Category 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...

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JEDDA (1955) – The Northern Territory

“Jedda” is the story of an Aboriginal girl caught between two cultures, and the tragic consequences. She has been raised on a remote buffalo station in the Northern Territory by a white woman mourning the death of her own baby. It is understood that she will eventually marry Joe, the part-Aboriginal head stockman, but when a wild Aboriginal man arrives at the station looking for work and tries to attract her attention, she is mesmerised by his bearing and strange tribal customs. He abducts her and takes her on a long journey to reach his own tribe, at the same time pursued by Joe and the police, who  want him on a charge of murder.

The chase sequence reveals stunningly beautiful landscapes from Central Australia to Kakadu, and the waters of Katherine Gorge...

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The saga of making “Sons of Matthew” equalled the drama of the story itself. After reading Bernard O’Reilly’s books, “Cullenbenbong” and “Green Mountains”, Charles and Elsa wrote a script inspired by the pioneering exploits of the famed O’Reilly family, who carved a trail into the mountains of the McPherson Ranges, to claim land on the Plateau.

The story traced the adventures of the film’s O’Riordan family, their five sons and two daughters, so the cast of adults and their junior counterparts was large. Together with technicians, the unit numbered about seventy when they arrived in southeast Queensland. They were hit with the state’s wettest season in forty years...

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A story of Aussie heroism in the Tobruk chapter of World War 1, when men of the AIF, living in dugouts and conducting silent raids at night, held Tobruk against the German forces for an exhausting eight months.

“Rats of Tobruk” was a hard-working production made under wartime conditions; finance and equipment were scarce, major studios closed and many actors and personnel had joined the armed forces. It was not the blockbuster of its predecessor, ‘Horsemen’, but a sincere portrayal of the Australian soldiers’ mateship and stoicism while defending Tobruk. It was generously assisted by all three armed forces, in order to ensure authenticity.

The film starred Peter Finch, Grant Taylor and Chips Rafferty...

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Forty Thousand Horsemen – 1941

There was a swashbuckling element of adventure behind the making of ‘Horsemen’, yet this film was a turning point in my father’s career. He was said to have matured as a director, with a greater sense of realism. It was a timely morale booster, as W.W.11 was looming and Australian men would soon be enlisting. When a contingent of Light Horse was in Sydney for the city’s sesquicentenary, in 1938, Chauvel seized the opportunity to feature the horsemen in the film’s desert marches. He gained the Army’s permission to use the Light Horsemen, initially for one day only. This audacious gamble was his ‘shop window’ and the catalyst for the rest of the film, both creatively and financially.

While action scenes were filmed on the sandhills of Kurnell, the eastern village of El-Arish,...

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Great Mackarel Beach

Great Mackarel Beach was backed by bushland and a little stream doubled for the movie as Sydney’s famous Tank Stream. The technical crew, equipment and scores of extras were taken there by boat; they played convicts and soldiers bringing ashore their supplies and building their first huts.

“Heritage” was an ambitious film to make, requiring elaborate sets, costuming and hundreds of extras. The story was patriotic and traced 150 years of Australian history through two pioneering families. Outdoor shooting locations ranged from the Burragorang Valley and Copmanhurst, NSW, to Canungra, in southeast Queensland. At Canungra, Chauvel organised a grand-scale movie picnic, an opportunity for local people to watch some scenes being shot...

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