Andrew McFarlane has been a star of Australian television since he first appeared in the action-packed detective series Homicide in 1972. He became a household name thanks to his role as eldest son John in the hit series The Sullivans. The show was on air for seven years, although Andrew stayed for only the first 18 months of the series. The fact he’s so well remembered is testament to both his great acting, handsome looks – and the fact his disappearance at the height of World War II kept viewers hanging on for good news for many years. The show went global and even now, 30 years on, The Sullivans is about to be shown dubbed on German cable TV.
Andrew’s other TV credits include Patrol Boat, The Flying Doctors, Water Rats, Blue Heelers, Home & Away, Neighbours, The Alice, and Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities. The NIDA graduate has been a regular presenter on PlaySchool for the ABC and is currently filming a new drama series to be shown on Foxtel this year.
On top of his success in numerous telemovies and miniseries the hard-working actor has also won acclaim in regular roles on the stages of every state theatre company in Australia. Now he’s sharing his experience and love of drama with a new generation of actors as the course director at a major Sydney theatre school.
Did you go for camping or caravan holidays when you were young?
We didn’t really do the camping/caravanning thing when I was little. I grew up in a small country town in W.A. right on the coast and surrounded by bush, so I guess our holidays were spent right where we were!
When we moved to Brisbane however, we did do some pretty long trips back to Adelaide where my grandparents lived. It was the 1960’s and dad drove a massive powder blue Chevrolet…he would stash a makeshift tarpaulin and some groundsheets and rig up a sort of tent/lean-to attached to the car where we would put down swags for my parents, while my sister and I slept on the back seat. I think that all came to a stop after one trip when dad had filled the billy with water from a nearby creek and after dinner, when she took the dishes down to wash, mum found a dead sheep in the water.
What was your favourite place to visit and why?
Dad worked in the cattle industry and I did go out to far west Queensland droving with him in the channel country when I was about eleven. We camped with the stockmen along Cooper Creek. Caught beautiful Yellow Jacket in the creek and had them grilled over the campfire and ate fresh-made damper baked in the ashes. The red desert sand dunes, vast sky, amazing birdlife and the outback characters we met made it unforgettable.
Tell us about some of your favourite memories.
Obviously that trip to the Outback was a favourite memory; also bushwalking in the Stirling Ranges and seeing acres of wildflowers during my childhood in Albany. Also when I worked on the TV series The Alice which we shot in Alice Springs, we went to some truly beautiful locations and saw some of the best sunrises and sunsets.
Do you have camping tips? Must do’s and don’ts?
Tip 1: if camped by a creek always check that the water is running and clear if you are going to boil water for tea. Also check that there are no dead sheep in it.
Do you still like to get out and explore Australia?If so, what locations are on your wish list?
I love the Australian landscape and I try to get out in it as much as possible.
I had a great campervan holiday in the southwest WA a few years ago. Revisited Albany where I was born and drove through the Karri forests and into the Margaret River area, staying in campsites and caravan parks along the way. I want to hike in the Flinders Ranges, re-visit beautiful Tasmania (and the Freycinet Peninsular and Bay of Fires ) and get to the Tiwi Islands – some day.