Pyramid Hill celebrates 20 years since release of Road to Nhill

Published on 01 September 2017

Pyramid Hill will be celebrating 20 years since the release of the Australian drama-comedy Road to Nhill, which was filmed in the town, with special matinee and evening screenings.

Planned for Saturday, 16 September at 2pm and 8pm at the Memorial Hall, the event is part of the Naturally Loddon Spring Festival.

Directed by former Pyramid Hill resident Sue Brooks, the film is based on a real-life car accident in the town that occurred on the way home from a bowls game.

Ms Brooks explained that the inspiration for the film had originated from stories her father, Alan Books, told her when she was younger.

“My father used to tell us fabulous shaggy dog tales from Pyramid Hill,” Ms Brooks said. “They were always based on a true story but they had often been embellished along the way. They were always funny. 

“One day he told us this story of a car load of lady bowlers who tipped their car on the way home from a bowls tournament and the ambulance went out the wrong road. Alison [Tilson] thought this story would make a good film. So she started writing the script of Road to Nhill.”

Filming for Road to Nhill took eight weeks, with six weeks preproduction.

“We took over the town for the best part of four months,” Ms Brooks added. “The local community were extraordinary.

“The film is based on a community and the script was like a giant jigsaw puzzle. We needed countless locations, people's homes, farms and stock.

“We took over the golf club as our offices. We filmed in the store, the fire brigade shed, the stock and station agent, the streets, the butcher’s, the local garage, the police station, the bowls club, the hospital and the Uniting Church,” she said. 

“We filmed in countless kitchens, gardens and farms and roads. We dug a trench out on Bobby Gibson’s paddock and filmed the scenes with the women hanging upside down in the car. We blocked the real road to Cohuna and filmed the accident site out there, making all of the local trucks go on a very big detour.  

“Every time we filmed a scene that had the store clock in the background, Ian Bartels had to come in from wherever he was working at the time and adjust the clock for the right time for our scene. 

“There was hardly a person in town during those eight to 12 weeks who wasn’t involved somehow.”

Ms Brooks said overall there was a great sense of pride in the film among the community at the time.

“Some people thought it was fantastic and the best film ever made and some were not so sure. I think a lot of people were not so much interested in the story as to whose kitchen we were filming in, which road we were on or who in the film a character in the film was based on. The film does reflect the giant enterprise from the whole town.”

Road to Nhill ran in Australian cinemas for more than nine months with writer Alison Tilson receiving an AFI nomination for Best Screenplay and Composer Elizabeth Drake an AFI nomination for Best Original Music Score. The film also screened in countless international film festivals, winning two major international film festival prizes and sold all over the world.

Ms Brooks said the film often comes up as a person’s favourite Australian film and academics often quote it.

“It was a showcase of some of our most revered Australian actors, many of whom have since died – Monica Maughan, Bill Hunter, Patricia Kennedy, Lois Ramsey, Paul Chubb and Bob Hornery,” she added.

“But the best thing about it was the reaction from the town and the people that made it happen.”

Event organiser Jean Mann said locals had some great memories of the filming and the screening would be an opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate the film’s 20-year anniversary. 

“It’s also a chance to recognise how it promotes community connectedness and togetherness,” Ms Mann added.

“We are keen to share the movie with the whole generation who weren't born and for those of us that were living away at the time.”

Road to Nhill will screen at 2pm and 8pm at the Pyramid Hill Memorial Hall on Saturday, 16 September (bar opens at 7pm). Afternoon tea and supper will follow both screenings.

To book online visit

To find out more, call Jean Mann on 0427 030 002, email: or visit


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