Lucy Beaumont, Reviewer
June 12, 2007
Samuel Johnson lacks Catriona Rowntree's rounded vowels but basically does the same thing.
Samuel Johnson, presenter of Bluelist Australia.
Wednesday June 13
The travel endeavour is all about lists and much of any journey is taken up with various mental inventories. Sometimes it's what to pack: repellent, credit cards, condoms? Check. Other times it's who to call when things go wrong: Mum (short list that one). The longest list is of all the things you hope to see, which is why travel shows always include top-five, must-see destinations or best-ever beach escapes. Such lists also keep the maximum number of sponsors happy and the graphics department busy. So what makes Lonely Planet's latest television foray, produced with Tourism Australia, any different to Nine's Getaway?
Well, it has former Secret Life of Us star Samuel Johnson playing the role of Catriona Rowntree - he lacks her rounded vowels and pristine cosmetology but basically does the same thing, offering enthusiastic intros and lists of places and attractions. The lists themselves are apparently based on suggestions made by Lonely Planet readers and visitors to the travel publisher's www.bluelistaustralia.com website. The subject matter has been nudged towards "alternative" but the rankings don't reveal any super-secret spots. Of the top five coastal experiences, only the top spot is reserved for a lucky celebrity traveller; the rest are illustrated with what looks like stock footage.
Tonight it's surfer Barton Lynch on the dunes of Kalbarri, WA. The top cultural experience (presented by radio host Robbie Buck) is in Melbourne's backyard, or rather back laneways. Non-celebrity travellers have also submitted videos about their favourite places, though framing them in an old TV set image is a waste of screen space (they could have been introduced that way then expanded). They feel a bit like auditions for a travel show - say, Getaway? And extolling the virtues of Margaret River is hardly letting the cat out of the bag. Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree web forums and Six Degrees television programs are more informative for those planning a more diverse itinerary.