Wally King, with his family and stockmen, drive livestock over hundreds of kilometres of dry country to take up their new selection at Bitter Springs, in central Australia.
A government trooper warns them that they are moving onto a waterhole that is home to a clan of Aboriginal people, but King believes he has all the rights.
Trouble begins soon after they arrive, when Wally’s son John shoots a kangaroo that some Aboriginal people are trying to spear. Englishman Tommy and his son Charlie are abducted, and the Aboriginal people burn down the makeshift homestead that Scottish carpenter Mac has built.
Hot-headed John kills a young tribesman in a skirmish and is speared trying to get water. The Aboriginal people cut the family off from the waterhole to force them out.
As they await the final attack, the trooper arrives with reinforcements. He has orders to round up the Aboriginal people and move them off their traditional lands, an order with which he disagrees.
A final shot shows another possibility: blacks and whites working alongside each other in Wally King’s prosperous shearing shed in the future.
- Gordon Jackson - Scottish carpenter Mac
Henry Murdoch - Blackjack
Michael Pate - government trooper
Nonnie Piper - Emma King
Chips Rafferty - Wally King
Charles Tingwell (AKA 'Bud' Tingwell) - Wally’s son John
Tommy Trinder - Englishman Tommy
Nicky Yardley - Tommy's son Charlie
Jean Blue - Ma King
- Release dates
- 24 June 1950 - Australia
6 July 1950 - UK
1951 - USA
4 July 1951 - Japan
1952 - Austria
28 April 1952 - Sweden
25 April 1953 - Portugal
- G - general
- Ralph Vaughan Williams, Ernest Irving
Ralph Smart had his script for Bitter Springs rewritten by head office at Ealing Studios; he was forced to include a role for Tommy Trinder, an English comedian who was completely out of place in the story, and he was not allowed to shoot the ending he wanted. Smart would recall this later as the unhappiest experience of his working life.
Bitter Springs was shot around Quorn, South Australia.
Find "Bitter Springs" on DVD, BluRay or on streaming services
- Amazon |
- BigPond |
- eBay |
- Foxtel |
- Google Play |
- iTunes |
- Kanopy |
- National Library of Australia |
- SBS on Demand |
Explore more Aboriginal movies
Explore movie history with the Aboriginal film timeline.
Take the quiz: Are you an Aboriginal movie buff?