8:30pm – Sunday, January 8 on ABC1
Sunday, 8 January 2012 It’s the summer of 1969 in Broome, an idyllic pearling port on Australia’s west coast, and shy Aboriginal teenager Willie (Rocky McKenzie) reluctantly finds himself on his way back to Catholic boarding school in Perth before he gets to date the girl of his dreams, local church singer, the beautiful Rosie (Jessica Mauboy).
Willie’s devoted mother, single parent Theresa (Ningali Lawford-Wolf) hopes that one day he’ll become a priest.
But it’s not long before life at boarding school under the strict and sometimes cruel rule of Father Benedictus (Geoffrey Rush) becomes unbearable, and Willie makes his bolt for freedom. Alone in the city, he is befriended by the roguish ‘Uncle Tadpole’ (Ernie Dingo) who, it turns out, is also from Broome, and promises to help Willie get back home. But not before he’s been to the pub of course. Eventually they hitch a lift in a Kombi van with a couple of hippies – loved-up Annie (Missy Higgins) and uptight German tourist Slippery (Tom Budge). They head off on the 2,500 km journey with Tadpole spinning clich�d Aboriginal tales to an enraptured Annie, and Slippery wondering how far away Broome actually is. Willie has an uneasy feeling it’s going to be a bumpy ride…not to mention what his Mum is going to do to him when he gets home Meanwhile, Father Benedictus has hit the road determined to find Willie and make him fulfil his destiny; and in Broome, Rosie has started singing with the pub band whose lead singer, handsome bad boy Lester (Dan Sultan), has his eye on her.
Tadpole robs a petrol station run by man-eater ‘Roadhouse Betty’ (Magda Szubanski) causing them to make a running getaway, and Slippery turfs the hitchers out. Willie hitches a ride with a truck full of Zorba-dancing football-playing boys and finds himself offloaded in the rough mining town of Port Hedland where he catches the attentions of local good-time girl, Roxanne (Deborah Mailman).
Willie is rescued in the nick of time by his Kombi companions but the Kombi is pulled over by the cops, and they spend the night in jail. Willie has a disturbing dream and worries that he can’t go back home, but Tadpole decides to take responsibility and promises Willie that he will get him home.
Willie arrives in Broome with no idea if Rosie will still be there or what his mother will do, but little does he know that the day ahead will be full of surprises – for everyone.