MICK WOIWOD - Historian and Author

1990's Victorians not yet ready for books like The Last Cry?

The Last Cry was launched in Eltham later in 2011 by Auntie Joy Murphy and sold well, but I had already become aware that the reading public wasn’t yet ready to welcome into their hearts a novel based on the infamous Frontier Wars of the 1840s.

Days after the book’s launch, I received an early morning call from Tasmania.  It was the Hon Neil O’Keefe, MHR, Federal Minister for Primary Industry, who had sat up all night reading the book and had been greatly impressed.  He declared with great enthusiasm,

‘Look, I’m determined to have it made into a film.’

A day or two later he drove out to Bend of Islands with a carefully laid  plan whereby he would enlist a hundred Federal Politicians to each place $10,000 into a Trust Fund designed to set the project on its way.  Unfortunately, despite the minister’s enthusiasm, in the fullness of time failed to eventuate.

Some weeks later I was contacted by Cliff Green who had written the script for the successful film Picnic at Hanging Rock.  He was seeking my permission to script a film based on The Last Cry for which he’d already negotiated half-funding from SBS Independent.   I was delighted, of course, and acceded to his request on condition that SBS Independent appointed Aunty Joy Murphy as its Cultural Adviser to keep it on track.   This was all negotiated and Cliff set about drafting his film-script.  

Then came the hard part.  Cliff’s proposal had yet one hurdle to cross.   It was a requirement that the script receive the final approval of an SBS Approval Panel.  Unfortunately the outcome was that the Panel had considered the story ‘too sensitive’ to proceed with.

It had been also about this time that I was been approached by John Gandy of ‘Hear-a-Book Service’ for him to reproduce The Last Cry on a series of fifteen Audio Tapes.  Since the book also included a 300 term glossary of Wurundjeri terms, I arranged to have these too correctly voiced and recorded by a skilled linguist.