A little research goes a long way in virtually any area, and travel videos are no different. It helped me turn a quick review of one video into a discovery of a couple of other video sources that I’ll link toward the end of the post.
The post started as a review of another International Programs offering, a video on Southeastern Australia that was also produced by Lonely Planet. While the 45-minute disc, featuring former English footballer, travelogue host and comedian Ian Wright, was not exactly to my taste, it might be worth the time spent for some COMM 373 student. The disc can be checked out from the IP office.
I found the video less informative and only slightly entertaining; perhaps it’s Wright’s style that doesn’t do much for me. Quirky like much of Lonely Planet’s work, the 2005 video focuses mostly on five different cities in the Australian Southeast, but the focus is often scattered, overly brief or lengthy, and trivial. Frankly, had I seen this on TV, I might have switched channels in the first five minutes, most of which was spent on Wright making light of an annual country music festival in Tamworth, the “Nashville of Australia.”
Wright doesn’t do much to enhance the reputation of a country that’s given us Keith Urban and a couple of other passably recognizable performers. His antics throughout the video, such as hopping around like a kangaroo and pretending to get shot, might amuse some folks and turn others off. While much of the footage and conversation seems to be random, time-filling sequences about the pain of getting a tattoo (during a short, uninformative bit about a tattoo festival) or riding with truckers, there are useful stretches scattered about, sharing info on mosquitos or backpacking culture in Australia.
There are also some nice stretches of scenery. Viewers, if they hang on for the entire 45 minutes, might learn a thing or two about a couple of parks or a couple of places to stay. But anyone looking to get a lot of information quickly might want to look elsewhere, which brings me to the information sources I found more interesting.
First is Lonely Planet’s YouTube channel. While looking for more information on Wright, I quickly found this site, which seems to be teeming with all sorts of videos on virtually any possible destination or even topic (one of the top ones — no kidding — is “How to survive a free-falling elevator,” with more than 107,000 views). Use the search box on the menu bar of the landing page to hunt for “Australia” and a good couple-dozen videos will pop up, most about three minutes or so long. Videos on Australia’s most popular sites, such as Uluru (Ayers Rock) or the Sydney and the Blue Mountains will be right at the top.
Given that we’ll be in Sydney and headed to the Blue Mountains, these videos will likely be more interesting and useful to most COMM 373 students than Ian Wright’s video, but that’s the joy of discovering the country even before we arrive. To each her own.
Another interesting-looking site is Overlander TV. Australian filmmaker Mark Shea has produced a series of videos on his home country but apparently has done work on most of the other 50 countries he’s visited as well. Check out his “Meet A Local” series; there are at least a couple of them dedicated to the East Coast of Australia. Most of his videos look to be a half-hour or so long. While I’ve watched only partial videos so far, I like what I’ve seen and will probably watch several before the winterim arrives.