TV Preview: Mates make beeline for Outback

By Guy Davis

Being covered in swarm of insects all in a day's work for comedy pair on 4000km journey across Australia

Andy Lee (left) and Hamish Blake sidestepped a bull as rodeo clowns in Broome.
Andy Lee (left) and Hamish Blake sidestepped a bull as rodeo clowns in Broome.

It's a beautiful morning in Kurunda, an idyllic little patch of tropical paradise 20km or so out of the Queensland city of Cairns.

It's not even 9am but the temperature is already a balmy 25°C, and quite frankly it's shaping up to be a lovely day.

It's too bad for Andy Lee. He's kicking the day off with thousands of bees crawling on his face.

Welcome to one of the first stops on the Australian leg of Hamish and Andy's Caravan of Courage: Australia vs New Zealand two-part TV series, which has Lee and his comedy comrade Hamish Blake travelling the length of New Zealand and the breadth of Australia to determine once and for all which nation is actually the best.

In all honesty, though, it's really an opportunity for the pair to interact with some truly colourful characters and find new and interesting ways to possibly cause themselves an injury.

When I caught up with the lads in Queensland, just before they were about to embark on an epic trek of 4000km or so to the West Australian town of Broome, they'd already been invited to take a crack at being rodeo clowns, a task that left Blake "the most terrified I'd ever been - here's this massive bull coming for you and you've been told you have to wait until the very last minute to sidestep it".

And now Lee is lying very still as a local beekeeper gently covers him in a swarm that gradually envelopes his face and torso. For someone blanketed in stinging insects, he seems remarkably calm, keeping his cool even as Blake urges the beekeeper on. "You are now a hive," Blake said with a grin.

Close to half an hour after the first bees had been placed on Lee, they are all removed, leaving him looking slightly dazed, then somewhat amazed when he discovers that was the first bee beard the local beekeeper had put on someone's face.

That's how it goes when you take the wheel of the Caravan of Courage - you have to be open to new experiences, even if you're not 100 per cent sure how things will end up.

"The best thing about these trips is that when you shoot footage chronologically anything can happen," Blake said.

"That's the fun of this trip or any long road trip, really - you have an idea of where you're going but when you reach the end you realise you didn't have any idea of how it might play out. You aim for that magic mix of having a plan but not knowing exactly what's going to happen. Like meeting a vampire."

Oh, that's right: during their two-week trip through New Zealand, they met a perfectly nice fellow who claimed to be an actual vampire. "He was actually a lovely guy," Blake said.

With the New Zealand leg behind them, which saw the pair scaling glaciers one day and searching for elusive moose in a national park the size of Tasmania the next, Blake and Lee were ready for the Australian section.

"We're going a bit inland into Queensland and then we're going straight across to Broome and that's an interesting one because it's 400km, 500km a day with not a lot going on, it seems. So you can really forge your own journey, stop if you see something interesting," Lee added.

They have two weeks or so ahead of them as they head towards Broome but neither one anticipates a case of cabin fever after spending a fortnight in the close quarters of the Caravan, nor do they think they'll tire of travelling together any time soon.

"Our bucket list still has a few things to tick off," Blake said.

"We don't want to rush it too much, maybe tick them off over the next five years or so.

"There is no escaping the fact it seems to be getting more and more fun the more trips Ando and I take together."

Lee agreed. "There's another side to that coin, though. This show might be horrible and we might never get asked to do another one."

Unlikely, lads. Unlikely.

TV Preview

What: Hamish & Andy's Caravan Of Courage: Australia vs New Zealand

When: Tomorrow and January 10, 8.30pm, TV3


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