199 & 200
Original -- 1984
Showcase -- 1995; Mar 31/Apr 3, 2000
Georgie Sterling (Old Emily White)
Wendy Strehlow (Meg Ryan/ Sister Judy Loveday)
Lucky Grills (Pat Kelly/ Johnno)
Tough to pick just one or two. All of the "colonial" scenes were great. This is one of those episodes that you really need to see to appreciate.
Turn of the century Wandin Valley:
Young Miss Emily White -- Anne Tenney
Dr. Thomas Heath, town drunk and doctor -- Shane Porteous
Mr. Albert Beech, blacksmith and ferrier -- Gordon Piper
Meg Ryan, a barmaid -- Wendy Strehlow
Rosie Thornton, widowed barmaid -- Lorrae Desmond
Polly Thornton, single daughter of Rosie -- Penny Cook
"Dingo" Donnelly, bushranger extraordinaire -- Shane Withington
Jumping Jack Ackroyd, schemer & haberdasher -- Syd Heylen
Harold Melville, rich city bloke -- Grant Dodwell
Trooper Roebuck, law enforcement -- Brian Wenzel
Miss Priscilla Whitbread, busybody -- Joyce Jacobs

Plotlines, characters, dialogue quotes, hospital name, house image, show photos, & show-specific details JNP Productions. The wording and presentation of the information on this site and all of the ACP graphics 1998/1999 Kitty MacAlpine (unless otherwise noted).
"Once Upon a Time"

Molly dreams of a colonial Wandin Valley Elderly Mrs. White arrives at the hospital to be admitted and is met by Judy, Brendan, and Terence. She doesn't like them fussing over her and doesn't think she should be there in the first place. She's the oldest resident of the Valley and is on the waiting list for an opening in the Muldoon Wing. Frank arrives with some of her things (brush and comb, clock, sewing basket, etc.). There is a meeting of the Wandin Valley Pioneer Village Historial Society at Johnno's pub. Esme is taking the minutes and Johnno, who seems to have appointed himself chairman of the society, suggests that there be a barbecue (at which he will conveniently be providing the drinks). A mild argument breaks out over that. Molly makes the brilliant suggestion that perhaps someone should interview Emily White before something happens to her. Frank seconds the suggestion and Terence offers Molly the use of his tape recorder. Johnno tries to bring the discussion back around to the barbecue. Later, Molly tries to talk to Mrs. White about the old times in Wandin Valley. She isn't very communicative at first then tells Molly that it's Miss White, not Mrs. She eventually begins to tell her life's story with Molly. She was born in Sydney and her mother died when she was young. Her father died when she was about 17, leaving her alone in the world (she was an only child). She realized that a young woman on her own would have a hard time of it and decided to take care of it. Two days after her 18th birthday (ca 1902), she arrived in Wandin Valley...

The stagecoach rolls into a dusty turn-of-the-century Wandin Valley. An elegantly dressed (and very young) Miss White alights from the coach and the driver tosses her baggage into the dirt beside her. She grabs her bags and strides off.

Molly marvels at how long Miss White has been in the Valley. Miss White asks what Molly's name is. Terence pops in to check up on her and she tells him she'd be much better at home. Molly offers to leave as she doesn't want to tire Miss White out (though Terence thinks that the older woman is enjoying the attention) but Miss White insists that she's had plenty of rest in her almost 100 years. Molly prods her to return to her story...

Young Miss White asks a rather drunken middle-aged man with muttonchop sideburns where the blacksmith shop is and he directs her there. She calls out "Edmund!" at the shop but the gentleman who turns around is not Edmund. The man, Mr. Beech, tells her that Edmund never owned the shop (he worked for Mr. Beech) and that Edmund has gone off to the gold fields. Her marital prospects are dashed as Mr. Beech tells her that Edmund Cooper is likely never to return to the Valley. She asks after lodging and is pointed towards the hotel up the road.

At the hotel, two of the barmaids, Meg and Rosie, tell Miss White that the owner of the hotel (Pat Kelly) is "a loudmouth pig of a man who can't keep his hands to himself" and she should find accommodation somewhere else. Pat arrives and Emily asks him for a room. He asks if she's on her own but she ignores him, instead following Rosie up to the room she's rented. Rosie Thornton is a poor widow with one child, a daughter, who lives on a farm outside of the town. She is worked hard and taken advantage of by Pat Kelly because he knows full well how desperately she needs the money. Her daughter, Polly, struggles to work their paltry acreage and despairs of ever succeeding. She is not the image of feminine loveliness, what with her dirty face, homespun, and rabbit fur garments, and she wonders "I never hear of young gentlemen. Why is that, Mother?". Rosie remarks that a young man called Melville is looking to buy land and suggests that they might sell theirs so that Rosie can stop working at the hotel (Polly, however, refuses to sell to a rich city fella). At the hotel, Pat nearly trips over himself to serve Emily. She asks for tea and he offers sherry. They compromise on a ginger ale. Mr. Heath, the drunk Emily met earlier, mentions to her that there is a tea room just down the street. They are interrupted by the sound of gun shots from outside. A handsome young man has just robbed the bank and, after a flirting look at Emily, flees the town on horseback. Emily learns that the robber's name is "Dingo" Donnelly.

Decades later, Miss White still vividly recalls the look that the robber gave her before riding off. Molly is really getting into the spirit of the story, almost picturing it herself. They are interrupted by Brendan insisting that Miss White needs rest. Miss White shoos him out of the room so that she can continue her story. She's so pleased that Molly wants to hear it...Molly's the first one to ever ask. She continues on with the story...

After two more nights at the hotel, Emily is shown by Albert Beech to a respectable house with a room to rent. Miss Priscilla Whitbread gives Albert a tongue lashing for having permitted Emily to stay at the hotel in the first place and after he leaves, she outlines the rules of her house for Emily -- no alcohol (except for port wine in moments of vapours) and no gentlemen callers of any kind (except the Reverend). Mr. Beech's friend, "Jumping" Jack Ackroyd, tries to rope him into a scheme to buy land ostensibly loaded with gold from Pat Kelly. A haughty city gentlemen by the name of Harold Melville interrupts them and orders Albert to take care of his horse, who has thrown a shoe. He enters the hotel and introduces himself, frequently pressing a scented hankie to his nose to disguise the disturbing odours. Rosie tries to tell him about her farm but Pat sends her away to tend to other customers. Melville tells Pat that he is looking for a friend of his father's, a Dr. Thomas Heath. Dr. Heath happens to be napping in the corner and comes awake at the mention of his name. He stumbles over to Melville's side and insists the young man stay with him as his guest. Trooper Roebuck tries to take care of Rosie's safety, what with the terrible bushranger about, but she insists she's just fine. At Miss Whitbread's house, Emily is spinning outside in the front yard when the dashing bushranger shows up. She asks him what he wants but he just smiles enigmatically at her.

Brendan reads part of Molly's transcript of Miss White's interview. He pokes fun at it and insists that Molly has embellished it, making it more romantic than it was (like a historical romance novel). Brendan wants to know what happened to facts but Molly defends herself, saying that she's just bringing the people Miss White knew to life. Molly continues to transcribe the taped interview...

Miss Whitbread takes Emily to see Trooper Roebuck to report the presence of the terrible bushranger at her home. She's distraught but he sends her home (with a recommendation to "lock yourself in") and goes scampering after Rosie Thornton, offering his help in keeping her safe from Dingo. Albert Beech visits Dr. Heath after he is kicked in the knee by Melville's horse. The doctor examines it and comes to the conclusion that it is just some bruising (needing a tot of rum to dull the pain) and charges Albert a shilling. As he leaves, Albert tells Melville his horse will cost him a shilling as well. Melville asks Dr. Heath about Rosie Thornton. He then asks why the doctor chose to bury himself here in the country...a woman, no doubt. Dr. Heath tells Melville that the woman in question left to be a soldier's nurse in the Transvaal. He closed the rest of the house then. He shares a hefty amount of drink with Melville during the telling of his story. Albert meets up with Jack at the hotel. Jack has been talking to Pat about buying the plot of land to graze goats on. Pat remarks that the old mine workings could be a bit of a nuisance to goat farming and asks for 25 guineas for the parcel of land, includes the land up to the ridge and down to the Thornton's in the south. Jack is startled by the amount but then quickly agrees. Melville stops by the Thornton farm while Rosie is eating stew. He has looked at the land and decided that he can't make a better offer than 20 guineas. Polly is insulted at the offer and fires her gun at his feet to shoo him out of the house.

Dr. Heath chats up some of the dance hall girls, ostensibly under the guise of administering medical help, as Emily enters the hotel. She asks him where she might find some work. She means to make her own way in the world. She notices that his jacket is torn and offers to mend it for him. Dr. Heath suggests that she might become a seamstress. Miss Whitbread rushes into the hotel and insists that Emily return back to the house. She preaches temperance to the hotel patrons but her words fall on deaf ears. Trooper George Roebuck drops by the Thornton farm to warn them that Dingo is on the rampage again, 20 miles away. He's brought flour for them. Polly tries to refuse on principle but is overridden by Rosie. Polly leaves her mother and the trooper alone and goes for a walk. He offers to help out a little, insisting that Rosie call him George. On her walk, Polly comes upon Dingo riding in the bush and they greet each other as old friends. She asks how things went at the bank and he sheepishly tells her that there was no money there...he came out with only notes and mortgages. He asks about the pretty strange girl he saw at the bank heist and Polly warns him away from Emily White. He rides off in high spirits.

Melville comes upon Albert Beech and Jack Ackroyd coming out of the mine opening on their new "goat grazing" land. They direct him toward a nearby creek to water his horse. They've found nothing so far and Albert is upset over having lost his hard earned money in this bad deal. Jack thinks they can get there money back. As he nears the creek, Melville decides to walk his horse and hears a lovely voice singing. He sees a young woman bathing herself in the creek near the waterfall. He watches her for a few moments. Albert and Jack confront Pat about the mine. He knew what they were up to from the start. He offers to take the land back for a few guineas but they see a new sucker as Melville walks into the hotel. Melville asks Meg who the mystery woman at the creek would have been and doesn't believe that it could possibly be the grubby Polly. He is feeling so good that he buys the entire bar a round of drinks as Albert and Jack try to talk him into buying their land. Rosie tries to convince Polly to sell their farm land but Polly is still very resistent. Rosie talks to Polly about why young men don't come after Polly. Dr. Heath compliments Emily on her fine sewing skills. He is pleased when she tells him that she doesn't know if she'll be leaving the Valley any time soon. He offers her a raspberry cordial. Emily wanders around the good doctor's surgery and suggests that new curtains would brighten up the place.

Dingo Donnelly rides fiercely into town and everyone hides themselves indoors. Pat Kelly urges Emily to get off the street but she stands dumbstruck as he swoops in and scoops her up, spiriting her away with him. Trooper Roebuck rounds up a posse of men to go after them.

In Miss White's room at the hospital, Brendan tells Terence about the story Molly is weaving from Miss White's memories. The old woman asks them if she has enough time to finish her book and Terence assures her that she'll finish that book and many more (so she needn't read the end first? just in case?). After they leave, she begins to reminisce again. Back at the Jones farm, Molly continues to transcribe the recordings she already has of Miss White's story...

The search parties are out all day but never find the bushranger or his captive. The two ride for hours through the bush, with Emily berating him most of the way. At the hotel, Meg shares her dark opinions of the fate of Emily White with Miss Whitbread, causing the spinster woman to faint with a case of the vapours. The search parties return to the hotel empty-handed and Miss Whitebread is distraught. Rosie insists that Trooper Roebuck go back out and continue searching. Dr. Heath arrives last and for the first time in years refuses a drink, asking instead for a glass of water. He's determined to be well rested and clear headed in the morning when they resume the search to find Miss White. He tries to rouse up enthusiasm among the men. Harry Melville enters as they are discussing things and Dr. Heath brings him up-to-date. Meg, as always, pipes in with something vulgar about what Dingo Donnelly and Emily White are really getting up to.

Later that evening, the hotel is nearly empty. Dr. Heath's example has encouraged everyone to go home to have an early night and Rosie rises to his defense when Pat Kelly begins a tirade against the good doctor. Meg comes iin struggling with a heavy barrel and Pay urges her to roll it instead. Melville talks to Jack and Albert about the "gold mine" on their property. Melville is a trifle confused about the land but is eager to learn the identity of the vision of beauty he saw at the creek. Rosie overhears and offers to arrange an introduction to the Lorelei he is obsessed with...she tells him to come tomorrow evening...no, better yet tomorrow morning. Jack and Albert pressure Melville to commit to buying their land and he offers them a maximum of 20 guineas. Dingo and Emily stop for the night at an abandoned farmhouse. She threatens to leave the minute his eyes are shut and he tells her to go right ahead, then tells her frightening stories of the dingos that roam the area. She says she doesn't believe him and strides outside. The sound of howling wild dogs in the distance forces her back inside. The next morning, Rosie tries to convince her daughter to sweet talk Melville into buying their property (and maybe even ask Polly to marry him, he's so besotted with her). For her part, Polly is shocked to learn that Melville actually saw her while she was bathing. Melville shows up at the Thornton farm and Rosie forces Polly to apologize to him. He tells them he's decided not to buy their farm (he's bought the "gold mine" instead). Upon hearing that, Polly curses at him and picks up her shotgun. She hauls off her cap and Melville suddenly realizes that she is indeed his Lorelei. He takes his leave of them both. Polly throws down the gun and it goes off as it hits the floor. Emily talks to Dingo about his past -- he became a bushranger after the people who were looking after him fell on hard times. She asks him about the name "Dingo" and he grows angry. It's not a name he would have chosen and is not impressed that "Dingo" was the disrespectful name people came up with. He begins to leave the dwelling but when she assures him that she will not stay put if he goes off and leaves her, he resignedly throws himself down into a corner.

Polly nears the "gold mine" as she comes in search of one of her cows and hears Melville yelling at the retreating backs of his former workmen. He admits to Polly that he spent his last 20 guineas on the mine property, has no money to pay wages to the workmen, and dare not go back to his father in failure. He decides to tackle the mine himself, armed with pick, shovel, and gun powder. Jack and Albert arrive as Melville enters the mine. Miss Whitebread urges Dr. Heath to not give into the demon drink but Dr. Heath is unable to cope with the search party's failure to find Emily without a few stiff drinks in him. Miss Whitbread is escorted out of the hotel by the proprieter and Dr. Heath grows disgusted with himself. Rosie consoles Trooper Roebuck over his failure to find the young woman. Jack and Albert confer with Melville through the mine shaft as Melville tries to light the gunpowder. The fuse keeps going out and by the time he is successful he only has about an inch or two of fuse left. Jack, Albert, and Polly flee the immediate area as quickly as they can. The gunpowder goes off while Melville is still inside and Polly goes to the mine entrance to see what's happened. Both Jack and Albert take off their hats in respect but a soot-covered Melville stumbles out of the mine alive and well. In each hand he has a large nugget of gold...real gold. Jack and Albert are distraught at their lost chance at untold riches. While Dingo is busy shaving himself, Emily slowly inches towards the door. He slams the door shut, brandishing his straight razor, and she is frightened. He assures her he would never hurt her but she wants to know why he has abducted her. He knows that she's an orphan, like him, and tells her what an awful man her intended husband had been. In a fit of anger, she calls him a dingo and he shouts at her that he isn't a dog and that he'll make her proud of him if it takes him his life. He starts throwing things out of a trunk he'd stolen from some acting folk and finally finds a lovely red military coat to wear. He rushes out, locking the door behind him, and rides off on his horse. At the hotel, Melville is proudly shows off several large nuggets of gold and buys a round of drink for everyone. Miss Whitbread interrupts them with her temperance speech and is herself interrupted by Dingo Donnelly shouting "Stand and deliver". He calls himself Captain Stardust. Dr. Heath wants to know what he's done with Emily and Dingo assures him that Emily is fine. Pat Kelly insists that the only rich person in the hotel is Melville and Dingo gleefully grabs up the gold nuggets and runs off. Dingo stops by the Thornton farm, startling Rosie. He says that there is no doubt but that Rosie is definitely poor and he gives her all but one nugget of the gold he's taken. He rushes back out the door just as Trooper Roebuck comes calling on Rosie. It takes him a few seconds to realize who it was that brushed past him but then Roebuck races off after Dingo (while Rosie tucks the gold safely into the bodice of her blouse). He fires a parting shot at the bushranger, wounding Dingo in the leg (and shocking the trooper). Dingo is in a bad state when he finally arrives back at the abandoned farmhouse. Emily insists he needs help and she takes his horse back to town. He doesn't believe she'll ever return. At Dr. Heath's office, Melville is feeling rather poorly (courtesy of the copious amounts of liquor he has consumed). Polly takes him to a back room when he gets queasy just as Emily rushes into the surgery to bring Dr. Heath to tend to Dingo. The doctor is stunned that she has escaped only to bring help to her captor but agrees to help. He doesn't think she should return with him (perhaps Trooper Roebuck instead?) but she insists. It is dark but Miss Whitbread sees them ride past and runs to the trooper's home to tell him that she's seen Emily alive and well. Dawn is breaking by the time they reach the abandoned farmhouse. Dr. Heath is not confident of his skills to heal Dingo but Emily assures him he can do it. With the added incentive of Dingo holding a gun to him, Dr. Heath begins his ministrations.

Polly and Melville wake up in the surgery and Melville apologizes to her for having drunk so much. He will be returning to the mine. He asks her to let down her hair and is overcome by his feelings when she does. She takes his hand and his spirits soar. The sun is fully risen when Dr. Heath finally manages to remove the bullet. They use pieces of her petticoat to bind the wound and he asks what happens now? He can see that she had grown fond of the injured bushranger. Trooper Roebuck sees Dr. Heath ride off and knows he came from behind the ridge. At the farmhouse, Emily and Dingo talk. He thinks they could go somewhere where no one knows them, maybe Queensland. He wants to continue to be a bushranger but she says she wants him to go straight. For her, he thinks he could do it. He tells his real name is Michael Ignatius Donnelly. They kiss just as Trooper Donnelly and other officers burst in to take Dingo into custody. After much struggle, they manage to wrestle him outside, leaving Emily with nothing but the memory of the look in his eyes and a button from his lovely red coat.

Molly cries at this sad ending to Miss White's story. She listens to the last of Miss White's taped interviews -- "Still I swore that he and I would be together again some day and I'd sew that button back on his pretty jacket." -- and begins to write the final pieces of her story.

It's five years later. Miss Emily White has stayed in the Valley, waiting "for I could do nothing else". Dr. Heath is no longer a drinker. Melville and Polly have married -- they ride into town in their new car with their children. Trooper Roebuck and Rosie are a couple. Emily walks alone down the main street as a dashing young man on horseback rides up to her. It was Donnelly, come for her again, and they ride off together.

Molly reads her article to Miss White and Miss White tells her that what Molly has written is the way things should have turned out.

Molly arrives at the hospital later on to find that Miss White has passed away during the night. Terence tells her that Miss White wanted Molly to have the sewing basket. In a small tin in the basket is a gold button with a little tuft of red fabric on it and Molly smiles. Terence tells Molly that one of the last things the old woman said was "That little Molly can feel the past. It makes me believe there's a future." Molly's article in the Burrigan Examiner is a big hit. At Johnno's pub, the next meeting of the Pioneer Village Historial Society discusses further details of the barbecue and the article. Molly makes a little speech that Miss White should be congratulated since it was her life (she would have been 100 next week). Brendan tells Molly he's proud of her. Molly looks fondly at all of her friends, gathered here for this meeting. They are all so like the people she envisioned in her daydreams of the past and she smiles as she watches them interact with each other -- Shirley coaxing the frugal Frank into buying a round, Simon and Vicky gazing lovingly at one another, Judy shocking Esme with her thoughts on what really went on in the bush hut, Bob and Cookie cooking up their latest scheme, and Terence adding a tiny jot of soda to his drink.

Where to now?