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National Treasures

In the hands of political cartoonist Warren Brown famous and everyday objects bring Australian history to life.

National Treasures highlights objects that are a significant part of Australia’s identity. Some of the objects are famous and considered priceless; others are seemingly worthless, but they still have an important tale to tell. They bring our history to life and help us understand who we are.

The Film Australia television series National Treasures consists of 15 five-minute episodes presented by political cartoonist, columnist and history ‘tragic’ Warren Brown. Brown treats each object as a fun way of learning history, lavishing as much energy and enthusiasm on the lesser-known objects, like Cuc Lam’s Suitcase, as a Tom Roberts painting or Don Bradman’s cricket bats. As well as presenting, he illustrates each episode with cartoons relevant to the object at hand.

Brown has been the editorial cartoonist for Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper since 1986. He’s also a car enthusiast and writes a motoring column for the same paper. In addition to hosting two series of National Treasures, he was a presenter on Top Gear Australia (2008–09).

The ABC broadcast National Treasures in 2004. Film Australia produced two further series of National Treasures: The Prime Ministers’ National Treasures (2007), also hosted by Warren Brown; and Australia’s Heritage: National Treasures with Chris Taylor (2009).

Titles in this collection

National Treasures – Bradman’s Bats 2004

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

National Treasures – Cuc Lam’s Suitcase 2004

Vietnamese refugee Cuc Lam talks about how this small red vinyl bag was a symbol of a new beginning in a new country.

National Treasures – Endeavour Journal 2004

A look at Lieutenant James Cook’s journal, written on board the Endeavour during his trip down under in 1770.

National Treasures – First Surfboard 2004

Duke Kahanamoku shows Australians how to ride a wave in 1914, using a board he built himself.

National Treasures – Gallipoli Boat 2004

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.

National Treasures – HMAS Sydney’s Carley Float 2004

A tiny, war-ravaged liferaft’s link to the worst naval disaster in Australia’s history.

National Treasures – Phar Lap’s Hide 2004

How did a New Zealand-born horse become one of Australia’s most loved and enduring icons?

National Treasures – ‘The Magic Pudding’ Illustrations 2004

A look at the illustrations for one of Australia’s best-loved children’s books, The Magic Pudding.

National Treasures – ‘The Sentimental Bloke’ Film 2004

The classic 1919 silent movie The Sentimental Bloke is regarded as one of the greatest Australian films.

National Treasures – Tom Roberts’s ‘Bailed Up’ 2004

Why Tom Roberts’s painting Bailed Up is one of the most treasured in Australia.

National Treasures – ‘Waltzing Matilda’ Song Sheet 2004

How did the music and lyrics come together to make our most iconic of national songs?