“It was down to the fact that there wasn’t really anything here that really paid homage to what was the biggest film Australia had ever made, the film that put the place on the map.”
You might not have heard of Silverton, NSW. The town, 25km out of Broken Hill and home to 50-odd residents, a few art galleries and one pub might not seem the most likely location for a museum, but for Mad Max fanatic Adrian Bennett there was nowhere better.
“When I was 18 I got dragged along to the cinema,” explains Adrian, surrounded by the rigs from the flick that he dug up himself. “I wasn’t really interested in going to the pictures to see the films, I hadn’t even heard of Mad Max or Mad Max 2, it was a double feature – my friends had been the day before and they said oh Adrian you’ve got to go see these biker movies – well it turned out to be quite a lot more than biker movies.
“I was so taken with what I saw on screen, even with the first movie I couldn’t believe what I’d seen, it was so fresh and original and unusual, I was blown away and when the second film started… you’ve got this great shot panning out over this beautiful landscape all around you in the opening scene, I was drawn in and by the end of the film my head was buzzing. I couldn’t believe what I’d seen and I needed to know more and more and more about these movies and that set me on a quest and the quest has carried on now for the next 35 years.”
Starting the museum from scratch, Adrian began to source exhibits locally, filling out the property with costumes, props and the types of memorabilia only found in post-apocalyptic Australia.
“People became aware of who I was and what I was doing and there were some wonderful, generous people, certainly from Broken Hill as well who approached me and that was how it started,” said Adrian, only a short drive away from where much of the filming took place. “Over the next few years other people would hear about us and contact us and come forward with things and that’s happened for the last seven years since we’ve been open, you never know who’s going to phone or come through the door.
“We’ve been approached by crew members as well, it’s really snowballed since then… The generosity of people has been fantastic. I think it’s great for people, certainly for the locals to be able to tell the family and friends and visitors to come here and that they’ve got something on display and they can come up and see what’s on loan or been donated to us.”
Securing exhibits straight from the source, Adrian and crew have more than once ventured to the more isolated corners of NSW in an effort to pack out the walls.
“Our first excavation which was quite a big one; it was nearly two years ago, out at the site where the compound was at the Pinnacles which was fantastic, the anticipation to do this was just incredible,” said Adrian. “We brought history back to life, we brought stuff out of the ground after 30, 35 years, it was just absolutely incredible, and it was like a lucky dip, you didn’t really know what was going to come out until the big bucket of the excavator went in and it pulled else something out.
“The last one we did was in January at a smaller site up the Menindee Road, an area we knew had been used as a bit of a dump. We went out there and found some unique, fantastic pieces which are on display as well, it’s just been great, you never know what you’re going to come across.”
Having opened the doors on 26 September 2010, the museum is still going strong and a must for any Mad Max 2 or film fan who’s excited for the next instalment in the series, set to be filmed in and around Broken Hill.
“These items, they’re unique, they were custom made for Mad Max 2, they’re not something you’d buy from a prop shop or off a shelf,” said Adrian. “All these items, you just won’t find them anywhere else. For some visitors they may not look like much but to me it’s like finding a piece of gold.
“Who would have thought after all these years that you can still go out there, there’s not many films where you can go out and still find things from them. All the fans that are out there, they’ve got to come out to Silverton. It doesn’t matter which direction you look, everything’s gotten Mad Max written all over it.”