March 15th, 2023Revealed: How The Local helped an ex-truckie become a demented killer
Words: Kevin Childs | Images: Kyle Barnes
FOR some time now there’s been a belief that print is dead. Many say
the world is all online.
A chink of proof that this may not be ironclad is in the story of Chris
Olver of Yandoit.
Just over five years ago this paper told of his Wild West/Aussie outback model
village. Chris featured with his battered hat, rifle and Bowie knife.
The article was spotted by a representative of the Wolf Creek films, TV series and
touring show, who asked Chris if he’d like to go to a 40th anniversary celebration of
the film Mad Max in Maryborough. The Wolf Creek crew and those with Mad Max
Chris, for 30 years a gravel truck driver, agreed but changed his mind. His wife
Shirley thought he was wrong. “Go,” she said, “you have nothing to lose.”
Putting on an old cowboy hat and red chequered shirt and strapping on a Bowie
knife he headed off. “When I turned up in Maryborough a bloke named Fletch, who
runs a car TV show in Sydney, came up to me. He thought I was John Jarratt, who
he’d interviewed recently.
“I was off to a pretty good start.”
Chris met the Wolf Creek representative, who made a short video that was sent to
Jarratt. Back came the word that Chris had the job of playing Mick Taylor as a stand-
in for Jarratt at shows around the country.
Then he was in the world of Wolf Creek, which features a sadistic outback pig
hunter called Mick Taylor who grabs his chance when he comes across a busload of
tourists from around the world. Their outback encounter is unimaginable.
Actor John Jarratt made Mick Taylor his own in two films and two TV seasons.
Chris has now been doing it for about four years, touring country Victoria,
including Melbourne, Adelaide and New South Wales, sometimes with Jarratt but
mostly with the Wolf Creek truck and crew.
The spin-offs include a fan club, Wolf Creek car badge, a Mick Taylor statue
($750), a pig-sticker hunting knife, a game and a pink cameo stretch gun sling.
Along the way there’s been some fun, such as when Chris was asked if the Wolf
Creek show would appear at a cancer fundraiser in tiny Lexton in Western Victoria.
“There were about three dozen people out front. A woman of about 24 looked a
bit worried as I did old Mick, so I picked up one of our movie props, half a human
leg with bone sticking out the top and blood running out of it.
“I went over to her and said in a raspy Mick Taylor voice, ‘Meet Sally or what’s
bloody left of her’. As the crowd laughed she looked at me and said in a stuttering
voice, ‘My-my-my name is Sally.’
“I had to do some quick thinking because she was a bit shaky, but she had a
little boy of about five, so I coaxed him up and we chatted and they both had photos
taken, so it turned out okay.”
Chris is full of praise for John Jarratt, “a great bloke. If I need to know anything I
ring or text him. He answers me straight away. He has a huge following.”
Jarratt appeared with Chris and others at the recent Australia Day Musicland
Theatre show in Melbourne. “The place was packed. It can make you a bit nervous
but I got through it okay.”
Back home in Yandoit Chris shows his Wolf Creek museum, its props including
a charred body, severed limbs and a skull, posters, signed photos and, dominating
the space, a sky blue 1977 Ford F250, a replica of one in the film, signed within by
Jarratt, and a massive 1978 HX Holden Statesman Caprice, used in the TV series.
At age 77 Chris is not sure how long he’ll keep playing Mick. “It’s a fair build-
up before each show. I don’t shave for well over a week and I’m down in the bush to
practise the Mick Taylor laugh a lot. It’s not easy to do. And I practise Mick’s voice.”
(“What are you buggers doin’ ‘ere?” he rasped when we arrived.)
“Shirl has to put up with me as Mick, which can be a bit trying.
“At the end of it all,” he says, “it’s good to get home, have a shave, get cleaned up
and get back to being me.”