Places of the Heart: Richard Roxburgh


He’s been in danger, had a few adventures and occasionally lost his heart. And that was before the actor took on the role of reckless Cleaver Greene in ABC TV’s Rake.


1990: Bolivia is divided into high plains and low flatlands and getting around can be tricky. I was on a bus travelling through dried-up riverbeds, which is what buses do in summer. But it started to pour and suddenly we were in a lake. I have no idea how the driver negotiated it but he did. From there we climbed up the mountains on mule tracks that have famously precipitous drops. There’s no railing; you look down and see the skeletal remains of buses that have toppled off. Near a little village in the Sierra, called Santa Rosa, our bus threw an axle. We were stuck for 24 hours in this extraordinary wrinkled, pink landscape. That evening some indigenous Aymara people came to see what was happening. They started a fire and began playing instruments. I fell asleep squashed inside this dusty, filthy bus to the sound of beautiful Andean music. Out of a potentially disastrous situation something magical happened. That’s the blessing of travel.


1999: A lot of films are shot in Namibia, including Mad Max. The Namib Desert is the oldest in the world and it looks like a lunar landscape. I visited a friend working on a film at a place called Solitaire, which is essentially a petrol pump in the middle of the desert. I wondered what the hell I was going to do for a week but I loved it and ended up staying longer. I’d commandeer a 4WD from the film crew and drive into the desert every day. It’s close to a geological feature in the middle of nowhere, called Sossusvlei, which is an amazing salt pan surrounded by huge red sand dunes. The biggest revelation was how forgiving the desert becomes at twilight. Dusk can last three or more hours and, as the shadows lengthen, all the animals come out and this quotidian act of forgiveness happens. The landscape gives in and it’s so soft and the light is so pink and gentle. You sit with a beer in the dying light and marvel at how beautiful it is.

Abruzzo, Italy

2004: Apart from having the great blessings of plenitude, wonder and geographical glory, Abruzzo, in south-central Italy, is an emotional heartland for us because my wife Silvia Colloca’s family village, Torricella Peligna, is there in the mountains. There are all these dramatic folds as the mountains tumble into the Adriatic and on a good day you can see Croatia from the kitchen window. The village is in the shadow of a gigantic, beautiful, bald mountain called the Majella. The area was famous as a seat of rebellion against the Nazi occupation. It snows in winter but it’s 25 kilometres down the hill to the beaches. The locals are quite stony mountain people but they have an incredible warmth once you crack them. What was special to me from the first time I went there was the sense of family. The graveyard is full of Silvia’s ancestors. It really is a spectacular part of the world. 

SEE ALSO: Places of the Heart: Stephen Page

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