In the late 1980s, Peter Thorn hiked up one of the ancient ridges of the Porongurup Range in WA’s Great Southern Region. 

Story Kate Newsome   Photo Italo Vardaro

On seeing a clearing below, Peter had an epiphany. He bought the property in Millinup and set about building his own cricket ground.

If you build it, they will come and over the years the community has pitched in to make Peter’s “field of dreams” a reality. Peter managed to trade 3 bottles of red wine for secondhand astroturf and one of the locals levelled the field with his road grader. Later, kikuyu grass seeds were donated, and artist George Cork constructed and installed some ginormous wickets – just a few examples of the community effort to upgrade the grounds. 

These days, players of all ages come from across the region to play social cricket with a twist. Unique rules at the Millinup grounds see double runs for people over 60 and the losing captain ending up in the dam. “It’s good old country ‘get out there and have a bit of fun’,” says Italo Vardaro, who photographed a game at the field earlier this year. “I think it’s a necessity where guys can get out, expend some energy. [It’s] a bit of mateship, and also a lot of laughs.” 

Peter’s son Michael now manages the property-turned-accommodation retreat, and is doing all he can to uphold his father’s legacy and share the field with others. “This is what happens when you’re free to create,” Michael says. “It’s an incredible place to play cricket and it just uplifts everyone. It’s very special.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #149

Outback Magazine: June/July 2023