Scrublands, a new four-part drama series largely filmed in the historic township of Maldon, will be premiering on Stan this month.
The series, based on the award-winning novel written by Chris Hammer, is set in Riversend, an isolated and struggling country town in rural Victoria.
Throughout the series, local viewers will recognise a number of local landmarks, with regular shots of Maldon’s High Street, Robert Cox Motors, Maldon Hospital and familiar sites along the Loddon River.
St Brigit’s Catholic Church on Chapel Street features throughout the series as the location where a charismatic and dedicated young priest Byron Swift (Jay Ryan – It Chapter Two, Top of the Lake) calmly opens fire on his congregation, killing five parishioners.
One year later, investigative journalist Martin Scarsden (Luke Arnold – Black Sails and Never Tear Us Apart: The Untold Story of INXS) arrives in Riversend to write what should be a simple feature story on the anniversary of the tragedy. But Martin finds a town deeply scarred and hostile to journalists – including local bookstore owner Mandy Bond (Bella Heathcote – C*A*U*G*H*T and Relic), with a number of scenes filmed inside The Book Wolf in Maldon.
Luke Arnold, who plays Martin Scarsden, spoke to the Express about his time filming in Maldon and the difficulties trying to find somewhere to eat late in the evening.
“When we arrived, there was a kind of guilty feeling, because we were turning the beautiful country town of Maldon into the long-suffering little town of Riversend, which is not always talked about favourably in the show,” Arnold said.
“We very quickly started swapping stories about which bakery to get a pie from and it didn’t take long for the various pubs and cafes to be like ‘oh you’re back again’.
“We did work very long days and the big struggle was trying to get somewhere for dinner before these lovely little country towns closed up.”
Arnold said he enjoyed playing Scarsden, a journalist with a big internal world who is both very complicated but also very simple in what drives him.
“He thinks this story in Riversend is old and sad, and everything about the story has been told. But once he gets a little sniff that there’s something deeper happening, his journalistic instincts really kick into gear,” Arnold said.
“The audience is able to straddle the journey of learning about Scarsden, his past, what makes him tick, as well as the journey of following him on each of these discoveries.
“It is really great playing a journalist who really is all about learning the truth. When they feel like something’s being covered up, that something’s being hidden away, they cannot rest until it comes to light – even though you may betray people, lie to people, be a real bloody pest, it’s all in service of the truth,” he said.
“I’ve had such fun with this. We have such a great crew and it’s a really fun adaptation. We’d definitely like to continue their journey and hopefully after audiences see the show they will want to see Martin Scarsden hunting down his next story as well.”
The Stan Original Series Scrublands premieres on November 16, with all episodes airing at once on Stan.