an NFSA website

Australian icons

The following clips have teachers’ notes related to this topic:

The Sydney Opera House sails

from the sponsored film The 8th Wonder of the World (PG)

The exterior walls of the Sydney Opera House were inspired by the sails of the pleasure craft on the nearby harbour.

Rolf Harris at the Sydney Opera House

from the sponsored film The 8th Wonder of the World (PG)

Australian entertainer Rolf Harris sings a self-penned tribute to the SOH while he does a painting of it. We see him in make up, preparing for the first performance in the concert hall.

Bertie the Jet

from the advertisement Aeroplane Pure Fruit Jellies Advertisement: Bertie the Jet (G)

The 'Popularity Cup’ air race is contested between planes from all around the world, including the crowd favourite from Australia – Bertie the Jet. Broadcaster Ken Howard calls the race from his elevated podium. As the …

Amy Johnson arrives in Brisbane

from the newsreel The Arrival of Miss Amy Johnson in Brisbane (G)

A title card announces the arrival of Amy Johnson in Brisbane after her ‘wonderful flight from England’. As crowds wait for her arrival, and crowds are shown arriving in cars, there is a shot of …

Dame Nellie Melba

from the newsreel Australasian Gazette – Dame Nellie Melba (PG)

This black-and-white silent story from an Australasian Gazette newsreel shows opera soprano Dame Nellie Melba accompanied by John Lemmone, Lady Pamela Vestey as a child and others, walking along the deck of the passenger liner …

‘An Australian car is born’

from the sponsored film Birth of a Car (G)

Once the sedan body has been completed, the final assembly takes place. Front and rear axels are fitted. New parts are constantly added as the car moves along the assembly line – the six cylinder motor …

‘The city of tomorrow’

from the advertisement Bushells Tea Advertisement: The World of the Future (G)

This animated colour cinema advertisement for Bushells tea starts with a map of the world and a voice-over that invites the viewer to 'the world of the future’. International travel is shown using fast planes …


from the documentary The Changing Face of Australia (G)

Scenic shots of Uluru as the voice-over speaks of the 'geological timescale of the continent and its growth and ageing’. Then, we see Uluru weather a storm. As rains cascade down over the rock, the …

Dame Nellie Melba and her cockatoo

from the home movie Dame Nellie in the Mitchell Estate Garden, Lilydale (PG)

Dame Nellie Melba walks along the veranda of the house, puts up an umbrella and walks into the garden. She then dances and sings beside a cockatoo.

View from bridge

from the home movie Farey: Opening of Sydney Harbour Bridge (PG)

Leslie Francis Farey films his first walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932 and the panoramic view he enjoyed of Sydney Harbour. Farey has captured other curious pedestrians inspecting the newly-built bridge, the tramlines …

‘A great new feeling’

from the advertisement General Motors Holden – A Great New Feeling (G)

This advertisement for the 1969 Holden HT Kingswood sedan features voice-over narration and an accompanying jingle about the 'new generation Holden’. It begins and ends with typical scenes of friends at the beach. The Kingswood …

‘Australia’s ideal family car’

from the advertisement General Motors Holden – Australia’s Ideal Family Car (G)

A young family climb into their Holden and drive through the suburbs as the voice-over narration describes the car’s suitability for a family. A close-up of the internal steering mechanism demonstrates the re-circulating ball …

‘What’s your favourite car, Australia?’

from the advertisement General Motors Holden – Football, Meat Pies, Kangaroos and Holden Cars (G)

The ad features a montage of Australian outdoor scenes including the beach, sporting events (yachting, golf, cricket and football), the Australian flag and native fauna. These are intercut with 1970s Holden models. The advertisement employs …

‘Holden’s got more horses’

from the advertisement General Motors Holden – Holden's Got More Horses (G)

A man walks out of a house and gets into his 1966 Holden HR sedan. We see a pack of galloping horses as the narrator describes the 'thundering power’ of the HR’s 145 horsepower …

John Fisher, another Holden driver

from the advertisement General Motors Holden – John Fisher, Another Holden Driver (G)

This is a vox pop style interview with Hawthorn winger John Fisher about his Holden. 'Fish’ is interviewed by TV sports commentator Tony Charlton in a parking lot outside an AFL venue …

‘Make it yours’

from the advertisement General Motors Holden – Make it Yours (G)

This advertisement for the 1968 Holden HK Premier, narrated in voice-over by John Laws, features young people and city life over the course of a day and evening. Beginning with shots of city buildings and …

‘More than just transportation’

from the advertisement General Motors Holden – Monaro, Three New Models (G)

This advertisement for the Holden Monaro HK begins on the racetrack amongst sleek sports cars, champion drivers (including Norm Beechey) and adoring female fans. A sequence of still images of foreign sports cars and sophisticated …

‘The time is now and the car is Holden’

from the advertisement General Motors Holden – The Time is Now (G)

A woman lies on a beach, dreamily relaxing under her hat. A Holden HR sedan is parked on the sand nearby. The woman runs to the car, which is filmed from different angles to show …

‘Happier family motoring’

from the advertisement General Motors Holden – To Suit All Family Needs (G)

A family of six walk out of their house to the car. One of the sons helps his father pack the luggage into the boot as a voice-over narrator describes the spacious interior of the …

The New Holden FE

from the advertisement Holden Car Cinema Advertisement: A New Star, the New Holden FE (G)

This clip shows the whole advertisement minus the opening and closing titles. A curtain parts to reveal the new model Holden FE on display on a turntable in a car showroom. As the car spins …

Bradman’s Bats

from the documentary National Treasures – Bradman's Bats (G)

Donald Bradman’s bats are a reminder of how this cricket legend played himself into the record books, earning the status of Australian icon.

Gallipoli boat

from the documentary National Treasures – Gallipoli Boat (PG)

A small lifeboat, retrieved from the shores of Gallipoli, is a direct link to the first Anzacs and the day that helped forge Australia’s identity.

Phar Lap’s hide

from the documentary National Treasures – Phar Lap's Hide (PG)

In the 1930s, a New Zealand-born horse called Phar Lap won the hearts of Australians and became one of our most loved and enduring icons.

‘The Magic Pudding’ illustrations

from the documentary National Treasures – 'The Magic Pudding' Illustrations (PG)

Norman Lindsay’s The Magic Pudding is one of our best-loved children’s books and the central character one of our great Australian antiheroes.

Nellie Melba

from the newsreel Official Opening of Canberra by His Royal Highness the Duke of York (PG)

Dame Nellie Melba sings the national anthem, God Save the King, on the steps of Parliament House (now Old Parliament House), in Canberra at the official opening in 1927. The camera pans across the official …

Billy Hughes saves a life

from the feature film Smithy (G)

Just after the First World War, Charles Kingsford Smith (Ron Randell) secures the backing of the Blackburn Aviation Co for his entry to the inaugural England to Australia Air Race, but he is dismayed when …

‘They can see Australia!’

from the feature film Smithy (G)

Kingsford Smith and co-pilot Charles Ulm (John Tate) are nearing the Australian coastline, after a history-making flight across the Pacific from San Francisco. A violent storm has engulfed their plane, the converted Fokker now known …

‘One of the most fantastic flights ever made’

from the feature film Smithy (G)

After mechanical failure stops them from taking part in the Centenary Air Race from Australia to Britain, Kingsford Smith (Ron Randell) and PG Taylor (playing himself) decide to attempt the Pacific crossing to the US …

Blood, sweat and tears

from the television program Stateline – The Transcontinental Dream (G)

While reporter Mark Bowling sits back in air-conditioned comfort, the story cuts to archival footage to remind us of the history of transportation in the outback, from the Afghan camel trains to the earliest train …

Fitzpatrick incident at Mrs Kelly’s homestead

from the feature film The Story of the Kelly Gang (PG)

This fragment from The Story of the Kelly Gang shows Constable Fitzpatrick visiting the homestead of Kate Kelly. Fitzpatrick attempts to kiss Kate Kelly and in the scuffle Ned Kelly shoots Fitzpatrick in the wrist …

Siege at Glenrowan hotel

from the feature film The Story of the Kelly Gang (PG)

This clip shows the troopers outside the Glenrowan hotel. Joe Byrne is shot. Steve and Dan shoot each other rather than be caught. The police set fire to the hotel and Father Gibney runs into …

Ned Kelly’s last stand and capture

from the feature film The Story of the Kelly Gang (PG)

This clip shows a re-enactment of the bushranger Ned Kelly being shot and captured by police. It has severe nitrate damage.

(Elizabeth Taggart-Speers)

David Williamson at La Mama

from the documentary Tall Tales but True: David Williamson – playwright (PG)

Australian playwright David Williamson recalls meeting his wife, Kristin, at La Mama Theatre Company where they were both performing. Kristin also recalls the tall awkward young David. Williamson talks about Australian plays being popular with …

‘The love of cricket’

from the documentary That's Cricket (G)

A child sits on the grass next to a miniature cricket kit with stumps, bat and ball, as the narrator explains that a love of cricket is inherent to 'every Australian’. Children play the game …

You can find more clips on this topic by using the search facility in the menu bar. You could also try browsing the tag cloud.