Wide Open Road – The Triffids anthem of self-discovery


The music video of this classic Australian song, written by David McComb, is a suitable text for launching the new Area of Study – Discovery. Just over four minutes in length and probably familiar to many students, the haunting melody and simple lyrical structure is enhanced by easily recognised representations of archetypal urban and outback landscapes effectively conveyed through a range of film techniques. Wide Open Road contains both performative sequences and episodes of narrative to illustrate the essence of emotional struggle and eventual acceptance after the loss of a relationship.

After the first viewing, ask students to consider the what, how and why of the music video. Discuss which words are easily identified, iconic images and special effects. Try and tease out examples of symbolism, metonymy and cliche – everyone may love a road trip, but this example is represented as a lonely journey of self realisation.

Before the next and subsequent viewings, ask students to begin taking notes / creating mind maps / completing ALARM tables to answer the following questions. It would be helpful to have discussed the rubric and identified key terms, concepts and phrases that students could be seeking to explore through this text. It could also be useful to decide how you plan to approach each text: focus on one ‘kind’ of discovery, and link to others, or invite examples of multiple discoveries for each text as you analyse over several classes. Ultimately, it will depend on your students, their abilities and your confidence. Start small and achieve the achievable, then expand their understanding when revising texts before tasks or exams (perhaps).

  • What is the impetus, catalyst or reason that initiates discovery?
  • How does discovery take place? Consider the process and textual features
  • What are the outcomes and effects of the discoveries? Students should be considering specific elements such as emotional, creative, intellectual, physical and spiritual.


The gradual layering of instruments as the band emerges from misty clouds heightens anticipation. Darkening silhouettes become substantial then fade into landscape as a wide shot reveals


a lone vehicle solidifying with the increasing musical beat.


Low saturated colour appears with a crisp drum beat, then lyrics add an increased intensity supported by the close up of McComb on vocals. The opening lines metaphorically describe a visceral and violent reaction – ‘drums rolled off in my forehead and ‘guns went off in my chest’ – to a surprising turn of events. His position on the left of screen signifies the ‘known’


as the singer outlines his experience of ‘carrying the baby just for you’, another metaphor for shared dreams and hopes. The car appears over the right shoulder as ‘new’ information, amplifying the lyric ‘crying in the wilderness’. These elements indicate the impetus for a journey of self-discovery, as the persona attempts to deal with an emotionally torrid situation.


Add these ideas into your paragraphs:

  • fleeting images of trees and landscape – tracking shots – moving at speed: escaping


  • wide shot big sky ‘big and empty’ end of chorus- reinforces persona’s perspective
  • passage of time emphasises vast expanse of outback fade into night


  • ‘how do you think it feels’ hails audience – allows us to reflect on our own experiences
  • night driving – the unknown confronting headlights moving towards us


  • map of Western Australia identifies band’s origins and life on the road – touring and travelling – tracking up roads – fading profile mimics thoughts
  • Toodyay – Swan River Valley – specific location identified

WOR 10

  • semi suburban industrial landscape – tracking ‘wide open road’

WOR 11

  • ‘servo’ on the road – attendant shaking head – not wanted – nothing here for you – the journey continues: incomplete self-discovery

WOR 12

  • expansive blue sky and powerlines in all directions – converge? diverge? suggest endless possibilities
  • echoes earlier lyric ‘big and empty’ – do we fill our future from past experiences and attitudes?

WOR 13

  • dirt rack car heading towards us dust – the unknown?

WOR 14

  • centred on screen we recognise solo figure – isolation – intense personal experience – universal situation shared by many after break down in relationships – sense of searching for reasons and answers – strength and resilience as self- discovery

WOR 15

  • spinning aerial shot as music fades – eerie landmarks: choices and possibilities

WOR 16

  • dusty urban space country town appears through clouds – removed from reality? intellectual and emotional discovery

WOR 17

  • band reappears

WOR 19

  • horizon drifts to mid line – sense of stasis / normality / ability to re-enter everyday life after period of emotional turmoil
  • resolution

Wide Open Road lyrics



The Panics – explanatory introduction for their choice of Wide Open Road for Like a Version in 2007


‘Australian Anthems’ – column from The Guardian online



* featured image sourced from http://www.contactmusic.com

2 responses to “Wide Open Road – The Triffids anthem of self-discovery

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