In 2015 the story was originally released as Hrútar, filmed in Iceland and created by writer-director Grímur Hákonarson. In the same year it won the Un Certain Regard Award at the Cannes Film Festival. Australian producers Janelle Landers and Aidan O’Bryan loved the film at first viewing and started discussing how the work could also be set in Western Australia – but with a new context. WA screenwriter Jules Duncan has taken the essence of the original script and created a fresh interpretation of the film from an Australian perspective.
The town of Kojonup offers cafes and bakeries that deserve a stop and taste. In addition to refreshments there are also a number of historical buildings including the military barracks built in 1845. The Kodja Place – a purpose built rammed earth building housing a multi-faceted display of artefacts, stories, exhibits and images tells the story of the region.
The Plantagenet Hotel
Built in 1912, The Plantagenet Hotel is exactly the type of hotel you would expect to see in rural Australia. Designed in the Federation style (prevalent from 1890-1915 and named after the Federation of Australia) the hotel features ornate ceilings, a grand staircase and apple carved motifs in both the upper balustrades and posts.
Cue the locals
Stay and Eat
Accommodation is available at The Plantagenet, with shared facility rooms located in the hotel or motel units at the rear of the hotel. The hotel's cafe, is open daily offering breakfast, coffee and cake and light lunches whilst the lounge bar offers evening meals with a delicious roast served every Sunday. Reservations can be made online here.
There are a number of locations that were used in the film, including the local shops, supermarket and, of course, the main street which appears in a number of scenes. All these locations are within easy walking distance of each other so step out the door, and discover Mount Barker.
Located a short walk from the Main Street, Plantagenet Wines has been producing high quality wines since 1974 when English migrant Tony Smith harvested his Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that he planted in 1968.
Plantagenet has once again been rated a 5 Red Star Winery in the James Halliday Wine Companion 2019.
The disease that strikes the sheep is not fictitious. Ovine Johne's (pronounced 'yoh-nees') disease is an infectious fatal wasting disease of sheep. Often abbreviated to OJD, it can have severe economic effects in sheep flocks if it is left uncontrolled.
The Old Bridge
This rustic bridge with its adjacent concrete replacement provided some perfect angles for the camera crew. Cameras were mounted on the newer bridge as well as the edge of the older wooden structure. It was a beautiful misty spring morning for filming and the added smoke from machines provided a magical moment.
No matter what road you take around Mount Barker, the landscape strikes you with its beauty. In spring, the green rolling hills and changing weather present a full palette of colour and vistas.
Both the farm and farmhouses were filmed on private property but it is very easy to get a feel for the locations by taking any of the myriad roads that branch out from Mount Barker to both national parks.
The granite of Porongurup National Park is some of the oldest in Australia and provides a direct link to a much colder part of the world. Formed 1200 million years ago, the rounded peaks are the remnants of a large mountain range that originally joined Australia to Antarctica during the Precambrian period.
Within the national park the forest and picnic area located here is a great place to stop and explore. Set amongst towering Karri trees, there is a bbq area, clean toilets and lots of picnic benches to make use of the afore-mentioned snacks. The area is also the start point for a number of walks (100m to 4km).
The Mineng and Goreng people are believed to have originally lived in and around the mountains. Many Creation stories reflect the mystery and danger of the jagged peaks of the Stirling Range, particularly Bluff Knoll. The Nyoongar people of the area referred to Bluff Knoll as Bular Mial (many eyes) or Bala Mial (his eyes), as they believed the rocks on the bluff were shaped like the eyes of an ancestral master spirit that are visible on the mountain.
There are many viewpoints on the drive and the route is also the starting point for a number of tramps within the national park. White Gum Flat is the great shaded picnic spot. At the Western Lookout there are views of Baby Barnett Hill and Mondurup Peak. In the height of the wildflower season, the surrounding area is ablaze with colour.
Upon reaching the end of the scenic drive you can then return back to Mount Barker.
West Cape Howe Wines
West Cape Howe was founded in 1997 and soon became one of the most popular wine brands in Western Australia. Over time it has acquired some of the oldest vineyard resources in the state, giving it un-equalled access to the best and most consistent quality fruit that the cool Great Southern wine region has to offer.