Australians at the beach
From national surf carnivals and cultural events to family holidays by the sea, Australians love spending time at the beach.
With its unique history, rituals, language and customs, Australia's beach culture has been well documented across film, literature, sound and art since the late nineteenth century.
An early silent documentary showing the attractions of Bondi Beach and the surrounding Waverley area. Beaches include Bondi, Bronte and Tamarama. Surfing, swimming, sunbaking, life savers, all the beach activities and features that are seen on these beaches today were just as popular in the 1920s. Hotels and apartment developments are seen under construction, many of which remain as Bondi heritage today.
Notes by Beth Taylor
Excerpt from a documentary about Australians’ love affair with the beach, narrated by David Wenham.
Narrated by David Wenham, this clip explores significant landmarks in the history of the interaction between Australian culture and the beach.
A simple film about Australia which concentrates on the Australians' love of the surf and the beach. Scenes at Australian metropolitan beaches of crowds of people sunbathing, skylarking, swimming and surfing. Made from material originally shot for Expo 70 (Japan).
A group of senior lifeguards just happen to be standing at the edge of the water for a photo shoot when they’re told there’s been a man found floating lifeless in the surf. The lifeguards swing into action to bring back to consciousness a young Japanese student who is clinically dead when they bring him out of the water. Summary by Janet Bell.
The lifeguards are euphoric. Thanks to their skill and quick action, they’ve managed to bring a young man back to life who was found face down in the water and clinically dead. Summary by Janet Bell.
Surf Patrol shows the work of volunteer life-savers in the 1950s, patrolling Australia's dangerous surf beaches.
Phillip Tanner interviews fellow Wonder World! reporter Brett Clements about training for an Ironman event.
Phillip also talks to Brett's trainer to find out what it takes to compete in the gruelling triathlon series.
While Brett Clements was a serious Ironman competitor, the pair ham it up for the cameras with slow-motion running shots and a lot of clowning around on the beach, to produce a highly entertaining story.
A newsreel featuring the female lifesavers that patrolled Terrigal beach from 1942 to 1945, during the Second World War.
This home movie was filmed in spring 1941. An intertitle introduces this segment as ‘our first days at the beach’ and opens with three children, the two eldest with model boats, come out of the backyard and walk down to the beach.
This newsreel vividly captures 'some Sunday morning’ at St Kilda Beach, Melbourne, showcasing 1920s swimming costumes, parasols and beach culture.
Australasian Gazette newsreel segment from February 1929 featuring Victoria's then best known swimming instructor, Frenchman Alex Sauter, seen here at St Kilda beach with local ballerinas.
A city family spends a day at a beach; they fish, swim and play in the rock pools. The part played by lifesavers in keeping the beaches safe is also included in the story. Made by The National Film Board 1956 as part of the Junior Social Studies series.
A tragedy unfolds at Bondi Beach when lifeguards are unable to locate a man last seen struggling to stay afloat at the southern end of the beach where there is a dangerous rip. With no friends or family reporting a missing person, the lifeguards hope all is well. Summary by Janet Bell.
Medical doctor Yondon Dungu had migrated to Australia with his wife and three children, and had been in Australia for just one week when he drowned at Bondi Beach. Left without a breadwinner, his wife and children returned to Mongolia after the tragedy. This was the first drowning at Bondi for four years and the lifeguards are terribly depressed after the event. They gather together in the tower to talk about things and help each other with their feelings. Summary by Janet Bell.
Shot at the famous Bondi Beach, the film reflects on the prominence of beach culture in Australia.
From beach inspectors on the lookout for danger to the ice cream vendors helping people cool down, Surf Beach pays tribute to an Australian icon: the beach.
As the first day of the Australian summer looms, this 1948 clip from Australian Diary looks at a day trip to Manly Beach.
Teams of lifeguards ready their wooden boats on shore. One lifeguard is shown in close-up wearing a life jacket and swimming cap. The boats are pushed out to the surf while spectators watch from the beach. The teams of five row in their boats, one of them standing on the end as a rudder, as they move further out into wild surf. Some of the boats get more buffeted than others.
Summary by Poppy De Souza
A team of lifeguards on Bondi Beach enact a rescue demonstration to save someone caught in the surf. A lifeguard, with a safety line strapped to his body, runs into the surf while those ashore cable the line out to him. Once he’s approached the swimmer in distress, he signals ashore and the team pull the line in. The lifeguards carry the person ashore and place him stomach down on the sand and turn his head to the side. A lifeguard then presses down on the person’s back to revive him.
Summary by Poppy De Souza
Commentator John Moyes explains that men are making surfboards out of plywood. A line of surfers carry their boards down to the shore and paddle out towards the breakers. The camera follows their path, capturing them from just in front of the waves. A man who has been hit by a surfboard is rescued by the lifesavers on duty and carried ashore. The clip ends with a shot of the surfers in the afternoon sun.
Summary by Poppy De Souza
A lifeguard watches over Bondi Beach in a scene from Bondi Rescue Series 1 (2006).
Each weekend during the summer months as many as 40,000 people can be attracted to Australia’s most popular surfing beach, Bondi. The lifeguards patrol the beach and rescue people caught in rips, apply ice to severe bluebottle stings or help to find lost children.
The series came about when producer and former lifeguard Ben Davies was able to persuade his ex-colleagues that a series showing how they work would be a great information tool for beachgoers. Executive producer Michael Cordell was quick to see that the series would have its own in-built drama and each week the lifeguards pit themselves against the elements to keep people safe and go head to head against each other in feats of daring in order to keep themselves in peak form.