Alex Cullen’s favourite story of 2016

When Sunday Night reporter Alex Cullen was asked what his favourite story of the year was, it wasn’t an easy question for him to answer.

He had travelled thousands of kilometres across the globe, covering stories from the heart of the Sahara desert to the hazardous rips of Australian waters, but it was quite possibly the maddest story of all that pipped all others to the post.

“My favourite story had to be Wasteland Weekend”, Alex revealed.

“It's a story like no other, full of people like no other, who are united in their love of a great Australian film.

“We were accepted into the Wasteland community with open arms, especially because we are Australian!"

Alex with Steve AKA 'Wez' and Jim AKA 'Lord Humungus'.
Alex with Steve AKA 'Wez' and Jim AKA 'Lord Humungus'.
The Wasteland gates, guarded by the army of the post-apocalyptic world.
The Wasteland gates, guarded by the army of the post-apocalyptic world.


It’s no wonder this crazy festival springs to Alex’s mind when thinking back on the stories covered this year.

He said: “We at Sunday Night pride ourselves on stories with a difference.

“Those that go way beyond what many of us could ever imagine and this is one of those stories."

Alex enjoyed meeting the wacky characters who revealed their surprising day jobs!
Alex enjoyed meeting the wacky characters who revealed their surprising day jobs!
Thousands make the trip to the largest post-apocalyptic festival in the world every year.
Thousands make the trip to the largest post-apocalyptic festival in the world every year.

“It's a story about a sub-culture that is so far from most people's consciousness that seeing almost isn't believing", Alex said.

“It's far out, insane, off the charts exhibitionism that was born in the Australian outback courtesy of a film called Mad Max.”

Revellers create costumes and props identical to those in the film, and act out scenes.
Revellers create costumes and props identical to those in the film, and act out scenes.

For those who aren’t as clued up as the mega-fans, Mad Max is a story about the end of civilization where marauding gangs roam the desert and fuel, a precious commodity, is in short supply.

It is a four-day annual festival of madness where only those who live and breathe the post-apocalyptic world are welcome.

Festival-goers must dress the part and travel in accordance with post-apocalyptic style, in modified vehicles adorned with scrap metal.

Of course, Alex had to get in on the action!
Of course, Alex had to get in on the action!

“We were invited to the Wasteland Weekend festival where fans dress like the characters in elaborate costumes and act in their very own spin offs”, Alex recalled.

He described how they followed Steve from Adelaide to this “crazy hoe-down in the California desert” for a weekend of Mad Max themed debauchery and adoration.

They also followed Christina from the US whose son had died in a tragic accident in Australia while on a pilgrimage to Silverton, NSW, where Mad Max 2 was filmed.

Alex recalled the emotional moment Steve and Christine met for the first time.

Steve was one of a handful of people to last see Christine's son before he died.
Steve was one of a handful of people to last see Christine's son before he died.

“We followed Steve's journey that ended with him meeting Christine because Steve was there the day Christine's son died in a motorcycle accident”, he said.

Countless times throughout the festival, Alex and the crew simply couldn’t believe what was before them.

“It was an assault on the senses and a unique and fascinating story on something that most of us had no idea existed, made possible by a bunch of mostly normal people who go a little bit crazy for one weekend every year", Alex said.

“It was fantastic, fun tinged with some sadness, and a remarkable insight into what we crazy humans are capable of."

MORE: Welcome to the wasteland: Life in a Mad Max movie.

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