From West Wyalong to the big screen for an Australian farmer

IN THE BOX SEAT: Ross Harmer of West Wyalong has helped to make 21 documentaries telling rural stories. Picture: Nikki Reynolds
IN THE BOX SEAT: Ross Harmer of West Wyalong has helped to make 21 documentaries telling rural stories. Picture: Nikki Reynolds

ROSS Harmer is a knock about farmer from West Wyalong.

And he is also one of the best story tellers and collectors of history you could meet. Scouring a dumpster for old film footage is not beneath him and flying a helicopter into remote areas of Australia to find top talent is not too hard either. So far he has produced 21 documentaries but the latest one titled Aussies in the Saddle is set to make the big screen. Aussies in the Saddle will be publicly launched at Forum 6 Cinemas in Wagga on March 25.

Mr Harmer combined his skills with the talents of accomplished agricultural journalist Kim Woods to bring the documentary to life. 

“It was a very trying project but it was also very rewarding,” he said. 

Some of the talent for the movie was lined up purposefully and other legendary anecdotes were stumbled upon along the way. 

“The relationship between Australians and their horses is something that had to be explored,” he said.

One of the more touching moments of making the movie was when the journalists interviewed his father Fred Harmer, 92. 

Another well known character Doug Hope, 90, also features on the movie.

“Because it is just so close to home for me I had to make sure we got it right,” he said.  

Mr Harmer didn’t just draw on his own knowledge he brought the professions in to produce a polished product. 

The movie was presented by equestrian coach and writer Rebecca Ashton. 

Mr Harmer said he was proud of the work and believed it would appeal to all generations. He wants young children who have an interest in pony club and horses to take away what they can. And at the same time he hopes the older generation will enjoy the rare and historic footage. 

“This latest documentary has been a couple of years in the planning, with the past year spent filming and editing,’’ Mr Harmer said.

“I had always wanted to do a documentary on horses but it is such a huge story, and the problem was how to tell it and make it interesting.’’

Mr Harmer was inspired throughout the project by his favourite poem, The Wind’s Message, by A.B Banjo Paterson.

“I sourced a lot of footage from old 16mm and Beta cam tapes from the mid 1970s to 2000 from RVN-2 Wagga (now Prime),’’ he said.

RELATED COVERAGE: