From 1913 until the advent of the talkie newsreels in the early 1930s, Australasian Gazette produced over 1,000 weekly issues covering the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of York in 1927, the 'Bodyline’ cricket series as well as footage of Dame Nellie Melba in her home. Unfortunately, many of these newsreels were lost over time but what survives is preserved at the National Film and Sound Archive.
Newsreels were an integral part of cinema programming in Australia before the advent of television in 1956. Issued on a weekly basis, the newsreels enabled people to further engage with local and national political stories and events. Australasian Gazette newsreels started in 1913 when The Greater JD Williams Amusement Company amalgamated with General Film Company, the same partnership that later formed Greater Union Theatres.
Multi-story newsreels became popular and favoured over the one-off single-story newsreels, such as the Melbourne Cup 1896 and various editions were distributed around the country, adding a local story where possible. Not having a soundtrack made the newsreels relatively easy to re-edit. Like today’s television news bulletin, a standard newsreel would include a number of stories – a national news event, sport (most often cricket), a local interest story and even publicity and celebrity interest stories.
Not much has been recorded about the history of the Australasian Gazette newsreels but what survives is a wonderful collection of newsreels representative of the time. Being silent, the newsreels relied on intertitles to link footage together. Intertitles explained what the audience was about to see and also gave a chronological sequence to the story. Musicians often accompanied newsreel screenings and without this live presentation, some of the dramatic effect is lost, but one can imagine the excitement of visiting the cinema and watching significant events unfold on the big screen.
With the introduction of sound, larger newsreel companies from the USA – Paramount, Metro and Fox Film Corporation started providing newsreels as part of a packaged program. These program packages included a feature, a couple of newsreels and a cartoon or trailer. Fox Film Corporation began distributing the International Movietone Newsreels, which were issued weekly, and in 1931 an Australian edition of Fox Movietone began. This same year also saw the introduction of Cinesound Review, an all Australian newsreel production house distributed by Union Theatres. These newsreels soon took the place of the Australasian Gazette newsreels, which could not afford to compete, and folded. For more information see Cinesound Movietone Australian Newsreel Collection and Ray Edmonston’s article 'The last newsreel’, Cinema Papers (1976, p 302).
Titles in this collection
In this Australasian Gazette newsreel from approximately 1926, Mr and Mrs F Dean arrive in Melbourne after their Shell-sponsored trip around Australia by touring car.
This newsreel features highlights of the 1924 Melbourne Cup, including the horses entering the racetrack, crowds in the grandstand and the race, won by Backwood.
In this newsreel from approximately 1923, the 1st Chatswood Boy Scouts erect a tower and suspension bridge and compete in a boxing match.
This newsreel clip from 1926 shows a scene from For the Term of His Natural Life in production at the Australasian Films’ Bondi studio in Sydney.
In this extract from a 1924 documentary, A Seaplane Circles a Continent, a RAAF airplane arrives in St Kilda after circumnavigating Australia.
This 1920 Australasian Gazette newsreel shows injured soldiers from Caulfield Military Hospital attending a special matinee at Elsternwick Theatre.
A surf carnival at Bondi Beach in aid of the St John’s Ambulance Brigade features in this Australasian Gazette newsreel from approximately 1920.
This segment from an old cinema newsreel shows Christmas celebrations for children at the Victoria Barracks in Sydney, including a live puppet show and Father Christmas handing out presents.
This newsreel clip from about 1925 shows the crowd gathered on the steps of Parliament House, Melbourne, for Armistice Day. 'The Last Post’ plays after two minutes of silence.
This 1927 newsreel shows the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of York for the official opening of Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra.
This newsreel shows the 1924 farewell and departure from Sydney of the retired Chief Justice Sir William Cullen and Lady Cullen for an overseas trip.
In this silent black-and-white footage, Australian champion diver Clive Barass and his troupe perform at Clifton Gardens Baths near Mosman, Sydney.
In this 1920 newsreel, work commences at Victoria Parade for the electrification of the cable tram system of Collins Street, Melbourne.
This newsreel footage shows soprano Dame Nellie Melba, having arrived in Sydney from Vancouver on the passenger liner RMS Niagara after a world tour.
In this newsreel, workers at Federal Government House, Melbourne, load boxes of Red Cross supplies onto horse-drawn vehicles. The supplies are to aid soldiers in Egypt.
This newsreel footage from 1917 encourages young men to enlist for the First World War. It shows a public parade for soldiers travelling overseas to fight.
This Australasian Gazette newsreel footage features highlights of the first test in the 1932–1933 England versus Australia cricket series.
This newsreel shows highlights of the second Test in the 1932–1933 series, which was won by Australia.
In this 1915 newsreel, the wife of then prime minister Andrew Fisher launches the HMAS Brisbane naval ship from the dockyard of Cockatoo Island.
This newsreel from approximately 1920 shows the orchard districts of Hamilton, Queensland. Workers pick, sort and pack peaches for transportation.
In this 1922 newsreel footage, a Maori rugby league team perform a haka war dance before playing a game against New South Wales.
In 1926, the general manager of Australasian Films and the producer of For the Term of His Natural Life leave for Tasmania to scout movie locations.
This newsreel from approximately 1931 shows highlights of the Bondi Ladies’ Annual Carnival at the local Bondi Baths, including excerpts from various races.
In this 1917 newsreel, troops from the Engineers’ Depot rehearse a raid on enemy trenches and are instructed by their commanding officers over the telephone.
This newsreel clip shows a large crowd farewelling the first Miss Australia, Miss Beryl Mills, as she leaves for the USA on the ocean liner Sonoma in 1926.
In this newsreel from 1925, the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Dudley de Chair, arrives by car to open Parliament House in Melbourne.
In this 1915 newsreel, people in costume walk, ride horses or ride in horse-drawn carriages on a Melbourne street as part of a parade for the French Red Cross.
In this newsreel, stage and screen actress Pauline Frederick poses for the camera. It is an early example of the fascination Australians have with American actors.
By 1925, the prickly pear infested over 25 million hectares in New South Wales and Queensland. Caterpillar larvae were introduced in 1926 to combat the problem.
This newsreel likely dates from the latter half of the First World War and shows returned Anzac soldiers marching through Melbourne as part of the ‘Fill-the-Gap’ recruitment drive.
This newsreel segment from 1915 shows a typical Australian showground. A sheepdog trainer and his dog herd three sheep into a pen.
In this 1925 newsreel, builders of model passenger liners sail their boats on a pond in Moore Park, Sydney.
This 1926 Australasian Gazette newsreel segment features a 'monster procession’ as part of Shopping Week in Bondi Junction, Sydney.
This newsreel vividly captures 'some Sunday morning’ at St Kilda Beach, Melbourne, showcasing 1920s swimming costumes, parasols and beach culture.
This 1929 newsreel includes a lifesaving demonstration and a Scottish pipe band leading the opening parade of a surf carnival at Bondi Beach.
This newsreel from approximately 1924 shows surfers and swimmers at Bondi Beach enjoying the first day of real summer weather of the season.
Filmed at Headingley Oval, this newsreel from approximately 1926 features the Australian cricket team on tour in England. Also included are highlights from a match.
In this newsreel, a large group marches in front of the horse-drawn vehicle carrying the casket of Australian cricketer Victor Trumper to a Sydney cemetery.
In this Australasian Gazette newsreel, waterside workers unload perishables from a ship. This footage may be from the the New South Wales General Strike of 1917.
This newsreel shows highlights of the third Test cricket series – the notorious 'Bodyline’ series – between England and Australia in Adelaide in January 1933.
In this edition of Cartoons of the Moment, Harry Julius comments on the war in Europe and Prime Minister Hughes’s policy of restrictions on trade with Germany.
This First World War anti-German propaganda cartoon represents fighting countries as animals and employs puns in the titles and accompanying captions.
Julius’s propaganda cartoons satirise the qualities of a country and its people by associating characters with specific symbols, items of clothing and facial features.
These cartoons also occasionally provided social commentary on domestic issues that did not have to do with the First World War, such as the evolution of the skirt.
Cartoons of the Moment employs cut-out animation, with two-dimensional character shapes photographed using a stop-motion technique.
To emphasise the topicality of his work, political cartoonist Harry Julius is seen reading a newspaper at his desk before he begins sketching his latest cartoon.
This edition of Cartoons of the Moment was probably made in 1918, after Prime Minister Hughes’s second visit to England to attend the Imperial War Cabinet.
Cartoonist Harry Julius used animals to represent the various countries involved in the First World War, creating easily identifiable – and satirical – character stereotypes.
This powerful piece of anti-German propaganda was a recruitment tool to persuade Australian men of fighting age that their help was urgently needed in the war effort.
This newsreel novelty item from approximately 1920 features boys riding on the back of goats and children in billycarts on the streets of Rockhampton, Queensland.
In this newsreel item of a Melbourne parade, advertisements for peace bonds feature on the lion and kangaroo cages belonging to the Colleano and Sole Brothers Circus.