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Australian identity

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

‘A nation without a mind’

from the feature film 2000 Weeks (G)

Will Gardener (Mark McManus) has just picked up returning expatriate Noel Oakshot (David Turnbull) from the airport. They visit an old house where Oakshot lived, that’s now being demolished. Oakshot holds forth on the …

‘Where are you blokes from?’

from the feature film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (M)

After a drunken night at a pub in Broken Hill, the three drag artists – Mitzi (Hugo Weaving), Felicia (Guy Pearce) and Bernadette (Terence Stamp) – awake to find their bus defaced with an anti-gay slogan. They …

‘I will survive’

from the feature film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (PG)

Priscilla, the bus, has broken down in the desert. An Aboriginal man (Alan Dargin) invites the three drag artists to his nearby camp, where they put on an impromptu show. Everyone joins in, including a …

Armistice Day, Melbourne

from the newsreel Australasian Gazette – Armistice Day, Melbourne (G)

This silent black-and-white newsreel clip from about 1925 shows a large crowd of people gathered on the steps of Parliament House, Melbourne for an Armistice Day ceremony. The crowd stands for two minutes silence then …

The battle for the Middle East

from the television program Australians at War – The Thin Khaki Line (PG)

One of the great artillery battles of the Second World War was fought in the desert near El Alamein. The extent of the battle was seen from the air by an Australian fighter pilot who …


from the sponsored film Australia Post – Olympic Post Script (G)

This clip gives an overview of the setting up of telephone, telegraph and broadcast equipment prior to the commencement of the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. The Duke of Edinburgh opens the Games on 22 November …

Backyard betting

from the newsreel Australia Today – Customs Officers Fight Against Drugs (G)

This newsreel segment begins with a title card which sums it up nicely: ‘slums, illegal gambling and SP bookmaking is a real and vital problem confronting the governments of Australia today’. Following newspaper headlines, the …

‘You’re never gonna get out of this place’

from the feature film Beneath Clouds (PG)

Lena (Dannielle Hall) is sitting in a bus shelter. Her brother Liam (Mundurra Weldon) skids to a halt on his bike. Liam asks for money. A police car drives by. All eyes are on the …

‘Wealthy on the inside’

from the documentary Big People, Small People (PG)

A woman describes the breakdown of her marriage after their newly built 'dream home’ was condemned due to faulty construction. Her husband could not survive emotionally without his wealth security blanket. She says quality of …

Social justice

from the documentary Big People, Small People (PG)

Michael Leunig sees our inability to say 'enough is enough’ as a problem while John Howard considers it to be the acceptable price of progress.

A major medical emergency

from the television program Bondi Rescue – Series 1, Episode 4 (PG)

A group of senior lifeguards just happen to be standing at the edge of the water for a photo shoot when they’re told there’s been a man found floating lifeless in the surf …

The aftermath

from the television program Bondi Rescue – Series 2, Episode 7 (PG)

Medical doctor Yondon Dungu had migrated to Australia with his wife and three children, and had been in Australia for just one week when he drowned at Bondi Beach. Left without a breadwinner, his wife …

The discipline of writing

from the television program The Book Show – David Malouf (PG)

David Malouf explains why living in Tuscany is important to the way he writes, which includes the need to lock himself away. In Italy he is able to work through the morning until 10 am …

The honeymooners return

from the advertisement Bushells Tea: The Charmed Cup (PG)

This clip is part two in a three-part, serialised Bushells tea cinema advertisement. It shows the newly-married couple returning from their honeymoon on a cruise ship, proving that the tea reading in part one has …

Six o’clock swill

from the feature film Caddie (M)

Caddie has taken a job in an inner-city hotel, because it pays more than waitressing, but she’s unprepared for the brutal struggle that is the nightly ‘six o’clock swill’. Men crowd the bar …

Mateship in the army

from the documentary Cenotaph (PG)

Over footage of Remembrance Day ceremonies, and archival footage of soldiers in the First World War, surviving ex-servicemen recall the power of mateship and remember their fallen comrades.


from the home movie Christmas Crackers (G)

This clip begins with Mrs Sprod and her daughter Kathleen preparing for the homecoming of their loved ones. Kathleen’s baby daughter Jill gives them a hand. They fix their wooden fence, trim the hedges …

Christmas Day at home, 1945

from the home movie Christmas Crackers (G)

With all three brothers home in time for Christmas, the men relax in the sun for an afternoon drink with their uncle Stan. Mrs Sprod, Kathleen and her aunt Mary also enjoy Christmas day and …

An evening at home

from the home movie Clarke, Robin JH: Sydney Diary (G)

This is taken from a sequence depicting the domestic routine of a family evening spent at home. Clarke arranges it into a narrative which begins with a train pulling into Wahroonga station, and includes scenes …

‘They became our sons as well’

from the television program Compass – Embracing the Enemy (G)

The rules of the Returned Servicemen’s League (RSL) originally stated that no group that had fought against Australia could march on Anzac Day. After many years and much persistence by Turkish Australians, the RSL ...

The Johnnies and the Mehmets

from the television program Compass – Gallipoli Pilgrimage (PG)

A bus tour of Australians is on its way to Anzac Cove and the guide tells us the story of the Turkish losses. Ninety thousand Turks lost their lives and modern Turkey emerged under the …

On being young and Muslim in Australia

from the television program Compass – Islam on Parade (PG)

Waleed Aly and Susan Carland spend a great deal of their spare time talking to other Australians about their faith. They’re very much the ideal Aussie couple. They’re also devout Muslims, Waleed was …

‘You can’t take my photograph’

from the feature film Crocodile Dundee (PG)

At a bush camp, Sue Charlton (Linda Kozlowski) is at first spooked by the quiet arrival of an Aboriginal man in face paint. Mick (Paul Hogan) introduces Neville (David Gulpilil), a 'real city-boy’, and then …

‘Hinky pinky parlay-voo’

from the feature film Diggers (PG)

An Australian soldier says goodbye to his French sweetheart (Eugenie Prescott), the beautiful daughter of a local café proprietor, as the troops march up to the lines, singing ‘Mademoiselle from Armentières’, a popular hit of …

A marriage of cultures

from the documentary Dreamtime, Machinetime (PG)

A brush pushes dots against an all black canvas. Trevor Nickolls tells us about the influences that shape his work. Nickolls refers to the Western machinery and Indigenous cosmology known as the Dreaming.

Beach scenes

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

A beach scene from the 1930s is captured on this home movie clip taken by Leslie Francis Farey. People are shown lying on the beach and a group of people swim between the flags while …

‘Why do you play footy for?’

from the feature film Footy Legends (G)

Luc (Anh Do) and his sister Anne (Lisa Saggers) discuss football as they wait for the team’s first practice to start. Anne holds her pet tortoise, Britney, a gift from her brother. Luc gives …

‘What are we fighting for?’

from the feature film Forty Thousand Horsemen (PG)

Red (Grant Taylor) gives his horse some water during a long and tortuous patrol in the desert. An officer tells him to save it for himself. Red, Jim (Chips Rafferty) and Larry (Pat Twohill) cool …

The Australians are coming

from the feature film Forty Thousand Horsemen (M)

The German commander at Beersheba (Eric Reiman) is temporarily befuddled by an artillery barrage that’s designed to throw up dust. Out of this murk come hundreds of Australian Light Horsemen, in a great charge …

A future governor-general

from the television program Four Corners – The First Program (PG)

The very first Four Corners opens with vox pops in a busy Sydney street, asking people whether a future governor-general should be British or Australian. The reporter is Bob Sanders.

‘It’s not our bloody war’

from the feature film Gallipoli (PG)

Lost in the desert, on their way to join up, Archy (Mark Lee) and Frank (Mel Gibson) discuss politics, patriotism and the reasons for war.

‘What makes Australians tough’

from the feature film The Hayseeds (G)

Mary Townleigh (Shirley Dale) has been found after being briefly lost in the bush. The Hayseeds open their home, and Dad Hayseed (Cecil Kellaway) suggests they stay until she is better. Mr Townleigh (Kenneth Brampton …

The Battlers

from the documentary Kylie Tennant (G)

Kylie Tennant talks about researching and writing her third novel The Battlers.

Dulkaninna Station

from the documentary Last Mail from Birdsville: The Story of Tom Kruse (G)

George Bell of the Dulkaninna Station and his family have relied on the mailman for over a century. Mail was first delivered by camel, then Kruse delivered it by truck and now it comes by …

She’s back!

from the television program Li'l Elvis and the Truckstoppers – Caught in a Trap (G)

Elvis (Stig Wemyss) and Lionel (Kylie Belling) are riding their scoot-boards in the desert when a big road truck appears. It’s Janet Rig (Marg Downey) and her trucker mum. Li’l Elvis’s greatest …

‘I’m going to cross the river’

from the feature film Mad Dog Morgan (PG)

Morgan (Dennis Hopper) has been shot while stealing a horse. He is rescued by an outcast Aborigine, Billy (David Gulpilil), who nurses him back to health in the mountains. They decide to seek safety across …

‘A stripling, on a small and weedy beast’

from the feature film The Man from Snowy River (PG)

Jim Craig (Tom Burlinson) has joined the crack horsemen in pursuit of the wild brumbies, but the men baulk at following the mob down a precipitous decline. As Harrison (Kirk Douglas) declares the mob has …

‘You hold your nose and you jump in’

from the television program Masterpiece Special – Robert Hughes (PG)

Robert Hughes describes the long hard slog of writing. He says that all his books, except for The Culture of Complaint (1993), would never have been written if he’d known what was ahead of …

The expat

from the television program Masterpiece Special – Robert Hughes (PG)

Robert Hughes is dismissive of anyone who says you can see the great art works online or in books. He says that it is important to travel to the world’s art galleries to see …

First surfboard

from the documentary National Treasures – First Surfboard (PG)

Huge, heavy and finless, the first Aussie surfboard was actually handmade by a visiting Hawaiian in 1914 using a piece of local wood.

Reaping the harvests of history

from the documentary A Nation is Built (PG)

Scenes of wheat harvesting are accompanied by commentary full of metaphors of nation-building based on ‘harvesting the benefits of a great past’. As the commentary builds to a patriotic climax, the music from _Pomp and …

Fighting a fire

from the feature film On Our Selection (G)

The whole family joins a desperate battle to save the fencing around the crops, to no avail. Youngest son Joe (Arthur Wilson) thinks the fire is a splendid sight. Dad (Percy Walshe) sees it as …

Dave in love

from the feature film On Our Selection (G)

Dave (Tal Ordell) dances with glee after he receives a letter from his new sweetheart Lily White (Carmen Coleman). Joe, the youngest Rudd (Arthur Wilson) thinks he’s gone mad. The Rudd women crowd around …

The POW Street Adoption Scheme

from the advertisement Red Cross Cinema Advertisement: The Prisoner of War Street Adoption Scheme (G)

In a direct address to the camera, Governor of Queensland Sir Leslie Wilson appeals to Queenslanders to support the Red Cross Prisoner of War Street Adoption Scheme. He appeals to individuals, communities and businesses to …

Sticking together

from the television program Robbery Under Arms (PG)

Warrigal (Tommy Lewis) is confronted with the reality of losing his 'brother’ Captain Starlight (Sam Neill) as the gang makes plans to escape to America. Meanwhile, the troopers are perfecting a killing machine to ambush …

A man from Snowy River

from the sponsored film Snowy Hydro - Where Giants Meet (PG)

In this clip, filmed in 1948, a 'man from Snowy River’ swaps his horse and his bushman’s life for a bulldozer and employment on the Snowy Mountains Scheme. While on one level reflecting the …

‘The white man’s here, he’s here to stay’

from the documentary Strangers in Paradise (G)

As the tourists sit in their hotel room and watch a broadcast of the re-enactment of white settlement on television, they give their responses to what they are seeing. The most vocal of these is …

‘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 …

Surfing, a national sport

from the documentary Thrill of the Surf (PG)

Commentator John Moyes explains that men are making surfboards out of plywood. A line of surfers carry their boards down to the shore and paddle out towards the breakers. The camera follows their path, capturing …

The city of Broome

from the sponsored film Through the Centre (G)

After showing us the 'lovely homes of the white residents’ the voice-over declares that living in the main street are 'no less than 17 different races of people’. The footage shows a group of young …

Modes of transport and Victoria Downs

from the sponsored film Through the Centre (G)

Donkey teams in the North are shown pulling large wagons of supplies along dusty tracks. The camel team of an Indian hawker near Wave Hill brings supplies to people of the outback to whom ‘shops …

Bondi Surf Carnival

from the newsreel Travelogue of Eastern States (PG)

This clip documents the spectacle of a large surf carnival on Bondi Beach in approximately 1929. The surf clubs march on the sand and lifesavers give a resuscitation demonstration.

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