Screened as part of NZIFF 2002

Surviving Shepherd’s Pie 2002

Directed by Diana Leach

51 minutes Beta-SP

Director, Screenplay


Simon Smith


Jan Usher

Sound design

Craig Carter


Jamie Saxe


Country Calendar with salt and vinegar, Surviving Shepherd’s Pie introduces us to four stunning women who have survived many things worse than their own campfire cooking: fire, flood, famine and ratbag husbands to nominate the most dramatic. Inspired by Melissa McCord’s photographs of outback farming women, New Zealand-born Diana Leach travelled widely through rural Australia before concentrating her attention on the four we meet here. Eunice Bougoure is 78, living in splendid isolation with her opera CDs, savouring the dusk of an incredibly difficult life, inseparable from the drought-ridden land she has farmed for years. Born and bred a farmer, Eunice trapped rabbits and grew roses to support her two children while her alcoholic husband disappeared for months at a time. As a 17-year-old beauty, Tracy Tapp abandoned a privileged girls’ school when swept off her feet at a rodeo by one of the notorious Tapp boys. Having appalled polite society she then appalled the Tapps by refusing to stay behind when the men went out on long bush musters. Twenty-five years later she’s branding cattle, chasing rogue bulls, teaching butchery to children and she’s still a glamorous woman. Enid Healy, 72, is an ex buck-jumping champion who has spent years on the circuit with her rodeo star husband, Ken. As she sits with a fidgety Ken, recalling his amorous manoeuvres and the way they’d get from one rodeo to the next with their Blue Heeler bitch in their motor bike and sidecar, the romance of growing old together is plain as day. Cissy Bright, 52, was so determined to live on a station she married the first man who could get her there and found herself in the middle of nowhere and pregnant before she was 20. Life gave Cissy a second chance and she and her second husband run one of the largest, most prosperous cattle stations in the Northern Territory. Tough, funny and sexy, these women look their young interviewer in the eye and never waste a word. It’s a privilege to see how they present themselves to someone they have every reason to trust. They are direct and eloquent in their appreciation of life lived in the light, and to the hilt. — BG