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A Visual Journey to the Australian Outback

Australian Outback

On my way to Tasmania several years ago, I spent a few days in Sydney and told people where I was headed. More than once, the response was "Be careful, it's like 'Deliverance' down there." I then flew to Tazzie's capital city, Hobart, before heading out to Freycinet National Park, on the eastern coast. "Be careful," the Hobart locals told me, "it's like 'Deliverance' out there."

Fortunately, things ended better for me than for the canoeists in the 1972 film. But that experience made me interested in an Australia-based "Deliverance"-like movie, "Wake In Fright," that's being released today on Blu-Ray and DVD by Drafthouse Films.

"Wake" is even older than the classic Georgia backwoods flick—it premiered at Cannes in 1971 and was nominated for a Palme d'Or. Then it was forgotten and almost lost forever; the movie's cinematographer found the original negatives marked for destruction and restored each frame.

The effort was worth it. "Wake In Fright" takes place in another sparsely populated area of Australia—the Outback—and follows a British elementary school teacher traveling to Sydney to start his vacation. He gets waylaid in a small, secluded mining town, loses his money gambling, is drawn into the big-drinking lifestyle there, and goes off with some locals on a kangaroo hunt. It doesn't end well, of course, but there are some beautiful, dusty scenic shots along the way—inspiration enough for me to brave another trip to some other lonely area of the planet.

Rich Beattie is the executive digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

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