Tonight on Back Roads we see the unexpected, fascinating, and sometimes tragic side of life in the Top End.
This time, presenter Heather Ewart takes a walk on the wild side of the Top End.
In Adelaide River, she joins the Fawcett sisters on a buffalo muster, a rollercoaster ride which has her literally on the edge of her seat. Sisters, Kellie, 30, Kyla, 28 and Kimberley, 20, thrive in this testosterone charged atmosphere.
It seems anything a boy can do, the sisters are certainly game for, and so is Heather.
Although the buffalo is a feral animal that wreaks havoc on the environment, it is highly prized as live export and almost as emblematic of the Territory as the crocodile. In fact, one of the NT’s own was rocketed to international stardom by Australia’s biggest box-office success, the eighties blockbuster, Crocodile Dundee.
Charlie the buffalo, who was famously hypnotised in the film, was given movie star treatment when Adelaide River became his home. Heather discovers what happened to him next – and it’s not what you’d expect.
During her encounter with Charlie, Heather meets a vet who once treated him. At the age of 24, Jan Hills set off in search of adventure and found it in the Top End. Jan tells Heather the secret of handling a buffalo bull with a lethal set of horns attached to a very large, very hard and very bony head. It is a technique that raises a laugh, even as it makes good, practical sense.
Her appetite whetted by the thrill of the buffalo muster Heather goes in search of the Territory’s most iconic and deadliest creature and encounters it on the Adelaide River itself – massive saltwater crocs that leap spectacularly out of water to grab prey. Despite being overawed by their lethal power, Heather is convinced by local guides Alex Williams and Linda Scurr that the crocodile is much more than just an efficient killing machine.
It is yet another revelation in an action-packed Back Roads that is full of surprises, not least when Heather learns about Adelaide River’s links to World War II history, largely hidden from the Australian public at the time and still little known.
It leads Heather to local landmarks resonant with personal and emotional stories, astonishing memorabilia and quirky relics, a highlight being a gem of Australian bush architectural heritage. This becomes the setting for a memorable and romantic climax to an unforgettable Top End adventure.