Australian Screen

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A Trip Along the River Murray (1925)

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Irrigation construction and equipment education content clip 1

This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

This clip shows an orange-peel scoop; ‘flying fox’ machinery; Lake Victoria; a channel bridge and inlet regulator; and the construction of channels and levees.

Curator’s notes

The orange-peel scoop seen in this clip was used to dredge the bottom of the river.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This silent black-and-white clip shows irrigation construction and equipment along the River Murray in 1925. It features an orange-peel scoop, used to dredge the bottom of the River, as well as images of a flying fox, views of Lake Victoria in New South Wales and draught horses pulling machinery used to construct channels, levees and an inlet regulator. Intertitles are used throughout the clip to place the images in context.

Educational value points

  • The clip includes footage of the River Murray, known as the 'Mighty Murray’ and Australia’s 'big river’, which spans three states, NSW, Victoria and South Australia. At a length of 2,530 km, it is the second-longest river in Australia after the Darling River, which is 2,740 km long.
  • The River Murray is part of the Murray-Darling Basin, which includes the Darling and Murrumbidgee rivers and extends across NSW, Vic, SA, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory. The Basin covers a total area of 1,061,469 square km.
  • The clip features images of dredging and irrigation procedures occurring in and around the River Murray in the 1920s. In 1915 the Australian government and the state governments of NSW, Vic and SA ratified the River Murray Water Act. This Act allowed dredging and the construction of dams, weirs and locks in order to regulate the flow of water for irrigation, navigation and the distribution of water between states.
  • From 1922 to 1935 a series of locks and weirs were constructed along the River Murray to assist and support navigation, even when water levels were low. At that time paddle steamers and barges were used for passenger travel and commercial transport for primary produce such as wool and wheat, as well as a variety of other goods. Over time, improvements in road and rail transport contributed to a decline in commercial and passenger river transport along the Murray.
  • Images of Lake Victoria are shown in the clip and a title card describes water storage at the lake as 'increasing facilities for navigation and irrigation in South Australia’. Lake Victoria is an essential part of the River Murray system, used as a storage dam for irrigation and drinking water. The River Murray Commission constructed the Lake Victoria water storage system in the 1920s.
  • While the importance of Lake Victoria as a water storage system is highlighted in the clip, it was also highly significant in Indigenous Australian history. For tens of thousands of years the Lake was used as a sacred Aboriginal burial site. In 1994, when the Lake’s water levels were lowered for maintenance on the weirs and barrages, the Murray-Darling Basin Commission discovered between 6,000 and 16,000 Aboriginal burial sites.
  • Draught horses are seen pulling machinery used to create channels and levees along the River Murray. Throughout history, draught horses were often used in transport and agricultural situations where heavy loads needed to be hauled. The introduction of motorised heavy earth-moving equipment resulted in the decline in the use of draught-horse power for these situations and they are no longer used today.
  • This black-and-white silent clip is an example of filmmaking techniques employed at the time. Colour was not widely used in film until 1932 with the introduction of the three-colour Technicolour process. Films remained silent until the film The Jazz Singer (1927) was produced with accompanying music and speech.

An orange-peel scoop dredges the bottom of the Murray River.

An intertitle reads: The Flying Fox

We see machinery on a flying fox.

Intertitle: Distant view of Lake Victoria

We see the expanse of Lake Victoria.

An intertitle reads: Water storage at Lake Victoria (N.S.W.) Estimated cost, £320,000. Capacity, 514,000 acre feet. Proving a constant stream of 100,000 cubic feet per minute for four months of the year, thus increasing facilities for navigation and irrigation in South Australia.

This is followed by intertitle: Channel Bridge and inlet regulator

Men and teams of draught horses are at work constructing a channel bridge and inlet regulator.

Intertitle: Channels and Levees in course of construction

Men and teams of draught horses are at work constructing channels and levees.

Thanks to the generosity of the rights holders, we are able to offer Irrigation construction and equipment from the documentary A Trip Along the River Murray as a high quality video download.

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australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions.

When you access australianscreen you agree that:

  • You may retrieve materials for information only.
  • You may download materials for your personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes, but you must not publish them elsewhere or redistribute clips in any way.
  • You may embed the clip for non-commercial educational purposes including for use on a school intranet site or a school resource catalogue.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

All other rights reserved.

ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

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