Back to Nature

Aaron Pedersen & Holly Ringland invite you to slow down and smell the banksia.

A series about an actor and writer on a bushwalk, admiring the view and talking to trees…. yeah that’ll never work, right?

Back to Nature will have you rethinking that and possibly seeing the world around you in a new perspective. At least that’s the aim of ABC’s new series presented by Aaron Pedersen and Holly Ringland.

“Come with us and slow down… as we go Back to Nature,” they tease.

But the real star of this series -if not the Australian landscape itself- is the cinematography. Without the work of Dale Bremner, this series could not exist. Under producer Jane Manning he has created a love letter to the land, magically captured by sweeping panoramas, drones (with drone operator Eamon Dimmitt) or magnified. A score by composer Bryony Marks adds to the evocative stillness of this piece.

Episode 1 “The Green Cauldron” is filmed at Springbrook National Park, Yugambeh Country, South East Queensland, not far from the Gold Coast.

Aaron Pedersen (Mystery Road, City Homicide) and Holly Ringland (The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart) are on a hike through its lush rainforest and cascading waterfalls. So silent is this series that there’s very little dialogue on location, as our presenters soak up the sights and sounds.

“We belong to this land. It has a real strong connection to our spirit. We come from this place,” Pedersen tells us.

In the Numinbah Valley we visit a World Heritage listed Gondwanan Rainforest, a Natural Bridge over caves where rare glowworms live.

Songwriter and guest John Williamson explains how he writes music by drawing upon the inspiration of the valley, while bird whistles suggest the Australian rainforest could even be “the birthplace of song.”

Deeper into the rainforest, and the episode, Holly Ringland reflects that “every rock, river and tree possessed its own spirit” … none more so than 2,000 year old Antarctic Beech Trees. Talking to trees might not be the Attenborough approach, but science and poetry get equal airtime here and it’s hard not to be swayed by their passion.

Shaun Davies, a Yugambeh man and language researcher, will unwrap First Nations stories from Yowies to regional clans. The links between land and Indigenous education are both unmistakeable and commendable.

Episode 2 is in the breathtaking Snowy Mountains, Ngarigo Country, NSW. The landscape changes dramatically where the land meets the sky, and the great Snowy River has its origins. It’s rare for TV cameras to venture this high (I guess the most recent was SAS Australia?) and a hike, cycle and kayak trail is tranquil TV.

Each episode also wraps with a rustic cooking lesson and a prompt to become involved through a social media callout.

Pedersen and Ringland are a warm mix of solemn authenticity and lateral perspectives. Not everyone will embrace their old ways / new age approach to nature, which is flower power First Nations style.

But damn, look at those views.

Back to Nature airs 8pm Tuesday on ABC.

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