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AUSTRALIA'S LITTLE WAR
IN the ironbark cottages and along
the dusty stone tracks of the Aus- traliana Village at Wilberforce, N.S.W., a film company has been making a
color movie based on the Eureka Stockade uprising.
Twenty-five gold-diggers were killed and 30 wounded and four troopers were killed
and 11 wounded in that brief clash on the Ballarat diggings in 1854.
"Stockade," for general release in about two months, follows the story bf a musical play of that name, which ran for an extended season recently at Sydney's Independent Theatre.
Kenneth Cook wrote the play with film- ing in mind. It was shot on a low budget (hopefully to cost no more than $40,000), and most of the crew and actors have con- tributed finance.
Perhaps it is because so many have a stake in the success of the film, but the actors say it was the happiest company they have worked with.
This was despite the long hours of film- ing. Buses waited outside the Independent Theatre at 11.30 p.m. after a Saturday evening performance to take the large cast to Wilberforce, near Windsor.
Shooting of crowd scenes began at sun- rise and barely stopped for 18 hours. Next morning filming began again at sunrise, and so it went on, day and night, until Wednes- day afternoon when the company returned to the Independent for the evening performance of "Stockade."
Filming provided even more realism than the producers had planned. Young riders from a local pony club got up at 4.30 a.m. to double for troopers in long shots of the storming of the stockade.
The riders drove hard at the stockade, and not a horse baulked as they hurtled among the defending miners. Hand-to-hand fighting followed, with bayonets thrusting.
Twenty stuntmen from the Peter Arm- strong Stunt School were used with actors in the rough-and-tumble scenes.
Even the stage play was vigorous enough: eight people were injured-broken shoulder-bone, broken hand, many cuts and bruises - giving the Independent Theatre its biggest hospital bill.
Author Cook said, "The audience would gasp as stuntmen hurtled over the sets, and people near the front have sobbed in their seats. One woman became hysterical."
The story gives a universal message, that violence doesn't solve anything. There is plenty of it, including a fire scene in which miners sack a pub to avenge a death.
Kenneth Cook has 20 published works. One novel, "Wake in Fright," was made into a film around Broken Hill; when shown at this year's Cannes Film Festival (under the title "Outback") it aroused controversy with its harsh comment on Australian ways, including kangaroo slaughter.
Cook's wife, Patricia, composed "Eureka Lament" and adapted many old ballads for the play and film.
The "Stockade" company was able to use all the natural props at the Australiana Vil- lage, a collection of old buildings brought to Wilberforce to re-create the life of the early
Bill McLachlan, a former captain of the
Australian water - ski team and now
manager-developer of the village, said the stockade would stay as a permanent exhibit.
"Stockade" is produced and directed by Ross McGregor (who produced the play) and Hans Pomeranz, of Spectrum Film
This is the third film of the Eureka
story to be made. The first was released in Melbourne in 1907. In 1949 Ealing Films made the second, starring Peter Finch.
- JEAN DEBELLE Pictures by Bill Payne
MICHELE FAWDON has role of pregnant wife of a miner who is
killed in the uprising. Her songs have great emotional impact.
RIGHT: The miners' vil- lage near Ballarat - actually the Australiana Village, established as a tourist attraction, 40 miles out of Sydney.
MINERS' LEADER Peter Lalor (Rod Mullinar, right) discusses with an English journalist (Graham Corry) the coming clash.
PARISH PRIEST visits the stockade to avert the clash. At right is an ex-Italian Army miner (played by Max Cullen).
DRAMA of battle, with a miner blown out of the stockade by an explosion. Many stuntmen were used in the filming.
THE DEAD. The journalist, who did Ns best to prevent the fight, sadly counts the cost. The film blames both sides.