There’s plenty to do outdoors in the Top End if you’re the inquisitive and cheeky lad.
Just ask Tomias (Nick Bonson) and Dahlia (Caitlin Hordern), two best friends in the new children’s series NITV, Barrumbi Kids.
Based on Territory author Leonie Norrington’s book series, this is one of NITV’s few live action series made for children. Filmed in Beswick (Wugularr), Barunga, Katherine and Bitter Springs on the lands of the Jawoyn, Dogoman, Wardaman and Mangarrayi peoples, it is a daily adventure through the eyes of two cultures.
First Nations child Tomias and his non-Indigenous friend Dahlia are both in their last year of primary school and will soon be sent to boarding schools some 200km apart (a concept explored in another NITV observation series Out of the country).
“We are called cousins, not of my blood, but of skin, in an aboriginal way,” reveals Tomias.
Before they are separated, they are determined to pack as much fun into their remaining time as possible.
“The country is calling you!” they declare as they sneak away from the school into the bush, filled with waterholes, prunes, and relaxed afternoons in the trees with the breeze.
It is also the same day that the aunts are lighting a burner to allow for regeneration. Uh oh. I can see where she’s going.
Our trusty friends share some bush survival basics, make videos on the local flora, and learn how to build a fire with just a few twigs and dry grass, if nothing else. Australian survivor the contestants were so smart.
Watching over Tomias is his “totem”, a watchful falcon who, thanks to a little CGI, is a constant presence through the stars.
It’s not long before the bush fun is put on hold when nearby flames threaten our heroes.
Episode two sees the arrival of a local executive (Christopher Sommers), his wife (Justine Clarke) and their son Gordon (Finn Treacy), full of bravado and plans for change. But as locals know, this is a place that will change you rather than the other way around. Tomias and Dahlia befriend Gordon and help him come out of his shell.
Barrumbi Kids it also features Adrienne Pickering as Dahlia’s mother, Lucy, and more than a few first-time actors in supporting roles. Because of this one can hope to overlook acting styles, some of which are still quite raw.
But set in remote locations, seldom used in the drama, with mafia music, the series stays true with a mix of larrikinism, friendship and learning lessons. More power to NITV, backed by the ACTF and various funding bodies to get us into the countryside.
As Tomias tells us, “It’s a crazy place and there’s loads to do!”
Barrumbi Kids airs Fridays at 7.30pm on NITV.