Black Thursday soundscape

Step back in time to 6 February 1851, when bushfires raged across Victoria – turning day to night, and destroying life and property. This soundscape recreates the drama and tragedy of that terrible day using voices, music and sound effects.

When William Strutt returned to London, he took with him many newspaper clippings of accounts of the great bush fire of 1851. These first-person accounts of the tragedy provided Mr Strutt with the characters and scenes for his painting. With the help of the newspaper archives of the State Library of Victoria, the Black Thursday soundscape tells the tale of many of the characters and narratives that are depicted by Mr Strutt.

Drawing on first-hand accounts of the bushfires found in the Library's newspapers collection, director John Paul Fischbach has brought to life the people, stories and terrifying atmosphere of Black Thursday as depicted by William Strutt.

John Paul is an internationally recognised theatre director, producer and special events creator. He has worked on heritage and history dramatic audio projects in Australia, Canada and the US.


  • Michael Davoren: William Strutt, British painter
  • Mick Cahill: McLelland, Scottish rancher
  • Josie Scott: Mary, British settler
  • Michael Szuc: John, Mary's husband
  • Frankie Walker: Barwon, Mary and John's son
  • Tjimba Possum-Burns: Jackie, their Aboriginal farmhand
  • Angelo Salamanca: Charles, travelling actor manager
  • Jo Fripp: Catherine, actress with the troupe
  • Gina Morley: Lizzie, Irish settler
  • Natalie Gee: Anne, Lizzie's daughter
  • Joanna Clyne: Joseph, Lizzie's son
  • Michael Jeffery: Pat, Lizzie's husband

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