Monica O'Brien, Danielle Maclean and Julia Morris.

The Northern Territory is set to welcome another children’s television series, with NITV commissioning Barrumbi Kids.

Based on books from Territory author Leonie Norrington, the 10 x 30-minute series follows the adventures of Tomias and Dahlia, two best friends that are growing up in a remote Northern Territory community.

Through fishing, hunting, and schooling, the children learn about themselves, each other, and living in both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultures.

Barrumbi Kids is being produced by Danielle MacLean (Mystery Road) of Tamarind Tree Pictures and Monica O’Brien (Drop Dead Weird) of Ambience Entertainment, as well as Julia Morris (Finding Maawirrangga).

The series will be filmed in Beswick (Wugularr), with Grant Brown, Deb Brown and Ismail Khan on board as directors.

Major production investment comes from Screen Australia in association with Screen Territory, while the project is being financed with support from the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF), which will manage international sales.

The announcement comes after the NT Government invested a record $1.5 million into Brindle Films’ adventure drama MaveriX via Screen Territory, with the series set to wrap filming in Alice Springs this week and head to South Australia.

In a statement, MacLean, O’Brien and Morris described Barrumbi Kids as “one of those projects that you fight to get made because it’s so good”.

“After years of collaborative development with the Beswick Community, we’re so thrilled to have the support of NITV, Screen Australia, ACTF and Screen Territory to create this incredible series for Australian children to be inspired by.”

NITV’s head of commissioning and programming Kyas Hepworth said the series reflected its commitment to producing and showcasing quality content that was relevant to young Indigenous audiences.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids should see themselves reflected on screen – as well as the celebration of Indigenous culture and language,” she said.

“Through Barrumbi Kids, we’re able to do just that, all while sharing the beauty of Wugularr with Australia.

“We can’t wait to showcase Jawoyn Country and to bring this children’s series to screens for all children across Australia to enjoy.”

Abraham Moore of Beswick.

Barrumbi Kids will be the first major NT children’s series to be produced in the Top End and within the Indigenous community of Beswick.

Screen Territory director Jennie Hughes said it was an “amazing outcome”.

“It’s wonderful to see the intended results of Screen Territory’s Business Enterprise funding coming to fruition for Tamarind Tree Pictures as they produce this high-end children’s series in partnership with family entertainment specialist Ambience Entertainment,” she said.

“It is a project of ambition and scale, which will employ Territorians and bring economic benefit and opportunities to not only the Big Rivers region but also to the wider Top End.

Barrumbi Kids is a uniquely Territorian project, and we are delighted that we will be working once again with major investor Screen Australia and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation in bringing the much-loved Territorian book series by author Leonie Norrington to the screen.”

Esther Bullumbarra, Beswick (Wugularr) T.O. Jawoyn Country, said she was “really excited” to see kids from the community making the series

“The books were published a long time ago now and we will be the first community to make a television series here,” she said.

“People, especially the kids, will be able to see our culture.”

Barrumbi Kids premieres on NITV in 2022.

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  1. So excited about this series! I have used ‘The Barrumbi Kids’ as a class study with many groups of students and they have loved it. As an adult I learnt so much from this book and cannot speak highly enough of Leonie Norrington as an author with incredible knowledge and experience to share. I would love every school to incorporate this into their curriculum, it ticks so many boxes!! And then some!!! We need stories like this to become part of our everyday literature.

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