Julia Bradbury's Australian Adventure

We caught up with our ambassador Julia to find out more about the making of her new programme, Australia with Julia Bradbury.

What made you want to explore Australia?

"It was a real privilege to make the 8-part series exploring the charms of Australia, which is so vast and varied and has so much to offer. The programmes are just as much about the country’s people as its incredible natural environment: we really wanted to show the fortitude of Australians and how they thrive in different conditions. So it was important to get off the beaten track and explore things from a different point of view. We travelled 12,000 kilometres around and across the country and used all modes of transport, including camels, to find hidden and unexpected aspects of modern Australia. We did a lot of fun things along the way, like interviewing candidates for what’s probably the world’s best job – desert island caretaker on the Great Barrier Reef! We also got to hang out with a really interesting group of retired ‘grey nomads’ who are having the time of their lives in their super-sized touring caravans."

What did you love about making the programme?

"I absolutely loved doing the show and there were so many unforgettable highlights. Australia is amazing and much more beautiful than I’d imagined. It’s not only the thousands of beaches or the incredible Great Barrier Reef. It’s so spectacular inland as well, the red dirt in the outback and the area around Urulu, the immense mountains, the vastness of the landscapes – astounding.

 

"I was lucky enough to do some awesome walks, and getting to hug a massive 80-metre Karri tree in the Boranup Forest was a life highlight for me. The wildlife is mind-blowing too. Most animals in Australia are only found there – because of the country’s geographic isolation. So they’re strangely different to the wildlife we’re familiar with in the UK. Getting up close and personal with the duck-billed platypus was memorable. The cuddly koala was almost out-cuted by a little marsupial called the quokka which has become famous for posing in selfies with people. And finding myself on a tiny boat surrounded by frighteningly-enormous saltwater crocodiles certainly got the adrenalin pumping. They can even climb trees! It was all a far cry from watching red squirrels in Northumberland for Countryfile!

 

"I met so many interesting and inspiring people. Like the couple who live 200km from anything, on one of the country’s largest and most remote cattle stations. They have three daughters, and there’s no school, no shop, nothing. As a mother I found that quite amazing. A  wonderful Aboriginal family gave me a personal tour of a rainforest and I was welcomed to Perth by an Aboriginal elder who conducted a really spiritual Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country ceremony – such a special experience, I proudly wore my face markings around Perth for the rest of that day. Another passionate and dedicated person I met was David Hohnen, the man who started the Cloudy Bay revolution. And Chase Johnson, who took me out on that little boat to see crocodiles almost too close for comfort. Chases’s nickname is ‘the Crocodile Duchess’ – what a brave woman."

Was there anything you found challenging?

"Being away from my three children was difficult. It never gets easier when I have to travel for work – it can be really tricky trying to explain how many sleeps I’ll be away. But I want them to appreciate the natural world and to be aware of environmental issues and I’ve come home with lots of stories to tell. One of the amazing things about Australia is that if you’ve been in a job for 15 years you can take a year of paid leave to explore the country and I met loads of people who’d taken their kids out of school and were travelling around. I’d love to be able to do that with my family one day. Meanwhile me and the production crew were on a tighter schedule and filming can be quite tough on the body – travelling through different time zones is always tiring. It was a wonderful experience though, one I wouldn’t have missed for the world."

What were three products you couldn't have gone without while filming?

"There were a few things I wouldn’t have wanted to be without while we were filming. I always make sure I pack a spare phone charger - being able to Skype home when I’m away working makes a big difference. Chatting with my children made the huge ten thousand mile distance seem smaller. If there was one essential item of clothing in my backpack, a breathable waterproof jacket was another must-have for this trip. We travelled through different climate zones and it was good to have something to keep dry in without feeling superheated. And to keep cosy in when the temperature dropped at night. And I never go walking outdoors without a reusable water bottle – the massive move now away from single use plastic as we’re all becoming increasingly eco-aware is heartening. As President Macron recently reminded us “there is no planet B”!"

 

Shop Julia's favourite outdoor picks from her Australian adventure here