Get­ting to heart of story

Coleby in tale of drought strug­gle

Western Times - - OLDER & WISER - ALI­SON HOUS­TON Visit out­back­spec­tac­u­ or call 13 33 86.

AT 71 and af­ter al­most five decades in the act­ing busi­ness, Robert Coleby is still find­ing new ways to chal­lenge him­self. He is now star­ring in the Gold Coast’s new Aus­tralian Out­back Spec­tac­u­lar, Heart­land. Coleby plays farmer Reg, who with wife Marg (Cate Feld­mann) is strug­gling to sur­vive a five-year drought on the land. The arena show melds live ac­tion, thun­der­ing horses, a dog, quad bike, film and a sta­teof-the-art light and sound sys­tem. “It’s pretty im­mer­sive,” Coleby said. “The horse-work is def­i­nitely spec­tac­u­lar, but it’s weaved into a story line so that you re­ally care about the peo­ple on those horses.” So de­spite their phys­i­cal size against this im­pos­ing out­back back­drop, Coleby says the char­ac­ters loom large, but he ad­mits it’s not an easy gig. “At my age you look for a chal­lenge,” he said. “We all know our life is fi­nite, and mine’s likely to run out quicker than my Ikea kitchen guar­an­tee – but life is for liv­ing, for tak­ing risks.” Coleby has been a main­stay in Aus­tralian TV, per­haps best known for his role as XO in early 1980s se­ries Pa­trol Boat, the fore­run­ner of Sea Pa­trol. He also ap­peared in The Young Doc­tors, Chop­per Squad, The Levkas Man, An­zacs, and All Saintsa­mong a host of oth­ers. Most re­cently he starred as El­iz­a­beth Bligh’s (Noni Ha­zle­hurst) love in­ter­est, Sir Dou­glas God­dard, in TV favourite A Place to Call Home, which sold to 140 overseas mar­kets. But hav­ing such a last­ing ca­reer, he said, was a mat­ter of luck as well as tal­ent. “You can be re­ally good in some­thing no one watches, or you can be good in some­thing that’s pop­u­lar and get a pe­riod of work and that no­to­ri­ety kicks on to other pro­duc­tions.” Coleby lives on seven hectares on the Gold Coast and loves it – “it’s such a beau­ti­ful part of the world” – and is happy to be work­ing so close to home. And he hopes Heart­land will give peo­ple a new ap­pre­ci­a­tion of ru­ral life, and the strength and re­silience of those who work the land. With Vil­lage Road­show do­nat­ing $20,000 from ticket sales to drought re­lief, it’s got to make a dif­fer­ence.

Photo: Con­trib­uted

LIVE SHOW: Robert Coleby plays bat­tling farmer Reg, tak­ing on Aus­tralia’s heart­break­ing drought con­di­tions in Aus­tralian Out­back Spec­tac­u­lar’s Heart­land.

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