The Fringe Dwellers


Australian Bruce Beresford returned to the austerity of his first Australian films with The Fringe Dwellers. Kristina Nehm stars as an Aboriginal woman named Trilby, who along with her people lives on the fringes of 'accepted' Australian society. Trilby's mother (Justine Saunders) urges her family to remove themselves from squalor and move up to a fashionable all-white suburb.

With the snobbery of her new neighbours and an onslaught of visiting relatives, Trilby never has a moment of happiness. She seeks solace in the arms of her boyfriend (Ernie Dingo), but this only results in an unwanted pregnancy. Her 'escape' to a better life is an indirect result of her newborn child's death.

Bruce and Rhoisin Beresford adapted the script of The Fringe Dwellers from the novel by Nene Gare.

Thanks to Elaine for pointing me to this movie.


Kristina Nehm - Trilby Comeaway
Justine Saunders - Mollie Comeaway (Trilby's mother)
Bob Maza - Joe (Trilby's father)
Kylie Belling - Noonah Comeaway (Trilby's sister)
Denis Walker - Bartie (Trilby's brother)
Ernie Dingo - Phil (Trilby's boyfriend)
Malcolm Silva - Joe's brother Charley
Marlene Bell - Hannah (Charley's wife)
Michele Miles - Blanchie (Hannah's older daughter)
Michelle Torres - Audrena (Hannah's younger daughter)
Release dates
January 23, 1987 - Australia
Premiere at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival (October 1986)
Video/DVD release date
July 8, 1987 (video); July 22, 2004 (DVD)
1986 AFI Award - Best Adapted Screenplay
PG - Parental guidance
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (video), Shock (DVD)
George Dreyfus

The Fringe Dwellers was shot in Cherbourg and Murgon, Queensland, Australia.

The movie is based on the 1961 novel Fringe Dwellers by Nene Gare.

Watch now or find a DVD/BlueRay copy

Powered by JustWatch

Browse a list of Aboriginal film suppliers and distributors

Go exploring!

Use the Aboriginal film timeline to discover films you never heard of.

Take the quiz: Are you an Aboriginal movie buff?

Cite this page

Korff, J 2019, The Fringe Dwellers, <>, retrieved 14 July 2024

Creative Spirits is a starting point for everyone to learn about Aboriginal culture. Please use primary sources for academic work.

Join thousands of Smart Owls who know more!