First up, it didn’t take too long on the Wednesday morning to realise that there were plenty of people (mainly, but not exclusively, Bowen locals) who’d been down there before, knew more or less what was going on, and were there to while away an hour or two in the hope that they might see something interesting.
Talking to people from out of town, once they knew what was going on, there seemed to be a couple of standard questions:
What is the movie about?
How much will it cost? and
What was over there before?
The first question prompted my quote of the week.
There I was, explaining to three female backpackers that the movie was about an aristocratic English lady whose husband dies and leaves her a cattle station the size of Belgium when the one in the middle interrupted, demanding, AND HOW DID YOU KNOW I COME FROM BELGIUM?
When hit with the question about the budget, lacking any definite information I tended to suggest that at the current rate of progress it seemed like the final figure was likely to be closer to two hundred million than the various figures that had been mentioned to date.
And what was there before?
Simple. Eight weeks ago there was nothing between the retirement village down there and the backpackers’ hostel over there except a hole in the ground and the telephone box that’s underneath that shed over there.
Some other bits and pieces:
All the buildings on the set were prefabricated in Sydney and shipped north on the back of a truck. Most of them are just a shell, but there is a bar in the hotel and a bedroom upstairs....
At the moment the set is supposed to be Darwin in 1938. We’ve been told that what’s there is actually an amalgam of buildings from Darwin and Broome between the late thirties and the early forties. Once they’ve finished filming with this version of the set there’ll be slight changes to turn it into wartime Darwin (1940 or thereabouts) with troop camps etc. and the final version will show Darwin after the bombing....