ABC's late 80s before-school children's TV programming was always gold. There was a particular anime-style show about Dorothy and her adventures in Oz that I loved, and you'd also get those brilliant La Linea and AEIOU cartoons.
But heads above the rest was Secret Valley, an Australian-made Grundy show about a summer camp resort-type thing for kiddies. It was a rustic bush setting, with a former gold-mine town as the kids' big playground. Who could forget the sight of that bell being run, summoning all the kids for dinner, or a camp meeting?
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.
*A rumour surfaced some years back that Spider was played by a young Russell Crowe. This is sadly incorrect. I think around 1984, Crowe was deep in his New Zealand punk star phase, when he changed his name to Russ le Roq and cut a single. I wish I was joking.