A British man’s 27-year obsession with the post-apocalyptic biker movie Mad Max has led to him moving his family from Yorkshire to a tiny town in the middle of the Australian Outback.
Adrian Bennett first saw the iconic Australian film Mad Max and its sequel The Road Warrior, which starred Mel Gibson as a revengeful drifter who wanders the Outback with his police ‘Interceptor’ car and his devoted dog, as a double bill at the cinema when he was a teenager in England in 1982.
Now 45, Mr Bennett has decided to fulfill his dream of living in the same town where the first two movies were made and has moved his wife Linda and two of his sons from their home in Bradford, Yorkshire, to Silverton near Broken Hill on the border of New South Wales and South Australia.
He says he moved to the tiny and remote Outback town, which is located over 800 miles west of Sydney and has a population of just 51 (including the Bennetts), so he can set up a Mad Max museum in his backyard where he can park his custom-made made replica black Interceptor.
“From the opening credits of the first film to the closing credits of Mad Max 2 my jaw was on the floor, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and I was totally hooked,” Mr Bennett told The Times of the moment his obsession began over two decades ago.
He says it was “everything – the costumes, the characters, the location and the vehicles” which attracted him to the film and led him to a life of collecting Mad Max-related memorabilia.
A panel beater and crash repairer by trade, Mr Bennett even created his own version of Max’s Interceptor car in his garage in Bradford after exporting a Ford Falcon Coupe from the US. He spent over £15,000 customising the machine (“after that I stopped counting”), and even more bringing it to Australia with the many other pieces of memorabilia he has amassed over the years, including more vehicles from the film and a vast collection of photographs.
He has even acquired his own blue heeler cattle dog, aptly named Dog, after Max’s own faithful companion in the movie.
The Bennetts first moved from England to Adelaide in South Australia three years ago before finally buying a house in Silverton last month, and are now living off their savings while Mr Bennett begins to plan his museum.
Silverton is often described as a “ghost town” because of its remote location and small population, but is a popular tourist destination with approximately 140,000 visitors each year.
“We have taken a really big risk but I’ve followed my dream, so for me it’s all fallen into place,” said Mr Bennett, adding that his family have been captivated by the arid landscape and local wildlife.
“The other day I woke up and there were a dozen emus passing the back fence ... you wouldn’t get that in Yorkshire,” he said. “It’s just such a big and beautiful place. It doesn’t matter what direction you look in, you still feel like you’re on a film set.”
That's probably because it is a film set. Silverton has been used as the location for dozens of features including Mission: Impossible II and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and is regularly featured in international commercials.
Locals, many of whom were extras or stuntmen in the Mad Max movies and are accustomed to film enthusiasts breezing into town, have welcomed their new British neighbours with open arms.
Publican Chris Fraser, who runs the Silverton Hotel and also has a replica Interceptor car, describes Mr Bennett as a “fair dinkum, wonderful bloke” who lives and breathes Mad Max.
“He’s going to be an asset to the community and to the region bringing his Mad Max museum to town its going to create more tourism for us, the phenomenon of the Mad Max movies just grows every day,” Mr Fraser said.