Pair hit the frog and toad again

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Your Say - ERICA THOMP­SON

NOT many peo­ple get ex­cited about see­ing road kill, John Doyle ob­serves in the new ABC doc­u­men­tary se­ries Two in the Top End. But Tim Flan­nery is one of them.

The au­thor and en­vi­ron­men­tal cru­sader was Doyle’s trav­el­ling com­pan­ion for 4000km across the top of the con­ti­nent.

‘‘It’s stop/start with Tim,’’ says Doyle, best known as the Roy half of comic duo Roy and HG.

‘‘There’d be a snake in the mid­dle of the road and Tim would have to get out and stop it get­ting run over.

‘‘Or we’d stop ev­ery cou­ple of kilo­me­tres to look at a bit of road kill to see what species it was, or we’d no­tice a rock and stop to see if it was in­ter­est­ing.’’

For­tu­nately, Doyle was happy to oblige, hav­ing spent an equally in­for­ma­tive trip with Flan­nery float­ing down the Dar­ling and Mur­ray rivers in the ac­claimed 2006 se­ries Two Men in a Tin­nie.

This time the pair stick to dry land as they drive from Cooktown to Broome ex­plor­ing the won­ders of the north and the pres­sure to de­velop it.

‘‘The first se­ries was re­ally a story of the death of a sys­tem,’’ Doyle says. ‘‘The Dar­ling is dy­ing at a rapid rate, as is the Mur­ray,

‘‘So nat­u­rally at­ten­tion turns to the north as the south­ern part of the con­ti­nent dries out.’’

Doyle says the idea that the re­gion will be­come the food bowl of the na­tion is a myth.

‘‘The vast pris­tine nat­u­ral­ness of the place is the big­gest thing go­ing for it. You need ar­eas of this size to be the lungs of the world and we should be very care­ful about how we de­velop it.’’

Doyle and Flan­nery soon dis­cover there’s no short­age of ideas about how to harness the re­gion’s rich re­sources. Big min­ing com­pa­nies are al­ready dig­ging out min­er­als across the north.

Doyle donned a hard hat and de­scended into a huge open-cut zinc and lead mine in the Gulf area.

Doyle was as­tounded by the dev­as­ta­tion caused by cane toads.

‘‘There are no frill-necked lizards left in Kakadu,’’ he says. ‘‘Be­cause cane toads only af­fect wildlife, no­body seems to give a toss. They’re ev­ery­where.

‘‘Just be­fore the wet sea­son you walk out­side and, hon­estly, if you want to sit down any­where you’ve got to brush off the toads be­fore you can.’’

Top End odyssey:

John Doyle and Tim Flan­nery.

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