Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Where the #?% is Baz Luhrmann’s and Tourism Australia’s East Kimberley?

Kununurra, the East Kimberley capital, was naturally was one of one of four co-hosts of last night’s premiere of Australia. Most media coverage blithely omitted the obvious (even if you haven’t seen the movie) point, however, that Kununurra and its environs (spectacular, if you don’t know the area) simply aren’t in the movie.

Darwin and Bowen stand in for pre-WWII Darwin, while Kununurra was merely the base for filming at “Faraway Downs”, the cattle station set. Finding out more precisely where “Faraway Downs” is didn’t take too much digging. It appears to be split between Carlton Hill Station (45 km NW of Kununurra) and Digger's Rest Station (60 km W of Kununurra).

The same URL notes that “Local indigenous people journeyed out to the set to conduct a 'welcome to country' ceremony” prior to the “Faraway Downs” filming. It must have been one mighty welcome to have trickled all the way down to Kununurra, so allowing the town to acquire the proxy mantle of being the “Faraway Downs”. Or more likely, near enough is good enough for the media – unless you care about Indigenous niceties, like specific place being something that matters.

Speaking of Indigenous niceties vs European geographical vagueness, there’s a great quote today from a Tourism Australia spokesman, point blank denying that Ambrose Mungala Chalarimeri, an Indigenous elder from around the King George River in the NE Kimberley, could possibly have recognised, from some ad footage, King George Falls (in his own country), or at least that non-Indigenous tourists would be able to put a place name to the ad footage:

"The advertisements do not make any reference to a specific location. Rather, they are about the emotional impact of visiting Australia and the type of experiences people can have here."

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