205 & 206
AIRDATES
Original -- 1984
Showcase -- 1995; Apr 11/12, 2000
GUESTS
Wendy Strehlow (Sister Judy Loveday)
Peter Gwynne (Richard Page)

Philip Quast (Billy Webb)
Graham Rouse (Ernie Cullen)
Glennen Faye (Dubbo Cullen)
BEST LINE/SCENE
EPISODE TRIVIA
Dubbo's real name is David (he was born in Dubbo)

Cookie's Shearer's Special -- Jackie Howe's Delight -- rare steak smothered in mushroom, with greens on the side, onions, chips, and egg....all for $4 (cottage pie was the same price)

Richard Page's dog's name is Towser

The apron Simon was wearing while eating breakfast in the first scene read "It's not that I like cooking... I just like to eat."

Richard Page's great grandfather was Augustus Page. He once owned all the land from the top of the Valley to the other side of Wandin Creek; he had 20,000 sheep. The storehouse used to be 100 yards from the clinic, where the town is. The town grew around it. They sold off parts of it over the years, as many farmers and ranchers have had to do. Richard only has 5,000 sheep now.
 
 

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 1998-2000 Kitty MacAlpine (unless otherwise noted).
"On the Sheep's Back"

Simon cooks breakfast for himself while Vicky worries about all the things she has to do today. She tosses some mail at him she forgot to give to him last night. Gwen Robertson's stallion's driven a nail into his hoof and Vicky has to go there first. It's shearing season, which makes Vicky's life very busy. She also has to go to Richard Page's property, Kunaroo (Terence had operated on Richard's hernia a few weeks ago and the property has really gone to seed since). Simon has been concentrating on one of the letters and only vaguely listening to her. He needs to talk to her about it but it'll have to wait until tonight. The letter is from the Commonwealth Institute of Health in the University of Sydney, Department of Tropical Medicine. Terence examines Richard Page at the clinic. Richard tells him about his great grandfather, Augustus. Shearing starts first thing in the morning but Terence insists that Richard needs to slow down -- the hernia might be healed but his BP is up. He has at least one worker, Charlie, who had also helped put in Terence's vineyard. Terence wants Richard to take a holiday but agrees to bring by a couple of bottles of wine after the shearing is done. Judy and Sue laugh about Mrs. Kershaw's homely baby as they walk towards the Matron's office. When Judy sees Brendan sitting there, she sends Sue off to do something else. Simon pops into Terence's office to talk to him. He tells him about the letter. He had applied for a position there before coming to the Valley and it's finally come open again. They've offered it to him. It would mean 6 months in Sydney then joining one of the research teams (New Caledonia, New Guinea, Darwin...). Terence is thrilled at this opportunity for his young colleague but Simon is worried because it's not just up to him. Terence misunderstands, thinking that Simon is worried about their partnership, and he goes on at some length on that subject. He finally asks what Vicky thought and learns that Simon hasn't even mentioned it to her. Now he understands Simon's concern. At the Club, Cookie talks to Ernie Cullen, an old shearing friend of his. He introduces some of the other shearers to him -- Billy Webb and Dubbo, Ernie's son. He tells them that Cookie used to cook for them on the Dunbar range. Billy jokes that they used to call him "the baitlayer", didn't they? Billy complains about the "mug contractor" they're stuck with, Maloney. Dubbo seems a little uncomfortable and his father's back is acting up.

Vicky tells Richard that his herd is in good shape all things considered. She's worried about sudden rain after all this heat (the danger of blow flies). She asks if she can check the sheep he's segregated in the top paddock and he gratefully accepts. Billy Webb comes into the Club insisting that Ernie, as union rep, do something about Maloney. Maloney has hired Greg "Tomaine" Thomas (his brother-in-law) as cook and the boys aren't too happy about it. Billy says they've decided not to even go out to the Page property but Ernie goes to talk to Richard first. Simon stops at the Gilroy house to talk to Shirley about the job offer. She's also thrilled but sees his problems. He tries to put a bright spin on it but Shirley doesn't look too convinced. Frank comes home in a dark mood. A fight broke out in the pub. Simon leaves. Shirley suggests they go to the Club for dinner. She's pleased that Simon came to her for advice but won't tell Frank what that advice was. Dubbo takes a ride around town on his bicycle and comes upon Molly trying to extricate Cassandra, the calf, from some fencing. Dubbo helps her out. He tells her she should tell her father to get the pen fixed and she tells him it's her farm. He likes her. Ernie and Richard discuss their problems with Maloney. RIchard has taken the liberty of hiring Ron "Curly" Blake as shearer's cook. He guarantees that Blake will be there in time for brekkie tomorrow. Ernie tells him they have to fnish by the 14th because they have to be at another property on the 15th.

Ernie and the other shearers tell Dubbo stories of the hard times shearers have had over the years. He doesn't understand all the fuss over a cook. When Shirley and Frank walk into the Club, Ernie greets her as an old friend, much to Frank's consternation. Vicky returns home, exhausted by her day. She tells Simon she's had it and he decides that's an ideal moment to bring up the job offer. Unfortunately, before he can get to the point, she tells him how thrilled she is by the fact that people are truly treating her like a real vet, not a woman, and that's the true reward. Brendan and Terence discuss a patient (Mr. Fergusson) whose wife keeps smuggling in munchies for him (Brendan suggests maybe a customs check might be needed at the door). Brendan asks Terence for the last of the bills for Molly's pregnancy. He's still having trouble breaking through to Molly. Judy pops in to tell them Mr. Fergusson's latest joke and, when told they don't want to hear it, remarks "OK, I'll just go to the poision cupboard and see if I can find some strychnine." and leaves. At the Club, Frank sits at a table with Dubbo talking about Dubbo's childhood while Shirley chats with Ernie at the bar. Dubbo stayed with his auntie after his mum died and was on the dole until Ernie decided he might make a shearer. Shirley brings them a drink courtesy of "the baitlayer". Shirley and Ernie are reminiscing about past experiences they've shared. It's raining outside. Frank decides to leave but Shirley is enjoying herself too much to leave. The next morning, the shearers have a secret ballot vote to decide if the rain last night made the wool too wet to shear. The vote is 4 "wet" to 0 "dry". Richard Page insists that 1/2 the flock was under cover but the shearers have already decided. So the day is a loss. Ernie tells him they'll get the sheep done providing there are no more hold ups. Ernie stops in at the clinic to see one of the doctors about his back. Shirley introduces him to Esme. Esme feels duty-bound to mention Shirley's husband. Ernie tells Shirley about the wet wool. Frank stops by Kunaroo to talk to Richard. A shifty looking man stopped in at the station looking for directions last night and Frank wonders if he got there (the man was "Curly" Blake). Frank tells him that there is a group of New Zealand shearers on the other side of Burrigan but Richard can't buck the union. Terence examines Ernie's back. Ernie has osteoarthritis. Terence recommends he give up shearing but he won't. Terence realizes he's already been told about this. Terence gives him a script for painkillers. Dubbo drops in at the Jones farm to see Molly. He's surprised to see Chloe there. He tells her he has the day off and thought he'd fix her calf pen for her. She's a little vacant but lets him go to it. Terence talks to Shirley about Ernie's back troubles. Vicky somes in to see Simon with a very sour look on her face. She knows about the job offer and isn't pleased that he didn't tell her first. He doesn't want to discuss it now but she forces him. He hands her the letter, which she reads. Then she says he's absolutely right, that now is not the time to discuss it, and leaves.

The shearers are enjoying their "day off" at the Club. Bob comes in for lunch. He asks about the Shearer's Special and when told what it is, decides on that for his meal. Cookie won't serve it to him, since he's not a union shearer. What about a cottage pie instead? Bob insists on his change back and says he'll get his steak and eggs down at the Greek. Billy Webb and Ernie bicker good naturedly about who's the better shearer. Esme stops in the Club and talks to Bob. She's disturbed by the change in Cookie since the shearers arrived. Bob is sure they're all communists. Dubbo comes into the Jones farm house to tell Molly that the pen is finished. She offers him a cup of tea. He gets friendly with Chloe and chats with Molly about Doris and the farm and the dog he used to have. Simon and Vicky discuss the job offer that Simon got. They both argue the other's point, they understand what each other would be giving up/gaining by staying or by going. They agree to think about it some more.

Bob brings a box of groceries to Molly for Brendan. He also offers to fix the calf pen but she tells him Dubbo did it. Dubbo is still there and it is evident that Bob disapproves. Dubbo takes his leave. Bob just doesn't like shearers. Terence visits Richard Page and they drink some wine while discussing the shearing. Richard says that he might take a whole day off when the money from the wool is in the bank. Frank is upset that Shirley was gone when he got home from jogging. Shirley is blind to it but Frank is disturbed (and jealous) by the amount of time she's been spending with Ernie. At the Club, the shearers have a drunken discussion about the merits of shearing versus other industries. Dubbo tries to shut his father up as Bob watches in disgust from the bar. The next morning, Terence asks Shirley if she'd heard anything from Simon or Vicky about whether Simon is going to accept the job offer. He goes to ask Simon directly. Simon has a few days to decide. Terence has had a letter from a friend, David King, who'd heard about Simon's offer on the grapevine and wants to buy into a country practice. Not to rush Simon or anything, of course. The shearers prepare for their day of shearing at the Page property, oiling and priming the tools of their trade. Ernie expects they'll be able to do 150 per man or thereabouts. Billy Webb comes in -- he's been looking at the sheep in the top paddock, sheep with scabby mouth. Richard insists that the sheep have been properly isolated and that he'll be shearing them. The shearers now think the whole property is infected and refuse to do any of the shearing. The shed is black banned.

Esme drops in at the clinic. She tells Shirley about the shearers striking against the Page property. Shirley tries to defend the shearers to Esme as Terence walks in. He's irate about the strike and the black banning and Shirley doesn't make things better by trying to defend them. Vicky is at the Page property inspecting the isolated sheep. She thinks they probably isolated the 50 that were infected in time and that the shearing will be able to go ahead in a couple of days. The shearers won't hear anything, though, and there's no getting anyone else with the black ban on. He tells her they have him "by the short and curlies" and there's nothing he can do about it. Ernie and Dubbo discuss their plans over breakfast. Dubbo's not too thrilled about pushing on. He'd like to stay in the Valley a little longer. He tells his dad about Molly. He thinks Molly lives alone with Chloe. Ernie tells him women are just trouble. Brendan tries to coax Molly to get out of the house. He's leaving for the hospital as Dubbo shows up. Molly makes Dubbo a cuppa and casually bids goodbye to Brendan while Dubbo talks to Chloe. Vicky stops in at the Club to tell Ernie about the treatment of the infected flock at the Page property. She tells him they'll be able to start shearing in 48 hours. He says that they'll start as soon as they get the all clear. Billy Webb overhears and tells them that he's just been talking to Maloney and they've decided to move the Bartlet job up and do some additional sheds in Burrigan. Too bad for Page. It's punishment for the bad cook and the scabby mouth. Vicky is worried that the sheep will come down with blow fly strife if they don't get sheared soon. Billy is unswerved. Vicky stalks off to the sound of Billy's sexist remarks and Ernie asks what Billy thought he was doing.

Judy talks to Brendan about the spunky shearers in town. Brendan is amused. Terence arrives looking for Mrs. Pellini's chart as Judy leaves the office. He and Brendan talk about Molly. At the farm, Dubbo has taken Chloe for a walk and returns with a nest with an egg in it. He says that the mother was scared off and won't be back. Molly insists that they must save the baby. He says they'll have to keep it warm. Ernie stops in to talk to Richard Page. He gives him the bad news that the shearers are moving on -- they have 4 or 5 days work at Bartlet's and then the other sheds in Burrigan. The shearers think they were being played for fools and refuse to relent in their decision to black ban the shed. Richard threatens to use the non-union Kiwi shearers instead. Vicky stops in to see Simon at the clinic. She tells him she wants him to take the offer, that the way things are going there won't be any sheep in the Valley. She's obviously upset about something and Simon can see that her decision has been made in haste. He says maybe they won't say anything to anyone for now, eh? Esme complains to Cookie about the shearers. She's sure the whole situation will end in bloodshed. Ernie tries to convince Billy to fit the Page property in somehow. Don't they even care about the sheep? When Billy suggests that Ernie's been given a bribe, Ernie gets angry. On her way out of the Club, Esme lectures Ernie about his actions towards Shirley. Molly has put the nest in a fluffy pink electric slipper (a present from her mum). Dubbo is really besotted with Molly. She's asked about him and he asks about her family. She says that though her mother and father are in Adelaide, her real family is here in Wandin Valley: Chloe and Brendan. He asks if Brendan is her brother and is shocked when she tells him that Brendan is her husband, Chloe's father. He's embarrassed and rushes off.

Ernie stops in to see Shirley and say goodbye. She's flattered by the rumours going around about their relationship. Frank is glad to see the back of him. Vicky pronounces Page's flock free of scabby mouth. At the Bartlet farm, Ernie's back starts bothering him. He insists he's doing great and bets Billy that he can beat Billy on the tally board -- $10 for every wool Billy does more than Ernie. Ernie is red faced and struggling as he shears. Billy pulls ahead on the tally board. Ernie collapses while dragging another sheep in and is taken to the hospital. Ernie's damaged his coccix. Only rest will help. Ernie isn't very open to that suggestion, though. Dubbo tries to convince his dad to listen to the doctor. Brendan arrives home and Molly is intently watching the egg. Brendan warns that it might not hatch but Molly is determined that it will. Brendan puts the kettle on and is drawn back into the living room by Molly's shouts that the egg is hatching. Ernie gets up to leave the hospital but can barely stand. Vicky drops in to make sure Ernie is OK. He asks about the Page sheep and she assures him that they are all clear. Ernie is truly sorry but can't force the men to lift the ban. Dubbo remarks that it's the shearing shed that is banned, not the sheep. Vicky tells Bob, Cookie, and Frank that Page and Charlie need help mustering the Page sheep onto Bartlet's property so they can be sheared. Frank and Bob says they're with Vicky but Cookie says he won't help them break a black ban. Together, Page, Charlie, Vicky, Bob, and Frank help herd the sheep to the other property.

Billy is impressed with Ernie's move to help get Richard Page's sheep sheared. Ernie stands firm, though, and reasons that the shed was declared black, not the sheep. He thinks they should put it to a vote and Billy's suggests they need to vote in a new union rep. They square off for a fight but are interrupted by Dubbo insisting that Billy fight him first. Billy refuses to hit a kid and the other shearers agree with Ernie and Dubbo that the Page matter be put to a vote. The vote goes in Page's favour. Vicky and Simon talk about the Sydney offer. He knows that her place is here in the Valley and he's decided to turn down the job. He says he couldn't take her from where she was needed (and where he's needed too). Billy sits at the bar while the rest of the shearers talk at one of the Club tables. Richard comes in to thank Ernie for his help. Richard's been talking to the other property owners -- they're fed up with Maloney and wonder if Ernie would be interested in becoming the new local contractor. He'll think about it. Molly is still sitting watching the baby bird. They both know the baby bird isn't strong enough to survive and it sparks their grief, finally, over their own lost baby. After a time, Molly says she wants something to remember Christopher by. They reaffirm their love for each other. Simon and Vicky are sharing a champagne toast about their decision when Terence arrives. Terence wants to know what that decision is. Simon plays him along a little before finally admitting that they're not going. Terence is thrilled with the news but tries to stay casual about it.

Dubbo stops by to say goodbye to Molly. He's decided he doesn't want to be a shearer but hasn't told his dad yet. He wants to save some money so he can buy a car a drive to Perth. He apologises for any trouble he caused and she kisses him on the cheek and wishes him luck with his life. Bob and Cookie bicker in the Club about shearers and communists. Molly, Brendan, and Chloe plant a tree in Christopher's memory.

Where to now?