Introducing You To Australia One Story At A Time: Top End Wedding (2019)

All movie pictures are from IMDb

We’re back this month with another Aboriginal passion project Miranda Tapsell and Wayne Blair’s 2019 film, Top End Wedding.

I’m not a romantic comedy fan at all, it is, in fact, probably one of my most hated genres. However, back in the olden days (when we were allowed to go to the cinema) I saw a trailer for this movie in the previews whilst I was seeing Ride Like a Girl (which is a great movie, which I will review for this series sooner or later). And I was instantly in love with the concept. I mean, it’s a romantic comedy set in my most favourite place on earth, the Top End of Australia.

And in case you don’t know what the “top end” is, the circled area is what we’re talking about. Look up some pictures, it’s absolutely stunning.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I finally got this movie out from the library a few months ago, watched it and absolutely loved it. So much so that I instantly texted one of my best friends and told her to watch it. She watched it the next night and also adored it. And neither of us are huge romcom fans.

Also, I’ve noticed that a lot of the massive rush of support for Black and oppressed voices that flooded the internet in June has abated somewhat. I want to continue advocating for these people in whatever way I can, even once its no longer a trend to do so. Since I specialise in storytelling here, I will continue to show my support for minority groups by hyping and sharing their stories as much as I can. And I’ll not only be reviewing and sharing this movie with you guys today, but I’ve got several more Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander books and films to share over the next few months. Obviously, not every Australia One Story At A Time installment will focus on Indigenous works, but I want to give Australia’s original owners the attention they deserve.

Okay, let’s get into this.


The plot is basic, but so very charming. Essentially, Lauren (Miranda Tapsell), a recently promoted Adelaide lawyer of Tiwi Islander descent, and her white boyfriend, Ned (Gwilym Lee), are getting married. Lauren’s tough boss gives her ten days off in order to complete the ceremony, which is fine, until Lauren decides she wants to get married in her hometown of Darwin.

So, as you can see, Adelaide is at the bottom and Darwin is at the top. It’s 3,030km, which is 1,882 miles, between these two cities.

Ned thinks she’s crazy, but he loves her, so he agrees to a wedding in Darwin, which has to be organised in only ten days.

Of course, everything goes south when they arrive in Darwin only to discover that Lauren’s mother has gone walkabout, leaving her father inconsolable. Lauren, understandably, can’t face the thought of getting married without her mother there, so she and Ned set off on a trip to discover her mother’s whereabouts. Of course, this leads to a lot of shenanigans that are at once staple romcom tropes, and also uniquely Australian plot points.

It has a happy ending, but I’m not going to spoil it for you.

This movie was written by Miranda Tapsell and Joshua Tyler, and it’s heavily based on Miranda’s experiences as a young Aboriginal woman of Tiwi Islander descent, she also plays the main character, Lauren and clearly had a lot of love and passion for this project. It’s also directed by Wayne Blair, a talented Aboriginal director who you might remember from my Mystery Road post, as he both directed and played a side character/suspect in that series.

Basically, this is a movie that is the passion project of several Aboriginal men and women, stars an almost exclusively black cast, and is accessible and enjoyable to both Aboriginal and white audiences. Which I think is fantastic.

What Did I Think of The Story?

As I’ve already said, I adored it. The story was the perfect mixture of comedy and serious, beautiful reflections on family, heritage, and culture.

The actors were also brilliant and also very underrated. Miranda Tapsell and Huw Higginson were the only ones I’d heard of before, since I’ve seen them in other films and TV shows, but even then I don’t really know much about them. However, they all did a great job and were really enjoyable to watch. Gwilym Lee, the English actor who played Ned, was very good, and I enjoyed the dynamic between his very proper British family and the much more laidback white and Aboriginal families.

The plot was exceptional and I loved it so much, especially because it focused on family and reconciliation and the symbolic merging of cultures that happens throughout the movie.

Essentially, I loved everything about this movie and if you want to hear me squeal about it more, let me know in the comments!

Australian Culture

This whole thing was basically an homage to Australian culture. Everything, from the jokes to the scenery, to the slang and the swearing was all so, so Australian.

One of my favourite scenes has Ned, the naive Englishman that he is, having a jolly old time in a creek, before noticing a derelict looking sign in some debris, picking it up and then fleeing the water as he reads “Warning Crocodiles”. I find this absolute hilarious because almost this scenario happened to my dad when we went up to northern Australia for the first time and it’s been a family joke for almost ten years.

There’s also another absolutely stunning scene where Lauren goes on a boat ride through Nitmiluk Gorge (also known as Katherine Gorge) and the scenery is just…absolute perfection.

And finally, the best thing about this movie was just how sincere it was in it’s presentation of Aboriginal Australia. The creators didn’t have an agenda they wanted to push, they just wanted to present a culture and a land they love and have a deep connection to and it really shows, in my opinion. The cultural scenes are beautiful, moving and they reminded me of my time up there, meeting and making friends with Aboriginal girls my own age. There was a lot of respect paid to the owners of whatever land they happened to be filming on, and the way they treated the elders and women of the Tiwi Islands was also beautiful and very moving. In fact, I think I enjoyed watching the Behind the Scenes clips just as much as the movie itself.

Filming was also done in a lot of stunning Australian landscapes, including Adelaide, Darwin, Jabiru, Kakadu, Nitmiluk and the Tiwi Islands, and while film can’t do these magnificent places justice, it’s nice to see my country portrayed so beautifully and poetically.

Introducing You To Australia One Story At A Time: Danger Close (2019)

All pictures from IMDb

Hello and welcome! Today, I’m going to be gushing about a movie I watched yesterday called Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan. For those who don’t know, yesterday (18th August) was the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, a battle with an ambiguous outcome that was fought by Australian and New Zealand soldiers during the Vietnam War. Both the Viet Cong and the Anzac forces claimed victory of the battle, but it has gone down in Australian legend to almost the extent that Gallipoli has. Essentially, it was a little over 100 Anzac soldiers against 500-600 Vietnamese, which is incredibly bad odds. No one really won, but only 18 Anzac soldiers died in the skirmish, which is fairly impressive.

Anyway, so yesterday I sat down to watch a movie and ended up picking this one out. As I started to watch it, I realised that I happened to be watching the movie on the 64th Anniversary of the actual battle (no joke, I honestly didn’t realise when I started watching it). I’ve always felt a bit of a connection to this battle, because I spent months of my life as a fifteen year old, researching the Vietnam War, interviewing people who fought in the war and writing an essay on Indigenous soldiers, which later won a prize and is one of my proudest moments. But I still couldn’t remember the date.

And so, while I originally had something else planned for today’s Australian Story, I’ll be talking about Danger Close today.


Basically, this movie follows in the wake of very successful movies such as Dunkirk. It’s based on a true story and it follows a similar storytelling device as Dunkirk, taking place over a four or five hour period, and follows several characters in different areas of the battle.

Our main character is Major Harry Smith (Travis Fimmel), an ambitious and arrogant major who is bitter at being assigned to a Company that consists mainly of conscripts. He feels his talents are wasted in this current assignment and a call out to the Long Tan Rubber Plantation is merely an annoyance to him.

We follow a few other characters too, such as Pte Paul Large (Daniel Webber), Cpl Buddy Lea (Lasarus Ratuere), Sgt Bob Buick (Luke Bracey) and Brigadier David Jackson (Richard Roxburgh).

And the plot itself is very simple. The characters are trying to stay alive and rescue 11 Platoon of D Company, who are trapped 400m in front of the rest of the Company. Unfortunately, the Brigadier has ordered them to return to base. So that’s the main conflict of the movie.

What Did I Think of The Story?

I loved it. When I first put it on, I was worried that it was either going to be a dramatised documentary, or an overly patriotic, gory bloodbath bearing little resemblance to the actual historical event.

Fortunately, I didn’t think it fell into either category. It was pretty historically accurate (I couldn’t find any major issues with it), but it also engaged in character development, particularly with Harry Smith and it did have a plot. I also felt that it didn’t engage in gory action scenes and it wasn’t like “white men good, Asian commies bad!” Obviously though, there wasn’t much character development given to the Viet Cong soldiers. However, I felt this approach was justified since the movie was a very personal look at the battle from the eyes of the very young and impressionable conscripted soldiers who fought in it.

The acting was also very well done. There aren’t any big name actors in this movie, but every one of them portrayed his character effectively and believably. The cinematography was also simple and effective and it made the movie a joy to watch.

Australian Culture

As I mentioned before, Long Tan is deeply embedded in Australian culture. Whether rightly or wrongly, we hold it up as an example of Australian courage and resilience. So this story does hold an important place in our heritage.

One of the touches I really liked in this was the inclusion of several Polynesian actors, and particularly the inclusion of Lasarus Ratuere as Buddy Lea. Corporal Lea was a soldier of Aboriginal and South Sea Islander heritage and he was well-known for his bravery during the war. He’s been largely forgotten since then and it was really nice to see him get a little bit of the recognition he deserves. There were also a number of other Polynesian soldiers and just the small act of having them included made me really happy.

Also, there was a scene at the beginning where the Nui Dat base is under fire and one of the soldiers makes the Major a cup of tea. Upon being offered the cup of tea, the major yells, “We’re under attack and your first instinct is to make me a cup of tea! Get the hell out of here!” and when the soldier tries to walk away with the cup of tea– “No, leave that!” It just struck me as the most Australian thing to do in a crisis.

And there was plenty of swearing. Nothing more Aussie than that.

What about you guys? Have you seen any movies about the Vietnam War? Have you seen this movie? What are your opinions on war movies in general? Is a cup of tea the best way to deal with a crisis?

Introducing You To Australia One Story At A Time: Mystery Road Series 1 (2018)

All photos from IMDb

Obviously, if you’ve kept half an eye on the news lately, you’ve heard terms like “Black Lives Matter” being thrown around the place. There’s been protests–both peaceful and violent–in America, and over here there’s also been an abundance of protests (mostly peaceful marches), focusing on the plight of Australian Aboriginal people who have suffered police brutality and died in police custody.

Despite the fact that this a huge thing that I’m incredibly passionate about (my family will testify that I haven’t shut about it for months), I’m not going to be directly addressing the politics of this today. That isn’t what this blog is for. My blog is about stories and writing, but that doesn’t mean I can’t help bring some light to this issue.

So today, I wanted to bring you another installment of Australia One Story at a Time and this time focus on a TV series I saw recently, which isn’t just a brilliant, well-done series, but is also a project that focuses heavily on Aboriginal people and social issues.

Now, I’ve only seen season 1 (Season 2 aired earlier this year, but because I’m a backward rural girl and it hasn’t come out on DVD yet, I haven’t seen it) so I’m only going to be reviewing that.


Mystery Road is a TV spinoff of a 2014 movie of the same name. (I’ve seen the movie as well, but the quality of the story line doesn’t compare to this series, so I’m not going to be talking much about it). It follows Detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pederson), a hardboiled Aboriginal cop who is passionate about standing up and investigating crimes that are often swept under the carpet by the majority white police force (in the original movie, this is the murder of a young Aboriginal girl). Whilst working to solve mysteries in a Broadchurch-esque type show, Jay also has to deal with an abundance of social issues, including being an outcast in a white police force and being labeled as a “traitor” by other Aboriginal people.

The first season is directed by an Aboriginal woman (Rachel Perkins) and the second is directed by two Aboriginal men (Warwick Thornton and Wayne Blair). Both seasons were shot in various locations in Western Australia, including Wyndham, Kununurra, Broome and the Kimberley. The majority of the cast is also made up of Aboriginal people, with a few exceptions.

Also, that Indian guy is the funniest guy on the show

What Did I Think of the Story?

I thought it was brilliant. I adore mystery shows, particularly ones that are sort of gritty and more realistic than, say, Sherlock. (Broadchurch is a fave). So this was right up my lane. It’s hard to talk too much about it, without giving away spoilers, but just the Australianness of it all had me absolutely in love, as well as the way it pulled no punches. It admitted openly that there are a lot of issues in Aboriginal communities. Drunkenness, abuse, and cycles of poverty are rampant and it addressed things like abuse of power, and the struggles victims of rape face when their abuser is someone respected and admired.

The mystery is tight, engaging and left me hanging at the end of every episode, the actors were all brilliant, and the cinematography was astounding (how could it not be, seeing as it was filmed in some of the most beautiful places on the planet?)

Australian Culture

There’s so much Australian culture–both the good and the bad bits–packed into the show, particularly focusing on Australian Aboriginal culture. A subplot revolves around water, a relatable issue to anyone who’s lived in a rural region. The characters use actual Aussie slang all the time (not Crocodile Dundee slang, as I like to refer to slang created for American/British audiences).

As I’ve already mentioned, it also highlights the bad points of Australian culture, of which there is unfortunately quite a lot. It highlights the divide between white and black Australia, particularly between the police and Aboriginal people trapped in crime. It highlights past atrocities against Aboriginal people and how white Australians can reconcile both with their pasts and with current Aboriginal people who are still suffer the effects.

Australian culture is also quite casually racist and this show made an effort to call out those seemingly small remarks that people make–about Aboriginal people and about immigrants.

Personally, I think at this time of a lot of justified anger, sadness and turmoil, it’s best for those of us who are white to shut up and listen to others. If you enjoy watching mysteries, get this one out, enjoy the story and take to heart the messages it presents. If you are American, watch this show or seek out other Aboriginal voices to remind yourself that America is not the centre of the world, and that American blacks are not the only people to suffer under colonialism and racism.

I heartily recommend this show, because it balances story, good acting, brilliant cinematography, politics and social aspects and blends them all together into an engaging, enjoyable and thought provoking piece of media. If you can, definitely watch it.

What about you guys? Do you enjoy mystery shows? Have you seen Mystery Road (or Broadchurch)? Have you been seeking out non-white creators to add some diversity to your reading/viewing? Do you have any recommendations for similar shows?

The Pacific:Introducing You To Australia One Story at a Time

All pictures from IMDb

I’ve been waiting to do a post on this topic for quite a while, so I’m excited to finally be sitting down to draft this post!

The Pacific (or, as it is formally titled,  The Pacific in the Wake of Captain Cook), is a TV miniseries, presented by New Zealand actor Sam Neil, that also has a companion non-fiction book, written by Meaghan Wilson Anastasios.

While this miniseries isn’t exclusively about Australia–it’s about the Pacific as a collective–Australia quite often takes centre-stage during it. After all, Captain Cook is widely regarded (though incorrectly) as the discoverer and founder of the Australian colonies. He is to Australians what Columbus is to Americans–a controversial figure, sometimes hated and sometimes revered. Continue reading “The Pacific:Introducing You To Australia One Story at a Time”