Of all continents on earth, none preserve the story of the formation of our planet and the evolution of life quite like Australia. Nowhere else can you simply jump in a car and travel back through the entire history of the world.
Australia: The Time Traveller's Guide takes you on a rollicking adventure from the birth of the earth to the emergence of the world we know today. Buckle up for a rocky ride down the road of time with series host Dr Richard Smith. Over four one-hour episodes, we meet titanic dinosaurs and giant kangaroos, sea monsters and prehistoric crustaceans, disappearing mountains and exploding asteroids. Epic in scope and intimate in nature, this is the untold story of the land down under, the one island continent that has got it all. So join the good doctor for the ultimate outback road trip: an exploration of the history of the planet as seen through the mind-altering window of the Australian continent.
This series consists of four one-hour episodes telling the story of our evolving earth through a geologist visiting important geological sites of Australia.
Curriculum and educational suitability:
Episode 1 Synopsis
The moment you start exploring Australia's ancient history, it soon becomes clear that 'once upon a time' was a very long time ago! Join host Dr Richard Smith as he hurtles back down the road of time to the very beginning of the Australian story. Starting in Western Australia, around four and a half billion years ago (that is a lot of noughts), we encounter the earth shortly after its fiery birth. It's a violent, poisonous planet but not all is what it first seems. Hidden in the hills here – hills as old as any on the planet – are clues to the mysteries of when the Earth was born, how life first arose, and how it transformed the planet into the pleasant world we now live on.
The first episode of Australia: The Time Traveller's Guide gets to grips with the deep past. There's nothing quite like taking a drive through 90 per cent of the earth's history to get the blood stirring. Australia might not have castles and coliseums but it is back here in the twilight of earth's history that the country really comes into its own. From the first sunrise over a smouldering seascape our journey takes us to the first consolidated crust of the newly formed earth. Yet despite the terror raining from the sky, the unbreathable atmosphere and all that boiling rock underfoot, it is here in the earliest days of Western Australia that life can be seen to have gained a toehold on the planet. Indeed, in some of the most inhospitable corners of the continent today are both the oldest fossilised life forms and their closest surviving relatives. It seems beach culture – at least of the microbial kind – has been alive and well and hanging out on the Australian seaside for far longer than most of us give it credit for!
These first sea-loving Australians were a pivotal part of a biological revolution that changed the world. We find the signature of life in the Precambrian rocks of the Pilbara that speak of the origin of the oxygenated atmosphere we breathe today and the great iron riches that still lie in the west from this time. For so much of our shared planetary history, the earth was ruled by slime but eventually this greatest of all empires seeded its own downfall. Life would learn to feed on life and nothing would ever be the same again.
It's in Australia that some of the first complex animals, the enigmatic Ediacarans, began to explore the South Australian shoreline. The episode ends with the ocean brimming with life and the stage set for conquest of the land.
And that land was changing all the while. Momentous forces rammed the already ancient foundation blocks of Australia into a great supercontinent.