In 2016, we finally got a commission on our doorstep and made a series about one of Britain’s most underrated rivers. The resulting lyrical series The River Taff with Will Millard was nominated for a BAFTA Cymru for photography and explores the history, people, and fish of this iconic watercourse. It was broadcast on BBC Wales and BBC Four in spring 2016. Clips from the series can be viewed here.
In 2014/5 our aim was to explore the life and livelihoods of a series of people who have a closer relationship with water than anyone else on earth. In a remote corner of the South Pacific I lived with three remarkable groups of people within the Coral Triangle, the most bio-diverse marine environment on earth. Amazingly, the BBC Two series Hunters of the South Seas went on to see the team nominated for the Grierson Awards for Best Series and Best Presenter, BAFTA Cymru for Best Presenter, and and Best Series in the 2016 Broadcast awards, Bannf, Kendal, and the Televisual Bulldog Awards; but our hearts are all still very much in the Triangle. There’s plenty of unseen footage to see by following the link here.
The Trans Papua Expedition 2012 aimed to discover just how highland products in West Papua had made their way to and from the highlands in the decades before the outside influence of planes and 4 x4s. I believed strongly that there must have been an enormous trade route spanning the width of the province, from the coastlines right into Papua’s mountainous heart. In January 2012 I set off on a 6 month, 1000 km project intending to cross the state via its remotest territories, on foot and by packraft.
It took till April before I found anything resembling a reasonable route where I was finally able to make a crossing.
Here’s me being attacked by hornets.
Here’s Callum trying to pee whilst covered in bees.
and here’s a wonderful group of Papuan ladies who almost paid the ultimate price for agreeing to help us.
Please have a look around my You Tube channel for more moments.
In the 2009 Jalan Raya expedition – we were searching West Papua for a track known as the Jalan Raya, or ‘Great Road’, an ancient on-foot inter tribal trade route that once linked all the major tribes of Papua in an enormous unbroken chain of trade stretching the entire 350-mile length of the highlands.
Unfortunately though, it hadn’t been used for at least fifty years, and all we found in the first month were abandoned villages and relentless forest. After ten long weeks in the state we were getting close to giving up on all hope of finding any long distance traders left on the Great Road.
We negotiated our way through a massive flood, were abandoned by our guides for the second time, and were yet to find a single long distance on-foot trader, when we found a tiny track leading deep into the forests of the Moni tribe.
Callum and I were both physically exhausted, but just as we were packing to leave our camp for another gruelling day’s jungle hiking, a family emerged on the path ahead. Finally, we had our breakthrough…
Click here to see us Meeting long distance salt traders
Two days later we made it to the salt wells of Bugalow; an ancient brine deposit and valuable source of iodine for the population.
click here for the Bugalow Salt Wells
On return to the UK I was honoured to be invited to lecture at the Royal Geographical Society.
April 2010 Royal Geographical Society Lecture with Michael Palin.