A Tasmanian time capsule

To celebrate Big Screen’s upcoming tour to Burnie, here are a range of films featuring Tasmania, dating from 1903 to 2008.

If you have any information about the people or places in these films, we would love to hear your comments.

Fanny Cochrane Smith, 1903

Image courtesy of the Tasmanian Museum.

Performed by Fanny Cochrane Smith, these are the first and last recordings of Tasmanian Aboriginal songs and language. Recorded by Horace Watson between 1899 and 1903 on wax cylinders.

Listen to an excerpt of the recordings on the NFSA’s australianscreen online.

1911 Tasmanian State Premiership football match – Cananore v North Launceston. These film fragments represent the earliest known surviving moving images of Tasmanian Australian Rules football action, filmed in 1911.

Learn more about the story behind this film here.

Australian Diary 43: The Fine Art of Trout Fishing (1950). Directed by Jack S Allan. Produced by The National Film Board. Part of the NFSA’s Film Australia Collection.

A short, cheerful study of the preparation and skill required to catch trout.

Picturesque Tasmania (1933). Produced by G.A. Gamon. Made by the Cinema Branch of the Department of Commerce. Part of the NFSA’s Film Australia Collection.

A driving tour of Tasmania, showing a number of towns from Hobart along the western, northern and eastern coasts.

Life In Australia: Hobart (1966). Directed by Donald Anderson. Produced for the Department of Immigration by The Commonwealth Film Unit. Part of the NFSA’s Film Australia Collection.

Shows scenes illustrating daily life, industry, recreation and the tourist features of Hobart, Tasmania. As it follows the postman on his daily rounds it provides a description of Hobart and surrounding districts, which are crowded with historic buildings and monuments dating back to the first settlers and convicts.

Life In Australia: Launceston (1966). Directed by Peter Young and John Edwards. Produced for the Department of Immigration by The Commonwealth Film Unit. Part of the NFSA’s Film Australia Collection.

A picture of life in Launceston in the mid-1960s.

Viewpoint on Hobart (1975). Directed by Barry Williams. From the Viewpoint series. Produced by Film Australia. Part of the NFSA’s Film Australia Collection.

A film about the city of Hobart, Tasmania, as seen through the eyes of European migrants. Beautiful observational footage of Hobart, nearby agriculture, factory work, schools and shops. One man says poignantly in voice-over:

When we left our own countries, we pulled up our roots, and we personally will be migrants until the day we die. We will strive to obtain citizenship. That’s as far as we can assimilate … We will always remain Europeans and we don’t want to become anything else. We only want to live our lives in this beautiful country, where we have space, clean air and far less pollution than over in Europe and we want to be left in peace.

Click here to view National Collection items relating to Tasmania, available for viewing at the NFSA in Canberra, and its access centres around Australia.

australianscreen has many Tasmania-related titles. They range from films about Tasmanian wilderness and wildlife, to the history of Indigenous Tasmanians, and films shot on location in Tasmania.
Click here to see the full list.

There are 14 Tasmanian-themed DVDs for sale from the Film Australia Collection, including Lake Pedder (1997) and Wildness (2003).

For more films about Tasmania check out the NFSA Films YouTube channel.

For more footage from around Australia, see the West Australian and Far North Queensland time capsules.



John Kelsh set up the John Kelsh Colonial Hospital in Tasmania after emigrating to Hobart, Tasmania circa 1830. He was it seems married to Catherine Prestige, who came from Stackallan, Co Meath, Ireland. He is the son of Patrick and Marie Kelsh farming in Stackallan.

Does anyone know when they died and anything else about them, please? This is in connection with the family history. Any information will be most welcome.

Catherine Prestige is descended from Charles Prestige born circa 1715 and who died 8 March 1800.

Jim Fleming

Jim Fleming on 27 Apr 2013, 2:50 a.m.

life in australia hobart
I was the boy fishing on the wharf (in the red jumper) pointing at the yacht

rick piggott on 06 Jun 2013, 3:40 p.m.

Thank you very much for your comments Jim and Rick.

such a nice post and lovely place......

This is a great blog and Tassie is such a beautiful state and lovely place. Our tour started out really well organized. I went on the Port Arthur and Tasman Peninsula tour with a stop at the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park.

Dear Jim,
John Kelsh and Catherine Prestige were married in Ireland 1828 and arrived Tasmanian on the ship Fame 1831.
After being superintendent of the Hospital, John became the town surveyor of Hobart until 1844.He and his family moved to South Australia where John Kelsh died 1864, aged 65, buried at Mintaro Cemetery and Catherine Kelsh nee Prestige died 1877, aged 74 and buried at Mintaro Cemetery. South Australia.
Kind regards,

Julie Weizenegger on 13 May 2016, 7:49 a.m.

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