Drought has not been kind to the outback New South Wales town of Carinda.
Feral pigs roam the borders, road kill litters the approach and the main street is lined with “For Sale” signs.
Yet Carinda holds a special place in pop culture and the population of 40 are hoping that this will be enough to save their town.
In 1983 David Bowie and his camera crew burst into the small rural town to film his comeback hit ‘Let’s Dance’, taking everyone by surprise.
Leena Peacock, partner of the pub’s then owner Ernie Robinson, said they had no idea who was coming.
“When they rang up to make the arrangements, they didn’t tell us who it was, so no-one expected it,” she told the BBC.
Peter Lawless, the shoot’s location manager, remembers the stark difference between the town’s occupants and Bowie.
“It was so alien for both sides, Bowie and the locals,” he said in an interview with the BBC.
“They didn’t believe who he was. It was so off the wall. It was kind of weird.”
The Carinda Hotel, which features prominently in the video, is still much the same as it was 30 years ago and Jayne Thomas, whose stepfather recently took over the lease, believes Carinda has untapped tourist potential.
She is currently working on tentative plans to start David Bowie tours to the pub and nearby Warrumbungle National Park, where some scenes of ‘Let’s Dance’ (and part of its follow-up, ‘China Girl’) were shot.
A David Bowie festival, much like the Elvis festival in Parkes, could also be on the way, however it is not going to be easy with the lack of infrastructure for tourists and people feeling the strain of 10 years of drought.
“They don’t know when the rain will come again,” Ms. Thomas said.”There’s no work, no workers, no produce, no harvesters, nothing. The cotton gin used to have 40-50 people working in it and the town was booming. The pub and the [golf] club were open seven days a week. But the drought gutted everything. There were probably 400 people in the town and district. Now, most of them have gone.”
However she does not believe all hope is lost, Bowie continues to draw visitors.
“People still come in asking about the video,” she said. “I’d like to have photos; information and the clip playing inside the pub, then go further and go year to year.”