Bush Christmas
Directed byHenri Safran
Written byTed Roberts
StarringJohn Ewart
John Howard
Nicole Kidman
Mark Spain
James Wingrove
Music byThe Bushwackers
Distributed byBarron Films
Umbrella Entertainment
Release date
Running time
91 minutes
Box office$122,035 (Australia)

Bush Christmas (also known as Prince and the Great Race) is a 1983 Australian Christmas drama film and a remake of a 1947 film of the same name, which was based on a novel by Ralph Smart and Mary Cathcart Borer. The film marked actress Nicole Kidman's first feature film role. It was filmed on location on the Lamington Plateau, Queensland. It is also notable for music by The Bushwackers.


In rural Queensland, the Thompson family, struggling to keep its farm from foreclosure, hopes their horse, Prince, will win the New Year's Cup so that they can use the winnings to pay off the debt. However, two struggling lowlifes, Bill and Sly (John Ewart and John Howard), find out about the horse and steal it, escaping into the nearby mountain range.

With the father off droving cattle and the thieves having sabotaged all forms of transportation and communication before escaping, the Thompson children Helen (Nicole Kidman) and John (Mark Spain), and their English cousin Michael (James Wingrove), saddle up their own horses and go after the crooks on their own, with Manalpuy, a local Aboriginal who works on the farm, assisting them.


At one stage Howard Rubie was announced as director and he was involved in casting. However, for a time it seemed the film might not go ahead so Rubie accepted a chance to direct The Settlement instead.[2][3]

The movie was shot in Queensland in Beaudesert and Rathdowney. Funding came in part from the Australian Film Commission, the Film and TV Institute (WA) and Queensland Film Corporation.[4]


Box office

Bush Christmas grossed $122,035 at the box office in Australia,[5] which is equivalent to $322,172 in 2009 dollars.

Home media

Bush Christmas was released on DVD by Umbrella Entertainment in December 2012. The DVD is compatible with all region codes and includes special features such as the theatrical trailer, press kit stills and the script.[6]


  1. ^ "Production Survey", Cinema Papers, March–April 1984 p79
  2. ^ "Interview with Howard Rubie", Signet, 2 November 1998. Retrieved 20 November 2012
  3. ^ David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p341-342
  4. ^ Geoff Mayer, "Bush Christmas", Australian Film 1978–1992, Oxford Uni Press, 1993 p122
  5. ^ "Film Victoria – Australian Films at the Australian Box Office" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 February 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2010.
  6. ^ "Umbrella Entertainment". Archived from the original on 21 November 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013.