Against the Wind (miniseries)

Against the Wind is a 1978 Australian television miniseries. It is a historical drama portraying both the British rule of Ireland, and the development of New South Wales and Australia.

Against the Wind
Written byBronwyn Binns
Ian Jones
Peter Kinlock
Tony Morphett
Paul Davies
Cliff Green.
Directed byGeorge T. Miller
Simon Wincer
StarringMary Larkin
Jon English
Country of originAustralia
No. of episodes13
Producer(s)Bronwyn Binns
Ian Jones
Henry Crawford.
Running time50 minutes
Production company(s)Seven Network
Pegasus Productions
DistributorWorldvision Enterprises
Original networkSeven Network
Original release12 September 
31 October 1978 (1978-10-31)

Jon English won the Logie Award in 1979 for "Best New Talent" for his role in the miniseries as "Jonathan Garrett". It was the first major Australian TV production to be broadcast in the United States.[1]

A soundtrack was also released, topping the charts in Norway and reaching the top 10 in Australia and Sweden.


Set during Australia's colonial era over the period 1798–1812, the series follows the life of Mary Mulvane, a daughter of an Irish school master. At 18, she is transported to New South Wales for a term of seven years after attempting to take back her family's milk cow which had been seized by the British "in lieu of tithes" to the local proctor. She endures the trial of a convict sea journey to New South Wales and years of service as a convict before her emancipation and life as a free citizen. During the journey out she makes a lifelong friend of fellow Irish convict, Polly, and in the course of the series we see their friendship continue, Polly's relationship and life with taverner Will Price develop, and Mary's relationship with Jonathon Garrett grow, leading to eventual marriage when both have served their term. Together they face the difficulties of establishing a farm and a young family in the new country, and must deal with the tyranny of the corrupt military running the colony.


Episode titles

  1. The Seeds of Fire: Ireland in 1796–97 is seething with rebellion and suppression. Mary is arrested and convicted of theft. She is sentenced to seven years of transportation to New South Wales.[note 1]
  2. The Wild Geese: February 1797—Mary departs Cork for Sydney, meets Polly and survives the long journey to Sydney.
  3. A Question of Guilt: May 1797—Mary arrives at Westbury Farm near Parramatta. Polly takes up with Will Price in his country pub.
  4. The Flogging Parson: June 1797—Polly prospers with Will. Mary moves up in the farm pecking order.
  5. An Agreement Between Officers and Others: The officers conspire to remove the head overseer and retain free use of convict labour.
  6. A House on the Hill: There are many events but the most important one is the marriage of Mary and Jonathon.
  7. The Tree of Liberty: Disgruntlement against the NSW Corps and government is rife among the convicts and freed settlers.
  8. When Kings Go Forth to Battle: The Battle of Vinegar Hill near Parramatta ends badly for the rebels. Martial law is established.
  9. The Farmer's Friend: A farm is foreclosed upon. Martial law is suspended.
  10. A Matter of Life and Death: Mary gives birth amid much drama. Jonathon goes to jail.
  11. The Spirit of Enterprise: Jonathon struggles to profit from his harvest, but Will comes up with a solution.
  12. The Whip Hand: After the illegal still is discovered, Polly must give evidence against Will.
  13. The Windfall Summer: Polly and Mary both struggle while Jonathon and Will serve time.


The series was the idea of Bronwyn Binns (née Fackerell), who had grown up in President Road, Kellyville, New South Wales, where she had found old convict remnants on the family land.[2] Kellyville is not far from the site of the colonial Vinegar Hill uprising also known as the Castle Hill convict rebellion. Bronwyn worked as a researcher at Crawford Productions and had developed the project over a number of months, She teamed up with Crawford's colleague Ian Jones and presented it to Channel Seven, who agreed to finance a series.[3]

The series was filmed at Old Sydney Town (near Gosford), and at Belgrave Heights, Warrandyte, Colac, Geelong and Emu Bottom. It had a budget of over a million dollars and was the first Australian mini series for a number of years.[4]


The series was a large ratings success, being the second most popular show on Australia that year, being seen by 2,174,000 people in four cities.[5] It ushered in the cycle of Australian mini series.[4]


A soundtrack was released by Polydor Records. "Six Ribbons" was released as a single, peaking at number one on the Norwegian charts in 1981.

Other media

The complete series is now available on DVD in Australia, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands in PAL format. It is also available in North American format.

Episodes 1, 8, and 13 were published in book form in 1978.[6]


  1. Transportation was in reality a lifetime of exile from the United Kingdom. Although set free at the completion of their terms, ex-convicts were on their own for support. The Transportation Acts made return to the United Kingdom a capital offense.


  1. Terrace, Vincent (1981). Television 1970–1980. San Diego: A.S. Barnes and Company. ISBN 0-498-02577-2.
  2. Personal recollection of the contributor whose family were neighbours during Bronwyn's early years.
  3. "The story of 'Against the Wind'". The Canberra Times. 29 October 1978. p. 7. Retrieved 11 August 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  4. Albert Moran, Moran's Guide to Australian TV Series, AFTRS 1993 p 46
  5. "Australian TV shows top ratings". The Canberra Times. 30 December 1978. p. 3. Retrieved 11 August 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  6. Binns, Bronwyn; Jones, Ian (1978). Against The Wind. Australian Theatre Workshop Series (#19). Richmond, Victoria: Heinemann Educational Australia Pty Ltd. ISBN 0-85859-196-0.
  • "The Dictionary of Performing Arts in Australia — Theatre . Film . Radio . Television — Volume 1" — Ann Atkinson, Linsay Knight, Margaret McPhee — Allen & Unwin Pty. Ltd., 1996
  • "The Australian Film and Television Companion" — compiled by Tony Harrison — Simon & Schuster Australia, 1994
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