Silverton, NSW, 'Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior' location: 40 years on, tourists flock to apocalypse

One day a Japanese man carrying a stuffed shopping bag quietly walked into the Mad Max 2 Museum in Silverton, near Broken Hill, with a simple though surprising request.

"He said he had his Mad Max 2 costume in the bag and asked me if could he change into it," says museum owner Adrian Bennett, "and whether I would mind photographing him in it next to the museum exhibits."

Of course, Mr Bennett obliged, with the Mad Max fan explaining he'd flown directly from Japan to Sydney, then straight on to Broken Hill. He intended to fly home immediately after his Mad Max 2 homage to Silverton and its museum, which celebrates Australia's seminal action film, released in 1981.

It's now almost 40 years since Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, directed by George Miller, was shot in stark desert country surrounding the town. But thanks to the pandemic, an anniversary event has had to be postponed from early next year until 2022. Mad as it may seem, not even Max Rockatansky (the Road Warrior's "real" name) can defeat COVID-19.

A big reason for the postponement is so that the legion of overseas Mad Max 2 fans, including those from the US, UK, Germany and, yes, Japan, can make it to Silverton. Aficionados of Mad Max, including the English-born Adrian Bennett, regard Mad Max 2 as the best film of the long-running, four-movie franchise (with a fifth instalment reputedly in the works).

Certainly, these are not the best of times for those mad for Mad Max. The annual Wasteland Weekend in Edwards, California, in the suitably barren Mojave Desert, has held this Mad Max tribute event since 2010 where participants dress up as characters from the films. It, too, has been cancelled this year due to COVID-19. And in Germany, the annual Wacken Festival, held in the eponymous town in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, which includes a Mad Max tribute post-apocalyptic world and stage set-up called Wasteland, including a Herr Max Bavarian beer garden, has also been scrapped.

For Adrian Bennett, whose museum features the bizarre vehicles from the movie and memorabilia, even including the fake, though still grisly, digit lopped-off a villain by a sharpened boomerang, the postponement of the Silverton event is bittersweet.

It has allowed him and some fellow locals more time to complete the construction of a three-quarter size replica of the besieged oil refinery, also known as "The Compound" from the strictly non-renewables "guzzolene" world of Mad Max 2.

In the film, it consisted of various large vehicles, including a yellow bus which served as a gate, makeshift shadecloth and flamethrower towers to deal with attackers.

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The replica compound, which includes giant semi-trailer tyres as barriers, will be the centrepiece of the celebrations in Silverton. In what has the potential to become a tourism drawcard for this town of just 50 people - and the whole region - there are also plans for a Mad Max 2 vehicle motorcade down the main street of Broken Hill.

Mr Bennett would love the film's star, the mercurial Mel Gibson, now 64, to attend, but there's no budget for an appearance fee. It'd also be a coup if George Miller, now 75 and as  much a hero among Mad Max 2 devotees as its stars, was to be there.

"Forty years after Mad Max 2's release it's still generating interest and by any measure the anniversary is a great milestone," Mr Bennett said. "But it's not just about celebrating the movie, but also the people of Broken Hill and their contribution to the filming of it."

Anthony Dennis and James Brickwood travelled courtesy of Destination NSW

See also: Seal of approval: The remote NSW highway that's also an airstrip

See also: NSW's most remote spot borders on the ridiculous

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