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In the Wild with Harry Butler – Lake Argyle (1976)


Harry Butler is a native of Western Australia. He has returned there to explain how this massive man-made body of water, now called Lake Argyle, has changed the Ord River and the ecology of the Kimberley region forever.

Curator’s notes

Tim Bowden, in his book Aunty’s Jubilee (2006) celebrating 50 years of ABC television, sums up both the presenter and the show. He wrote of Harry Butler, 'He was the first popular Australian presenter to get up close and personal with every Australian animal you can think of, ranging from the fairly benign koalas, wombats, burrowing frogs, possums and owls to diving into the murky waters of a dwindling desert waterhole to explore the denizens therein, or fondling snakes or fending off crocodiles. He roamed the nation from deserts to rainforests, high mountain country and the coasts, to the fringes of major cities where he still manages to coax shy little creatures from their burrows or lairs. All this, and talking enthusiastically to ABC cameras at the same time, in four series from mid-1976 until March 1981’.

This series had great production values. The directors were working with some of the best documentary cinematographers in the business at that time – including Tony Wilson and Preston Clothier, both of whom have since gone on to win a slew of awards for their work. The music was written by John Sangster. It’s beautifully evocative of the Australian wilderness. In the Wild with Harry Butler was made in the era when the ABC had plenty of staff, time and money to make such finely crafted half-hour programs.