STORM BOY | Actors who'll work for fish

Ian Horner
Updated March 7 2019 - 10:22am, first published February 26 2019 - 11:03am

Craig Bullen grew up in the circus. Little wonder, he's still working with animals. He and his two brothers and a sister lived at Luddenham on the sprawling family property which was where their circus animals rested and which doubled as a theme park. As a youth, this writer spent weekends with his older brother, a school mate, watering the giraffes, rounding up the bison, learning to ride horses. A weekend trip this year back to my mother's family town of Goolwa, in the Coorong of South Australia, was a chance to see the locations and props for the new Storm Boy. And to see the film where it was made.

At the end, up came Craig's name, billed as pelican trainer. He was one of a team, with his wife Zelie Bullen, Paul Mander and Julia Bury. And there in the credits was his young son, Colt Bullen, as stand-in for the film's star, Finn Little. Craig and Zelie have a business together training animals for the screen.

I chatted to Craig and we remembered Bullens Animal World at Luddenham, their dad's Lion Park at Warragamba, going to Wallacia Primary and, later, Nepean High where I was also a young teacher and even taught him. Then down to business, talking about the second film of Storm Boy, based on the delightful small novel with an environmental message way ahead of its time.


How long did it take to get the pelicans ready? We got them as chicks. People don't realise it but pelicans grow really quickly and once they're six months old they look fully grown, size-wise, so it's a bit deceiving. We had five. They were wild pelicans. No one breeds them here. We started training them at three months old.

Ian Horner

Ian Horner

Editor | Senior Writer

Editor of Fairfield Champion and Liverpool Champion, in South-West Sydney.

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