The story of the love affair between Maria (pronounced Mariah) Gandy and Colonel William Light is a poignant one: short-lived and finally, tragic. It’s also a seldom-told romance, and Sealand Theatre has brought the tale to life in a fictional short film. The film script borrows from history and the play, Songs of the Sea. The spectacular scenery of the Fleurieu coast is the film’s backdrop.
Light & Gandy’s story interested me (as writer), partly because the lovers were social outcasts, to some extent, in Adelaide’s early colonial high society. During their relationship, Light was still married to his second wife Mary (nee Bennet), who had taken up with another officer in 1832. Light started a relationship with Maria Gandy when she was only 21 and she came to South Australia with him and her siblings, William and Edward Gandy, on The Rapid in 1836.
Light’s role as Surveyor-General was fraught with layers of difficulty: lack of adequate funds to pay the survey team, obfuscation and obstruction from his superiors, and the fact that his health was compromised due to tuberculosis. Maria offered succour and emotional nurture during Light’s years conducting the survey. Sadly, Light died only a few years after arriving in the colony. Maria then married Dr George Mayo and had four children with him, but her life was also cut short by tuberculosis (which she had contracted from Light).
Sealand Theatre filmed Songs of the Sea at Rapid Bay & Delamere in late 2016. The film's watery theme pays homage to the physical and emotional landscape of the area - ebbing & flowing between the present and the past to nurture the audience's feelings of nostalgia and romance. The music written by Chopin, is played by Sam Herzog (A. Mus. A.).