For the Term of His Natural Life (miniseries)

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For the Term of His Natural Life
Based on novel by Marcus Clarke
Written by Patricia Payne
Wilton Schiller
Directed by Rob Stewart
Starring Colin Friels
Susan Lyons
Robert Coleby
Theme music composer Simon Walker
Country of origin Australia
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 3 x 2 hours
Producer(s) Patricia Payne
Budget $6.5 million[1]
Original network Nine Network
Original release 23 May 1983

For the Term of His Natural Life is a 1983 Australian mini-series based on the classic novel.


Richard Devine is convicted for robbery and sentenced to prison in Australia under the name Rufus Dawes.



The mini-series was based on the original serialised version of the novel For the Term of His Natural Life, which meant it featured scenes of Rufus Dawes in the Australian Gold Rush and a happy ending where Dawes is reunited with Sylvia.

The mini series was a passion project for Patricia Payne, who had wanted to adapt the novel since she read it in high school. She spent eight years raising the $6.5 million budget, which consisted of private investment. Payne's co producer was Wilton Schiller, an American with extensive TV experience. Shooting began before the series had been sold to an Australian network.[2]

It was shot partly in Adelaide, Victor Harbour, Macquarie Harbor and Port Arthur.[1]

An interactive app based on the mini series was released in 2012.[3]


It aired in the United Kingdom in 1985, where the Guardian headlined its review "fair stinkum".[4]


  1. ^ a b Ed. Scott Murray, Australia on the Small Screen 1970-1995, Oxford Uni Press, 1996 p196
  2. ^ "The Term of His Natural Life". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 13 January 1982. p. 96. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  3. ^ For the Term of His Natural Life app accessed 14 July 2013
  4. ^ "Fair stinkum". The Guardian [London]. 17 June 1985. p. 9. 

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