Mcleod's Daughters: articles

New tourist Mecca

Since the McLeod’s women moved to town, Freeling has never been the same.

In three years, the rural community of about 1200 has endured business takeovers, several roadblocks and a name change…and locals are loving it.

Since August 2001, Channel 9’s drama series McLeod’s Daughters has brought both fame and fortune to Freeling, placing it on the map as a popular tourist destination.

Railway Hotel, known as Gungellan’s watering hole on screen, owner Kerrie Price said the show has brought many visitors and enthusiasm to the farming hamlet.

“At the hotel we’ve been inundated with buses, coaches, clubs and groups wanting to host their get-togethers in the hotel because of the series,” she said.

Ms Price believes the town’s association with the series has seen a boom for local businesses, as tourists take the chance to visit and look around.

“The show has generated growth through the hotel, local op-shop, deli and IGA because of cast and crew needs. A majority of local people are happy that the show took up residence here, and in every aspect I think the town has thrived,” Ms Price said.

“The cast and crew have fitted well in our community and they have also tucked us under their wing.”

Resident and Light Regional councillor Lynette Reichstein agrees that McLeod’s Daughters has become a part of regular local business.

“When they (cast and crew) first came to town for filming everyone watched on, now it has become a part of everyday life,” she said.

For the past 12 months Mrs Reichstein has also been providing a regular community service of joining tourist bus groups, supplying commentary on Freeling’s history and general information surrounding the show.

“McLeod’s has been good to help promote our town and we have noticed interstaters who seem to have an attraction with the show because they take photos around town,” she said.

According to McLeod’s supervising producer Karl Zwicky, who is based in Gawler, the 100-plus cast and crew associated with the series have been well received by the communities of Freeling and Gawler, where the production office is sited.

“We have been amazed at people who have willingly given up their time, land and resources to help us produce the series,” Mr Zwicky said.

“Most of the locations used for the show include local buildings and occasionally we have had to reconstruct some structures to depict a scene.”

Mr Zwicky said in the entertainment industry you have to be correct with location information and always keep consistent with things like the weather and seasons.

“There have been many times when we call on locals to help us with the accuracy of information, and there have been times when they let us know if we’ve made a mistake,” Mr Zwicky said.

“We’re also grateful for the local support given when the crew needs certain materials, like farming equipment and they provide this to us with no fuss.

“I guess one of the most appealing things about the series is the unique storyline, which surrounds a group of Australian women, doing it tough, managing a farm.

“The series is raw and real and it shows women also wearing their hearts on their sleeves.”

Other local locations the series have filmed include Kapunda Market, Gawler Heath Service and rural settings at Mt Pleasant and Strathalbyn.

In the next few months producers will be filming the secret behind why the bath is located next to the windmill on Drover’s Run, which will be aired in 2005. However producers were tight lipped on future episodes.

McLeod’s Daughters has already accumulated four Logies and is currently aired in more than 100 countries, with an average 1.5 million viewers in Australia alone each week.

By Michelle O’Rielly
July 21, 2004
Barossa & Light Herald