Pictures and postcards Simon Bailey, producer of Postcards WA, shares some tales from his trips around this magical state.
A Left, above, inset: Series presenter Angela Tsun, audio operator Jeff Thomas and camera operator Blake Waldock, Ord River Kununurra; sunset at Cable Beach Broome; two-and-ahalf metre Fresh water Crocodile, Ord River Kununurra.
As a producer of Postcards WA, I have the privilege of visiting some of Western Australia’s most scenic and fascinating places, meeting characters who reflect all the colours of the landscape and working with creative and talented colleagues. Not trying to rub it in but, as far as jobs go, helping to produce half-hour television episodes about travelling in our vast state is awesome. On an ‘away’ trip, a Postcards crew includes a presenter, a camera operator, an audio operator, a producer and about 200 kilograms of luggage and equipment. The Skywest ground crew always gets a workout and, after flying with them so often, we’re all on first-name terms. There’s a moment on every trip when I say to my workmates: “Can you believe we’re at work today?” Recently, one of these moments was in Broome. The ‘moment’ happened soon after presenter Pip O’Connell had finished interviewing the Executive Assistant Manager of Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa, Matthew Clowes. The interview had been set up at the aptly named Sunset Bar and Grill overlooking Cable Beach as part of a feature story on Broome for the TV series. It was the end of a long day’s shooting; the sun had started its descent below the horizon, warming the sky with a bright golden glow, and the four of us just stood and watched as if we had never seen a sunset before. The best part: the camera was rolling the entire time.
CITY SLICKER NO MORE Travelling is as much about seeing new things as it as about learning how other people experience life. Being a city slicker, the only notion of the outback I had was from Crocodile Dundee. I never imagined I’d experience the ‘real’ outback in WA. Skywest flew us to Geraldton, where we hired a 4WD to drive three hours to Wooleen Station; a sheep farm established late in the 19th century. As we headed inland and off the bitumen, the landscape changed from green bush and paddocks to scrub and red soil. It was a blisteringly hot day; the road seemed flooded with a mirage of water. There was no doubt we were in the Outback. As we approached Wooleen Station homestead, I thought for a split-second that I saw another elaborate mirage: out of the red dirt and scrub, an oasis of green leafy trees and lush grass appeared, surrounding the stately home. We got a warm greeting from three sheepdogs, owner David Pollock and his gorgeous partner Frances Jones. Wooleen has been in the Pollock family since 1990. David and Frances have run the station for almost four years, opening up their home to people wanting a taste of the old life in Australia’s Golden Outback. David and Frances took us out for a drive to show us their backyard. I soon realised why David had said “backyard” with a big smile on his face. Wooleen SW11
Skyfocus FAST FACT
Wooleen Station is listed by the Australian National Trust.
homestead is set on rangelands covering 200,000 hectares – that’s 200 times the area of Perth’s CBD. Five minutes away from the homestead, we passed a mob of kangaroos and had to stop while an emu sauntered across the dirt track. Half an hour later, we drove up to a huge rock looming out of the scrub. Carrying heavy equipment, we climbed the boulder, trying not to slip on loose stones. Waiting at the top was another opportunity to remind everyone we were doing something extraordinary. Wooleen Station stretched before us as far as the eye could see, an expanse of green and grey scrub peppered with flecks of red. The only sound was the breeze whistling through the rock crevices. We enjoyed the dusk scenery with glasses of red wine and cheese and crackers – now that’s a sundowner after a day’s work.
Wooleen Station stretched before us as far as the eye could see, an expanse of green and grey scrub peppered with flecks of red.
Left, and right: Angela Tsun at the Ord River in Kununurra, working as series presenter; presenter Dan Paris, teeing off on the Nullarbor Links Golf Course. SW12
As a television producer, it’s my job to share the crew’s experiences with you via the magic viewing box, but plenty happens before and after the camera rolls. Andrew Spittle has produced Postcards WA for more than a decade, and it would be safe to assume there isn’t much he hasn’t seen, but there is a first time for everything. Andrew ‘Dundee’ – as he’s now known – was part of the crew with our series presenter Angela Tsun while shooting Triple J Tours on the Ord River in Kununurra. With Angela in front of the camera, filming was due to begin, but in order to get her to stand on that particular spot, Andrew had to evoke the power of ‘Mick Dundee’ to coax a two-and-a-half-metre freshwater crocodile to leave its sunbathing spot. Now that’s an up-close-and-personal experience with the Kimberley’s fauna. One of the great things about travelling around WA is that you can jump on a plane to Broome to stay in five-star luxury or disembark in Shark Bay, Monkey Mia, and camp in François Peron National Park.
Producer Trish Robinson got her own ‘lifestyles of the rich and famous’ experience sailing aboard Shore Thing with Sail Ningaloo charters off Coral Bay. The specially designed catamaran glided through the pristine waters of the Indian Ocean, and Ningaloo Reef became her own aquatic playground in which to snorkel, dive and kayak. For two days, Trish and the crew shot brilliant pictures during the day, enjoyed deliciously crafted meals, and slept in deluxe cabins at night. Yes, I was just a little bit jealous about that one. The beauty of making Postcards WA isn’t just the amazing pictures we take and the wonderful experiences we have, outside of our normal lives: it is also about discovering how far you can push your own boundaries. Our newest presenter Mat Bartnik never imagined he’d be sailing on Ningaloo Reef, let alone swimming with manta rays off the Coral Coast – and who knew ex-soapie star hunk and presenter Dan Paris would be such a cracker in golf gear, teeing off on the world’s longest golf course, Nullabor Links? We’ve also asked presenters to jump out of planes, scale huge cliffs and swim in the ocean with sharks lurking in the depths. It’s all in a day’s work! The new season of Postcards WA airs from February on Channel 9 and WIN television.