Sea of Sand (1972)

Australian travel legends Mal and Mike Leyland give us a crackerjack billabong desert adventure. 

The vintage films at this festival are popular not simply because of deep saturated colours inherent in the Kodachrome 16mm film saturation process but for another reason altogether. The older films were always made by people who had no concept of support vehicles, risk assessments or the notion of the celebrity ‘presenter’. The guys who shot the film, were in the film.

In 1972, doubtless influenced by the Nevada chase scene in Diamonds Are Forever, the Leyland brothers set off on an attempt to conduct the first east-west crossing of Australia’s Simpson Desert by balloon-tyred Honda trike. These goofy ATVs have virtually disappeared from the public conciousness but their lunar credentials made them ideal for crossing 600 miles of nasty desert.

Far from being a boy’s own adventure, this trip is quite the Leyland family affair; Mal’s wife Laraine keeps up the pace astride one of the trikes, attired in a fabulous psychedelic bikini that is more St. Tropez than Simpson Desert, while Mike’s wife accompanies the trip in a Series 2 Land Rover with her toddler daughter and the family dogs by her side. The sheer indifference to health and safety is enormously refreshing, and this simple fact alone means there will always be a corner of the curators’ heart marked ‘Leyland Brothers’.

16mm Colour    62 mins