Top End bull catchers to star in TV show
DUST swirls as the helicopter circles above. On the ground, a team of fit young ringers is moving quickly in pursuit of a fully grown, big-horned, clean-skin bull.
A rogue animal that has lived wild his whole life - leaving a trail of damage to the environment and Top End's cattle industry in his wake.
Sounds like a pretty dramatic scene.
And, according to a Sydney-based executive producer, it's something that will also make for excellent TV.
Ben Davies, who is also the creator of hit television show Bondi Rescue, will head to the Northern Territory in the coming days to follow a contract mustering camp catching clean-skin bulls.
If all goes to plan, Mr Davies hopes the TV crew's first venture will lead to a long-form series.
However, filming professionals in action as they catch herds of scrubbers will pose many challenges.
"We will use a lot of mini cameras, like GoPros, that are fixed onto vehicles, the bull catchers, motorbikes and helicopters,” he said.
"We will also have those little cameras on the talent - the ringers who will be catching the bulls.
"Then, we will have a cameraman in one of the choppers, and a camera crew on the ground and in one of the vehicles.”
Bondi Rescue was a hit in Australia, and it also captured a wide audience overseas. Mr Davies feels a show based on mustering in the outback could have a similar impact.
"This is a uniquely Australian story,” he said.
"These are tough people who are working in the tough environment of the outback.
"There are also lots of women involved. These are women who are driving the bull catchers, throwing bulls and putting themselves at extreme physical risk - they are doing that because they have grown up on cattle stations and they are tough people who can do the job,” he said.
Mr Davies was also proud the show would highlight the good work of indigenous Australians, something he feels is missing from Aussie TV.
"When you see Aboriginal characters on TV, you are often seeing stories of the blackfellas struggling through a white man's world... but this will be a completely different representation. We are seeing Aboriginal people who are not only working in this job, but they are running mini empires up there.
"There is one group we are talking to who own their own company, own cattle stations and helicopters - they are running multimillion- dollar businesses. I have never seen that on Australian TV before.”
Mr Davies shrugged off concerns the show could attract criticism from animal activist groups, which could later harm the industry.
"One of the things we have found, with talking to the contractors, is that they have enormous respect for the animals,” he said.
"We only have a small window of time where we can shoot something, because not many (contractors) will be chasing bulls through the scrub past October, and that's because they feel it's too hot.
"Not for them, but for the bulls. And they don't want to stress the animals.
"These buffaloes, donkeys, camels and clean-skin bulls are damaging the environment and this is the most humane method of removing them. I think you would struggle to make an argument against it.”
Mr Davies was confident he would find the TV stars needed to make the show a hit.
"There is certainly no shortage of colourful characters up there,” he said.
"I think there is something special about people from the bush that (audiences) find intriguing.
"We are finding they are excellent communicators, because they get straight to the point.”
The first show, which will follow one Northern Territory camp catching bulls, is commissioned by ABC iview.
If the concept proves successful, a long-form series has the chance of being made. For this show, Mr Davies will be seeking five different contract mustering camps to follow, hoping for teams from Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
Contractors who pursue challenging musters and have high-stakes deals in place will be ideal for the show, he said.
Those interested in being part of the show are encouraged to contact Michael Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org.