The Moth of Moonbi

The Moth of Moonbi is a 1926 Australian film directed by Charles Chauvel. It was adapted from The Wild Moth, a 1924 novel by Australian author Mabel Forrest.[3][4][notes 1]

The Moth of Moonbi
Directed byCharles Chauvel
Produced byCharles Chauvel
Written byCharles Chauvel
Based onnovel The Wild Moth by Mabel Forrest
StarringMarsden Hassall
Doris Ashwin
Arthur Tauchert
Charles O'Mara
CinematographyAl Burne
Australian Film Productions
Release date
  • 25 January 1926 (1926-01-25)
Running time
9,000 feet

Only part of the film survives today.[5]


Dell Ferris is a tomboy from the country town of Moonbi who is loved by English head stockman Tom. She goes to the city where sophisticated Margery Daw helps Dell spend her money in high society. Dell returns to Moonbi poorer but wiser and marries Tom.[6][7]


  • Marsden Hassall as Tom Resoult
  • Doris Ashwin as Dell Ferris
  • Arthur Tauchert as Jack Bronson
  • Charles O'Mara as Ferris
  • Michael Dwyer as Rodger Down
  • Colleen Richards as Margery Daw
  • Billie Stokes as Josephine
  • Jack Reed as Bill Devine
  • Darla Townend as Little Dell
  • Edward Lyon as Martin Brooks
  • Charles Chauvel as aboriginal stockman


After spending eighteen months in Hollywood studying the filmmaking process, Charles Chauvel returned to Queensland and formed his own production company, Australian Film Productions Ltd.[8][9] He helped to secure funding by lobbying the Ipswich and Toowoomba Chambers of Commerce on the necessity of an Australian film industry.[3] The company was formed by issuing 30,000 shares at ₤1 each.[10] Chauvel announced his goal in 1924:

It is our intention to produce films in Queensland and wherever possible to use Queensland talent in all departments of our work. Queensland, with its excellent climate conditions, its months of fine weather, and its beautiful and varied scenery is undoubtedly one of the best parts

of Australia in which to produce motion pictures... We intend to film our stories with faithful regard to thc spirit and traditions of our young nation, and we will present the same with the belief that there will be audience response for home-made productions which are offered through the joint efforts

of Australian writers, craftsmen, and artists.[11]

In the end the paid-up capital of the company was £7,000, and the uncalled capital was £4,240.[12]

On-location filming took place in Queensland, at three primary locations: near Spicer's Peak, at Franklyn Vale cattle station, and under the Sleeping Assyrian, a mountain in the Rosevale Valley.[3] The film unit, comprising a total of eighteen members, included a bush chef and a supply of sheep and fowl.[3] The lead roles were played by Doris Ashwin and Marsden Hassell, who later married.[3][13]

Chauvel was thrown off his horse during filming but escaped injury.[14]


The film was highly popular in Queensland however it fared less well in the Southern states.[15][16] Despite this, the movie made a reported profit of £1,300 and Chauvel made another film for the company, Greenhide (1926).[12]

Mabel Forrest was very pleased with the film.[17]

On 21 December 1928, the film was the first film shown at the (now heritage-listed) Majestic Picture Theatre in Malanda, Queensland.[18]


  1. In her 1973 memoir My Life with Charles Chauvel (p20), Elsa Chauvel erroneously states that The Moth of Moonbi was an adaptation of a poem by Ethel M. Forest.


  1. Australian film and television chronology – 1920s, Australian Screen. Accessed on 30 December 2010.
  2. "£100,000 SPENT." Advocate (Burnie, Tas) 5 Jan 1928: 6 accessed 6 December 2011
  3. Chauvel Carlsson, Susanne (1989) Charles & Elsa Chauvel: Movie Pioneers, University of Queensland Press
  4. Writing from the Contact Zone: Fiction by Early Queensland Women, Belinda McKay (2004), p53-70
  5. "Heat Causes Film Fire In Strongroom". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 31 January 1940. p. 3. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  6. "THE MOTH OF MOONBI."". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 28 November 1925. p. 18. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  7. "FILM ART". The Queenslander. National Library of Australia. 28 November 1925. p. 16. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  8. "PERSONAL". The Brisbane Courier. National Library of Australia. 23 September 1924. p. 4. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  9. "AUSTRALIAN FILMS". The Morning Bulletin. Rockhampton, Qld.: National Library of Australia. 24 April 1925. p. 8. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  10. "TRADE AND FINANCE". The Brisbane Courier. National Library of Australia. 29 February 1924. p. 4. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  11. "FILM INDUSTRY". The Cairns Post. Qld.: National Library of Australia. 10 March 1924. p. 3. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  12. "BRITISH FILMS". The Brisbane Courier. National Library of Australia. 24 June 1927. p. 14. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  13. ""THE MOTH OF MOONBI."". Queensland Figaro. Brisbane, QLD: National Library of Australia. 25 July 1925. p. 12. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  14. "ROSEVALE". The Brisbane Courier. National Library of Australia. 6 July 1925. p. 10. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  15. "FILM INQUIRY". The Brisbane Courier. National Library of Australia. 25 June 1927. p. 18. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  16. "PRODUCERS' IDEAS". The Register. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 23 June 1927. p. 9. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  17. ""The Moth of Moonbi."". The Western Champion. Barcaldine, Qld.: National Library of Australia. 5 June 1926. p. 19. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  18. "Majestic Picture Theatre (entry 601743)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
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