Episode six of Ray’s brand new series Australian Wilderness was broadcast at 8:00PM on Friday 24th November on ITV1. To watch again, please click here.
It’s morning in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, the continent’s largest range of mountains. Ray is travelling through the arid grassland of the foothills to reach the top of one of the ridges. Along the way, he’ll meet some of Australia’s most iconic animals. Much of the range is grazed, and Ray meets farmer Tony Smith and his head shepherd Norton Warnest. Tony is the fourth generation of farmers here, and Ray learns about their way of life, and the challenges of sheep farming here.
Leaving the farm in the heat of the day, Ray encounters flightless emus looking for shelter from the sun. He’s lucky he can get this close, as emus could run away at 50 kilometres an hour! Ray reaches a waterhole in the foothills and settles down in a hide. Again, Ray and his cameraman are lucky and they spot three different kinds of kangaroo – the Euro, the Grey and, finally, the Red.
Moving higher into the mountains, Ray is looking for Australia’s largest bird of prey – the wedge-tailed eagle. In his quest, he gets a lift from bush pilot Paul O’Brien in his helicopter. Paul takes him to a peak called the Chace, where Ray hopes to spot eagles riding on the thermal currents.
On the slopes, Ray camps for the night and makes beer bread for the team on an open fire.
In the morning, the camp and surrounding area is covered in the webs of the orb weaving spider, whose silk is the strongest of any spider. But Ray is on the look-out for a much bigger predator – the wedge-tailed eagle. And he spots one! These eagles are big enough to pick up an emu, and have been known to drive kangaroos off cliffs.
Ray ends his trek to Flinders Ranges with another helicopter trip to Wilpena Pound, where the early settlers tried to keep cattle. But the climate was too much for them, and the peaks have been left to the eagles.