2 Peter Benn And Argosy Films Pty Ltd present


The true story of the forgotten Aussie Battlers who in the 1960s accidentally pioneered the modern Australian film industry.

Proposed Running Time: 50 minutes


Aspect Ratio: 16:9

Like all good stories of achievement, the making of the 1962 Australian children’s feature film THEY FOUND A CAVE is a David and Goliath tale of passion, dedication, naivety, disappointment, foreign meddling, lack of money and ultimately, ownership by a cruise ship company.

I am producing a major documentary/book about THEY FOUND A CAVE’s remarkable history and the wide influence that its team had on the rebirth of the modern Australian film industry and the Arts scene.

I have already researched and interviewed many people associated with the film.

Now I need your help to fill in some missing links.

I’d love to hear from you if you or your family have any memories or associations with the production, distribution or exhibition of either THEY FOUND A CAVE or BUNGALA BOYS, and particularly if you are the custodian of the family history that might also include photographs of people involved. Please don’t be shy about sharing even what you might consider a small memory, as it could very well be the key for us to unlock more of the story.

peterbee@me.com (Note this link is NOT live. Copy and paste to your email.)

Right now we’re particularly interested in obtaining information about these people and events. Thanks for taking a moment to see if any of the names mean something to you.

Bungala Boys – we’d like to speak with anyone who had anything to do with the production, distribution or exhibition of the film anywhere in the world.  In particular the family of director Jim Jeffrey, producer – the late Otto Plaschkes, and Claire Meillon writer of the original book The New Surf Club on which the film was based. Her subsequent unpublished story which she penned with Jim Jeffrey, Normie And The Police Boys is also of great interest.  If you attended the UK premiere of Bungala Boys at the ABC Cinema in Catford (South London) in December 1961 please send us an email. “London children greeted this film with such barracking and shrieks of delight that is seemed the big cinema would collapse”. (Review from the Australian Women’s Weekly)

They Found A Cave –

Child Actors:

  • Anne Davies (lived at Moonah, attending Hobart High School 1960-62) Her grandmother lived in England and in 1965 made a special request to see the film.

The family of:

  • Beryl Meekin (Tivoli / cabaret singer),
  • Barbara Manning (actress/television presenter/Arts administrator)
  • Senator McKenna, Federal Senator in 1962.
  • Senator Nancy Buttfield, Federal Senator 1959
  • Miss F.M.Rae (Director, Island Film Services Pty Ltd) 1962
  • W. Snowden (probably Bill / William of Thompson Street) Clayton (Victoria) who in March 1963 wrote a letter to The Age regarding They Found A Cave and proposed Australian film production subsidies.
  • Don Sharp who left Tasmania and went to England in the mid 1950s and directed films for the Children’s Film Foundation (including The Adventures of Hal 5) and directed The Thirty Nine Steps in 1978.
  • Nesta Tait (actress and makeup artist)the late Steve Krantz (Head of Creative Development at Screen Gems (later Columbia Pictures Television) during 1961 – 63 (husband of author Judith Krantz).  Do you know the whereabouts of Screen Gems archives from that period?
  • Steve Altman (Melbourne businessman formerly of Highfield Road, East Camberwell)
  • John Baragwanath (Brighton Grammar School teacher early 1960s)
  • Roger Mirams (Television director and Australian Children’s Television activist)
  • Joanne Priest (Adelaide television presenter of Southern Stars 1961)
  • Victor Arnold of Auburn (Vic) who wrote to The Age in Feb 1958 about a subsidy for film production based on cinema seats sold

Anyone who worked for:

  • Queensland Tug (River Services) Pty Limited in the late 1960s,
  • Columbia Pictures (Australia and New Zealand) during 1961-65,
  • the Children’s Film Foundation in UK in the late 1950s and early 1960s pre Henry Geddes, especially if you knew Mary Field
  • Visatone Studios, Bondi Junction, Sydney, especially

(a) during the shooting of the interiors of They Found A Cave in 1961/62

(b) during the acquisition of the studios by P&O

  • at EMI Studios during the recording of:

(a)    the soundtrack with Larry Adler

(b)   the dubbing of all the voices for the actors

Photographs and other documents and resources:

  • Photographs taken on location at Elwick Showgrounds, Richmond (Tas), Neika, and Chauncy Vale during 1960/61.  (We’re especially interested in photos of the filming of the train interiors at New Town railway station in 1961.)

We’d love to speak with you if you attended the World Premiere at the Odeon Cinema, Hobart December 20th, 1962 or saw the film anywhere in the world.  A photograph of a cinema displaying posters for They Found A Cave would be fantastic – again, anywhere in the world (includes at least Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United Kingdom).  The UK premiere was at Plymouth in March 1964 where “a very large audience of Plymouth children enjoyed it immensely.” (Mary Field, retired director of the Children’s Film Foundation).

Anyone who attended Saturday matinee film society screenings in Hobart during 1957-1960 that were film clubs run by the Hobart (later the Tasmanian) Council For Children’s Films and Television and run by the children themselves. The Glenorchy screenings at the Tolosa Street Hall are of special interest. Also those at Mt Stuart, Claremont and Lindisfarne, the Hobart Police Boys Club, and elsewhere, and in 1961 the Taroona Film Club.

Obtaining a copy of any of these films or photographs of the making of:

PORT OF ESCAPE – 1961 Tasmanian feature film starring and directed by John Calvert, with Filipino singer Pilita Corrales (not to be confused with an English film of the same name).

THE SILVER FISH – short 16mm film shot at Lindisfarne Bay early 1966 financially sponsored by the Tasmanian Council for Children’s Films and Television and local Mother’s Clubs. Bruce Allen (Director, scriptwriter), Mrs Joan Wise (original story) and Barbara Manning (scriptwriters), Don Anderson (cameraman, editor) and Harry Lloyd (sound recordist).

SMUGGLER’S BEWARE written by Eleanor Whitcombe for the ABC.

AT RANDOM – HSV-7 Melbourne television program screened May 9th, 1961.  We have a transcript but would like to know if any images exist.

Unknown Tasmanian television program hosted by Barbara Manning in June 1965 where Bill Perkins talks for 10 minutes on the “Principles Of Children’s Film Production”. Also an interview he did on ABC television with Bruce Allen in the week 14 – 21 May, 1965.


Please write if in any way you can help us restore these films to their rightful place in Australian film history.  We’re happy to share our knowledge with you to assist in defining dates, locations and personnel.

Remember – your piece of information could help us unlock more details about the films remarkable history.

If you are an experienced documentary producer interested in history and nostalgia subjects we’d also like to hear from you.

peterbee@me.com (Note this link is NOT live. Copy and paste to your email.)