Episode 1 of Martin Clunes' Islands of Australia finds our charming host visiting many interesting islands and people. He learns how to climb up Queen Victoria's favorite palm tree and harvest seeds, and enjoys dancing the hula with island girls. Martin travels by kayak to the historical Fort Denison that was once a British jail for convicts, and he finds Lord Howe Island an unspoiled garden of Eden. This island is so laid back, even the fish wait at the water's edge for you to feed them.
The next destination is Norfolk Island where islanders re-enact their historic landing and you learn the dark tale of one of the most evil penal colonies in the British empire. As the descendants were the most infamous mutineers in history (Mutiny on the Bounty), they fled with their Tahitian wives to this island. Today's islanders keep their traditions alive with the song and dance of the Bounty Beauties, and Norfolk's own unique language is preserved in books by author Archie Bigg.
On the beach of Martin's next venture, he's greeted by Restoration Island's only resident, Dave Glasheen, with his dingo "Polly." Having sought out island life, Dave takes Martin swimming in tropical waters and fishing aboard a trawler where he exchanges some of his home-brewed beer for fish.
The last island venture in this Episode is The Torres Strait Islands that have their own unique language and people. This is a very musical place with Aunty Cessie jamming with her ukulele players, and 87-year-old recording star Seaman Dan, who recorded his first album when he was 70. His grandson, Patrick Mau, sings pop and hip hop with life affirming messages to the young.
Moving onto Friday Island with only five residents, Martin meets up with Kazu Takami who has farmed prized pearls for over 30 years, and he gives Martin a lesson in their unique production. Each island has its own story – where they come from and who they are – that significant sense of self that the islands give that's so unique and precious -- like Mr. Takimi's pearls.
In Episode 2 of Martin Clunes' Islands of Australia, Martin voyages to the exotic destination of the Tiwi Islands with Australia's distinctive aboriginal cultures. Older ladies teach the younger ones their cultural traditions as they venture into the muddy bottom of the mangrove trees, seeking the delicacies of the longbum and the yuyurli worm. Living naturally off the earth, artist Pedro Wonaeamirri sells his art work for thousands of dollars as he portrays family and culture through aboriginal symbols.
Next, the voyage continues on to the Muiron Islands and the Ningaloo Reef where Martin dons his wet suit for a swim beneath the blue with local Ranger Peter Barnes. The Ningaloo is an amazing ecosystem of marine mega-fauna with three species each of turtles, dolphins and whales. Here Martin is presented with an opportunity of a lifetime – to have an ocean encounter with the world's biggest fish – the endangered whale shark. Marine Biologist Brad Norman conducts the swim providing Martin with an infrared camera to record the moment.
Martin heads toward a chain of islands named The Houtman Albrolhos Islands. This is a thriving fishing community where Martin heads out to sea with Aaron McCauley and Skipper Chris Hitchcock to gather the coveted western rock lobster. You'll also learn about the grizzly secret of a dreadful past of the Dutch ship Batavia that crashed and sank, leaving ghostly memories on the island shore.
Bring your camera as you wonder on the holiday destination of Rottnest Island to join in the local tradition of taking a "selfie" with the small creature known as the nake quokka marsupial, related to the kangaroo. It looks like a big rat, and that is how Rottnest got its name. Local Tribal Elder Professor Len Collard welcomes Martin and educates him in the island's traditional introduction. Martin is informed that it is believed that the souls of the departed leave their bodies and return to Rottnest. The aborigines view Rottnest as a place of tragedy because of the spirits of aboriginal prisoners who died here. Hoping to heal the injuries of the past, they relate the sad story to future generations while they have transformed the area into a memorial of knowledge and respect for all those that have passed here.
Next Martin ventures on to Carnac, a small island uninhabited by humans. The story goes that there was once a snake handler in a traveling carnival that handled poisonous tiger snakes; but he, his wife, and assistant died from the dangerous bites. Dr. Mitch Ladyman accompanied Martin on this tour – but it was one place he was anxious to leave.
In Episode 3 of Martin Clunes' Islands of Australia, our congenial host travels to Mundoo Island where he spends a day herding horses. Next, it's on to Phillip island where a conservationist takes Martin to inspect their fairy penguin species. This is where Australia's first Grand Prix was held in 1988, and 82-year old Racer Ted Brewster takes Martin on a spin at speeds of 200 kilometers per hour.
In King Island, Stephanus Pretorius and grandson Isak give Martin a tour of their bull kelp seaweed operation. With more than 300 islands in Tasmania, Maria Island still echoes the sounds of British prisoners who fought illness and bad weather. When nightfall comes, you'll find Martin trying to capture footage of the notorious Tasmanian devil as scientists document its movement. In 1996, a terrible cancerous disease began to infect the devil population. Scientists have instituted a new healthy devil population and quarantined an area to insure the species. Martin accompanies biologists as they do health checks on the species to insure the success of their vaccine.
Martin Clunes is a charismatic and engaging host and brings excitement and warmth to this magnificent documentary on the history and diversity of the land Down Under. There is a Bonus Photo Gallery of the pictures taken. Martin Clunes' Islands of Australia is a beautiful portrayal of a fascinating encounter with these luxurious islands and their interesting inhabitants. This documentary features many historical and unique stories and experiences about people, animals, and places and the scenery is beyond compare. I find this an enlightening video, and I highly recommend it for your video collection, as I have only touched the tip of the iceberg and there is far more for you to explore as you watch it..