Film Australia's Outback


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2002, 195 Minutes

The Australian outback - real and imagined - is captured in a diverse and fascinating selection of films from the Film Australia archives.

This innovative DVD journeys from the early 20th century to the present, showing different views of the land and its people. Where once the outback was seen as a hostile and unforgiving place that needed to be tamed and developed, today there is a greater understanding and appreciation of this unique environment.

Some of the nation's most acclaimed documentaries are included in this extensive multimedia resource. The Heart of Australia goes on tour in central Australia in 1928 and gives an insight into the white attitudes of the day towards Aboriginal people. School in the Mailbox (1946) shows how Australians triumphed over distance, educating the children of the outback by correspondence. Acclaimed producer/director John Heyer transforms a film about the standardisation of rail gauges into an heroic poem to the nation in Journey of a Nation (1947). Outback Patrol (1952), narrated by Chips Rafferty, describes the annual patrol of a policeman across the Northern Territory.
In Thylungra (1960), Australia’s largest sheep station hosts a sports day fundraiser. Desert People (1966) tells of a day in the life of a nomadic Indigenous family in the Western Desert; Living Way Out (1976) examines life in an isolated “company town”, while Outback Supply (1977) follows a truckdriver and his four-year-old son on their long dusty journey delivering mail and provisions to outlying properties. In Saturday (1979), a shearer, his wife and six children leave their farmhouse at daybreak for the week’s big event—a visit to the nearest town. The Land of the Lightning Brothers (1987) features spectacular Aboriginal rock art depicting ancestral beings from the Dreamtime. For the Wardaman people, the Lightning Brothers are an important part of their living culture. While The Last Great Cattle Drive (1988) pays tribute to Australia’s drovers.
Where Dead Men Lie (1972) is a short drama based on a “script” written by Henry Lawson in 1896 in the earliest days of moving pictures. The Story of Rosy Dock (1995) is an award-winning animation that reveals the unexpected consequences of a woman bringing seeds from her birthplace to plant in her new home in the central Australian desert. And Bush Mechanics: The Rainmakers (2001) follows young Aboriginal men in an old Ford V8 as they journey to Broome in search of pearl shells to break a severe drought.

In addition to the films themselves, a wealth of behind-the-scenes information has been included, from interviews with the filmmakers to a gallery of production stills and a special 20-page colour booklet.  For teachers, a comprehensive study guide is available - a powerful teaching tool as well as an entertaining introduction to life in Australia's remote areas.

A Film Australia National Interest Program. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.


Director: Denise Haslem

Year: 2002

Total Running Time: 195 Minutes

Classification: PG

Region: 0

Curriculum Links: NSW Board of Studies Suggested Text for the Australian Curriculum English K–10 Syllabus; Aboriginal Studies, Art, Australian Studies, Geography, History, HSIE/SOSE, Media Studies, Science and Tourism & Leisure.


Desert People

Bush Mechanics

Land of the Lightning Brothers, The

Story of Rosy Dock, The

School in the Mailbox

Australian Geography: Man in the Desert

SKU 200101500
Brand Film Australia

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