Posted by scarlsson at 09:39, December 12 2012.

The Chauvels’ career took a totally different direction with their last venture, “Australian Walkabout”. Before leaving London, after post-production work on “Jedda”, the BBC had interviewed Charles and Elsa on television, with excerpts from the film. They had a huge public response to the interview, with viewers asking to know more about outback Australia. The BBC had run a series of wildlife adventure films in South Africa with a husband and wife, Armand and Michaela Dennis, but the couple had recently deserted BBC for a more lucrative offer with a commercial station. Charles received a cable from the BBC asking them to return to London and discuss the making of a similar series in Australia.

Charles was in his element, filming documentary in his beloved outback. Such a series was fairly new in Australia. It was new to Charles and Elsa, too, who now had to appear before the cameras. Their safari followed an almost diagonal route from Sydney to Darwin, via Broken Hill, Port Augusta and Alice Springs.

The thirteen half hour episodes included the Flying Doctor and School of the Air, the opal fields, horse-breaking and picnic races, the Rum Jungle uranium mine, crocodile shooting and buffalo hunting. The Chauvels got to know a range of outback people, from Aboriginal cameliers and artists, to well-sinkers, property owners and one revered flying doctor, with whom they flew to lonely outposts on the way to Lake Eyre. More in Locations and Films >

Australian Walkabout – Various Locations Outback

Excerpts from biography:

“Their two landrovers amusingly bore number plates commencing with the words BAN and BAD, perhaps not the best choice for a filmmaker. My father said that it was lucky he was not superstitious. He was driving the third vehicle, a Holden utility. On the sides of each was a large inscription, ‘Charles Chauvel’s Television Unit – Australian Expediton’. Canvas water bags hung from the front, ready for the drier places outback, and there was a battery trailer to supply light.”

“The first sight of Coober Pedy seemed surreal – just a landscape of pale-coloured mounds, with a few gaping holes and tiny tin chimneys the only evidence of habitation. A water tank accommodated the annual six inches of rain, and the only sound was the dull thud of picks below ground.”

“We flew northwest again, over the Birdsville Track to Muloorina…….we were flying low over the roofs, ready for touchdown, chooks, dogs and goats scattering in all directions. At Muloorina, the runway was marked out with sun-bleached camel bones, but I remember the plane taxiing to the front gate and the pilot tying it to a powerful hitching post. He was well acquainted with the fierce dust storms that can unexpectedly sweep in from the Simpson Desert.”