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Melbourne Cup 1896 historical – 1896
This film documenting the 1896 Melbourne Cup is one of Australia’s oldest surviving films. A horse gallops into the foreground and blocks our view until the film’s producer gives the horse a pat on its rump.
Patineur Grotesque historical – 1896
This footage of a man performing on rollerskates for a crowd in a park is thought to be Australia’s earliest surviving film.
The Hen Convention music – 1897
The oldest surviving Australian sound recording is a novelty song featuring chicken impersonations.
Yamaz Sibarud is a traditional song performed by ‘Maino of Yam’, recorded during an anthropological expedition to the Torres Strait in 1898.
Torres Strait Islanders historical – 1898
A national treasure: the oldest film made of Torres Strait Islanders and of Aboriginal people. This film deserves national and international cultural icon status.
Boer War Transvaal Contingent historical – 1899
Using a hand-cranked Lumiere Cinematographe, photographer Frederick Charles Wills captured the Queensland contingents departing for the Boer War.
Building Construction historical – 1899
The official photographer of the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Frederick Charles Wills, films a building construction site in 1899.
Darnley Islanders Pay Tribute historical – 1899
Early footage documenting a visit to the Torres Strait by the Queensland Home Secretary, the Hon. Justin FG Foxton, and his wife.
Dipping Sheep historical – 1899
This short clip shows sheep being dipped in arsenic on a Queensland farm in 1899.
Fanny Cochrane Smith’s Tasmanian Aboriginal Songs music – 1899
These are the earliest recordings of traditional Tasmanian Aboriginal songs and language.
Government Party Boards SS Lucinda historical – 1899
In this actuality footage from 1899, Queensland politicians board the paddle steamer Lucinda, moored at a wharf on the Brisbane River.
Loading Horses on the SS Cornwall historical – 1899
Horses board the SS Cornwall on 31 October 1899, prior to the ship’s departure for the Boer War.
Newtown Railway Station historical – 1899
This actuality footage from 1899 shows a train arriving at Petersham or Newtown Railway Station in Sydney’s inner west.
North Shore Steam Ferry historical – 1899
This short clip from 1899 shows a steam ferry docking at the Milsons Point Ferry Wharf in Sydney.
Opening of Queensland Parliament historical – 1899
This short clip shows the Queensland Governor arriving by horse-drawn carriage to open Queensland Parliament on 18 May 1899.
Queen Street and Victoria Bridge historical – 1899
Using an original Lumière Cinematographe, Frederick Charles Wills and his assistant, Henry William Mobsby, capture a busy Brisbane intersection in 1899.
Roma Street Station historical – 1899
This short clip shows a train pulling up to Roma Street Station, Brisbane in 1899.
South Sea Islanders Cutting Cane historical – 1899
Photographer Frederick Charles Wills and his assistant, Henry William Mobsby, capture Melanesian labourers cutting cane in Queensland in 1899.
SS Katoomba Unloading historical – 1899
This actuality footage from 1899 shows the unloading of timber spars from the SS Katoomba at a busy wharf in Brisbane.
Sugar Mills, Nambour historical – 1899
In this actuality footage from 1899, a horse drags a load of cane to a sugar mill where it is fed onto a conveyor belt for crushing.
Threshing at Allora historical – 1899
This 1899 actuality footage shows workers tossing wheat sheaves into a threshing machine on a Queensland farm.
Wheat Harvesting with Reaper and Binder historical – 1899
The official photographer of the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Frederick Charles Wills, films a farmer and his wheat harvest on a property in Jimbour.
Inauguration of the Commonwealth documentary – 1901
This is possibly the first feature-length documentary made in Australia and the first Australian film to use multi-camera coverage.
Chant Vénitien music – 1904
This is an early surviving commercial recording made by international opera star Nellie Melba in her London home in 1904.
La Poule aux Oeufs d’Or short film – 1905
A fable of wealth and greed leads to disaster for a farmer and his wife. The Corrick family entertainers incorporated this early French film into their touring show.
The Hand of the Artist short film – 1906
The artist’s hand gives a young man and woman a number of options for romance. This English short film was used by the Corrick family entertainers in their performances.
Living Hawthorn historical – 1906
Reminiscent of Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory, this actuality footage is filmed by Millard Johnson and William Gibson, two pioneers of Australian silent film.
The Story of the Kelly Gang feature film – 1906
Audiences of the time loved this film’s boldness and, with its live sound effects and narration, to them it didn’t seem silent.
Street Scenes in Perth, Western Australia historical – 1907
Leonard Corrick recorded actuality-style footage in places where the Corricks were currently performing.
Boxing 1908: Johnson vs Burns historical – 1908
The Boxing Day fight between Canadian Tommy Burns and African American Jack Johnson drew an impressive crowd of 20,000 people.
Pathe Animated Gazette: Fire Breaks Out at Hornsby, Sydney newsreel – c1908
Topics in this Pathe Animated Gazette newsreel from 1908 range from a fire at Hornsby, in Sydney, to women modelling harem pants in Melbourne.
Training at Rushcutters Bay historical – 1908
American boxer Jack Johnson trains before an intimate crowd at Sydney’s Rushcutters Bay, only days away from becoming the first-ever African American to claim the heavyweight title.
Fighting the Flames historical – 1909
Footage of the Adelaide Metropolitan Fire Brigade in 1909 featuring rescue and resuscitation demonstrations by firefighters.
Higgins, Bryce: Family and Holiday Scenes: 1909-1924 home movie – c1909
This beautifully filmed home movie contains some of the earliest examples of home movie footage held by the National Film and Sound Archive.
Marvellous Melbourne: Queen City of the South documentary – c1910
Spencer believed cinema patrons wanted to see their own people and country. He went on to produce feature films, some with director Raymond Longford.
My South Polar Expedition spoken word – 1910
Sir Ernest Shackleton tells how the loss of a pony affected his attempt to reach the South Pole in 1908.
Opening of the Prahran-Malvern Tramway documentary – 1910
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.
Pathe Animated Gazette (Australasian Edition): The First Instalment of Australian Notes newsreel – c1910
Australasian editions of the Pathe Animated Gazette combined local and international news items and screened to cinema audiences from around 1908 until the First World War.
At Footscray a Church is Pulled Down newsreel – 1911
This footage shows the preparations for demolition of a small church in Paisley Street, Footscray. It was screened at the opening of the Grand Picture Theatre in November 1911.
Ballarat Beauty Competition newsreel – 1911
This Pathé newsreel captures the 36 entrants in a local beauty competition held in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens on 9 June 1911.
Footscray 1911 historical – c1911
One of the earliest moving image recordings of Footscray, this footage was screened to locals a week later at the Federal Hall in Nicholson Street.
The Sydney Morning Herald documentary – 1911
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.
A Thriving and Prosperous Suburb: Bird’s Eye View of Footscray documentary – c1911
This informal snapshot of daily life in 1910 is a rare record of working people in early 20th-century Melbourne.
Naming the Federal Capital of Australia historical – 1913
Director Raymond Longford, best known for his silent feature film The Sentimental Bloke (1919), documents the naming of Australia’s capital city, Canberra, in 1913.
The St Kilda Esplanade on Boxing Day historical – c1913
A vivid snapshot of public life on a sunny day at the St Kilda esplanade and foreshore on Boxing Day 1913.
Kiwi Shoe Polish: Shine Sir advertisement – 1914
This cinema advertisement illustrates what employers on the home front faced when their staff enlisted themselves into the war effort.
Society Wedding home movie – c1914
This silent footage of a society wedding, beautifully framed and shot on 35mm nitrate film, is a rare example of a home movie from the 1910s.
St Kilda Esplanade 1914 historical – 1914
This early footage of St Kilda includes the entrance to Luna Park and a jetty at the beach. The last shot, with its geometric form and structure, is like a Seurat painting.
Australasian Gazette – HMAS Brisbane Launched at Cockatoo Island newsreel – 1915
In this 1915 newsreel, the wife of then prime minister Andrew Fisher launches the HMAS Brisbane naval ship from the dockyard of Cockatoo Island.
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.