An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does the truth become error because nobody will see it. -Mahatma Gandhi
PARTS of the original Mad Max movie were filmed at Stockton beach, right?
It says so in Wikipedia, and on about a gazillion websites, most of which quote each other as the source of the information.
Except it seems it may not be true.
I’d heard the story spouted about quite often and never even thought to question its veracity, at least partly because it doesn’t bother me either way.
But I guess it serves as a little illustration of how mistakes can get compounded and buttressed and become folklore.
It was reader, researcher and history buff Graeme Steinbeck who raised the question with me, partly out of frustration that Wikipedia apparently won’t let him edit the entry to make his intended correction.
It won’t let him, apparently because one of the authorities cited for the Mad Max information is the NSW parliament itself.
Port Stephens MP Craig Baumann told parliament in August 2010 that: ‘‘In fact, parts of Mad Max were filmed on Stockton beach and a young Mel Gibson camped in the huts’’.
Now, I’m not an expert on the Mad Max movies, but Peter Barton is.
Peter runs a website devoted to all things Mad Max, and the site is especially big on identifying filming locations.
Peter agrees that parts of Stockton beach look like some of the scenes from Mad Max, but he is adamant that the filming was done at Avalon beach, in Victoria.
‘‘Maybe someone has gotten confused because Stockton looks similar,’’ he speculated. ‘‘It’s a false claim, like many others out there, like the guy trying to sell Mel Gibson’s ‘‘original’’ costume on eBay,’’ Peter wrote.
‘‘Unfortunately it can be difficult to quash rumours like this once they get going. I’m not sure what to tell you that would squash it in people’s minds for good, other than the fact that no one pushing this claim has a single fact or shred of evidence to actually back it up.’’
When quizzed about his parliamentary assertion, Craig Baumann was apologetic. It appeared he had accidentally misled the house, he said, and he promised to correct the record when the chance arose.
Anyway, researcher Graeme’s interest in the history of Stockton beach runs deeper than debunking Mad Max myths.
He’s got a bone to pick with Tin City too. Tin City is the tourist attraction settlement of iron shacks in the Stockton dunes, and Graeme wants to clarify its pedigree.
Some, it seems, believe that Tin City started out as a squatter settlement in the Great Depression, and the unofficial history asserts that it was flattened during World War II to make way for some kind of army installation, only to be rebuilt after the war.
Trouble is, Graeme has searched and searched, and says he can’t find any reliable records of any such depression settlement, nor of any army installation at the site.
He figures somebody must have got mixed up with Nobbys Camp, and points out that remote, waterless, soil-less Tin City would have been a hopeless settlement site in the 1930s.
He also points out that Tin City only remains unburied today because of fairly constant and mechanically assisted effort. Could a small group of unemployed folk – who had to walk kilometres every day to the nearest road to even start their daily journey in search of water, food and work – have managed the task?
‘‘No evidence has been produced, such as a photo or paper reference, that validates the existence of Tin City prior to the early 1970s,’’ Graeme asserts.
Well, there’s a challenge for Newcastle Herald readers who disagree. Is there a photo or diary, or anything else that proves Graeme wrong? If you’ve got proof, how about sharing it.