Alaska is a place of breathtaking beauty and stunning wildlife.
Charlestown’s Jonny Hibbard spent a month exploring the epic state, which is known as the last frontier.
His adventures will hit TV screens on Thursday night.
The first of a six-episode series, titled Aussie Dreamlivers, will air on Foxtel’s A&E channel at 7.30pm.
Jonny and his mates Alo Baker and Gimli (a cameraman from Gosford), star in the series.
Jonny, 32, used to work at the Optus shop in Hunter Street and the University of Newcastle.
At the moment, he’s travelling in Canada.
Their Alaskan adventure was based around seeing grizzly bears.
“Alaska is home to the world's biggest and densest population of grizzlies,” Jonny said.
“When the salmon are running in July and August, the bears are everywhere.
“Yet for us, which became the humorous theme that runs throughout the show, we quite nearly came and went without spotting a single one.”
Being in Alaska had its ups and downs. Three blokes in a campervan for about a month was always going to be tricky.
“Being that close and having differing opinions on where to go and what to do made it frustrating at times,” he said.
But there were plenty of good times.
“Alaska is an amazing place and so different from Australia. The people and place are wild.
“Every man and his dog literally has a shotgun slung over his arm.”
A lot of Alaskans live off the land.
“People were literally inviting us around for BBQs to eat moose, salmon and bear that was in their freezer,” he said.
The roads were a different experience.
“There are no regulations on cars, so people are driving absolute junkers around.”
This doesn’t mean corporate America hasn’t reached its tentacles into the place.
Walmart, for example, is there.
The trio drove more than 2000 kilometres looking for wild animals.
In between, they went whitewater rafting, extreme four-wheel-driving, took seaplane rides, hit the shooting range, went fishing, met crazy people, hiked trails, camped by rivers, swam in a glacial lake, attended huge Fourth of July parties, met Santa and ate too many hot dogs and doughnuts.
Jonny and Alo had long desired to work together to produce entertainment.
“We just decided to jump in and take a gamble, rather than say ‘it’s too hard’ or ‘it'll never work’,” Jonny said.
Topics hears the duo have a few other big ideas in the works, but it’s all under wraps at the moment.
Our only experience of Alaska was through the 1990s TV series, Northern Exposure.
That show was one of the first to approach a television series as a work of literature, paving the way for the so-called golden age of television and the likes of The Wire, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Battlestar Galactica and Game of Thrones.
It depicted a kind of utopian society, where capitalism and socialism converged and Americans lived in harmony with Native Americans.
It was no coincidence that the show was set in Alaska – the last frontier, on the border between East and West and the United States and Russia.
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