Ray Mears has revealed his dream came true in his new ITV series, which starts tonight...

Wildlife enthusiast Ray Mears got to achieve his lifelong dream of swimming with a whale shark while making his new ITV series, Australian Wilderness, which starts tonight.

The first stop on Ray’s adventure is the Ningaloo Coast along the Indian Ocean. And, after a long, hot day trekking across the rocky desert of the Mandu Mandu Gorge, Ray arrived at Ningaloo Reef, where he dived into the deep blue sea to get up close and personal with world’s largest fish, the whale shark.

“Swimming alongside the whale shark was just amazing, and a first for me,” Ray, 53, told TV Times. “It’s quite something to get close to a fish the size of a double-decker bus.

“To swim with a marine mammal and to look one straight in the eye, you feel a really special connection. The whale shark is a mysterious creature and one we know very little about.”

The seven-part series sees Ray – who fronted Wild Australia for ITV last year – venturing deeper into the Australian Outback than ever before to discover the weird and wonderful wildlife that thrives there. Later in the series, Ray meets Australia’s most famous animal, the kangaroo.

“There are places you can see kangaroos that are tame but I’ve always wanted to get close to a wild one, so we found a waterhole and just staked it out,” said Ray. “We had the most incredible view of a female red kangaroo coming down and having a drink. It was wonderful.”

Survival specialist Ray loves visiting the world’s wildest places, but there’s one thing he couldn’t survive in the great outdoors without…

“You’ve got to have a sense of humour because stuff always goes wrong,” he laughs. “If people learn to understand wild places then they’ll cherish them. Even now, I never stop learning. That’s the joy of it.”

Australian Wilderness starts tonight on ITV at 8.pm (Regions Vary).