Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online

A Big Country (1968 - 1991)

Reality series
Weekly x 30 minutes

Series synopsis:

Each week, A Big Country documented the lives of rural Australians from across the country, and through those stories explained to city people the world of those living on the land.

Curator’s Notes:

For over 20 years A Big Country broadcast 370 programs in 32 series on prime time ABC television, winning awards and high ratings. The program trained generations of documentary filmmakers including the legendary Bob Connolly who cut his teeth on these 30 minute documentaries developed by the ABC Rural Department before striking out with his wife Robin Anderson to create their prize-winning documentaries.

Each Big Country program was made with a producer, a reporter, a sound recordist and camera operator. In the days when the ABC still trained crews, there would also be a camera assistant learning on the job. Often, the stories were discovered by ABC rural officers living and broadcasting locally across the country, who would pass them on to the Big Country unit back in Sydney.

Titles in this series

A Big Country – City Girls 1983

A group of students from an exclusive girls’ school in Melbourne hike through the Bogong High Plains of Victoria’s Alpine National Park. With them is a smaller group of unemployed girls from a very different stratum of the population who ...

A Big Country – Gulf Battlers 1982

Elton and Maude are making a go of a cattle station in the Gulf country of northern Australia. It’s a tough life in an era before satellite phones and the internet, but this family seem to have pulled it off.

A Big Country – On the Hook 1976

In the mid-1970s, when this program was made, the waterside workers were in well paid, full-time jobs. Few viewers would have known of their traumatic history and the growth of the union that protects the rights of workers on the ...

A Big Country – Peninsula People 1968

Peninsula People was the seventh A Big Country program to be broadcast and was filmed in black-and-white. It presents in magazine format the lives of some of the characters that live in the Gulf country, from stockmen to station owners, ...

A Big Country – Perkins Navy 1979

Bruce Perkins owns a fleet of flat-bottomed barges that help the people of northern Australia to inhabit some of the least accessible areas of the top end.

A Big Country – The Challenge of Lake Eyre 1978

Lake Eyre is generally a massive environment of death or rather lifelessness, and every year for several months, John and Roma Dulhunty come to the lake to conduct their geological survey.

A Big Country – The Darcys of Mallapunyah 1981

The Darcys have one of the last family owned and operated cattle stations in the Northern Territory. Their vast family ensures a constant supply of labour but could create future inheritance issues.

A Big Country – The Drover 1981

Jack Tawney has been a drover most of his life. He left school at age 13 and has been moving sheep along the ‘long paddock’ ever since. A Big Country captures a day in the life of this iconic Australian ...

A Big Country – The Prices 1979

A pioneering family has taken over a cattle station at Cape York and is trying to make a go of it.

A Big Country – The White Rose 1979

Frank Bourke is ‘The White Rose’ – the dance band known and loved throughout country New South Wales.