Aussie Comic’s Inspiration Found Only In Oz

From the wilds of Tasmania on the trail of a cannibal convict, to saving NSW from poisonous amphibians, to personally discovering the tooth of an extinct giant kangaroo, presenting National Geographic’s Only in Oz has been an inspiration and an adventure for presenter and stand-up comedian Luke Joseph Ryan.

“I feel quite privileged to have a crack at it – it’s been different, especially for someone who normally does silly stuff for a living,” says Luke Joseph Ryan.

“With the cannibal convict - I love true crime so this is a fascinating case of nature vs nurture. Alexander Pearce was an Irish convict transported to Tasmania for stealing shoes and ended up eating his nine companions.

“Then he was captured and then he killed and cannibalised again. It reveals a lot about what the penal system did to people - he clearly wasn’t someone who went around eating people before he got to Tasmania.”

Luke Joseph Ryan sitting on tree log in Tasmania.
Story: Cannibal Run

Another assignment was leading a camel train through outback South Australia.

“It’s amazing what people will let you do if you have a film crew with you.”

Then there was filming regular folk in northern NSW on the frontline of the battle against invading cane toads.

“You have people ranging from high schoolers to senior citizens – all of them equipped with gloves and buckets getting rid of cane toads. They are not doing this for glory - they are doing it out of passion.”

Another episode tells the story of the eels of Sydney’s Centennial Park.

“They live in the centre of the city but have a 3000km commute, first from Centennial Park they go overland out to the ocean, then swim to the sea near New Caledonia to breed.”

“It goes to show that even though we are having such a huge impact on the environment – our fauna is finding a way around it.”

(Left to Right) Karen Ellis helping Luke Joseph Ryan to get the hang of free reigning on his camel Bindu.
Story: Temperamental Trekkers

A highlight for Ryan was digging for megafauna fossils in outback South Australia.

“While we there I uncovered a 45,000-year-old tooth from an extinct giant kangaroo. I dusted it off and said ‘what’s this?’ while the camera was rolling.

“It looked like a set up – but it wasn’t – it was crazy to have that experience.”

Luke Joseph Ryan uncovering a 45,000-year-old tooth from an extinct giant kangaroo Story: Tomb of the Megabeasts

Ryan says the experience of working on Only in Oz was ‘humbling’.

Luke Joseph Ryan crouching in front of cane toad.
Story: Toad Wars

“I was really inspired by the amount of grass-roots activism. When people think of activism, I think it’s generally placards and bongos – but here you have Beryl in her 60s picking up cane toads and putting them in buckets.”

He says it’s a privilege to inspire people and show them ways they can make a difference.”

“Working for National Geographic doesn’t feel like work – more like just travelling around having a good time – it’s a dream gig.

“I’ve travelled a lot but not around Australia, I guess I just didn’t realise how amazing Australia is.

Lead Image: Luke Joseph Ryan perched up on a stone water tank that camels would drink from.
Story: Temperamental Trekkers

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