Arguably one of the reasons that the 1972 Sunbury festival is so well remembered is because of the festival concert film Sunbury ’72.
Filmmaker John Dixon had been asked by Odessa Promotions to manage the Sunbury festival, realising soon after that it would be such a unique event that it should be immortalised on film.
Along with featuring many of the musical performances, Dixon also focused on associated aspects of the festival – there is footage of a young man (potentially under the influence) on top of some scaffolding, several men getting arrested at a nearby pub and interviews with some of the musicians backstage.
This gave the film a well-rounded view of the festival and helps to give the viewing audience a fuller experience of just what the festival was like.
In this excerpt from Triple R radio program Film Buffs Forecast from 1992, John Dixon is interviewed by Paul Harris about how the film came about and the unique way in which it was originally screened in 1972.
As documented in the accompanying poster, the film toured with Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs live across the east coast of Australia. Following this, the film was unavailable until 1992, when it was released in cinemas again to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
John Dixon went on to write the screenplays of both Man from Snowy River films in the 1980s, as well as co-writing and co-directing the 1985 miniseries Anzacs.
Dixon passed away in 1999, but the results of his decision to document the 1972 Sunbury Festival will live long in Australian music history.