Catriona is on location at Drovers Run with Australia’s favourite home grown drama.
McLeod's Daughters, the award-winning Channel 9 drama which enjoys top ratings around the world, is filmed on Drover's Run, a working property in the Light regional district, an hour north of Adelaide.
It is in the Light Regional District between Gawler and Freeling, an hour north of Adelaide. Channel 9 purchased the property, once a wheat research station, in 1999. It is surrounded by 55ha of farming land which is used as the backlot for the program. Thanks to Roger Dowling, director of photography, and his team, the illusion is created of a much larger property. The drama has united surrounding rural communities, who enjoy the exposure McLeod's Daughters has brought to their area, and some scenes are shot in the towns.
The beautiful home was built from Edinburgh sandstone, which came to Australia as ballast for the tall ships. Once offloaded, it would have been transported by horse and cart and a team of men had the task of making it into a home. It took 30 years to build and was completed in 1856. Its location amid isolated hills with panoramic views is ideal.
The property was truly grand in its day, but the slightly rundown look it now has is perfect for McLeod's Daughters, about a family with very little resources. The warm orange colours in the stone from years of exposure to dust and red dirt give the buildings a character that could not be artificially created.
Large rooms with high ceilings are a boon for filming. Other buildings on the property are used for Meg's cottage, Becky's quarters, the machinery shed, shearing shed and stockyards.
The yards and paddocks house the 150 sheep, 100 cattle, 15 horses and working dogs which are looked after by a team of stockmen headed by Bill Willoughby, a master animal wrangler.
Bill and his team live on the property. Apart from maintaining stock, they double for stunts and teach actors farming skills, mustering, drenching, shearing and riding.
The property is not open for tours. There is just too much activity going on every day. But the Gawler Gourmet & Heritage Festival will be held on Easter Sunday and Monday, April 11 and 12. The McLeod's Daughters theme and the area's heritage and history will feature strongly in the festival. For information, log on to www.gghf.com.au.
If you fancy a cold drink at the Gungellan Hotel, in real life it is called the Railway Hotel and is at 9 Grey St, Freeling. Phone: (08) 8525 2009.