of the Islands of Australia.”
Among the more interesting islands he travels to are:
Restoration Island, where Clunes meets Dave Glasheen, a modern day Robinson Crusoe, a high-flying businessman with a big mansion in Sydney who was ruined in a stock market crash in 1993 and gave it all up for a life of self-sufficiency and solitude.
The Tiwi Islands where 3,500 Tiwis. They’ve been there for millennia, and they’re one of Australia’s most distinctive Aboriginal cultures. Thanks to their isolation from the mainland, the Tiwis have kept many ancient traditions alive. They treat Clunes to a welcome of traditional yoi dancing to ensure he has only friendly spirits around him whilst he’s on the islands.
The Abrolhos Islands, which Clunes says "are like nowhere else. They’re a strange mix of ghostly memories, ecologically sound cray fishing, and a beautiful watery wilderness. More than anything, it feels like a frontier: if Australia really does have a Wild West, surely this is it.”
King Island, in the blustery Bass Strait between Tasmania and mainland Australia, bears the brunt of the fearsome Trade Winds from South America, and its shores are littered with one of the highest concentrations of shipwrecks in Australia. Here Cunes meets Stephanus Pretorius (surely an ex-South African?), one of several resourceful islanders who make a living out of the bounty provided by the wild seas.
Watch the trailer here:
Clunes concludes: “Throughout my incredible journey people have constantly asked me: what’s my favourite Australian island?
“So I think back to the kaleidoscope of landscapes I’ve seen: forests, lagoons, rivers and waterfalls. I recall the incredible diversity of creatures I’ve encountered on land and in the sea. And I remember all the wonderful people I’ve met, and the warmest of welcomes so many have given me.
“But you can’t just put one island in a race against another, it just doesn’t work like that. But I do know this, if you take a group of people, whether they were born on an island or they blew in, and you put them together, then something happens. And because this is Australia it happens in a uniquely Australian way. You get a community of hard working, tenacious people all looking out for each other, proud of their communities, proud of their island, and if a problem occurs, then it has to be dealt with because you can’t walk away on an island.”