So reads the hype for ‘The Winds of Jarrah’, a 1983 movie that was filmed in Dorrigo and Bellingen. The story reads like a Mills & Boon novel, for that is what it was based on. ‘The House in the Timberwoods’ was written by Joyce Dingwall and tells the story of Diana Venness who runs away from an English failed romance into the Australian bush to become governess to 3 children. The father, of course, has had bad experiences with women and doesn’t trust them. His name is, classically, Timber Marlow. Perfect.
“It is 1946. On a train rumbling deep into the timberlands of New South Wales, Diana Venness, a young Englishwoman finds herself among a group of aliens: boisterous diggers coming home from the war in New Guinea”
Mac’s five minute claim to fame occurred on the verandah of the Bellingen pub where he was picked to be one of these ‘boisterous diggers’. He was chosen specifically for his bony knees. The camera pans across a depressed looking Mac, obviously he hadn’t read the part about ‘alien boisterous diggers’, or perhaps the writer hadn’t watched the film, either way, it was not a big hit.
One critic was quoted as saying, “the longer the film lasts the more one’s fears are realized as 19th century English Romanticism derails typically Australian cinematic naturalism until it looks and sounds like Austenesque melodrama.” And melodramatic it is. Is it worth a watch? You betcha bottom dollar it is. Just for that classic shot of our jewelling opal miner on the Bellingen pub looking like he wanted to die. A close friend of Mac once asked him if he ever got depressed.
“Never,” said Mac. His mate, who got depressed on a regular basis, but he did only have one kidney and very little energy, was impressed nevertheless. They got on like a house on fire. He had once tried to teach Mac how to surf. Mac had been on his way to a Health Retreat in Queensland at the time and managed to slip on rocks and badly bruise his ankle. So much so that he took himself off to hospital in Queensland for pain killers so that he get the most out of the retreat. One of the first things he was taught was to avoid pills at all costs.
But that’s another story.
The Winds of Jarrah. “The tried-and-true formula soon kicks in, and a bodice-ripping affair commences. Sure, Winds of Jarrah is trash...but it's first herpes outbreak classy trash. “ ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
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