The Other Side of Paradise: ABC on location in Fiji

Things did not run smoothly for the ABC film team in Fiji

November 1967

ABC Press Release notepaper

ABC ON LOCATION IN FIJI

Things did not run smoothly for the ABC film team in Fiji. Since the film was to he shot in colour, fine weather was vital. They had Been assured of blue skies and sun galore.

But in the seven weeks it took to shoot the documentary there were just five sunny days – and one of these was spent 2,000 feet underground filming in a gold mine.

A tourist ship sequence took the team on seven pre-dawn trips to a wharfside location at Suva – But each time lashing rain drove them back. However, the island’s sugar-cutters were happy: the rain broke a five-month drought in the cane fields.

Later, the team hired a ketch – once owned by Queen Salote of Tonga – to take them to Lomo Lomo in the Lau island group. The day they left Suva, the sea became so choppy that filming was abandoned for ten days while the team tried desperately to keep on their feet.

There was more bad luck ahead when they finally reached Lomo Lomo. Camera equipment had just been landed when heavy seas overturned the ship’s dinghy. It took three days to make contact with the ship again.

If the seas were inhospitable, so too were the inland rivers which provided the only route the team could take to reach the remote mountain village of Lase Levu. They made the trip in seven long canoes containing equipment, supplies and gifts for villagers en route. Much of the journey-up the river was against fierce rapids – which caused the outboard motors to seize up, often leaving a canoe teetering on the edge of a waterfall.

Eight weary hours after they started out the film team arrived at Lase Levu to be greeted by excited villagers – and the prospect of culinary delights that for the next week comprised mainly yams and stewed leaves.

BROADCAST HOUSE, 145-149 ELIZABETH STREET, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA.

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