The "We of the Never Never" Wardrobe Collection



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The "We of the Never Never" wardrobe collection comprises 16 costumes and associated accessories created for the film production of "We of the Never Never" in 1981. The collection was donated to the MAGNT in July 1981 by Adams Packer Film Productions. The movie, based on the novel of the same name by Mrs Aeneas (Jeannie) Gunn, was filmed on location at Mataranka and Elsey Station in the Northern Territory.

"We of the Never Never" was one of the earliest Australian films representing a uniquely Australian story. The costuming for the production reflects perceptions of the 'outback' as understood by film-makers in the early 1980s. Authenticity is not necessarily adhered to across the production and in some cases stereotypical wardrobe items are evident within the collection. The sense of history associated with making this film was reflected in the donation of the costumes to the MAGNT. The novel is considered an Australian classic and within the Northern Territory is well regarded. The original site of the Old Elsey Station is well marked and frequently visited by tourists. 'We of the Never Never' is an autobiographical novel by Jeannie Gunn. Although published as a novel, it is an account of the author's experiences in 1902 at Elsey Station near Mataranka, Northern Territory in which she changed the names of people to obscure their identities. She published this book under her married name of Mrs Aeneas Gunn.Mrs Gunn was the first white woman to settle in the area. Her husband was a partner in Elsey cattle station on the Roper River, some 300 miles (483km) south of Darwin. On 2 January 1902 the couple sailed for Port Darwin so that he could take up his role as the station's new manager. In Palmerston (Darwin), Mrs Gunn was discouraged from accompanying her husband to the station on the basis that as a woman she would be ""out of place"" on a station such as the Elsey. However, she travelled south and her book describes the journey and settling in. Her stay was short-lived as on 16 March 1903 Aeneas died of malarial dysentery and Jeannie returned to Melbourne shortly afterwards. Many of the key characters in the novel are Aboriginal or Chinese. The issue of race relations is an important theme within the novel, though it is treated in a manner that reflects its 1908 publication date. This is also the case in the film, again reflecting its 1981 date. The MAGNT holds two copies of the novel in its collection. One is an early edition owned by a Northern Territory local but the second copy came into the collection more recently and is personally signed by Mrs Gunn.


Adams Packer Film Productions; Aeneas; Gunn

Film costumes


We of the Never Never; novel; wardrobe; costumes; textiles; Elsey Station; race relations.

Coverage Spatial

Mataranka, Northern Territory, Australia; Elsey Station, Northern Territory, Australia

Coverage Temporal



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