Ray Mears needs no introduction for Eden viewers. He's been entertaining us with his vast knowledge of bushcraft and his revealing encounters with indigenous peoples for years. But what about the man whose footsteps Ray is following? John McDouall Stuart (1815-1866) is regarded as Australia's finest inland explorer. British-born, he fell in love with Australia while working as a surveyor. Despite a delicate constitution, he developed an acute affinity with the bush, conducting several explorations of the interior.
In 1862, after two previous attempts, Stuart led the first expedition to cross the continent from south to north. The gruelling trip took nine months. And, once they had reached the northern coast, the team had to turn around and make their way home. Tragically, although all members of the party survived the epic journey, Stuart's sight failed and he became seriously ill during the return leg. His health was ruined and he died aged just 50.
Bush Tucker Man
Making this series allowed Ray to meet one of his heroes, Les Hiddins. Les is known to millions of Australians as the Bush Tucker Man. A former soldier who served in Vietnam, Les became a survival expert and adviser to Australian special forces. His acclaimed television series, Bush Tucker Man, demonstrated how it was possible to survive in the outback if you learned to live in harmony with the land. For Walkabout, Ray and Les trek through Queensland, Les's home state. They feast on freshwater mussels, retell the story of Captain Cook and swap survival tips. It's a meeting of two like-minded souls. You definitely get the feeling that Ray would rather spend time with Les than with his UK rival Bear Grylls.