Pair hit the frog and toad again
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.