1997, 54 Minutes
Lured to Western Australia by the promise of a new life in a land of milk and honey, British Group Settlers endured untold hardship and disappointment in the years following the First World War.
For many Britons the end of the First World War brought a sigh of relief and a period of optimism. However, this optimism quickly faded as thousands of ex-servicemen and unskilled civilians swelled the queues of Britain’s Labour Exchanges to form part of a growing underclass of unemployed.
When films and glossy brochures appeared at labour exchanges promising a new life, a new start, and “your own dairy farm in Australia”, unsuspecting Britons scrambled to be on the next boat bound for “paradise”. They travelled to the other side of the world to Western Australia under a hastily conceived immigration program known as the Group Settlement Scheme. The venture was a joint initiative of the British and Western Australian governments designed to attract a much needed labour force to develop the South West region of Australia, while at the same time easing a pressing unemployment problem in Britain.
But the new residents were destined for disappointment. Many settlements were doomed to fail from the start. The soil was frequently too poor to grow suitable pastures, cattle died from wasting disease and settlers faced malnutrition and increasing bad debts, forcing many to walk off their land. Most wanted to return home but few had the money to do so.
Those who stayed were determined to survive. Despite the hardships, they gradually cleared the bush and turned it into pasture, developing the South West into the “land of milk and honey” it is today. Group Settlement is a little-known episode in Australia’s history. No Milk No Honey brings this history to life through the reminiscences of those who struggled and eventually prospered in their new land.
A Film Australia National Interest Program in association with Electric Pictures. Developed with the assistance of the Australian Film Commission, ScreenWest, the South West Development Commission and the WA Lotteries Commission. Produced with the assistance of ScreenWest, the WA Lotteries Commission and SBS Independent. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Director: Franco di Chiera
Running Time: 54 Minutes