y Sky Without Birds single work   radio play  
Adaptation of Sky Without Birds Oriel Gray 1951 single work drama
Issue Details: First known date: 1952 1952
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Set in the Post Office of the fictional town of Koorora a few years after the end of World War II. A desert settlement of some 67 people that exists mainly to support the building of the Trans-Australian Railway line (which crossed the Nullarbor Plain from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta), Koorora typifies the railway workers' joke that their trains "stop at nothing."

Heinrich Schafer is the town's new railway mechanic. He is also a new Australian - a German Jew who spent much of the war imprisoned by the Nazis. His arrival in the town creates new tensions - inflaming both anti-German hatred among some locals and a romantic passion with the wife of Rick, the locomotive engineer who befriends him. Rick is already questioning his worth as a husband to the much younger Nereai, and so allows his wife freedom to choose. Their decision is not, however, left to them alone.

The title is a reference to the local belief that birds, apart from the occasional crow, won't fly over or settle in Koorora because it too far from water.


  • This radio adaptation, though essentially the same as the stage version, has been heavily adapted to fit within the Australian Broadcasting Commission's one hour radio drama timeslot. The adaptation involves both cuts to the original text and new dialogue.
  • The South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus (18 August 1952, p.2) indicates that this was Oriel Gray's first radio play (ctd. 24/05/2016).

Production Details

  • First broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) on national relay from 2FC (Sydney) on 25 August 1952. The performers comprised members of the ABC's Radio Repertory company.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

      1952 .
      Extent: 31 leavesp.
      (Manuscript) assertion


      Held at: University of Queensland University of Queensland Library Fryer Library
      Location: The Hanger Collection of Australian Playscripts
      Local Id: H0694
Last amended 24 May 2016 12:58:47