Rarest Gems Found In Our Own Backyard

Video highlights from Only In OZ

We all know people who can’t walk around the block without dropping a few grand, but model and travel blogging star Tyson Mayr is most famous for travelling to some 60 countries on a budget of under 10k.

Tyson says fronting National Geographic’s Only in Oz on a slightly bigger budget was a “mind-blowing experience”.

“I still can't believe how much I got to experience and learn about this country.  Every single episode blew my mind with stories I had no idea about,” he says.

“Going undercover on the frontline with Norforce while watching out for drug smugglers, plunging into 8C water to wrangle tuna in the Southern Ocean off the coast of South Australia or finding my very own opal in an elaborate system of man-made caves, deep under the Earth - every single episode had a highlight.

Tyson Mayr poses with members of the North-West Mobile Force (NORFORCE).
Story: Top End Troopers

“It really is hard to choose my favourite!”

He says he has always been interested in wildlife.

“There is a certain level of unpredictability that I find exciting and the evolutionary circumstances that lead that animal to have its unique characteristics I find fascinating.

“This was especially the case when I spent time with Giant Cuttlefish, just off the coast of South Australia.  Their ability to completely transform their skin colour, texture, shape and overall body size in a matter of seconds was an awe-inspiring sight to witness.”

Tyson, who grew up in the bush, says the story that moved him the most was that of the Hudson pear cactus.

“With zero natural predators and its ability to survive the harshest conditions, this introduced plant species is killing off native wildlife, devastating farmland and farmers’ livelihoods, and is spreading so quickly, that if not addressed, it will wreak havoc on the entire Australian population.

“Coming from a farm upbringing, this story definitely resonated with me as I could connect with the feeling of helplessness that so many farmers were feeling, but what I found most interesting about this story, was the fact I had never heard of it before.

“This for me is why this series is so important.  The voice it provides to those Australians who need it.”

Tyson says it’s important to tell these stories that would otherwise be lost.

(Left to Right) Ross Stone with Wally Mitchell next to Tyson Mayr in front of hay delivery.
Story: Cross Country Convoy

“Too many Australians think that exciting adventures can only be found overseas, not realising just how much we have right here in our own backyard.

“We come from such a unique and truly interesting country, yet for many of us, we don't know what it is that has helped shape that. Our wildlife, natural history, the innovation we have shared with the world, there are so many fascinating stories throughout Australia that help explain that.”

On a personal note, the series helped Tyson reconnect with what it means to be Australian.

“Learning more about our history, the innovation we have shared with the world, the people involved, it made me proud to be Australian and excited to explore more of this diverse and one-of-a-kind country.”

He says the biggest challenge he faced was filming on a farm outside Bourke.

“It was the fifth day straight that the temperature had been over 45C and close to three years since the people of this region had seen any meaningful rain.

“This was a touching story, that showed Australians from all corners, coming together to help out those who needed it, but during filming, I remember it being so hot that both my producer and myself nearly passed out.

“Neither of us could dare to complain, as all we really received was a taste of just how hard it has been for the locals of this region, for so long.”

But the rewards made it the challenges he faced worthwhile.

“The locals I met along the way reminded me exactly what it is to be Australian.

“We covered a lot of fascinating stories during this series, but it was always the people I spent time with, their personal stories and acts of kindness that really left the biggest impression on me.”



Lead Image: Tyson Mayr ready to start mining opals.
Opal Fever

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