Thrilling Tales: ‘The Overlanders’ (1946):


Set during WW2: ‘Inspired by a true tale, this film follows horseman Dan McAlpine (Chips Rafferty) as he guides a massive herd of cattle across the punishing terrain of northern Australia. At the outset of World War II, Dan is advised to kill the animals, lest they be used to feed Japanese troops. Instead, he and a diverse group of hired hands and volunteers take the cattle over mountains and across rivers, in an attempt to reach what they hope is safety on the furthest reaches of the country’s east coast.’ A neglected part of Australia’s history, Australia’s ‘Russian solution scorched earth’ policy saw many stations burned and stock slaughtered so as to deny invading Japanese of supplies. This film is wonderfully heroic, achieving what the insipid ‘Australia’ failed to do. A young woman heroine in the film (for eg) is paid ‘a man’s wage because she does a man’s work’. Aboriginal stockmen perform heroic deeds working alongside the other men and women of the film. Fleeting reference is paid to the astonishing Australian victories at Kokoda and Milne Bay which ought be a part of compulsory school history studies. I am proud to have known one of the heroes (Len Horgan) of Milne Bay in later life. It was an astounding victory. A small force of Australian servicemen were outnumbered several times over by an invading force of battle hardened Japanese veterans (an army which had conquered most of Asia and had never been beaten). The Aussies exterminated them! THIS was the turning point of the war in the Pacific! &

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