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Clip description

The daytrippers are inside the entrance to the spectacular Kingston Gorge and preparing to return to base when Everett (Robert Taylor) thinks he sees a flare in the distance, ahead of them through the gorge. The others look and see a second flare. Kate (Radha Mitchell) decides they have to investigate in case someone needs help – despite the objections of some of the party.

Curator’s notes

This scene is what screenwriters call the film’s 'inciting incident’, the event that starts the story proper by tipping the characters from relative certainty into a state of instability. The spectacular aerial shot at the end of the clip gives a clear indication of just how isolated the travellers are from human settlement.

The use of the spectacular Kingston Gorge is highly symbolic – a clear and literal representation of Joseph Campbell’s concept of ‘crossing the first threshold’, the point where the hero crosses into the unknown (when the boat eventually emerges into swampland, it will be in what the rogue crocodile regards as its territory). In the sequence following this clip this is made explicit as the characters discuss the fact that the gorge is sacred Aboriginal land, meaning they’re not supposed to be there. One of the characters spies an Aboriginal rock painting of a crocodile – indicating an ancient cultural understanding that this is crocodile territory. That they have moved into alien territory is also marked by a dramatic change in the landscape – from dry rocks to lush swampland.