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In late autumn and winter, when the
north-westers come roaring across the Great Australian Bight, the little South Australian fishing town of Streaky Bay usually settles into its quiet period.
Streaky Bay, population 1000, 700km west of Adelaide, lives on fishing, farming, and the tourists who call in on their way along the coast route to the
But mainly it's fishing, southern blue fin tuna in the summer. Generally, in winter, there isn't much doing.
This year, however, after the visiting tuna boats sailed away, along with the lowering skies came a crew of 55 from the South Australian Film Corporation and an international star, Hardy Kruger.
Striding around with the wind ruffling his blond-grey hair and beard, he looked like the Old Man of the Sea himself. Which, for the film "Blue Fin," he was.
He had been slogging around the backwoods of Canada being Kruger the author, researching background for his latest book, when a message came that Australian film makers wanted him for a role - he makes only two films a year.
Kruger, 50, read the script for "Blue Fin" and took the part.
"I liked 'Blue Fin' because of the gentle feeling of the whole approach," he says. "The father-son relationship is good, there is plenty of action but no
"There are too many films being made now about war and violence."
"Blue Fin" is another adventure by the SA writer Colin Thiele, who wrote "Storm Boy," a runaway winner for the corporation which has already taken $3-million at the box office.
In a way, "Storm Boy" has been a trial run for "Blue Fin." Matt Carroll, who produced it and is executive producer for the new one, read the book "Blue Fin" seven years ago.
He saw its potential as a film, but thought it would cost too much, with all the difficult outdoor shooting and the storm scenes. But "Storm Boy" gave him the green light and little Streaky Bay a newfound limelight.
Every available bed in the town was booked: the local hotel, guest house, flats, the caravan park and some private
Hardy Kruger rented a house down by the bay with 27-year-old Anita Park, a model from Florida. They have been together for two years and the twice-married Kruger is devoted to her.
The film invaders, who stood out among the locals in their duffle coats, jeans and motley assortment of windcheaters and T-shirts, got down cheerfully to the business of making a film about summer in the biting winds and low early morning temperatures of a Streaky Bay winter.
Hot cornish pasties were in every
ABOVE: Nedo Perin, who owns Blue Fin with David Owen who showed the stars how to pole tuna. ABOVE CENTRE: Greg Rowe, time off school for filming.
How the m little town of Streaky Bay got into films
RIGHT: Hardy Kruger looking exactly like the tough fisherman he portrays.
hand and local baker Bill Hall and his offsider made an extra eight dozen a day
while the fun was on.
- Sydney actor John Jarratt, who plays Sam, a fisherman, was sporting a cold, as were several others in the company. He and Greg Rowe, the "Storm Boy" star who has the central role of Snook in this film, had been in and out of the water for eight hours on a night when Jarratt "rescued" Greg from a fall overboard.
They had short wetsuits on under their fisherman's gear, which helped, but they were grateful for the hot shower
on the trawler in between times.
The crew gave Greg Rowe a round of applause when the scene was finished.
"He didn't complain once," said John Jarratt. "He is 13 now, and he's very
There isn't much organized entertain- ment in Streaky Bay, but no one was bored. The townspeople, who were part
LEFT: Model Anita Park, Hardy Kruger's close companion for the last two years.
of the action because nearly 300 of them had jobs as extras, lent bicycles and the actors rode about, walked, or toured in the corporation's car.
The weather was patchy, blue skies, stormy days, but mostly fell miraculously
"Once we were all gathered on the jetty, with dozens of locals as extras, and I was freezing in stockings and court shoes," said Melbourne actress Elspeth Ballantyne, "lt was about 1 deg C that day, and cloudy, but that was what we wanted for the funeral scene after some of the men are drowned."
Elspeth plays Hardy Kruger's wife - and Kruger is Bill Pascoe, "Streaky Bay's toughest fisherman" whose per- sonality clash with his young seagoing son, Snook, is the film's central theme.
lt is Elspeth's first major film, although she was in "Bellbird" for five years.
Liddy Clark, another Melbourne
LEFT: Streaky Bay in action, picture by SA Film Corporation. Other
pictures taken by Milton Wordley.
actress, plays Ruth, Snook's sister and fiancee to Sam, who is drowned at sea.
There are real fishermen in the film too. Eighteen-year-old David Owen, from Eden, NSW, was on the Velebit, a Port Lincoln boat which came into Streaky Bay to be renamed Blue Fin for
He had stayed on board "to see a bit of South Australia" and as it turned out someone was needed to show the actors how to pole tuna in.
David's film involvement brought him $200 a week as a real crew member of the Blue Fin plus $32 a day as an extra.
"It'll probably be my first and last movie," he said. "I like fishing better."
With him was the Velebit's owner Nedo Perin. His boat was "just right for the film - not too flash and not too modern," he said.
By a happy coincidence it was also due for a new superstructure - happy, because the script requires it to be smashed. The film corporation agreed to provide a new one as part of the deal.
The other starring craft is the Dog Star, which in the film is lost at sea and occasions the funeral scenes. She is in fact the Bronwyn. Fisherman Ron Waller owns her and runs her for the film, as Nedo Perin does with his boat.
Filming began with 10 days at sea. The novices were wrapped in oilskins, topcoats, ski outfits, wellington boots - anything that would keep out the cold.
Cameramen wrestled to keep their gear upright and some of the actors had to have shots for seasickness.
Filming on land was more comfort- able. In the hall half the town, in their best evening wear, turned up one day to film scenes for the Miss Tunarama ball.
Every office in Streaky Bay was at a standstill because the local girls were busy playing Miss Tunarama entrants.
The laden supper tables in the hall sported 60 sponge cakes with coloured icing and dozens of sausage rolls, all made by the indefatigable Bill Hall.
Streaky Bay's district clerk Don Arney plays the mayor in the film and his wife, Pat, plays his wife. Roger Trevor, assistant town clerk of Port Lincoln, plays the district clerk.
Everyone else has "wives" cast for them by location manager Barbara Gibbs, who had come up ahead of the company to book the local extras and arrange the accommodation.
Eventually it was all done, and the townspeople gathered at the local hall to see the "rushes."
"Blue Fin," which will be released in November, is a film no one in Streaky Bay will ever forget. CU
- GWEN CUNNINGHAM I