A Fortunate Life: episode guide

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Part I: Starting Out (1897-1905)


Part 1
Screenplay by Ken Kelso
Directed by Henri Safran

Bert Facey doesn't have an easy start in life. Born in 1894, he is two years old when his father dies of typhoid fever trying his luck on the western Australian gold fields. Then Bert's mother abandons him and his brothers to the care of his grandmother.

At this time, Australia is deep in an economic recession, which makes the difficult life of pioneering the Australian bush even harder. Bert, his grandmother and his siblings travel hundreds of miles from Melbourne to join an uncle and his family in their rough hut on the Kalgoorlie goldfields. But the gold is almost depleted, so they move to a Government land grant to carve out a farm from virgin bush, miles from any settlement.

Despite this, there are too many mouths to feed, so at eight, Bert goes to work on the farm of a family of drunken horse thieves. Forced to work from dusk to dawn, he never sees the wages and clothing he is promised. When he is whipped almost to death at the age of ten, Bert escapes back to the care of his grandmother and uncle.

Principal Cast:

  • Bill Kerr as Narrator
  • Scott Bartle as Bert (5 yrs)
  • Anthony Richards as Bert (9 yrs)
  • Dorothy Alison as Grandma Carr
  • Pat Bishop as Alice McCall
  • Paul Sonkkila as Archie McCall
  • Ray Meagher as Bad Bob
  • Willie Fennell as Old Man [Albert]
  • Joy Hruby as Ma
  • John Grant as Jack
  • Robert Noble as Alec
  • Bill Young as Alf
  • Luke Campbell as Young Bill
  • Gayle Rankine as Margaret
  • Maurie Ogden as Cop
  • Elaine Baillie as Nurse
  • Richard Walley as Jimmy

Supporting Cast:

  • Jack McDowell
  • William Bates
  • Leslie Wright
  • Daniel Norbett
  • Donovan Curyer
  • Martin Flint
  • Sasha Janes
  • Shelley Howard
  • Raelene Hughes
  • Sandra Eldridge
  • Scott Grieve
  • Christopher Rice
  • Leanne Kempe
  • Jodi Haslinger
  • Jemma Skipper
  • Tanya Heffernan
  • Robert Davies
  • Don Tester
  • Alan Blucton, Gavin Clinch, and Richard (Dickie) Kickett as the wild kids