Dead Horse Gap is a dark trippy Western, a bleak comedy revelling in odd characters, surreal twists and themes of greed, fire, genocide, secrets, madness and transcendence.

This new original Australian theatre work leaps off from Jim Jarmusch’s iconic 1995 noir film Dead Man. The show mixes historical and invented events to tell of the strange journey and mysterious disappearance of colonial photographer Charlie Chaste. Set around the 1850s in the fictional frontier town of Dead Horse Gap on the far south coast of NSW, where the dregs, drifters and opportunists of the British colonial system form a desperate diaspora. Hopelessly ignorant of the ancient landscapes that surround them, these runaways and fortune-seekers have no idea of the dark secret of the Dead Horse Gap Hotel. They’re about to find out.

Home-grown entirely in regional Australia over several years, toughened by Covid-interruptions and bushfires and floods, Dead Horse Gap is now ready for production.


Created for audiences everywhere, Dead Horse Gap’s creative and spiritual home is the Bega Valley on Yuin Country in the Far South Coast of NSW. Its creative development over several years took place in the region and this is where most of the creative team is based. Although still recovering from the region’s recent bushfires, COVID border closures and floods, the music-loving Bega Valley community thrives on the connection, social expression and celebration of place that art can offer its artists and audiences.

In Dec 2024, Dead Horse Gap will welcome its first audiences to a performance environment that is uniquely apt: the Cobargo Showground Pavilion. This location is the perfect place for Dead Horse Gap’s immersive storytelling experience set to Heath Cullen’s darkly evocative songs, created 15kms down the road in the town of Candelo.

After the first showings in Cobargo, it is intended that the work will travel and adapt to other places, communities and their narratives, bringing something of the Bega Valley with it.

(Note – our fictional town has no relation to Dead Horse Gap near Thredbo in the Snowy Mountains. We just liked the name. Check out the real Dead Horse Gap.) And yes, we know there’s also an ABC comedy series set in a fictional Dead Horse Gap, but we were here first (2017), so until we find another title we like better, we’re sticking with ours.)