This is possibly the first feature-length documentary made in Australia and the first Australian film to use multi-camera coverage.
Spencer believed cinema patrons wanted to see their own people and country. He went on to produce feature films, some with director Raymond Longford.
This silent footage by Millard Johnson and William Gibson was made at a time when few people had seen moving pictures let alone a film camera.
One of the first Australian docos to be shot at night with artificial light, this Pathé short shows the newspaper printing process of the Sydney Morning Herald.
This informal snapshot of daily life in 1910 is a rare record of working people in early 20th-century Melbourne.
Australia Prepared c1916
A recruiting film highlighting Australian wartime contributions, including shipbuilding and the manufacture of weapons and uniforms.
Home of the Blizzard documents part of the treacherous 600-mile 1911–1914 expedition to the Magnetic South Pole led by Sir Douglas Mawson.
The construction of the trans-continental railway began in 1912 with work being carried out at both ends simultaneously.
Fighting in Flanders 1917
Silent footage of Australian troops in the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), fighting near the Menin Road in Belgium, in September 1917.
A silent film of Australian and New Zealand soldiers on the Western Front in France, between June and September 1916, much of it around Pozières.
One of the Australian War Memorial’s most important films – the most accurate filmed record of the Battle of Pozières in 1916.
This 1919 film reassured Australians that returned servicemen were being looked after, in part through retraining.
In 1919, aviator Ross Smith and crew became the first Australians to fly between England and Australia in under 30 days. Cameraman Frank Hurley joined them.
Produced at a time when the timber industry was considered romantic, Bush Bungalow shows the power of nature and man’s ability to conquer it.
This silent documentary shows the landscape and townships along the Murray River and is from a series made in the 1920s called See Australia First.
Pearls and Savages 1921
This 1979 reconstruction of Frank Hurley’s 1921 adventure film Pearls and Savages showcases the peoples and cultures of the Torres Strait Islands and Papua New Guinea.
The Sun Worshippers 1922
A scientific expedition to Wallal for the 1922 solar eclipse confirmed the bending of light by gravity predicted in Einstein’s 1915 General Theory of Relativity.
Piano Making c1924
This early film offers insights into the workmanship involved in piano manufacture and boasts the slogan, ‘Wherever you trade, buy Australian Made’.
Davidson collected over a million feet of footage over 40 years including the miracle of a man pulled from a mine shaft, never once hindered by the pipe in his mouth.
The Rising Generation c1925
This incomplete documentary from 1926 promotes the public education system in South Australia from kindergarten through to university.
Wood choppers balance on thin planks while rigorously swinging their axes. A silent film looking at the timber industry in New South Wales in the 1920s.
This silent black-and-white film from 1925 emphasises the ‘Mighty Murray’ river’s significance in Australia’s agricultural and natural history.
Everything you wanted to know about cement making — in the 1920s — but were afraid to ask.
Black Sunday 1926
This silent footage was probably used as a promotional tool for fundraising in the wake of the 'Black Sunday’ bushfires of Valentine’s Day 1926 that swept Victoria.
A straightforward glimpse into the lives of the trainers, handlers and owners of horses and livestock competing at the 1926 Royal Agricultural Show.
Thought to be one of the Know Your Own Country series from the 1920s, Round About Townsville positions Townsville as a veritable paradise.
An AIM Patrol 1927
This film documented outback life in the 1920s and may have been made to accompany a written report.
The Stawell Gift, one of the oldest foot races in the world, began as a competition between miners in the Victorian goldfields.
This is a remarkable visual record of what hospitals were once like — and the treatments used for some ailments in the 1920s.
Charles Ulm c1928
Historical footage such as this of Charles Ulm, hints at the challenges early aviation pioneers would have faced.
The provenance of this film fragment is unclear, but it could have been promoting the lab’s services.
From around 1929, this fragment of actuality footage shows a Surf Life Saving carnival at Bondi Beach.
Clearly, exploring Australia’s interior back in the 1930s was very challenging.
The capacity of Royal Australian Navy destroyers to carry and launch torpedoes in the 1930s is demonstrated here.
Looking back now, the lack of safety equipment used during the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is shocking.
Melbourne Today 1931
Probably the first ‘talkie’ documentary made about Melbourne – in 1931, films with sound were still relatively new in Australia.
The Mighty Conqueror 1931
Made only a year before Phar Lap’s death, The Mighty Conqueror boasts some of the last moving images of Phar Lap in Australia both on and off the track.
Siege of the South 1931
Frank Hurley documents Australia’s rich history of scientific exploration of the Australian Antarctic Territory.
Thar She Blows c1931
A short documentary about a whale hunt, including the dissection of the carcass and the conversion of blubber to oil.
That’s Cricket c1931
A featurette directed by Ken G Hall promoting cricket as the game that 'helps unite the Empire’ and is important to Australian identity.
The Trail of the 'Roo is one of a handful of documentary featurettes made by the McDonagh sisters, pioneers of Australia’s early motion picture industry.
Fire Guardians 1932
For this eccentric dramatised documentary on the history of firefighting, Frank Hurley dressed members of the NSW Fire Brigade in all manner of period costume.
Ghosts of Port Arthur c1932
A ‘novelty travel talk’ by Ken G Hall in 1930 has other resonances today: violent encounters after European settlement and the horror of the Port Arthur massacre.
Jewel of the Pacific 1932
In this 1932 travelogue shot and narrated by Frank Hurley, rat tails bring a reward of sixpence each and Lord Howe Island locals join the hunt for the pests.
Frank Thring was an enthusiastic supporter of talking pictures and a great believer in their potential to bolster the Australian film industry.
Catching Crocodiles 1933
If you’ve ever wanted to catch a crocodile, this nine-minute instructional video tells you how, 1930s style.
After watching Home of the Blizzard Ernest Shackleton asked Frank Hurley to film his expedition across Antarctica with the aim of funding part of the expedition through film sales.
This record of the man on the land in the 1930s, aimed at UK audiences, would have been narrated by the filmmaker when screened.
This silent documentary is about a rodeo held in northern Queensland in approximately 1934. It features 500 participants parading through the streets of Townsville.
Fez Please c1935
A short silent documentary made by the Owen Brothers about Melbourne’s fast-disappearing cable trams.