captain-thunderbolt-1I’ve talked a bit about this trip I took to Manilla, a small regional town not far from Tamworth. Those 4 glorious days spent in a Fiberglas bubble caravan from the 50s, and an alarm clock of flocks of squawking corellas at daybreak.
I went there for the solitude but so much happened that I didn’t plan on, as it always does. But that’s for another time

I planned to leave for home on Anzac day and had got up for the dawn service on the main street with the nice lady who owned the caravan park and her dad, who’s stomach kept growling through the ceremony so loud that people were giggling. This year would be the first that the hymns would not be played by a local lady on the church organ and instead on a 60 min cassette which wasn’t properly rewound. A former mayor of the town who I’d met a few days earlier invited me to the RSL where everyone was going for sausages but I decided that even if I wasn’t a vegetarian, 5am was too early for any kind of fried meat so I declined and went back to the caravan and packed and waited to hear the birds one last time.

I reclined across 2 seats on the way back to Sydney as the train slowed through dusty towns holding their own Anzac parades off in the distance. A young guy got on and indicated that I was in his spot at Werris Creek where we had a layover for half an hour so I ran over to the nearest pub to try and get in on a two-up game, lost $10 then ran back. Well into the journey boredom overcame my resentment at having lost precious space and we got talking. It turns out this guy had just left NIDA as a qualified actor. We talked about films for ages and then I said that I have some ideas for movies and I’d love to make them one day. He said he did too and then it turns out that we were thinking of making the same movie! A bushranger movie. It probably doesn’t seem too coincidental but we were thinking of the same bushranger, Captain Thunderbolt. What are the chances? We both agreed that he is coolest bushranger, even though Mad Dog Morgan was okay too; he used to shoot people and then feel bad and apologize and offer to take them to hospital.
I told him I’d been formulating a plan since I was a child and my grandfather told me stories about him and that somehow our family is related to a member of Thunderbolts gang. My new friend said his Dad had told him stories too. We vowed one day to meet up and finish writing it together.

What had been spurring me on lately with the idea was how much I felt ripped off after seeing the film Ned Kelly, Australia’s most famous bushranger. I was so excited when it was released I even dressed up; I had a cardboard replica colt revolver and made a paper shopping bag helmet that I wore to the cinema for the premier. This wouldn’t have been so embarrassing if the film had been good. But of course it was terrible and historically inaccurate and I looked like a fool when the credits rolled and the lights came on.

So last week I went to see the Nick Cave written bushranger film ‘the Proposition’ and couldn’t believe how good it was. So many great actors. A few stylistic nods to Sergio Leone. The music too was spot on. It was so good I don’t think I could write anything as good as that and now don’t even feel the need to try.

So now I guess I have to focus on my film about contestants in the Big Brother house who are the only people to survive a nuclear war. I’m giving away ideas.

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