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Wyness leaves legacy of film

Saturday, 9th May, 2020

Derek Wyness (1945-2020) Derek Wyness (1945-2020)

One of the driving forces behind a golden era of film-making in the Silver City during the 1970s has been lost to Broken Hill.

Derek Wyness died on Thursday, April 30. He was aged 75.

Derek was born on January 31, 1945, in Wanganui, New Zealand, where he went to school before training as a teacher at the Auckland Teachers’ College.

He escaped to Broken Hill where, as well as an accomplished artist, he was art teacher at the Broken Hill High School and later at Willyama High School.

At various times over the next few decades, he was a casual teacher at the primary and high schools in Broken Hill and Menindee.

After marriage to Angelika in Germany, he taught in Luton (UK), explored the US and came back to Broken Hill for a short time on the way to live in Tasmania.

He ended up working at Gove (Qld), a year or so in NZ but the magnet of Broken Hill brought him back to see friends before going to live in Tasmania.

During these travels, Oska, now living in Adelaide, was born in Townsville and Sascha, now living in London, was born in Broken Hill. 

A year or so was spent in Adelaide en route to live in Tasmania and Derek drove car carriers across the country.

He loved being on the road and had some hair-raising tales about wet unsealed roads, roos, cattle, mechanical failures and outback characters.

Derek came back to Broken Hill and was one of the driving forces that brought the film industry to Broken Hill in the 1970s. The advertising industry followed. Many films and advertisements used Derek for set design, location and logistics and at times he filled in as an extra. 

Derek is listed in Amazon’s Internet Movie Database, with his filmography including acting roles in A Town Like Alice and Mad Max 2 and work in the art department on The Year of Living Dangerously, The Blue Lightning, Spirits of the Air - Gremlins of the Clouds, The Time Guardian and Fortress.

More recently he was involved in documentaries including Archaeologist of the Wasteland and Beneath the Outback Sun, among others.

The film industry took him to Disneyland in Japan and the Gold Coast in the 1990s and he came back to Broken Hill again, presumably on the way to live in Tasmania.

Derek had many talents, especially with his painting, sculpture, films and extraordinary creativity, his mechanical skills and his ability to use all sorts of bits and pieces to build a film set from his extensive hoardings.

He was a master in improvisation and had an incredible general knowledge, memory, recall and vocabulary.

At times, he edited books and recently had a regular task of editing a fortnightly press release. He was very clever with words and was very quick with word games and jokes accompanied by a grin and a sparkle in his eyes.

He was a big man with a big heart, didn’t have a harsh word to say about anyone, his doors were always open and many people came to visit and ended up staying a few days to enjoy his roasts, reds and company.

Derek died peacefully in his sleep. He was remembered in a private service with an appropriate celebration of his life amongst friends at a date to be announced. He never got to live in Tasmania despite travelling the world and traversing much of Australia.

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