×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Abc’s World of Discovery Australia’s Outback the Vanishing Frontier

ABC's World of Discovery" weighs in with an engaging hourlong documentary that puts a human face on the Australian Outback. Husband-and-wife team of producer-writer Hugh Piper and cinematographer Helen Barrow spent a year at Bradshaw, a remote cattle station in northern Australia owned by Ian McBean and family.

With:
Narrator: Mel Gibson.

ABC’s World of Discovery” weighs in with an engaging hourlong documentary that puts a human face on the Australian Outback. Husband-and-wife team of producer-writer Hugh Piper and cinematographer Helen Barrow spent a year at Bradshaw, a remote cattle station in northern Australia owned by Ian McBean and family.

Project conveys a vivid sense of the area’s frontier people and, to a lesser extent, the history of Outback settlements and the land itself.

Much of the focus is on how the McBean children, Sam (12) and Fiona (11), cope with the severe isolation. As Fiona says, helping work the nearly 4,000 -square-mile station (one of the largest in Australia) is “different than watching television all day.” The mail plane that arrives weekly is often the only contact with the outside world for weeks at a time, and school is conducted over the radio. Ian confesses he’s married to the land and his station. Mum carries a heavy load running the business side of things.

Of course they aren’t native to the land, and the program doesn’t skirt the conquest of the aborigines, nor does it dwell on it. A well-edited sequence tells how the natives suffered a 95% loss of life over 50 years through war and disease. Many survivors went to work on cattle stations like Bradshaw, which was founded by a white, 19th-century colonel.

Other harsh realities are examined during the April mustering of 10,000 head of cattle and a visit to the mobile stock camps in August.

A high point of everyone’s year is the Catherine Show & Rodeo, when all the Outback folk come together. Then Sam goes off to boarding school in Brisbane filled with trepidation and excitement. Intending to study agriculture, he’s philosophical, but everyone wonders whether he’ll come back to work the land, and Ian laments the loss of one of his best workers.

Mel Gibson’s deep-voiced narration is apt. Likewise, country songs (“We’re the boys from the bush and we’re back in town”) add a great deal. Viewers may occasionally have trouble deciphering the thick accents. Barrow’s photography is excellent and varied, and there’s a minimum of talking heads.

Poignant documentary is the perfect length and captures the flavor of these plucky people pursuing a rare way of life.

Abc's World of Discovery Australia's Outback the Vanishing Frontier

Thurs. (1), 9-10 p.m., ABC

Production: Filmed in Australia by ABC/Kane Prods. Intl. and the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Executive producer, Dennis B. Kane; producer, Hugh Piper; co-producer, Harry Bardwell; writer, Piper.

Crew: Camera, Helen Barrow, Anna Howard, Mike Atkinson; editor, John Pleffer; sound, Erika Moss; music, Stacey Widelitz, Lee Holdridge, Todd Hunter, Johanna Pigott.

With: Narrator: Mel Gibson.

More Film

  • Chris Hemsworth'Avengers: Endgame' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Is Chris Hemsworth Ready to Leave the 'Avengers' Franchise?

    Chris Hemsworth isn’t exactly sure when he’ll leave the “Avengers” franchise. “There will come a day,” the “Thor” star told me when we sat down to chat for the second episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s new film podcast. “Whether it’s now or in the future, I don’t know…Who knows what the sort [...]

  • Michael B. JordanLAFH Awards 2019, Los

    Michael B. Jordan, Ronda Rousey Join Efforts to Help the Homeless

    Michael B. Jordan and WWE star Ronda Rousey were just two of the powerhouses that gathered in Hollywood Thursday night for the Los Angeles Family Housing’s annual fundraising celebration. The live-auction event, which brought together hundreds of top industry executives, philanthropists, and government partners, aimed to raise $2 million for LAFH, which builds permanent housing [...]

  • Sinemia

    Sinemia Shuts Down U.S. Movie-Ticket Subscription Service

    Sinemia, a would-be rival to MoviePass, is closing down its U.S. operations — telling customers it could not find “a path to sustainability” amid legal headaches, competitive pressures and the challenging economics of the business model. The company announced the shutdown in a notice on its website Thursday. “While we are proud to have created [...]

  • 'Death Stranding' is a 'Playground of

    'Death Stranding' is a 'Playground of Possibilities,' Will Make You Cry

    The Thursday evening conversation between game-making auteur Hideo Kojima and “Walking Dead” actor Norman Reedus about highly-anticipated PlayStation 4 game “Death Stranding” was filled with interesting anecdotes, but little in the way of hard fact. Instead, Kojima made a promise of sorts to the audience and seemingly fans everywhere waiting for more news on the [...]

  • Trailer for Cannes Directors’ Fortnight Entry

    Watch: Trailer for Cannes Directors’ Fortnight Entry ‘Song Without a Name’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    MADRID — Peru’s La Vida Misma and Paris-based sales agent Luxbox have dropped the first trailer and poster of Melina Leon’s “Canción sin nombre” (“Song Without a Name”), selected this week for the Cannes Festival’s Directors’ Fortnight. Written by Leon and Michael J. White, “Song Without a Name” sums up some of ambitions and focus [...]

  • 'Aladdin,' 'Pokemon: Detective Pikachu,' 'Shaft' Set

    'Aladdin,' 'Pokemon: Detective Pikachu,' 'Shaft' Set for China Debuts

    Disney’s new live-action “Aladdin” will release in China on May 24, day-and-date with North America, giving the studio a run of three films in Chinese theaters as many months.  Two other Hollywood titles will also hit the big screen in the Middle Kingdom in the coming months: “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu” on May 10 and the [...]

  • Patrimonio

    Film Review: 'Patrimonio'

    Though it never really went away on much of the globe, a sort of creeping feudalism is making such a striking comeback — with the ever-more-fabulously-rich squeezing the poor of every dime and resource — that Lisa F. Jackson and Sarah Teale’s documentary “Patrimonio” feels like a frightening portent. Will such crude appropriations of land [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content