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Thursday Island and Merauke, Dutch New Guinea (c.1925)


This 16mm actuality footage was recorded during the filming of two back-to-back feature films – The Hound of the Deep (1926) on Thursday Island and The Jungle Woman (1926) at Merauke in Dutch New Guinea. Scenes include the cast and crew’s departure from Sydney and their arrival at Thursday Island, various locations around the island, the cast of both features acting on set, many of the local inhabitants and villages in the Torres Strait and at Merauke, travelling upriver through Dutch New Guinea, and scenes of daily life in the British Solomon Islands. The 14 minutes of footage uses intertitles to identify the main locations and features.

Curator’s notes

Most of these segments were recorded by Frank Hurley. The scenes on set and those featuring him were most likely filmed by his camera assistant or another member of the crew. Hurley’s affinity for the travelogue format and his interest in other cultures is evident from this actuality footage.

Frank Hurley had made two extended expeditions to the Torres Strait and Papua in the early 1920s which resulted in the publication of a book and ethnographic film called Pearls and Savages (1921). A few years later, he returned to the region – this time with the intention of filming two feature-length dramas, The Hound of the Deep (1926) and The Jungle Woman (1926). Both films were shot, directed, produced and edited by Hurley and provided him with the opportunity to combine his love of exotic locations and ethnography with the dramatic possibilities of feature film.