As part of the ACMI in the Regions (AITR) program, we recently travelled to the shire of Mildura to film documentaries in the towns of Ouyen, Nangiloc, Colignan and Mildura proper. The days were sunny, which was great for filming but not so great for the farmers, who have been waiting for rain.
Funded by Arts Victoria, the AITR program encourages arts and community strengthening in regional towns. We forge partnerships with representatives from the communities to produce short documentary films that tell the story of what it’s like to live in regional Victoria.
In Nangiloc we met grape/citrus grower, wine historian and owner of “Chateau Mildura”, Lance Milne, whose history in the area dates back 3 generations . We spent a day with Marion Peters, who lives 15 minutes out of Colignan where, with her family, she grows avocadoes and apples. Marion is greatly involved in her community plus she cooks a mean pumpkin soup!
Our final Nangiloc story introduced us to Murray Allomes and the local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). With the closest ambulance unit over 30 minutes away, the volunteer CERT team are invaluable as the first response to incidents in the Nangiloc/Colignan area.
Our adventure in Ouyen started with the amazing environmental initiatives that the town have introduced, such as solar panels, water tanks, modern farming techniques, and a recycling program inspired by local primary school kids. We met the only taxi driver in town, Ross Missen, who is loved as much for his conversation and kind heart as he is for his maxi taxi. We spent a day at the pictures with volunteers Jenny, Pam, Don and Rose. Along with 200 others, they have turned what once was a plumbers’ workshop into the amazing Ouyen Roxy Theatre.
A highlight of the trip was seeing the town from the high vantage point of a cherry picker, supplied by Ouyen Inc. member Mark Wilson. Special mentions go to cameraman Mike Kenneally, who kept his cool in the air, and Clare Presser, our production assistant, who is absolutely terrified of heights.
Before this trip, we had associated Mildura with the Murray and vineyards. Now we have wonderful memories of the amazing people we met there, such as Phillip Murray (aka Young Philly), who at only 20, has overcome tough times and is looking to the future as a Hip Hop star and social worker.
At the other end of the age scale (though no less young at heart) is Rose Hill, who has made thousands of puppets in her time. Her story took us around the world, stopping for a moment at Jim Henson’s Labyrinth set where she and her son worked with the animation master.
Finally, we spent a Sunday afternoon with the Sunraysia Ukulele Network (SUN), a group of music enthusiasts who welcome all, regardless of experience, with an open heart and a warm cup of tea.
Mildura seemed like a long way to travel before we left, but once we were welcomed by the people we met there, it started to feel much more like home. On our next trip, we’re heading to the East Gippsland Shire. No doubt we’ll bring back amazing memories and great stories from there also.
– Csilla Csongvay and Rob Salvatore, ACMI in the Regions Directors