16.5 C
Byron Shire
April 12, 2021

In search of 16mm lost, up in them thar hills

Latest News

Exactly how was the ship stuck?

Peter Olson, Goonengerry It is well known that The Echo does not publish fake news, so since the Australian media...

Other News

Lismore Youth Festival going to be epic

Bigger and better than ever, Lismore Youth Festival will take place across multiple venues in Lismore from 14-16 April.

Byron Council explores community land trust option for affordable housing

Could the creation of a Community Land Trust in the Byron Shire provide desperately needed, genuinely affordable housing for locals on low incomes?

Fundraiser for EB at the Beachy

At any given moment around 500,000 people, mostly children, live with Epidermolysis bullosa (EB) a group of rare medical conditions that result in easy blistering of the skin and mucous membranes. 

Local teams head north under new set-up for women’s AFL 

Local women’s AFL will have a shake-up this year as the Lismore Swans join the Northern Rivers league...

Entertainment in the Byron Shire and beyond for the week beginning 7 April, 2021

Entertainment in the Byron Shire and beyond for the week beginning 7 April, 2021

Local photographer finalist in National Portrait Prize

Lismore-based photographer R J Poole is one of eighty finalists from over 3,000 entries in this year's Living Memory: National Photographic Portrait Prize.

Excerpt from Sharon Shostak’s first adventure in filmmaking

Sharon Shostak

About ten years after we buried my mother on someone else’s land, I was gripped by the somewhat sacrilegious urge to dig up her bones. I wanted Helen closer, and fantasised about re-burying her remains on the land my brother and I inherited from her. Though we had already complied with burial regulations that stated we hadn’t enough acreage for a gravesite, ignoring the rules was stock-in-trade where I grew up.

Mine is a long history in Mullumbimby, having relocated here with my mother in 1973. My brother and I were in tow as Helen went barefoot from man to man and settled with one on ex-banana land in the furthest reaches of Upper Main Arm.

She may have been exultant with her liberation from suburban housewife confines, but this nine-year-old wasn’t able to make much sense of the experimental culture around me. Ironically, at the age of 50 I’ve now been asked by our local historical society to make a documentary film on the history and legacy of the hippies from them thar hills.

It’s an obvious choice, I suppose – I’m a filmmaker, and I was around in the early days with the formative players of the Main Arm valley. And of course Helen urges her way into the story: within a few weeks of beginning the interviews and looking for leads, a new friend I’m beginning to spend time with mentions that her long-ago-ex, then a student filmmaker, was up here from Melbourne in the late 70s shooting the hill-dwellers on 16mm film.

After she tracked him down, my new friend reminds me of an extraordinary coincidence: I realise her ex is the one who encountered Helen riding a motorcycle down the windy dirt road, frangipanis in her dark hair flying unrestrained by any helmet, a pillion passenger balancing a rainbow umbrella over their heads. I can picture the shock of colour against the verdant green of the rainy season, the magnetism of her lovely smile, and why he was so taken by the image.

For some reason this shot was never re-enacted for their improvised film; instead my mother had urged me forward with tales of my teenage prowess as a puppeteer. This evolved into a setup where I played a hitchhiker that the main actors pick up and are entertained by, via puppets whisked from my bag in the back seat.

We shot the scene on the southern end of Coolamon Scenic Drive, in those days still treeless, and I was impressed how their long lens could encompass the progress of the car on the sinuous road winding up the mountain in one stable frame.

But the tableau of the cameraman suctioned to the bonnet of their car as he shot the scenic entrance to Mullumbimby particularly enthralled me. It’s no surprise that this was one of the very early images I captured with my own first movie camera – an Elmo Super 8 – some five years later: the seminal travelling shot of Mt Chincogan rising out of the road in all its sudden grandeur and lush beauty.

Much to our disappointment it turns out the ex may have binned the unfinished film, negatives and all, in an overwhelm-moment years ago. There’s a slim chance that an ‘assembly edit’ may be stored somewhere, so we are yet to hear the final outcome of this peculiar serendipity.

The lingering verdict is that my past, as well as my present, is inextricably woven into this history that I am beginning to document. Already it’s summoned my mother’s image back in Technicolor; one that inspired a fellow filmmaker, who then gave me my first taste of being part of a film crew. It reminds me that bones aren’t what are left of my mother. It’s her story – at once epic and ordinary, and ultimately far more appealing than digging up a grave.

The feature documentary Mullumbimby’s Madness – the legacy of the hippies is anticipated for release this time next year.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. A good story would be the story of you and your mother. That someone buried your mother on their land because? Because they probably loved her. There is the tussle. What is more important, the love from a daughter and family or the love from a lover.
    The great movie “Gone with the Wind” was made from that same tension in the deep American south. Blood runs deep, the genes carry on beyond love after it fires and dies even beyond time. You carry your mother’s genes. Part of her is within you.
    Movie making. There is no better person to study than Australian “Baz” Luhrmann who made Strictly Ballroom, Romeo and juliet and The Great Gatsby. All three are about Love and Passion. Baz is in New York and the US movie makers are going nuts over him. Baz dazzles New York. His name is up in lights.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

A win for the roughy

The battle for the 'roughy had been a tough road for conservationists and hopefully this win will be the last fight.

Maybe Canberra needs a bit of distraction biff

Mick breathed in but his Cronulla Sharks football jersey struggled to contain his well-insulated six-pack and he held up his hand as he approached Bazza in the front bar of the Top Pub.

Council crews working hard to repair potholes

Tweed Shire Council road maintenance crews are out across the Tweed's road network repairing potholes and other damage caused by the recent prolonged rainfall and previous flood events.

Poor Pauline

Bob Vinnicombe, Sefton A lot of hypocrisy from Labor and The Greens about respect for women. Look at the treatment they dished out to Pauline...