Comics buzz off Outback
Hamish & Andy test drive Australia and NZ, writes Guy Davis
IT’S a beautiful morning in Kuranda, an idyllic little patch of tropical paradise 20km or so out of Cairns. It’s not even 9am but the temperature is already a balmy 25, and it’s shaping up to be a lovely day.
It’s too bad for Andy Lee. He’s kicking the day off with thousands of bees crawling on his face.
Welcome to one of the first stops on the Australian leg of Hamish and Andy’s Caravan of Courage: Australia vs New Zealand two-part TV series, which has Lee and his comedy comrade Hamish Blake travelling the length of New Zealand and the breadth of Australia to determine which nation is the best.
In all honesty, though, it’s really an opportunity for the pair to interact with some truly colourful characters and find new and interesting ways to possibly cause themselves an injury.
I catch up with the lads in Queensland, just before they embark on an epic trek of 4000km or so to Broome in WA, they’d already been invited to take a crack at being rodeo clowns, a task that left Blake ‘‘the most terrified I’d ever been’’.
Now Lee is lying very still as a local beekeeper gently covers him in a swarm that gradually envelopes his face and torso. He seems remarkably calm, even as Blake urges the beekeeper on. ‘‘You are now a hive,’’ Blake says with a grin.
That’s how it goes when you take the wheel of the Caravan of Courage – you have to be open to new experiences.
‘‘The best thing about these trips is that when you shoot footage chronologically, anything can happen,’’ Blake says.
‘‘That’s the fun of this trip or any long road trip, really. You have an idea of where you’re going but when you reach the end, you realise you didn’t have any idea of how it might play out. You aim for that magic mix of having a plan, but not knowing what’s going to happen. Like meeting a vampire.’’
Oh, that’s right: during their twoweek trip through New Zealand, they met a perfectly nice fellow who claimed to be an actual vampire. ‘‘He was actually a lovely guy,’’ Blake says.
With the New Zealand leg behind them Blake and Lee were ready for the Australian section of this Caravan of Courage event. And spanning the sunburnt country from coast to coast was a trip they’d had in mind for a while, Blake explains.
‘‘The way our schedule worked out this year, with our Euro Gap Year before the Olympics, we were kind of done by July, and it opened up some room for us to get this trip away.
‘‘We’re going a bit inland into Queensland and then we’re going straight across to Broome and that’s an interesting one because it’s 400, 500km a day with not a lot going on, it seems. So you can really forge your own journey, stop if you see something interesting,’’ Lee adds.
They don’t they think they’ll tire of travelling together any time soon.
‘‘Our bucket list still has a few things to tick off,’’ Blake says.
‘‘We don’t want to rush it too much, maybe tick them off over the next five years or so . . . it seems to be getting more and more fun, the more trips Ando and I take together.
‘‘On one hand, that’s awesome. But we also wonder how we’re going to continue juggling that with real life. It’s good in a way: we won’t be 55 years old and going off on a gap year. It’s a big world, and I don’t know if you can come close to seeing it all in one lifetime.’’
Lee agrees. ‘‘There’s another side to that coin, though. This show might be horrible and we might never get asked to do another one.’’
Unlikely, lads. Unlikely.
Hamish and Andy’s Caravan Of Courage: Australia vs New Zealand: Sunday, 6.30pm, Nine, NBN.
Hamish Blake and Andy Lees.