Secret Valley was an ’80s Australian children’s television series set at a holiday camp for kids that was fashioned out of an old gold-mine town in the bush. With adult supervision scarce, the children ride around the camp on their minibikes, tinker with inventions and wage flour bomb war with a trio of bullies named Spider, Snake and Sparrow.
As best I can tell from watching the one episode available on YouTube, Secret Valley was a lot like many of the Nickelodeon shows I watched growing up – Kids Incorporated, Hey Dude and Salute Your Shorts to name a few – in which the kids mostly fend for themselves in a kid-friendly world of freedom, self-expression, adventure, bullies and the occasional pesky adult determined to ruin everything the kids have worked so hard to accomplish.
Though unavailable as of yet in an official release, the show made enough of an impression in Australia in the early ’80s to once spawn the incorrect rumor that gang leader Spider McGlurk was played by Russell Crowe and launch a quirky spin-off called Professor Poopsnagles Steam Zeppelin in which children from Secret Valley travel around the country on a flying bus.
Since I didn’t grow up watching Sweet Valley, I’ll let someone who did explain the show’s impact, a blogger who goes by the name Girl Clumsy:
“I would have liked nothing better than to go to Secret Valley. You know, hang out with fellow plucky teenagers, help animals, ride BMXs, and stop the machinations of the EVIL! That’s right, EVIL! Spider McGlurk and his villainous teenage henchmen of “Spider Cave”. The fashion item I most desired as an 8-year-old was one of the brilliant navy blue raglan cut camp t-shirts with “Secret Valley” emblazoned upon them in bright yellow.
I often wonder if such a thing as Secret Valley would work in real life. Forget boring organised activities for kids – actually pay a few actor types to run round pretending to be dodgy prospectors or real estate developers, leaving clues for the kids to solve. Resolve the whole thing with a massive flour or paint bomb fight, before a few fake coppers turn up to “nick” the bad guys. Repeat every day for two weeks, chucking in a bit of quad-biking and koala-feeding for good measure, then send ’em home as young adventurers. Hell, I’d be up for a camp like that myself – I’d love to be a dabble in knot-tying and improvised explosives.”