The prospect of a new movie about bushranger Sam Poo has not impressed the descendants of a trooper killed by the bushranger in 1865.
“I think they are approaching it as another Ned Kelly film, where they’re playing with the truth,” said Narelle Law, a descendent of Trooper John Ward, killed by Sam Poo in the Mudgee district in 1865.
Author and screenwriter Robert Macklin is working with former Shanghai film producer, Cindy Jia Li, to develop a film about Australia’s only Chinese bushranger.
The producers plan to shoot a short trailer to attract the $20 million funding they need to shoot Aodaliya Gold. “Aodaliya” is Mandarin for “Australia”.
Sam Poo was a loner who set up briefly at the Talbragar gold diggings before turning to bushranging, beginning by robbing ten Chinese goldminers at pistolpoint on the Mudgee road.
In February 1865, Poo was found by Trooper John Ward, who pursued Poo through the bush to Barney’s Reef, where during a running gunfight Poo managed to shoot Ward in the chest, take his weapons and abandon him.
Ward was found by the property owner the next morning, and died soon afterwards.
A two-week manhunt ended when a black tracker named Harry Hughes led the Troopers to Poo.
The Troopers rushed Poo as he fired on them, with a bullet hitting him in the thigh and Hughes clubbing him in the head with a rifle butt.
Poo was hospitalised in Mudgee and nine months later trialled for the trooper’s death in Bathurst, where he was found guilty and hanged.
The filmmakers appear to be planning a more romantic version of Poo’s story, and have also updated the spelling of his name to Sam Pu.
“Pu came to Australia during the Gold Rush of the 1860s,” the producers told Canberra’s City News.
“Here he fell in love with an Australian girl, Emma Golding, but ran foul of the law at a time when there were vicious anti-Chinese riots on the goldfields.”
Ms Law, who lives in Adelaide, said she had at first tried to ignore her qualms about the film, until she spoke to other relatives and found that they shared her concern.
“We thought about it, and we thought, ‘No, this isn’t right’,” she said.
The producers of Aodaliya Gold intend to make the film’s trailer at Gooromon Park Riding Centre in the hills of Hall next month and use it to secure the additional funding for the project, which is supported by ScreenACT.