Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online

The Land That Waited (1963)

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Creating a new life education content clip 1, 2

Original classification rating: G. This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

A montage of images, including stills and illustrations, shows the first fleet of convicts and their military guards after landing at Sydney Cove in 1788. Under the leadership of Governor Phillip, they begin building a town as the first step to embarking on a new life. The first arrivals see this strange world through the prism of the old world and their etchings strongly resemble the flora and fauna of the Europe they pine for and have left far behind.

Curator’s notes

This clip features a wonderful collection of images created by the first settlers to Australian shores. The collection is imaginatively filmed while Antill’s evocative music takes us back to those early pioneering days. The editing is well paced, giving us a good look at each picture, but moving on before we lose interest. This is a good example of a really powerful program created largely out of well-shot stills that emphasise the view of the participants in this history.

Gil Brealey was the director-producer who discovered this wealth of drawings, etchings and paintings that together offer such a striking and unusual view of history. Gil was the ABC’s first film director, appointed in 1962. He recalls that the ABC’s managing director, Charles Moses, was originally determined to keep film-trained people out of television. He later had to accept that radio producers didn’t necessarily have the visual literacy needed for the new medium, although many former radio people (like John Croyston, one of the original television drama producers) were able to make the leap into television.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This black-and-white clip from the ABC television series The Land That Waited shows a montage of paintings and drawings accompanied by narration, describing how the early colonists of New South Wales longed for home and viewed Australia through British eyes. The first part of the clip focuses on the colonists rejecting the Australian landscape and gradually building the new colony in the image of England. The final part of the clip focuses on an image of a potted primrose brought from England being ‘adored’ by crowds of nostalgic colonists.

Educational value points

  • This clip presents a nationalist historical interpretation that argues that the reluctant colonists of NSW were so mentally dislocated by their removal to Australia that they were unable to appreciate the new land and tried instead to create an ‘Antipodean England’. The script was written by Australian poet, columnist and editor, Max Harris (1912–95), who believed that most non-Indigenous Australians in the 1960s still viewed Australia in such a way.
  • The images in the clip were selected to reinforce the point of view put forward in the narration and this led to some illustrations being included from places and times other than early Sydney. The cottage and flower garden, for example, were those of artist John Glover and were painted in Tasmania in 1836. A Primrose from England was painted in England in 1855 by Edward Hopley about an event supposed to have occurred in Melbourne two or three years earlier.
  • Most images show Sydney in its first few decades, with the works of early colonial artists represented. They include A Direct North General View of Sydney Cove (1794), the earliest oil painting of Sydney and possibly painted by convict artist Thomas Watling. The images show the topography of early Sydney as viewed by the new arrivals, the growth of the settlement, the heads and coves of the Harbour and the huge sandstone rock outcrops of the Rocks area.
  • Viewer interest in the clip is largely created and sustained by the use of the varied cinematic techniques of the rostrum camera to enliven the clip’s ten still images. The rostrum camera consists of a moveable camera placed above a moveable platform on which the still images are placed. Its ability to zoom in and out as well as traverse the image is illustrated in the clip, with the editing of the primrose sequence enhancing the camera’s ability to take us inside the image.
  • While most of the colonists were dismayed (not driven to the edge of insanity as the narrator suggests) by the differences between Britain and NSW, some were fascinated. Even as the colonists gradually established the small settlement seen in the clip, some found time to paint and collect specimens of the unique fauna and flora. A few established relations with the local Indigenous people. Many more sought to exploit the economic opportunities the colony offered.
  • The point of view of the narration is reinforced by the orchestral score composed by well-known Australian composer and the ABC’s federal editor of music at the time, John Antill (1904–86). The long primrose sequence in particular is sustained by his music, which effectively evokes the colonists’ longing for ‘home’. Although best known for his work Corroboree, first performed in 1946, Antill composed scores for numerous documentaries.

Thanks to the generosity of the rights holders, we are able to offer Creating a new life from the television program The Land That Waited as a high quality video download.

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This clip is available for download for the limited purpose of criticism and review in an educational context. You must obtain permission from editorial@aso.gov.au for all other purposes for use of this material.

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Downloadable Video – FOR EDUCATIONAL CRITICISM AND REVIEW PURPOSES ONLY

This clip is available for download for the limited purpose of criticism and review in an educational context. You must obtain permission from editorial@aso.gov.au for all other purposes for use of this material.

Terms & Conditions

australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described here and 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. ALL rights are reserved.

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

When you access ABC materials on australianscreen you agree that:

  1. You may download this clip to assist your information, criticism and review purposes in conjunction with viewing this website only;
  2. Downloading this clip for purposes other than criticism and review is Prohibited;
  3. Downloading for purposes other than non-commercial educational uses is Prohibited;
  4. Downloading this clip in association with any commercial purpose is Prohibited;

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.

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

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