Essington (film)

Essington is a 1974 TV film about a convict named Squires who arrives with a detachment of Royal Marines at Port Essington.[1]

Directed byJulian Pringle
Produced byAlan Burke
Written byThomas Keneally
StarringChris Haywood
Hugh Keays-Byrne
Music byPeter Sculthorpe
CinematographyLloyd Shiels
Distributed byABC
Release date
26 November 1974
Running time
103 mins

According to the Canberra Times "it is both an historical narrative and an allegorical treatment of Australian history."[2]


In the 1840s, the settlement of Port Essington is run by Governor Macarthur. The inhabitants include Macarthur's wife, Private Evans, and a convict, Bob Squires, who has good relations with the local aboriginal population.

Private Evans falls for an aboriginal woman and goes missing from the settlement.



Thomas Keneally won Best Script at the 1976 Logie Awards. Chis Haywood won Best Performance by an Individual Actor.[3]


The music score was written by Peter Sculthorpe with Michael Hannan and David Matthews. It was adapted from an Aboriginal melody "Djilile" (whistling-duck on a billabong) from a recording collected in northern Australia in the late 1950s. Sculthorpe further developed the music as a 15-minute, six-part piece titled "Port Essington" which was commissioned by Musica Viva Australia for the Australian Chamber Orchestra and first performed at the University of Queensland in August 1977.[4][5][6]


  1. Ed. Scott Murray, Australia on the Small Screen 1970-1995, Oxford Uni Press, 1996 p52
  2. "COLOUR TV NEW SERIES OF ABC COLOUR PROGRAMS". The Canberra Times. 49 (14, 004). Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 4 March 1975. p. 15. Retrieved 10 February 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  3. 1976 TV Week Logie Awards accessed 27 June 2013
  4. "Port Essington". Leichardt Land.
  5. "Interview with Peter Sculthorpe Part 5". Australian Biography.
  6. Hannan, Michael (2011). "SCORING ESSINGTON: Composition, Comprovisation, Collaboration" (PDF). Screen Sound.

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