When Film and TV producer Muffy Potter first clapped eyes on Porcupine Village in Maldon, she knew she’d found her dream location for the comedy series Gold Diggers, currently airing on ABC and iView.
Doubling as ‘Dead Horse Gap’, Porcupine Village provided a fully immersive location to film a boisterous and irreverent take on the early gold rush era.
Gold Diggers reimagines the well-worn chapter of history by celebrating the cruder and louder moments, as documented by historians. “While it’s certainly not a history lesson, it is absolutely informed by research. We thought we might be stretching the truth, but it turns out it was quite the party – and a very multicultural one at that,” said Muffy. Ballarat-based historian, Dr Fred Cahir, served as a researcher on the show, and the yarns he had to tell about the festive atmosphere of the early gold rush days, helped to inform many details and even some of the storylines on the show.
Dr Cahir said, “It was a wild time! With a cosmopolitan mix of people from places as far-flung as Jamaica and Sweden, there’s even documentation of First Nations Californians – all fit, young and newly rich. It leaves the 2023 metropolis of Melbourne for dead.”
The story itself is from the perspective of two sisters, Gert and Marigold Brewer, as they embark on their own mission: landing newly rich husbands. The period setting collides with modern vernacular and even politics to create a heightened and playful comedy.
Filmed mostly on location at the replica village, Muffy said, “It was a magical set creating an authentic experience of the time. We got dirty, muddy and spent a lot of time alongside horses and donkeys.”
Local musician, Steve Howard of Martini Set fame, starred as an extra and can attest to the immersive reality.
“There’s a scene when a priest is proposing to one of the sisters, and he’s about to propose when a horse does the longest, loudest fart you’ve ever heard. We all thought, was that meant to happen? The comedic timing was perfect!” he said.
Employing over 70 locals from the region and utilising local accommodations and eateries, Gold Diggers brought a whole host of benefits to the local community.
You can expect a riotous ride and might even spot some familiar faces, too. Catch Gold Diggers on the ABC or iView now.
This article appeared in the Tarrangower Times, 7 July 2023.