Adam Hills: “Apparently I swore more in the Outback and walked differently”

The comedian reveals who was best at sexing wild crocs when The Last Leg went Down Under...

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We asked Sydney native Adam Hills whether he came over all Crocodile Dundee when his topical comedy show The Last Leg decamped to the Australian Outback – and what’s the biggest difference between Brits and Aussies?

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What’s your perfect holiday?

My idea of a fun holiday involves the word “lounging” a lot. By the pool, on the beach, in a hammock. It would not involve the words “campervan”, “sleeping rough”, “hunting pigs” or “English travel companions.” 

Who’s a better travel companion – Josh Widdicombe or Alex Brooker?

They were both as bad as each other. At various stages they were like exasperated conjoined twins, complaining about the Australian heat, the Australian flies, and the Australians. 

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How would they rate you? 

They thought I became “more Australian” to overcompensate for the fact that deep down I am a soft, pampered city boy. Apparently I swore more in the Outback than I normally do, and even walked differently. My worst habit was probably trying to goad them into doing things they really weren’t comfortable with. Like going to Australia in the first place.

Do you travel light?

I certainly travel light compared to Josh and Alex. Alex brought enough clothes so that he wouldn’t need to do any laundry for the entire trip. He had two suitcases! Josh also had two suitcases, one of which contained his pillow and his books! I didn’t even have a spare prosthetic, so if I’d broken mine I’d have been knackered. 


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 Who drove?

We all took turns at driving, and we were all remarkably careful drivers. Except for when Alex tore a piece off the van by driving over a termite mound. I did notice that after a few days they started to play a lot of Morrissey in the car, which suggested to me they were a little homesick.  

Did you have any experience of the Outback before this trip?

I had spent some time in Alice Springs before and absolutely loved it. However, there was a huge part of Australia I had never encountered. By hiring Amar Latif, a blind travel guide who specialises in extreme holidays for disabled people, I was seeing bits of Australia I had never seen before. Ironically, they were bits that he couldn’t see, so I had to describe them to him.

Which of you was best at channelling Crocodile Dundee?

Hmmm, let’s see. In the Northern Territory we helped some park rangers pull wild crocodiles out of traps. One of them was three and a half metres long. Josh and Alex stood well away, petrified, while I helped sex the croc by putting my finger in its bottom and feeling around for a penis. So I guess that would be me. 

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Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House at dusk

Hairiest moment?

Dressing in drag in a town called Broken Hill – as a tribute to Priscilla Queen of the Desert – was the scariest thing I did. And since I had a beard, the hairiest thing too. Walking the streets of an outback town, late at night, dressed as a woman, while clearly a man really had me on edge. I can deal with dangerous animals any day of the week, but a drunk, confused, sexually challenged Australian man is one of the most unpredictable creatures known to mankind. Even David Attenborough wouldn’t go near that one. 

Most undignified moment?

After expressing my disappointment that neither Josh nor Alex would join me in a joy flight over Uluru (Ayers Rock), I proceeded to vomit five times during the flight. I managed to hold it all back while I described the view to Amar, our blind travel guide, but as soon as I stopped talking the flood gates opened again. I did give the sick bag to Amar as a gift when we landed though, so there was some comedy value. 

Highlight?

One of my favourite moments was when we finally made it to Sydney and drove over the Harbour Bridge, singing John Farnham’s “You’re The Voice”, with an aboriginal flag painted on the front of our van. It really summed up everything that makes Australia great for me, with a reference to the indigenous culture that people often overlook.

My second favourite moment was when Josh and Alex fell asleep in the van and spooned each other. 


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What is the biggest difference between Australians and Brits?

I think the difference between Brits and Aussies come from the countryside. Aussies are shaped by their surroundings, which makes them dry, uncompromising, adaptable and fatalistic. In Australia, you could die having a swim, walking in the bush or sitting on a toilet seat, so you tend to develop a “no worries” attitude to get by.

British people are just like the British weather: generally mild, not too extreme and could become miserable at any time. 

Biggest misconception about Australia?

Although Aussie animals are deadly, the likelihood of being bitten by something is less than people imagine. I mean, there are snakes and spiders and scorpions in the outback, but the chance of actually being bitten by something is small. I only saw three spiders and one snake the entire time we were in Australia. 

When we first got to Australia, Alex checked for spiders under the toilet seat in the airport lounge! I had to explain to him that you’re pretty safe in the big cities, especially in an airport lounge. Having said that, I called my grandfather from the road, and he had just found a red-bellied black snake under his garbage bin, so maybe I’m just used to the danger. 

Where next?

Well, we need to be in Rio for the Paralympics in September. And we need to get there somehow. We’re hoping Channel 4 might stump up the cash for some flights and another campervan so we do the same thing through Brazil. Now there’s a country with some dangerous animals! It’ll be a miracle if one of us doesn’t lose another limb.


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The Last Leg Goes Down Under is on Friday 29th January at 10pm