St George 4487
Lucy Sevil is comfortable in jeans and boots as a jillaroo but jumped at the chance to “glam up” like Kylie Minogue and sing a tribute to life in south-west Queensland.
- The good-humoured send-up is a celebration of a community struggling through tough times
- Tourism Australian not only approves of the send-up, “they love it”
- Locals have extended an open invitation to Kylie Minogue, Adam Hills and all Australians to come for a beer
Inspired by Tourism Australia’s Matesong video, released in December and featuring Minogue and TV presenter Adam Hills, locals in St George wrote their own version with the river banks of the Balonne standing in for the beaches of Sydney.
“Our community has been struggling through some pretty tough times,” Ms Sevil said.
“But we wanted to celebrate that, regardless of what Mother Nature throws at us, with the drought and then the floods, this is a great place to come and see all the colourful and quirky people and locations.
St George Matesong
“I guess our video is a tribute to Kylie’s video, which itself was a tribute to Australia, and we’re all working to the same cause of celebrating our unique lifestyle.”
The St George song shares a number of similarities with its star-studded inspiration.
While Minogue and company point out a quokka, the Queenslanders point out Thallon’s big wombat sculpture; the original’s beachballs by the sea are instead kicked around the riverbank.
“But our video does feature a horse in a bar, which the original didn’t,” organiser Kim Wildman said.
The official Matesong video from Tourism Australia
Rain forces rushed rethink on river shoot
The new Matesong was originally meant to feature brown, parched landscapes.
“We were going to be making fun of ourselves by cruising on a dry riverbed,” Ms Wildman said.
“But then it rained, so we had to change the plan when the river started running again, which has ended up being a lot better.”
Basing the song on an international ad campaign meant treading carefully around copyright.
Thallon residents re-enact a scene from the Tourism Australia video. (Supplied)
“The first thing we did was contact Tourism Australia to let them know what we wanted to do,” Ms Wildman said.
“We didn’t want to have to deal with anything like copyright infringement, so we were very open with them in what we wanted to do.”
The song was co-written by country musician Josh Arnold.
“He made sure to change the music entirely and we’ve shown it to them [Tourism Australia] and I’ve heard unofficially that they love it.”
From SES controller to comedian
Ben Gardiner works for the local council and is the local SES controller, but it was his facial hair that snagged him the role of Adam Hills.
Ben Gardner (top) says singing and acting are not part of his day job as the local SES controller. (Supplied)
“I didn’t shave on holidays, and when I got home they said, ‘You look like Adam with your beard’,” he said.
“I pretty much got the job because I didn’t shave.”
But he’s happy.
“I got to eat a lot of ice creams in that one scene,” he laughed.
“But seriously, it was a chance to get out of my comfort zone because singing and dancing is not on my list of to-dos usually.”
Mr Gardiner said the hardest part of the performance was not singing, but knocking over a lamp on cue at the start of the video.
“I had to do it about six times,” he said.
“It’s actually hard to knock something over when you’re normally not supposed to.”
Farmers, school kids — even a horse — made it to the Nindigully Pub for the film shoot. (Supplied)
While he followed in Hills’s footsteps in the video, Mr Gardiner has no plans to follow the comedian to the UK.
“Nah, mate. Life here is too good.”
And the south-western Queenslanders have extended an open invitation to Minogue and Hills — and the rest of Australia — to visit the towns on the Balonne River.
“Absolutely, we can line up a beer for them easily,” Mr Gardiner said.
A horse at the bar cannot be guaranteed.