Wild Australia: Five Amazing Australian Nature Documentaries

There are so many great nature documentaries out there that it’s hard to choose just one to immerse yourself in on a lazy weekend afternoon. Below are some great picks from the team at Wild Melbourne for those stormy spring days. All are based in Australia and, in one way or another, celebrate the nature around our nation.

The Dingo: Wild Dog At War

One topic that seems common amongst many Australian nature documentaries is both the threat and the plight of the dingo. Narrated by sheep farmer and dog trainer David Graham, The Dingo: Wild Dog At War explores the idea that there may be a way to control dingoes to protect Australian farmland, although without wiping the species out. This is a great introduction to the origins of the dingo species – how did they get here and why are they so demonised? As Graham explains: ‘Dingoes can ruin your day. They can run you right out of business.’ However, they are also surviving as any predator would: killing livestock that are easy pickings for this wild and unique predator. A fascinating documentary about how Australian culture treats the dingo and how we might begin to live alongside this species rather than against them.

5 Seasons

View the trailer here. 

Focusing on the experiences of the Numurindi people of South East Arnhemland, this film depicts the vital and intricate relationship between the Numurindi culture and ‘all things past and present’. The title alludes to the five seasons of their calendar, in comparison to the two very distinct seasons of Western society: ‘the wet and the dry.’ The spiritual connection between nature, the seasons and the Numurindi people is portrayed powerfully throughout, representing the moving idea that ‘everything has a cycle, and we are guided by this cycle’. Taking the viewer through a year of the five seasons, senior custodian Moses Numamurdirdi provides a rare insight into both the beautiful and frightening aspects of the Australian wild.

Battle in the Bush

For a short documentary, this film packs a lot of punch with its ideas about species reintroduction and the negative perceptions surrounding the ‘wild dog’. A very recent release, this film explores the idea of utilising Tasmanian devils as a possible solution to the impacts that invasive species such as foxes and cats are having on our native wildlife. Created by award-winning filmmaker and ecologist Daniel Hunter, the film also explores Australia’s complex relationship with the often-misunderstood dingo and is being premiered now around the country, including at our Wild Melbourne seminar night this Friday

Cane Toads: The Conquest

This weirdly captivating documentary depicts the Australian cane toad crisis in all its infamy and quirkiness. Whilst portraying the scary reality of the ways in which this resilient creature has taken over nearly a third of the country, it also explores the unusual human behaviours that have evolved as a result. Although some encourage an inhumane treatment of this non-native pest, the film includes discussions of how to humanely eradicate them. It also features footage of those unusual few that keep the toad as a pet, as well as a man whose trade involves some very strange taxidermy. An intriguing introduction to the current plight of Australia at the hands of this amphibian, this doco is easily accessible for those of us with Netflix.

Oddball

Although not strictly a documentary, this family-oriented film is based on the true story of a maremma sheepdog called Oddball. Originally trained to guard the chickens of owner Allan “Swampy” Marsh, Oddball went on to protect the little penguins of Middle Island. Following what journalists described as a fox massacre of the local penguin population, Swampy was able to convince authorities to allow Oddball onto the previously dog-free island in order to protect native wildlife. This one is a fun and light-hearted film, but doesn’t fail to depict the interesting relationship between a charismatic sheepdog and his feathered friends.