Nat Geo profiles Great Australians

Oscar winning cinematographer Jim Frazier features in a new series that showcases Aussies who have achieved greatness in their chosen field.

National Geographic Channel will showcase Australians who have achieved greatness in their field or overcome adversity in a Great Australians strand.

Kicking off Sunday May 6 at 7:30pm AEST, the world premiere of The Aussie Who Baffled The World tells the extraordinary true story of Australian wildlife cinematographer and inventor of lens technology that revolutionised filmmaking, Jim Frazier, and his fight to keep his crowning achievement – an ‘impossible’ camera lens – from being taken away.

While his name may not be immediately familiar, Jim Frazier made Spielberg’s dinosaurs seem real in Jurassic Park and brought James Cameron’s Titanic to life. One of only a few Australians to have won an Oscar and an Emmy, Jim’s visionary work has paved the way for much of the world’s cutting-edge optics technology. But after the highs of global accolades, career success and creative freedom, his world collapsed in the face of unwinnable corporate lawsuits and the hijacking of his patented invention.

“It was the darkest time. I got to the lowest level in life that I’d ever reached. It was very hard on me and my wife, my family, all my friends. I had done nothing immoral. My invention was being taken off me, by what I considered underhanded means,” said Dr Frazier of how his world came undone.

Leading the charge in June, the Australian premiere of Aussie Fireworks Kings on Sunday June 3 at 7:30pm AEST goes behind the scenes at Howard and Sons, a family-owned Australian pyrotechnic company. Having honed their craft over almost a century in the business, this family has the nation’s reputation resting in their hands for firework displays at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and New Year’s Eve celebrations.

“It’s the mystery and the magic of fireworks. Very, very few people in the world know how fireworks work. People are always wondering how that was done, or how did they do that, or what’s coming next,” said Andrew Howard, Director of Howard and Sons of the public’s fascination with his family’s trade.

As a new generation takes the reins and family traditions are shaken up, they take their skills to the ‘Olympics’ of firework competitions: L’International des Feux in Canada. Will their new Kakadu-themed pyrotechnic musical see them leave Montreal with a halo of glory or will it all go up in flames?

Stories of other great Australians – and New Zealanders – featured in the strand include:

Bush School
Sunday May 13 at 7:30pm AEST
Shortly after Colin and Sandra Baker take over the school in Warrego on the edge of the desert, the local gold mine closes and the place becomes a ghost town. To keep their school going, they set about finding a way to encourage the children from a remote Aboriginal community to come to Bush School.

Miracle On Everest
Sunday May 20 at 7:30pm AEST
The late, legendary Australian mountaineer Lincoln Hall remembers in his own words, the story of his miraculous Mount Everest climb. Left for dead, he defied the odds and lived to tell the tale.

Australia’s Great Flood
Sunday May 27 at 7:30pm AEST
In early 2011, a freak inland tsunami smashed through Queensland bringing widespread destruction. This is the story of Australia’s greatest flood, caught on camera by those who lived through it.

Sunday June 10 at 7:30pm AEST
Each year, hundreds flock to Kalgoorlie, Western Australia’s legendary outback frontier town, to make their fortune seeking gold. The prospectors who converge here come from all walks of life. But as lucrative as mining gold is, it is also among the most dangerous jobs in the world.

62 Days At Sea
Sunday June 17 at 7:30pm AEST
Two young Aussies, James Castrission and Justin Jones, take on the Tasman Sea in a two-man kayak. No one had ever successfully navigated this treacherous body of water between Australia and New Zealand by kayak, although many had tried – one with a tragic outcome.

Expedition Antarctica
Sunday June 24 at 7:30pm AEST
New Zealand’s scientific research vessel Tangaroa sets sail on the most ambitious Antarctic expedition ever. Scientists and crew battle huge seas, freezing winds and the worst ice conditions in years.

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