A Waltz Through the Hills


In Wyanilling, Western Australia in 1954, 11-year-old Andy Dean and his 5-year-old sister, Sammy live at a hotel run by Burt and Molly Thompson. The children are good friends with Tom, the caretaker at the hotel.

One day word comes that their mother who had gone to the hospital for an operation, has died, leaving Andy and Sammy orphans. Molly Thompson wants to adopt them, but her husband does not.

Andy overhears a conversation in which he learns if he and Sammy are sent to an orphanage, they’ll be split up. Andy decides they should run away to Perth and take a ship to their grandparents in England. Carrying out his plan the two children get a ride to the next town and walk even further, The police and Tom start looking for them.

The children meet Frank Smith, an Aboriginal man who takes them to his mother’s house. The Thompsons offer a 50-pound reward and Sargeant Rawlings takes over the search. Frank decides not to turn them in for the reward and instead to guide them to Perth. They steal some groceries for food.

The Premier of Western Australia starts putting pressure on the police to find the kids as there has been unfavourable press coverage.

Sgt. Rawling hires Danny Wandi, the best Aboriginal tracker to find the kids. He finds them, but as he is Frank Smith’s cousin he leads the police on a wild goose chase that leads them to Tom’s camp.

The Thompsons double the reward and decide they want to adopt the kids. Frank and the two kids get a ride in a truck, for a while staying ahead of Tom, who finally catches up with them.

A brush fire breaks out and Tom is killed as they flee in front of it. The kids and Frank have lunch with the Premier. Andy and Sammy decide to go to England and stay with their grandparents.

The plot has a lot of similarities with the movie The Rabbit-Proof Fence.


Dan O'Herlihy - Uncle Tom Caseley
Ernie Dingo - Frank Smith
Andre Jansen - Andy Dean
Tina Kemp - Sammy Dean
Maggie Wilde West - Molly Thompson
Geoffrey Atkins - Bert Thompson
Michael Carman - Sergeant Rawling
Robert Faggetter - Dave Brown
Ken Colbung - Danny Wandi
Mawuyul Yanthalawuy - Mary Smith
Graeme Bell - Murray
Margaret Ford - Old Woman
Libby Stone - Shopkeeper
Emily Weare - Miss Armstrong
Don Halbert - Gates
Release dates
1988 - Australia
Video/DVD release date
30 September 2003, 31 December 2015
PG - Parental guidance
Umbrella Entertainment
Garry McDonald

A Waltz Through the Hills is based on the novel of the same name by Gerald Glaskin.

Filmed in Perth, Western Australia, and surrounds.

A Waltz Through the Hills debuted in the US as a two-part presentation on PBS' Wonderworks television series.

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Korff, J 2022, A Waltz Through the Hills, <>, retrieved 16 June 2024

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