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The Shiralee (1957)
Directed by Leslie Norman
Written by D'Arcy Niland (novel)
Leslie Norman
Neil Paterson
Starring Peter Finch
Dana Wilson
Elizabeth Sellars
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) 11 July, 1957
Running time 99 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Shiralee is a 1957 film made by the British Ealing Studios, directed by Leslie Norman and based on the novel by D'Arcy Niland. Although all exterior scenes were filmed in Australia and Australian actors Charles Tingwell, Bill Kerr and Ed Devereaux played in supporting roles, the film is really a British film made in Australia, rather than an Australian film.[1][2]



An itinerant rural worker named Macauley —sometimes described as a “swagman” or “swaggie”—suddenly finds himself taking responsibility for his child. Having returned from “walkabout”, he finds his wife entwined in the arms of another, and so he takes the daughter, Buster, with him. The child is the “shiralee”, an Irish or Aboriginal word meaning "swag", or metaphorically, a “burden.”[3] In their time together, father and daughter explore new depths of understanding and bonding. The barren landscapes of the outback provided both a backdrop to the richness of the relationship, as well as explaining the swagman’s love for the country.


The song "Shiralee" used as soundtrack was sung by Tommy Steele and reached #11 on the United Kingdom Singles Chart in 1957.


  1. ^  Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, 224. ISBN 0-19-550784-3
  2. ^  Albert Moran and Errol Vieth, Historical Dictionary of Australian and New Zealand Cinema, Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2005.

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