1949, 11 Minutes
Beautifully filmed in black and white, this classic short film looks at pearling in the late 1940s. It goes on board the boats that work off the coast of Broome, Western Australia, from March to December each year. Crewed mainly by Aboriginal, Malay and Chinese men, they work six days a week from sun up to sun down-replenished occasionally by supply boats that also take away their hauls of pearl shell.
The Pearlers captures the atmosphere, the detail and the danger involved in the search for shell as the divers in huge metal helmets and layers of clothing under their suits dive two at a time, each with one person tending their airhose and another their lifeline.
A Department of Information production. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Director: Lee Robinson
Running Time: 11 Minutes