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Steamboat Holidays on the Murray River (c.1920)


This silent documentary with intertitles shows the landscape and townships along the Murray River between Mildura in Victoria and Mount Lofty in South Australia.

Curator’s notes

This documentary is part of a promotional series called See Australia First, made in the 1920s. The ‘Visit Victoria’ episodes, of which this was a part, would have encouraged tourism throughout the state and showcased the scenery of the areas. A series of books were produced, also entitled See Australia First, that may have been related to these films.

In this film, it is the Murray River that features, with the paddle-steamer presented as a natural inhabitant of the river. Other scenes detail the fertile crop fields that nestle around the river’s path, river transport by barge, various homesteads, townships and settlements on the edges of the Murray, and the connecting rail transport of the area. Intertitles identify the main points of interest along the journey down the Murray River as well as provide some background to specific areas or objects which are featured. Dissolves are used to move the documentary along and, combined with long tracking shots (from on board a paddle-steamer), they replicate the pace of a pleasant journey along the river’s path.

For a slightly different emphasis on the importance of the Murray River in the 1920s, see A Trip Along the River Murray that looks at the harnessing of the river’s water flows for agricultural use.