Blokes head north without a tinnie
EVERYONE who enjoyed Tim Flannery and John Doyle’s television trip along the Murray- Darling rivers will welcome this sequel, in which the pair cross the continent from Cooktown to Broome. And everybody who thought the previous series was part travelogue, part video- blog will think the same about this one.
Flannery and Doyle know how to fit the travel show template. In this episode they visit the Great Barrier Reef and meet colourful locals, although in the case of the banker from Brisbane turned environmentally aware fruit grower, the colour in question is beige. And they do all the standard ‘‘ gosh, isn’t Australia big and beaut?’’ stuff. In this episode they have a look at the coast off Cooktown and talk to a fetching scientist with a European accent, which is good for export sales. They then visit rocks and ridges of various kinds, including lava tubes, ‘‘ nature’s own Sistine Chapel’’, which are popular with bats, setting up the first of what I fear will be many bad jokes in the series.
This gets the nature stuff out of the way, allowing ample time for them to editorialise. Flannery and Doyle warn us about the catastrophe of climate change and denounce development, making the point that if the MurrayDarling basin does dry out, people will look to turn the Top End into the nation’s food bowl and generally invest all over the place. While they are polite to the Mayor of Cooktown, who has plans for the place, Flannery and Doyle obviously think everything is fine as it is ( apart from the way the joint will heat up).
In case anybody misses the point, they bang on about the need for more investment in alternative energy. We have 40 years to get away from conventional coal and oil and cut back
Good mates, apparently: John Doyle, left, and Tim Flannery
This anodyne entertainment is unlikely to impress climate change sceptics
on natural gas, Flannery tells Doyle. And ( what a surprise!) as they stop to inspect a wind farm, the news comes over the radio in their car (‘‘ an environmentally friendly hybrid’’, of course) that Australia has ratified the Kyoto agreement. ‘‘ It’s a weight lifted from my shoulders,’’ Flannery says.
Even if you do not like lectures, it is hard not to like Doyle and Flannery. If they are not good mates and decent blokes, then they do excellent imper- sonations of them. And, despite the presence of camera crews, there is a sense that this is a private expedition for the pair. As a contribution to the policy debate, this is anodyne entertainment, which does no harm. But it is unlikely to impress climate change sceptics or people who believe economic development generates the taxes that pay for this sort of public sector programming.