An extraordinary landscape full of incredible creatures

In a world where wilderness is becoming rarer by the day, the Desert Wetlands are the exception. This is an area that is larger than some countries and as remote as it is possible to be. But it is also an area of incredible beauty and drama. 

Following the seasons of drought, flood and heat, this film offers a glimpse into a world that is unique in both its landscape as well as its challenges both for the inhabitants and film makers. This is a landscape where it is possible to die of thirst while being stranded in a sea of mud. Or swim in almost freezing water while the outside temperature is scorching.


Among the many wildlife inhabitants that occur here, there are a few that amaze because of their ability to thrive; their beauty; their rarity, and their fight to survive. Desert Wetlands - Pulse of the Outback is the story of them and their world. 



The challenge

To attempt to film a landscape that is on any scale monumental demands precision and preparation but above all patience. The most incredible times in the Desert Wetlands region is also the most difficult to travel.  


Summer temperatures can easily kill anyone. Outside the river corridors, there is little shade and no water. Wetlands are often dry and offer no relief. Dust and flies are everywhere and filming can suffer. In some places the only way to keep flies away from the front of the lens is to keep the eyes wide open and away from the camera as a sort of human sacrifice. Fine dust - known as bull dust in Australia - is everywhere and can wreak havoc with sensitive gear.

Storm cells often bring destructive wind and rain. If caught out in the open plains, the only escape can be to wait it out in the vehicle and hope that tents survive on their own.

Many areas are Black Soil Plains where even light showers can stop four wheel drives in their tracks. Mud cakes the wheel arches and when it dries, it takes a sledge hammer to beak the wheels free of its tenacious grip. It is impossible even to walk in this goo. For a few days away from the tarred roads, you need to carry enough food for several weeks. In the black soil plains there is little usable water after rain even. We spent many days waiting for the roads to be passable and several trips were postponed altogether.

When floods reach areas, tracks can be impassable for months. Coongie Lakes was only accessible by vehicle for three weeks one year because of floods.


Finding migrating wildlife like parrots and waterbirds as they move around during the boom can test the patience of any wildlife filmmaker.

Despite these challenges - it is still one of most spectacular places I have ever worked.



An ancient landscape that defies the rules.

  • One of only two remaining wild desert river systems on Earth

  • ​Australia's largest braided river system

  • Australia's most diverse arid region with 56 different ecosystems

  • Only eastern population of endangered Bilbys

  • Among Australia's most intact river systems

  • Droughts can last for many years

  • Rain falling a thousand kilometres away takes over three months to arrive

  • Local storm cells can dump 100mm (4") of rain in a single downpour

  • Air temperature can reach 50℃ (122℉) in the shade

  • On ground temperature can be 70℃ (158℉)

  • Can reach below freezing temperature in Winter

  • Boom or Bust are the only cycles

  • One of the largest internally draining river systems on Earth

  • No desert rivers flow to the sea

  • 90%  of the water that reaches Australia's largest lake - Kati Thanda comes from Queensland desert rivers

  • One of the rivers - Cooper Creek - is the most variable flow rivers on Earth

Contact Geoff Spanner

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GPO Box 325

Atherton Qld 4883


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