TV star laps up the wildlife

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Hay­den Smith

A RENOWNED dare­devil and tele­vi­sion star has been search­ing the Dou­glas Shire for some of its most deadly in­hab­i­tants.

Bri­tish nat­u­ral­ist Steve Back­shall, best known as the host of BBC se­ries spent the week­end film­ing in the re­gion for a new wildlife doc­u­men­tary pro­ject.

Back­shall, 42, and his crew teamed up with sev­eral lo­cals in a hunt for one of the world’s most ven­omous snakes — the coastal taipan.

He thanked shire res­i­dents for help­ing with the search, which fo­cused mainly on the Ju­lat­ten re­gion.

“The thing that I’ve en­joyed the most has been get­ting a sense of the com­mu­nity,” Back­shall told

“We started off with two peo­ple wan­der­ing around with us. By the end it was like a party. I’ve never had so many peo­ple go­ing around to find snakes.

“We pulled up at one guy’s house, and he shifted a whole log with a trac­tor just to help us — it was un­be­liev­able.

“It shows that peo­ple around here will do any­thing for you.

“It’s been ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic, I’ve seen some cor­ners of this part of the world that I haven’t seen be­fore.”

Back­shall, who has be­come a heroic fig­ure for na­ture-lov­ing chil­dren world­wide, also vis­ited the Dain­tree as part of his tour of Far North Queens­land.

He en­cour­aged the shire’s younger gen­er­a­tions to take pride in the “ex­cit­ing wildlife” liv­ing at their doorstep.

“As some­one who has been to 105 coun­tries around the world, right here is one of the global epi­cen­tres for wildlife,” Back­shall said.

“Learn­ing about it and get­ting knowl­edge is re­ally spe­cial. Through that you could gen­er­ate a life­long fas­ci­na­tion for wildlife.”

Paul O’Dowd, co-di­rec­tor of en­vi­ron­men­tal education com­pany Ven­ture Deeper with his brother Chris, played a piv­otal role in bring­ing Back­shall to the shire.

Al­though their search for the coastal taipan proved fu­tile, Mr O’Dowd said the film shoot was a suc­cess.

“Steve has got a pretty big pro­file and a lot of peo­ple are ea­gerly await­ing his next bit of con­tent,” he said. “To work with some­one like him so close to home was not some­thing that comes around very of­ten.”

un­der­stands Back­shall and his crew will leave Aus­tralia this week be­fore head­ing to Africa. His new tele­vi­sion show is ex­pected to be re­leased later this year.

Pic­tures: MARK STE­WART

TV star Steve Back­shall has been film­ing in the Far North.

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