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Mike Leyland, MBE (4 September 1941– 14 September 2009[1][2]) and Mal Leyland, MBE (born 1945), also known as the Leyland brothers, were Australian explorers and documentary film-makers, best known for their popular television show, Ask the Leyland Brothers. The show ran on Australian television from 1976 until 1984.[3]


Early lifeEdit

When Mike was eight and Mal was five they migrated with their parents from England to Newcastle, New South Wales, and Mike attended Wallsend Public School.[4][5]

Aged 15 Mike won a trip to the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne from a cartoon-drawing competition, and his father bought him a 16mm movie camera to take along.[6]

Media careerEdit

By the age of 21 Mike was a news cameraman at NBN Television and at age 18 Mal was working as a cadet at Newcastle's now-defunct newspaper The Sun.[7]

Their first regular TV series, Ask the Leyland Brothers, ran on Australian television from 1976 to 1980, and again from 1983 to 1984.[3] The show often provided Australian viewers with their first look at outback Australia.

A following documentary series called Leyland Brothers' World appeared on Australian television. Rather than viewers writing in and asking the Leyland brothers to visit a particular place in Australia and provide information about it as in Ask the Leyland Brothers, it focused on exploration by the Leyland brothers in Australia and featured a double-decker bus.

The television show is not to be confused with the theme park of the same name.


In 1980 the brothers were awarded the MBE for services to the film industry.[8]

Leyland Brothers World and bankruptcyEdit

In November 1990 the Leyland Brothers opened the theme park Leyland Brothers World (32°37′3″S 152°4′48″E / 32.61750°S 152.08000°E / -32.61750; 152.08000), on a 40-hectare property at North Arm Cove on the Pacific Highway north of Newcastle, New South Wales.[9] It included a 1/40 scale replica of Uluru,[10] as well as amusement rides, playground, roadhouse, museum and a 144-student-capacity bush camp. The Uluru replica became a known family stopping location for road trippers.[11] In a 1997 article in The Sunday Age, Mike Leyland said that the initial A$1 million loan blew out due to rain during construction and a 27% interest rate.[4] In July 1992 Chris Palmer of BDO Nelson was appointed receiver and manager of the park when the Leyland Brothers company failed to meet its loan commitment to the Commonwealth Bank.[9] Auctioneers Colliers Jardine estimated the yearly attendance of the park to be about 400,000 people, with 10,000 students for the bush camp.[11] After an auction held by the receiver on 26 November 1992 the theme park was sold for $800,000,[9] and continued to trade successfully as the Great Aussie Bushcamp.[12] The brothers went bankrupt.[13] The Uluru replica was destroyed by fire on 31 July 2018.[14]

"The Rock" Roadhouse (taken 7 May 2014) when it was being used as a petrol station and fast food centre

Later careersEdit

After the 1992 bankruptcy, Mike and his wife Margie ran a New Lambton video store and worked for the park's new owner. In 1997 Mike sold part of his Tea Gardens property to fund the production of a far-north Queensland film for Channel Seven. Mike and his wife Margie signed a contract with Channel Seven for 12 one-hour documentaries, the first of which aired in 1998 in The World Around Us slot.[7] On 14 September 2009 Mike Leyland died from Parkinson's disease.[15] He was 68 years old. Mike is survived by his wife Margie, his daughters Kerry, Sandy and Dawn, his stepdaughters Sarah and Alison, and seven grandchildren.

Mal and his wife Laraine ran a photo processing lab in Queensland and launched a travel magazine.[7] In 1997 Mal and Laraine launched a bi-monthly magazine, Leyland's Australia.[13] In 2000 Mal produced the television show Leyland's Australia, with Laraine, daughter Carmen and her husband Robert Scott[16]—travelling around Australia in a caravan.[17] In April 2000 Channel Nine cancelled the show after six episodes but the series was then picked up by Network Ten.[17] Mal and Laraine have written travel stories for ROAM magazine,[18] a number of novels and cookbooks, and in 2015, Mal published his memoirs, entitled Still Travelling. Laraine passed away 22nd November 2018 in Tasmania.


  • 1963 – Down the Darling – A trip from Mungindi, Queensland, to Mildura, Victoria, following the 2,300-kilometre course of the Darling River, part of Australia's longest river system, in a small aluminium boat. An accompanying book was titled Great Ugly River was published by Lansdowne Press in 1965.
  • 1966 – Wheels Across a Wilderness – Driving two Land Rovers from Steep Point, Western Australia, across the centre of the continent to Cape Byron, New South Wales. The trip was also published as a book, Where Dead Men Lie. IMDB link
  • 1969 – Open Boat to Adventure – A six-month journey from Darwin to Sydney in an 18-foot open boat, following the coast around Arnhem Land and Cape York. The book was titled Untamed Coast.
  • 1972 – The Wet documents a journey to what is now called Kakadu National Park via Darwin. There were no sealed roads to the north-west part of the Northern Territory at the time. It also provides footage of a Darwin before Cyclone Tracy.

Travel All Over The Countryside with Mike & Margie Leyland[19]

  • Lure of the Red Centre

Chapters: 1. Introduction 2. Hayes Family 3. Uluru 4. Ochre Pits 5. Fly Over Kings Canyon 6. Arltunga Visitors Centre

  • Border Country
  • The Stormy Coast

Chapters: 1. Introduction 2. Maits Rest 3. The Grotto 4. Princess Margaret Rose Cave 5. Goolwa 6. Kangaroo Island

  • Outback Coast
  • Along and Beyond the Tanami Track

Chapters: 1. Introduction 2. Desert Park 3. Granites Gold Mine 4. Back On The Tanami 5. Bungle Bungle Range 6. Dawn Kununurra

  • Tracks Of The Past

Chapters: 1. Introduction 2. Willochra Plain 3. Talc Sculptures 4. Marree 5. Coward Springs 6. 1961 7. Peak Hill Ruins 8. Fogarty's Claypan 9. Puncture Repair 10. Mac Clark Reserve 11. Chambers Pillar 12. Credits

  • Travel Across The Cape

Chapters: 1. Introduction 2. Tuckers Lookout 3. Lava Tubes 4. Cobbold Gorge 5. Chillagoe 6. Dorunda

  • Travel To The Lost City

Chapters: 1. Introduction 2. The Great Top Road 3. Lawn Hill 4. Track To Bowthorn Station 5. Track To Hells Gate 6. Cape Crawford

Chapters: 1. Introduction 2. Dalgaranga 3. Three Pools 4. Chinamans Pool 5. Walking Trail 6. Kalamina Falls

Chapters: 1. Introduction 2. Jabiru Airport 3. Gunlom 4. Nourlangie 1967 5. Yellow Water 6. Twin Falls 7. Ubirr Lookout 8. Fishing 9. Bush Tucker 10. Caves 11. Port Essington 12. Credits

Chapters: 1. Introduction 2. Bloomfield Falls 3. Archer River 4. Frenchmans Track 5. Fruit Bat Falls 6. Dugout Canoe

Television seriesEdit


  • Still Travelling: Mal Leyland (2015)
  • Gold fever: Is it the perfect crime? (2000)
  • Great Ugly River: A Modern Adventure in Australia’s Outback, Mike Leyland, (1965)
  • Untamed Coast: Darwin to Sydney in an 18 ft. Boat
  • Where Dead Men Lie: An Adventurous Journey that Spanned a Continent


  1. ^ Farewell Mike Leyland Archived 15 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine. NBN News, 14 Sep 2009. Retrieved 13 December 2013
  2. ^ "Mike Leyland dies, aged 68". 14 September 2009. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  3. ^ a b Channel Surfing Safari, The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 April 2003
  4. ^ a b Wilmoth, Peter (27 July 1997). "How The Leyland Brothers Lost Their Way". Sunday Age. John Fairfax Group Pty Ltd.
  5. ^ "150th Year Celebrations". Wallsend Public School. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  6. ^ Leighton, Spencer (3 January 2004). "Leyland brother's venture". Geelong Advertiser. Nationwide News Proprietary Pty Ltd.
  7. ^ a b c Joyce, James (26 February 2000). "Ask The Leylands About Sibling Rivalry". Newcastle Herald. John Fairfax Group Pty Ltd.
  8. ^ Safe, Georgina (2 July 1997). "Leylands out of the Wilderness". The Australian. Nationwide News Proprietary Ltd.
  9. ^ a b c Harvie, Jeni (8 December 1992). "$800,000 Leyland Sale". Australian Financial Review. John Fairfax Group Pty Ltd. p. 33.
  10. ^ Nicholas Way (ed.) (24 July 1992). "Leyland Bros Go West". Business Review Weekly. John Fairfax Group Pty Ltd. p. 12.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  11. ^ a b Pam Walkley And Aap (19 October 1992). "Theme Park for Auction". Australian Financial Review. John Fairfax Group Pty Ltd. p. 44.
  12. ^ Great Aussie Bushcamp website
  13. ^ a b Lovell, Darren (3 August 1997). "Leylands rebuilding their world". Sunday Telegraph. Nationwide News Proprietary Ltd.
  14. ^ "'Fake Uluru' at The Rock Roadhouse near Newcastle destroyed by fire". ABC News. 31 July 2018. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  15. ^ Perez, Jesse (14 September 2009). "Australian explorer Mike Leyland dies age 68". Macquarie National News."Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 September 2009. Retrieved 14 September 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Australian explorer Mike Leyland dies age 68]
  16. ^ Heaney, Claire (14 October 2000). "Leylands hot up act". Herald Sun. Herald and Weekly Times Limited.
  17. ^ a b Joyce, James (1 September 2000). "Out Of The Wilderness". Newcastle Herald. John Fairfax Group Pty Ltd.
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Mike and Margie Leyland: Travel All Over The Countryside 3 DVD Box Set". Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  20. ^ Barclay, Alison (28 October 1997). "Out Back with the Reel Thing". Herald Sun. Herald and Weekly Times Limited.

External linksEdit