Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online

Farey: Opening of Sydney Harbour Bridge (1932)

A video which normally appears on this page did not load because the Flash plug-in was not found on your computer. You can download and install the free Flash plug-in then view the video. Or you can view the same video as a downloadable MP4 file without installing the Flash plug-in.

Email a link to this page
To:
CC:
Subject:
Body:
clip Official parade education content clip 1, 2, 6, 7

Original classification rating: not rated. This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

The Farey family travelled from Victoria to Sydney for the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932. This home movie clip opens with a shot of the Farey family on a roadside stop on the Princes Highway at the Victorian border on their way to Sydney and cuts to the official parade for the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on 19 March 1932.

Curator’s notes

This clip shows what it would have been like to be in the crowd at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, giving an unusual personal perspective.

We see Leslie Francis Farey’s point of view as he stands amongst the crowd during the parade. He hand-holds the camera and pans back and forth as you would naturally if you were watching the parade live.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This black-and-white silent clip shows the procession that was part of celebrations to commemorate the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on 19 March 1932. The footage was shot from within the crowd by Melburnian Leslie Francis Farey as part of a home movie. It opens with shots of Farey’s family making a roadside stop on the Princes Highway at the Victoria–New South Wales border on their way to the opening. It then cuts to the parade, which is led by a group of Bridge workers and features floats that highlight significant events in the history of NSW. Part of the large crowd, which gathered for the opening, can be seen in the rear of the shots.

Educational value points

  • The clip shows an aspect of the official opening ceremony of the Bridge on 19 March 1932. A large parade crossed the Bridge after it had been officially opened by the Premier of NSW, Jack Lang. The parade featured marching groups and floats that highlighted significant events in the nation’s history, such as Captain James Cook’s landing at Botany Bay in 1770 and the arrival of the First Fleet. Indigenous Australians, Bridge workers, the armed forces, schoolchildren and lifesavers marched ahead of the floats.
  • The Bridge opening created great public interest. Crowds estimated at between 300,000 and 1 million people watched the celebrations, either from the Bridge or from the Harbour foreshore, with ambulance officers treating 2,500 people who fainted in the heat. As Lang was about to officially declare the Bridge open, Captain Francis de Groot rode up on a horse and slashed the ribbon with a sword. De Groot, a member of the right-wing New Guard, felt that a member of British royalty and not a Labor premier should officiate. The ribbon was retied and Lang went ahead to open the Bridge.
  • Many events were organised to celebrate the opening of the Bridge. In addition to the procession shown in the clip, a flotilla of ships and boats passed down Sydney Harbour and under the Bridge. The Royal Australian Air Force also gave an aerial display. After the official opening there was a 21-gun salute and the public was permitted to walk across the Bridge. The evening featured a fireworks display, as well as formal balls and dinners. In the lead-up to the opening, sporting competitions were held, including sailing races, athletics, tennis and cricket matches.
  • The Sydney Harbour Bridge was seen as having national significance. Built during the Great Depression, the Bridge became a symbol of hope for Australians because it suggested that a return to prosperity was possible. The Bridge was seen as a great engineering feat and the various phases of its construction were reported extensively in the media, providing a welcome distraction from economic woes. Songs were composed about the Bridge and souvenir booklets and three postage stamps were issued to mark its opening.
  • A hundred Bridge workers led the opening procession. The project provided sought-after employment during the Great Depression, with 1,400 men employed each year on the construction over an eight-year period. However, industrial safety standards were inadequate and 16 men died during construction, most as a result of falling from the Bridge. Several men were also injured while making some of the 6 million hand-driven rivets used on the Bridge. Deafness experienced by many of the workers in later years was blamed on the constant hammering of metal during construction.
  • The clip shows Indigenous Australians taking part in the procession. A group of Indigenous men was selected to march across the Bridge wearing war paint and kangaroo skins and carrying spears and boomerangs. The Captain Cook float also featured an Indigenous Australian warrior brandishing a spear.
  • The float that represented Australia and its future featured the figurehead of a woman steering a boat. From Federation in 1901 the nation was commonly represented as a young and pure woman.
  • Leslie Farey shot this home movie footage using 16 mm film. Amateur filmmaking such as this took off after the 16 mm camera was introduced in 1923 as a relatively inexpensive alternative to the conventional 35 mm film format. In this period the camera was still priced beyond the reach of most people and therefore the home movie footage we are able to see dating from this period generally comes from fairly privileged sources. These sources offer a record of the lifestyles, cultures and traditions of Australians, and significant events in the nation’s history.

Thanks to the generosity of the rights holders, we are able to offer Official parade from the home movie Farey: Opening of Sydney Harbour Bridge as a high quality video download.

To play the downloadable video, you need QuickTime 7.0, VLC, or similar.

You must read and agree to the following terms and conditions before downloading the clip:

australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions.

When you access australianscreen you agree that:

  • You may retrieve materials for information only.
  • You may download materials for your personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes, but you must not publish them elsewhere or redistribute clips in any way.
  • You may embed the clip for non-commercial educational purposes including for use on a school intranet site or a school resource catalogue.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

All other rights reserved.

ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

This clip is available in the following configurations:

File nameSizeQualitySuitability
fareyhom1_pr.mp4 Large: 15.7MB High Optimised for full-screen display on a fast computer.
fareyhom1_bb.mp4 Medium: 7.4MB Medium Can be displayed full screen. Also suitable for video iPods.

Right-click on the links above to download video files to your computer.

Thanks to the generosity of the rights holders, we are able to offer this clip in an embeddable format for personal or non-commercial educational use in full form on your own website or your own blog.

You must read and agree to the following terms and conditions before embedding the clip:

australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions.

When you access australianscreen you agree that:

  • You may retrieve materials for information only.
  • You may download materials for your personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes, but you must not publish them elsewhere or redistribute clips in any way.
  • You may embed the clip for non-commercial educational purposes including for use on a school intranet site or a school resource catalogue.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

All other rights reserved.

ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

Copy and paste the following code into your own web page to embed this clip: