Now an extremely obscure television program (of which no mention is made on the National Film and Sound Archives website), Wandjina! was a seven-part fantasy series for young viewers, written by G.K Saunders (who, in 1964 and 1965, had scripted The Stranger) and, like The Stranger, produced by the ABC.
Wandjina! followed three young protagonists who stumble across a mysterious valley. In one of the valley's caves, they find cave paintings of the Wandjina spirit people. But after making this discovery, they start to see some odd things.
The central mythology of the program was inspired by the Dreamtime mythology of the Kimberley region of north-west Australia; as such, it represented an early attempt to create a consciously Australian style of fantasy for television (for example, it preceded the television adaptation of Patricia Wrightson's The Nargun and the Stars).
Moran notes in his Guide to Australian TV Series that the program was 'notable in using young Aboriginal actors such as Bindi Williams, as well as bringing some sense of Aboriginal culture to its young, white audience'. The lead roles were taken by Juliana Allan (who played Ensign Eve Poitier in Vega 4 in the following year) and Jacki Weaver (one of her earliest screen roles).
For a detailed, episode-by-episode synopsis, see Notes.
List of episodes:
Note: These synopses are taken from the Radio Times, from the BBC broadcast of the series (as Wandjina Magic).
1. 'Donald MacPherson arrives from Scotland to stay on the Queensland homestead of his Australian relations, and learns of a strange aborigine [sic] legend.' (Radio Times, 6 July 1967, p.20.)
2. 'Ian and Bruce set out to discover the Valley of the Skull, and find stowaways aboard their truck.' (Radio Times, 13 July 1967, p.21.)
3. 'Ian and Bruce leave the two girls to guard the truck while they press on into the valley. Who or what is the strange, tall figure they see in the bush?' (Radio Times, 20 July 1967, p.21.)
4. 'Mr MacPherson and Sergeant Hicks set out to find Donald, Bruce, and the girls, and are caught up in a whirlwind.' (Radio Times, 27 July 1967, p.18.)
5. 'The police become anxious about Sergeant Hick's report and discover unusual radar interference in the area in which Bruce and Donald disappeared.' (Radio Times, 3 August 1967, p.18.)
6. 'Dr. Smith discovers the secret of the ray gun and the Army moves in.' (Radio Times, 10 August 1967, p.18.)
7. 'The secret of the strange object In the clearing is at last revealed, and the past gives up one of its secrets.' (Radio Times, 17 August 1967, p.18.)