Review: Best travel show

Great Southern Land

With so many travel shows on television, which ones really help when planning a holiday? Yvette De Stoop finds out. 

Over the past few years I have lived in some amazing countries and seen some amazing cultures throughout Europe. This time was spent appreciating the country side and soaking in the real heart of each country is visited. I have a passion for seeing how different people from many walks of life go about their everyday lives.

Whilst not in the position to travel right now, I’m still fascinated with learning about different travel destinations. As a result, watching travel shows and day dreaming about possible adventures is one of my favorite pastimes.

So I decided to put my knowledge to use by reviewing three of the travel programs currently screening on Australian television, highlighting the differences between the quality of the programs regarding education, information and entertainment.

1. Great Southern Land ~ ABC

Airs on ABC at 7:30 Sundays.

Episodes on iView and also online at Great Southern Land

9 out of 10 Education
9 out of 10 Information
10 out of 10 Entertainment
9.5 out of 10 Total Score

ABC’s new documentary Great Southern Land launched in September this year. Showcasing some of Australia’s most amazing landscapes and beautiful countryside, this documentary had me completely hooked from the first episode.

The presenter, an entomologist named Professor Steve Simpson, takes the audience on a range of adventures, exploring how humans have adapted to survive in this vast, harsh and sometimes hostile country. In doing so, he reveals the relationship between nature and human inhabitance, along with the epic demand humans have on the land.

The program is grounded in scientific information and covers topics including sustainability, the environment, how humans cultivate food, resource demands and our delicate ecosystem.

What makes this program so watchable and entertaining is that it has an authenticity like no other – it wasn’t made with the intent to sell viewers a particular travel destination or holiday package. It has been developed to educate people about our country. However, because it is so well made it still inspires viewers to get out and explore the land. For me, Great Southern Land is a true travel show; it is authentic and feeds the soul without serving an ulterior agenda.

2.  Getaway ~ Channel Nine

Airs on 9 at 5.30pm on Saturdays.

Episodes online at Getaway 

6 out of 10 Education
6.5 out of 10 Information
7 out of 10 Entertainment
6.5 out of 10 Total Score

The longest running Australian travel program, Getaway, is the heavyweight of the local travel shows. Showcasing both domestic and international holidays, the show’s team of ten journalists whizz around the globe presenting prepackaged trips.

With a clear focus on the allure of different cultures and destinations, all the holiday destinations featured on the show are perfectly manicured into prepackaged holiday deals. The style of holiday tends to be quite clichéd and has the holidaymaker soaking up the touristy sights as a passive tourist, expecting everything to be done for them.

The holidays presented are usually luxury resort-style packages, offering viewers all-inclusive travel deals with package flights, accommodation, transfer and activities.

Whilst I enjoy seeing the popular touristy sights, the show feels too staged. Each of the packages seems like a collage of advertorials that are extended into a travel show. This makes me question whose agenda is being served (i.e. the company paying the advertorial bills), and therefore it loses credibility because it feels like one big sales pitch.

This sensation is confirmed by the joint e-commerce strategy called Getaway Lounge. Launched in May 2009 this ‘segment feature’ offers viewers discounted package holiday deals. In short, the entire show revolves around glorified ads and the prepackaged holiday packages are far too constructed.


3. The Great Outdoors ~ Channel 7

Airs on 7 at 5:30 Sundays.

Episode online at The Great Outdoors

7.5 out of 10 Education
7.5 out of 10 Information
8 out of 10 Entertainment
8 out of 10 Total Score

The Great Outdoors stars a lovely array of local presenters, including Tom Williams, Rachael Finch, Adam Brand and Pete Wells. While it features both international and domestic holiday destinations, it also has a particular focus on outdoor activities.

The fresh-faced presenters appeal to the younger demographic, and exhibit a fun, carefree attitude during their travelling adventures. The show features more than simply prepackaged holidays, like its competitor Getaway, and from time to time ventures off the beaten track.

I think this show sits somewhere between Great Southern Land and Getaway with regards to the way it presents information about destinations and holiday ideas. For example, while it provides hotel details and travel advice, the show breaks away from pushing the all-inclusive holiday packages, placing more importance on information about the various activities and attractions a destination offers. However, localised information is nowhere near as in depth as on Great Southern Land. The Great Outdoors strikes a balance between holiday destinations and outdoor adventure activities, giving the viewer great getaway ideas without the big sales push.


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