The lights of a country homestead flick on in the dark of night. A muffled phone call draws a man from bed. In darkness, he loads crates into the back of his truck and dust follows him as he flies through the sleeping town. He is not the only one awake in the night; a boy waits for him at the gate to an empty paddock. The pair begin to unload the truck. Headlights appear in the gloom and more people join the unspoken mission, working in silent cohesion. Kerosene flares flicker into action, the soft glow growing strength as they work. They look to the sky as dawn begins to break. From above, we finally see what they have achieved. An airstrip has been lit up. The Royal Flying Doctor Service can safely land.
This vision of ‘people helping people’ is seen on screen in a TVC that has been released to launch the proud national partnership between TAL and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
0n screen, you see a rural community come together in the early hours of morning to assist in lighting an airstrip so an RFDS plane can land. In reality, this vision of teamwork and comradery is only an indication of the spirit and generosity that keeps rural towns alive.
As TAL says “When Australian’s come together, there is nothing we can’t do”.
The community you see on screen is Baradine, a small town in North Western NSW.
In October, 2017 an invasion of cameras, crew and producers entered Baradine and despite some early morning wakeups and late evenings the Baradine community were welcoming and supportive and really are stars on screen. The TVC that aired in January during the Australian Open on Channel Seven. All the talent in the TVC are Baradine locals. Darren, the main face of the TVC has his own Flying Doctor story, which is why he was so happy to participate. He was saved by the Royal Flying Doctor Service after he had a run in with a bull and had suspected spinal injuries. Thankfully he made a full recovery.
The Baradine airstrip is where most of the action happened. It is maintained by a small group of volunteers who make up the airport committee. The committee maintain the dirt runway, keeping it in great condition so it is always ready for an emergency landing. The men take turns being on call day and night, and when a plane needs to land, no matter the hour or the weather they race to the airstrip to prepare. A recent upgrade means Baradine airstrip now has solar powered lights that need to be switched on to light the runway. However, memories of lighting the airstrip by hand with the kerosene flares seen on screen are still fresh. Once the lights are on, the committee members do a roo - run to keep stray wildlife off the runway.
Whilst the men in the committee are proud of their hardwork and the great condition that they maintain the airstrip, they all say they never want to get that call. In a small community such as theirs when a plane needs to come in for a retrieval, it’s more often than not someone they know.
A thankyou and screening was held at the Baradine Hotel on the 19th of January and was a great success. TAL supplied the popcorn and despite the heat, and the fires that were a little too close to home and kept many of the locals from attending, it was still a wonderful evening and such a success as the stars, their friends, family and all involved saw their acting debuts and community on the big screen!