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Community & Business

29 December, 2022

Locals featured in Sydney Film Festival documentary

The local district will take centre stage at the Sydney Film Festival next month, showcasing the rawness and realness of rural living.

By Emily Middleton

The short documentary ‘Warrawong – The Windy Place on the Hill’, was filmed on Sue and Brian Armstrong’s property, and follows the couple’s everyday life.

“I really wanted to film about the isolation, how they live in isolation. Because the place is so beautiful, but it’s also so lonely. And it’s so peaceful, but there’s no one there, and there’s always a but,” said director Simon Target.

Mr Target met Mr and Mrs Armstrong at a CWA dinner in Sydney a few years back.

“My wife is Polish, and she has written some books about Poland and about her childhood growing up in Poland,” said Mr Target.

“When the CWA had Poland as their country of study, they invited her to come and talk. And it was amazing, because there’s a room full of women from Tooraweenah, Collie, Gilgandra - the Macquarie group CWA. We were all in a Polish restaurant in Sydney.

“Some of them hadn’t been to Sydney before. And I remember one of them really wanted to rent a motel with a bath because they’ve never had a bath before. It was a big trip.”

After sitting next to Mrs Armstrong at dinner, Mr Target was fascinated about the stories the women told about their life in Tooraweenah, and rural NSW.

“So I came and I started filming, COVID-19 was the perfect opportunity. I filmed at the CWA in Collie, Tooraweenah, and Gilgandra, at their meetings and of their talking. Then I filmed life on the farm,” said Mr Target.

Mr Target was very grateful for Mr and Mrs Armstrong allowing him to film them in their everyday life.

“I’m grateful they let me walk around in my pyjamas at five o’clock in the morning and film the bush, the animals, and their lives.

“The name of their property ‘Warrawong’ means in Indigenous language the windy place on the hill and that’s exactly what it is. The wind never stops because it is on the edge of the Warrumbungle’s.

“In the middle of the night that wind is howling. The whole house, it feels like you’re on a boat. I loved filming this and recording the sound of this howling wind. And they kind of don’t notice this, Sue and Brian, they just know that as the wind is blowing the whole time, not that they’re about to get blown away. There’s this sort of beautiful bleakness about it. And I really wanted to film that.”

Mr Target found interest in the couples’ determination to stay on the farm. While he believes many people are interested in retiring and moving to the coast, Mr and Mrs Armstrong have no interest in leaving their home. 

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