Five Mile Creek [TV Series] (1983)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Period Show [TV]  |   Run Time - 60 min.  |   Countries - Australia  |  
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One of the earliest weekly dramatic series on cable's Disney Channel, the weekly, hour-long Five Mile Creek was a US-Australian coproduction, debuting on Australia's Seven Network less than a month before its American premiere on November 4, 1983. Created by American novelist Louis L'Amour as part of his anthology The Cherokee Trail, the series was set during the Australian Gold Rush of the 1860s. Louise Caire Clark headed the cast as Maggie Scott, a San Francisco native who came to Australia to start a new life for herself and her daughter Hannah (Priscilla Weems)--and to search for her prospector husband Adam (who was killed off halfway through Season One). Arriving in the rugged stopover community of Five Mile Creek, some 40 miles north of Sydney, Maggie cast her lot with Kate Wallace (Liz Burch), who'd become sole owner of the stagecoach station-diner-hotel The Haven after her brother Eddie ran out on her. Both Maggie and Kate offered assistance to the Australian Express, a fledgling stagecoach service established by the elusive Charles Withers (Peter Carroll) and co-owned by Texas expatriate Con Madigan (Jay Kerr) and headstrong "Gentleman Jack" Taylor (Rod Mullinar), both of whom doubled as drivers. Also lending a helping hand to the stage service was Maggie's handyman Paddy Malone (Michael Caton), a philosophical Irishman with a shady past. Rounding out the main cast was youthful Sam Sawyer (Martin Lewis), whom Maggie and Kate rescued from pursuing a life of crime, and whom Kate eventually adopted. In the tradition of Little House on the Prairie, Five Mile Creek depicted a diverse group of pioneers who'd all gathered together in the same tight-knit community to renew their lives, leave past troubles behind, and follow their dreams. Also, the series followed the standard western-show formula of complicating the main characters' lives with crooked businessmen (who hoped to put the stage line out of business), murderous claim jumpers, bandits and desperados (here known as "bushrangers"), a lack of decent medical facilities, and the usual ravages of bad weather and worse luck. Standing in for the usual Indian tribes were the local Aborigines, for whom Maggie established a school. The series' producers prided themselves on the authenticity, noting that some 500 hours' research went into preparing the scripts, and pointing out the realistic costumes and props. At the outset of the third and final season the entire community of Five Mile Creek was forced to pull up stakes and embark upon a treacherous journey across the Great Divide, ultimately resettling in the town of Emu Plains. Priscilla Weems left the series when Hannah Scott was bundled off to boarding school; new additions to the cast included Shannon Presby as naïve cowboy Matt Buckland, and an 18-year-old Nicole Kidman as Annie, the hoydenish daughter of a grizzled miner. In all, 39 episodes of File Mile Creek were filmed between 1983 and 1986.