They can navigate by the stars. When he got there he walked into Mortlake Motors and said 'I'm thirsty'.- Swampy Marsh
A larger than life south-west export has revealed his plans to return a very popular character to the big screen.
Swampy Marsh is seeking funds to film a follow-up to the popular 2015 movie Oddball.
The movie told the story about Oddball the maremma, which Swampy trained to protect the penguin colony at Middle Island in Warrnambool.
Mr Marsh said the movie had amazed crowds around the world and put the city on the map.
But there's one adventure that didn't make it to the movie.
Mr Marsh said the second movie, titled Oddball Returns would document the time Oddball was kidnapped from his Purnim farm.
"He was taken up to a property in Halls Gap," Mr Marsh said.
"I got a call from someone from Halls Gap, telling me he had my dog."
Mr Marsh said when Oddball wasn't home, he wasn't concerned at first.
Oddball, whose off-screen name is Max, had a habit of visting neighbouring properties.
"To my knowledge he visited about eight different houses in Purnim," Mr Marsh said.
"He would plonk himself down on their verandah, plonk himself down and give them a look that said 'I'm hungry'."
However, when he received the phone call from Halls Gap, he told the caller to tie Oddball up and he would head up there.
"When I got there he had chewed through the rope and disappeared," Mr Marsh said.
The next time Mr Marsh saw Oddball was when the owner of Mortlake Motors rang him to say he had walked into the workshop.
"It took him about five or six days to get to Mortlake," Mr Marsh said.
"They can navigate by the stars. When he got there he walked into Mortlake Motors and said 'I'm thirsty'."
Mr Marsh was again called and he directed the owners to buy him a bone from the nearby butcher shop.
"I said 'nick into the butcher shop and get him a bone, that might actually keep him there until I get there'," Mr Marsh said.
He is excited about the prospect of delighting young children with stories of Oddball's adventures.
Mr Marsh said he might even play himself in the sequel to the original smash-hit.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Mr Marsh, 74, hopes to have the movie in cinemas by the end of 2022.
He is also excited about technological developments that will allow viewers a dog's eye view.
"The dog will wear a harness with a camera strapped to its side," Mr Marsh said.
He also has a vision for people to be allowed to camp on Middle Island to be able to watch the penguins.
He said watching them come in from the water and hearing their mating calls in the morning was a magical experience.
Mr Marsh said he was not sure if his plan, which includes transporting people to the island via a tractor with a platform on it, would come to fruition.
"It would virtually be a paddlesteamer with wheels, not paddles," he said.
"It would be great to be able to let people camp in swags on the board walk.
"It's an absolutely unreal experience to stay out there - I've never experienced anything like it."
Mr Marsh, who now lives at Nathalia near Shepparton, also plans to operate another chicken farm.
When he left Warrnambool in 2017, he sold his chicken farm and found homes for his maremmas.
However, he has plans to train another maremma to play the lead role on the second Oddball movie over the coming months.
Mr Marsh said he couldn't wait to welcome another mate to his property.
He said maremmas were incredibly intelligent.
"I always said Max didn't think he was a dog, he thought he was a person," he said.
Mr Marsh, who had a stent put in due to heart issues when he was living in Queensland in 2019, said he was fighting fit and ready to return to Warrnambool to scope out venues for the film.
That and run the chicken farm he plans to operate.
"I can't run out of sight on a dark night because of a collection of injuries I've got over the years, but I'm pretty fit," Mr Marsh said.
He said he had planned to retire, but it didn't suit him.
"I tried that, it was boring as buggery," he laughed.
"A cardiologist used to joke I'd still be collecting eggs when I'm 80 and I've got a funny feeling he will be right."
Mr Marsh said he came up with the idea to protect Warrnambool's penguin colony when he was reading a story in The Standard about the massacre of at least 360 penguins, which had been killed by foxes.
In Mr Marsh's usual casual fashion, he turned to Dave Williams, who was working on his farm and said "I reckon the dogs could do this job".
However, he says convincing others that his plan would work was a bigger challenge than he anticipated.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Now just one tap with our new app: Digital subscribers now have the convenience of faster news, right at your fingertips with The Standard:
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.