This collection includes highlights of some of the almost 6,000 unique home movie titles held by the NFSA.
Home movies capture candid moments of family life, holidays and special events. They can also record history as it happens and the unguarded moments of celebrities.
The earliest footage in this collection is of a Higgins family picnic in Hobart, in 1909. There are scenes of The Beatles and Winston Churchill, the Melbourne Olympics and Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.
Also featured are behind-the-scenes glimpses of film sets, artists, circus performers, designers, dancers, sportspeople, hairdressers and holidaymakers.
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons.
This home movie was shot by Rhonda Grogan, a member of the production crew working on the film The Sundowners (Fred Zinnemann, 1960).
Growing up, Rhonda loved films and knew she wanted to travel. She secured a job with Southern International Films, the production company of Lee Robinson and Chips Rafferty, working primarily for continuity doyenne Joy Cavill.
Rhonda recorded home movies while learning roles on Walk Into Paradise (Lee Robinson, 1956), Dust in the Sun (Lee Robinson, 1958) and The Sundowners.
Through The Sundowners home movie, we now have unique footage of cast members Deborah Kerr and Peter Ustinov, candidly interacting with Rhonda and posing for the camera while on location for the horserace scenes at Cooma, New South Wales.
Then the cast and crew are at the Snowy Mountains (Cooma) Airport, including actors Robert Mitchum and Glynis Johns – the latter visible in a pink Chanel-style suit. The mother of Glynis Johns, Alice Maude Steele (nee Wareham) was born in Ballarat, Victoria and travelled the world as a pianist.
The cast and crew of The Sundowners were relocating by plane to Port Augusta, South Australia. Here and the nearby surrounds provided the second outdoor location, which included filming another horserace.
The British crew then flew home to film the interior scenes at Elstree, Borehamwood Studio, then known as ABPC Studios.
Rhonda Grogan acknowledged in an oral history recorded with the NFSA in 2003 that her footage was not expertly shot. Her camera was pretty basic and she said she could be a bit casual about the exposure required.
But Rhonda's past experience and industry connections placed her in a unique position within this international production, one that helped shape her career path: 'From a personal point of view, working on this film gave me the confidence and desire to work in the film industry overseas which I did from early 1960 to the end of 1970'.
The NFSA holds other home movies shot by Rhonda Grogan, including her overseas trips.
Notes by Heather Gill
Richard Goslin, an amateur filmmaker, was keen to observe Hollywood filmmaking up close. In January 1959 he got his opportunity at Canadian Bay Beach on Mornington Peninsula, Victoria during the filming of On the Beach (Stanley Kramer, 1959).
Here he and many other curious onlookers were not deterred by the 40°C heat. Many people on the beach, including cast members, did go for a quick dip to cool down between takes and relieve their feet from the scorching sand.
Among the towels and beach umbrellas, Goslin found arc lights, power cables and cameras. He noted with fascination that heavy cables had to be run down from the clifftop to power the equipment below.
His footage includes multiple takes of a dramatic scene with characters Commander Dwight Lionel Towers (Gregory Peck) and Moira Davidson (Ava Gardner) fighting on the beach.
Richard Goslin went on to win the Victorian Amateur Cine Society Award of Merit in 1961 for Music Makers, an amateur documentary about the Maton Guitar Factory located in Canterbury, Victoria that is held by the NFSA.
See a range of international film posters for On the Beach (1959).
Notes by Heather Gill
Home movie footage from the Australian Rugby Union Tour of 1939 to 1940, filmed onboard the RMS Mooltan.
This footage was shot by Dr Wally Matthews in his capacity as Manager of the Wallabies for their 1939 to 1940 rugby union tour of Great Britain. The team travelled from Australia by boat for 6 weeks and maintaining their physical fitness and conditioning was a concern.
Many of the team were inexperienced travellers, so recent vaccinations and seasickness took their toll. In this footage we see a lighter approach to training. All on board the Mooltan were dubbed honorary Wallabies and we see some joining in towards the end of the footage.
Born in Bellingen, Dr Wally Matthews played rugby union in the early 1900s. He was a Major in the Army Medical Corps in the First World War; he managed the AIF rugby union team afterwards. He was a doctor and an alderman for Orange Council, serving as mayor between 1936 and 1944, and then between 1948 and 1950.
He is credited in the revival of rugby union in the Orange region, after it had lost ground to rugby league. He also filmed the 1933 Wallabies tour of South Africa, which is held by the NFSA under title numbers 10168 and 10170.
See more home movie footage of the abandoned Wallabies 1939 UK tour.
Summary by Heather Gill
Exploring the North Island of New Zealand, this footage focuses on Whakarewarewa – the living Maori village and the geothermal attractions of Te Puia, Rotorua.
Be guided around the village, watch a poi dance and see how to cook using a hangi – both in a pit as well as in natural thermal steam and water, unique to that area of New Zealand.
Wander around Te Puia as the landscape bubbles and boils. Your guide provides a contrast to the height of the Pohutu geyser as it shoots up behind her.
David Nicholls was a chartered account with a passion for amateur filmmaking. The NFSA holds seven of his home movies.
Never-before-seen footage of The Beatles, getting ready for the special The Music of Lennon & McCartney on 1 November 1965. This clip is silent. The footage was shot by Dawn Swane, an Australian dancer and make-up artist who at the time was working at Granada TV in Manchester.
Dawn says: 'I was in the make-up room. And so we were having some champagne and so we started to, well we were all drinking some champagne. [...] And anyway, I don’t know if it was John or if it was Ringo but they took the camera off me and said, “This is no way to use a camera!" and they sort of jiggled it upside down and inside out a bit, and everybody was just mucking around. But that was great. I mean they were a nice group of people. They really were.'
Dawn's collection of home movies and video recordings have been donated to the NFSA by her daughter, production designer Melinda Doring.
With Bush Critics (1961), Don Featherstone elevates home movies by combining crowd-pleasing shots of koalas with a genuine story arc.
This is all the more impressive when you consider that he would have needed to craft the story based on what footage he could record of the koalas.
The opening credits of Bush Critics (seen at the start of this clip) boasts a 'D for Don' with a feather through the middle, mimicking established film production studios displaying their logo on commercially released feature films.
The watercolours used in the opening titles are credited to Don and stylistically match the watercolours featured through the film.
The shots directly after the credits in Bush Critics establish the location and the protagonist. As the artist decides what to paint, the changing perspectives cleverly suggest he is being assessed or surveilled by the local inhabitants (while, in reality, they are the ones being filmed).
This film is silent despite the availability for over a decade of magstripe along the non-perforated edge of 16mm films providing synchronised sound.
At the end of the clip, we see Featherstone playing with technique, as he almost appears in his own painting when the footage of his painted landscape dissolves into the filmed landscape.
Don Featherstone (1902–1984) was a founding member of the Darling Downs Amateur Cine Society, established in 1952 and now known as the Darling Downs Movie Makers. He is arguably the society's most successful and best-known member, with a memorial trophy named after him.
Featherstone became an enthusiastic filmmaker after purchasing a second-hand camera in 1926.
Bush Critics was screened by the Federation of Australian Amateur Cine Societies at their Second Australian Film Program in 1968.
Read more about amateur cine societies and watch clips of their members' work.
Jon Human was selected for the Australian Schoolboys Cricket Team of 1966–67.
Between cricket matches, Jon explored the sights with his family camera. He captured candid moments featuring his travelling companions, as well as street scenes and notable locations like the Taj Mahal.
As with many momentous events, Jon still clearly recalls the trip, particularly the time when the bus had difficultly arriving at the ground due to all the people travelling around them.
Jon thought there must have been a festival or something important happening nearby. To his amazement, he discovered the crowds were all there to watch his match!
The NFSA holds four other home movies from the Human family, including footage from the 50th anniversary of the cricket tour.
Annette Kellerman was 70 years old when this silent home movie footage was filmed.
Her athleticism is very much in evidence - particularly as she strikes synchronised swimming poses in the ocean in the second half of the footage.
She lived in Queensland until her death in 1975.
Notes by Beth Taylor
At 2:48pm on Saturday 26 February 1949, with the score at 1-111 in the AF Kippax and WA Oldfield testimonial match, Sir Donald Bradman strode onto the Sydney Cricket Ground for his penultimate first-class innings.
This 16mm colour footage is assumed to have been shot by George Hobbs, who had worked as a cameraperson for the Department of Information during the Second World War and later for ABC TV.
His son Adrian donated the film in a can marked ‘Manly and Bondi Beach, Sydney @1949’. So it was a big surprise to find what appeared to be images of the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) and Don Bradman. While the ground was clearly the SCG, it was necessary to confirm the match as 1949.
While most cricket fans would know that Bradman's last test series was in England in 1948, he also played in three testimonial matches after that tour: his own testimonial match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in December 1948 (a tied match in which Bradman scored his last first-class century), the Kippax-Oldfield testimonial match at the SCG in February 1949 and his final first-class match in a Sheffield Shield game in Adelaide for South Australia against Victoria. The SCG match assisted us in identifying the footage by narrowing the field of locations where the game may have been played.
When we examined the colour film it showed a second cameraperson filming Bradman walking out to bat. A Movietone newsreel in the NFSA collection covered the SCG match and included near-identical images of Bradman and the surrounding crowd from a different angle. By comparing the two we were able to confirm the date, match and time of the colour film as indeed being from 1949.
The colour footage gives a great impression of the crowd and is a wonderful snapshot in time. Although the footage is silent it captures the atmosphere at the ground and the 41,000 people in attendance.
The Sunday Herald (Sydney, 27 February 1949) reported that among the clapping and cheering there were also cries of 'Good luck Bradman', 'Leave it to Don', 'Garn, he aint too old' and 'Have a go, Bradman!'.
Despite having turned 40 and not having played any cricket for three months, Bradman scored briskly to reach 53 off 66 balls. The crowd was anticipating another Bradman century when a slower ball from Miller was mistimed and he was caught out.
This exquisite home movie featuring David Gulpilil, David Bylanadii (Blanasi) on didjeridu, dancer Dick Plummer, and songman Djoli 'Jolly Lajwonga' Laiwanga was filmed in Hawaii in 1979.
The footage was shot on Super 8 film by CSIRO scientist Dr Gavin Gillman, who was spending a sabbatical at the University of Hawaii at the time. Gulpilil and his fellow performers were en route to a series of performances in Europe and performed at an Australia Day function on the lawn of the Australian Consular Residence in Honolulu on 29 January 1978. The footage was never screened publically.
The narration by Dr Gillman's wife Kay and the 'Australia Day 1979' intertitle at the beginning of the clip featuring a lei made of frangipanis sitting on a piece of paper (Gillman recalls he filmed it on their kitchen table) gives the movie a lovely homemade feel.
David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu AM was a Yolngu dancer, actor, singer, painter and storyteller from Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. His first acting role – in Nicolas Roeg's Walkabout (1970) – began a career that spanned over 50 years.
He acted in some of Australia's most iconic and successful films, including Storm Boy (Henri Safran, 1976), Crocodile Dundee (Peter Faiman, 1986), Rabbit-Proof Fence (Phillip Noyce, 2002) and Australia (Baz Luhrmann, 2008).
Interestingly,Gulpilil talks about the origin of the traditional hair belt he wears at the end of this clip from Walkabout to Hollywood (Bill Leimbach, 1982). The belt is made of human hair woven into a string and is used by tribal elders for ceremony. In the clip Gulpilil sums it up poetically: 'inside here is all my peoples, all my relations, and your relations too'.
Notes by Beth Taylor
This film contains footage shot by Anthony Buckley of his visit to San Francisco in 1958–59. Visible are city views, the Golden Gate Bridge, fishing trawlers at Fisherman's wharf, Chinatown and cable cars at Powell and Market Streets.
Three Buckley brothers – Horace Patrick (HP), Brian and Kethel Timothy (Keth or KT) – all took up the hobby of home movies in the late 1920s and early 30s. None of the brothers took up cinematography professionally.
Anthony Buckley, Kethel's son, started shooting 9.5mm in 1950 and 16mm in 1956 and was the only Buckley to enter the professional film industry in 1953.
This home movie by Peter Kamen gives us a fascinating glimpse of life on set during the shooting of Mad Max 2 on location in June 1981.
Most of the footage is of cast and crew on the set of the small oil refinery which was under siege by the Marauders, the ragtag gang led by Lord Humungus.
Some of the actors we see are Mel Gibson (Max), Mike Preston (Papagallo), Emil Minty (the Feral Kid), Bruce Spence (the Gyro Captain) and Arkie Whiteley (the Captain's Girl). We also see director George Miller in discussion with the actors, and cinematographer Dean Semler behind the camera.
The clip ends with shots of some of the vehicles that feature in the film, which are as much characters as some of the people.
Although it lacks narration it is still a fascinating peek into the world of filmmaking. For amateur footage it is also remarkably well shot.
Peter Kamen, who shot this film, was best friends with producer Byron Kennedy and they grew up making home movies together.
Kamen also visited the set of Mad Max (1979) and shot footage of a stunt being set up.
This clip features home movie footage taken by Gerty Anschel (c.1954-1955) with audio commentary by filmmaker and artist Philippe Mora. Part 3 of 3 features the Moras, the art gang at a balcony party and late American actor Melvyn Douglas. Philippe reflects on his childhood, parents and identifies key figures of the Melbourne art scene.
Summary: Mirka Mora dancing the can-can. Georges Mora giving Philippe Mora a haircut. Mirka with candle (Gerty seen in window reflection). Mirka, Georges Mora and Klaus Anschel learning ballet from Miriam Anschel. Guests at balcony party: American actor Melvyn Douglas, Charles (?), Mirka Mora outside the balcony bannister, Laurence Hope, Gray Smith, baby William Mora, Georges Mora, Mary Perceval (now Lady Nolan), Mirka Mora, Melvyn Douglas, Arthur Boyd, Joy Hester, Yvonne Boyd, Julius Kane, unknown American friends, David Boyd, Mandy Boyd, John Perceval drawing.
Strongman Paul Anderson, a.k.a. 'Young Apollo' or 'The Mighty Apollo', performs a range of daredevil stunts: stone blocks are crushed on his body with sledge hammers, he is run over by a car and he also performs his famous 'teeth grip' in which he pulls along a motor vehicle with his teeth. In one instance the car is also loaded with people to add extra weight.
'The Mighty Apollo' wears a traditional strongman costume, leopard print tight shorts with belt, gladiator sandals and leather hand cuffs.
This film was shot by Frank 'Tex' Glanville in an unidentified Melbourne suburban street. The little boy seen on top of the car bonnet is his son, Grahame Glanville.
Glanville was a renowned Australian vaudeville performer who specialised in rope spinning and juggling during c.1928-1965. He made a range of home movies on 8mm film featuring his vaudeville friends. These are preserved as part of the home movie collection at the NFSA.
Alan Bresnahan filmed a Singapore in transition, with skyscrapers and cars mingling with smaller buildings, building sites – often with bamboo scaffolding – and rickshaws.
The majority of this footage was shot around Raffles Place, with Robinson & Co. department store featuring prominently.
Raffles Place had been developed extensively in 1965, providing a park to walk through and Singapore's first underground car park, as recorded in the footage.
Alan Bresnahan was an active member of the Victorian Amateur Cine Society – later Victorian Movie Makers – for over 60 years.
The NFSA holds 65 of his films along with associated documentation, including amateur radio QSL cards that he had collected from 1927.
The majority of his home movies document his travels around Australia and overseas.
Alan Bresnahan recorded an oral history interview with the NFSA in 2003.
This rare example of amateur or home movie footage provides a glimpse of a society wedding about 1914, probably in an eastern suburb of Sydney.
Prior to the invention of 16mm film in 1923, amateur and home movie making was an expensive hobby and confined to a small sector of Australian society. Surviving footage from home movies filmed on 35mm nitrate film at this time is rarer still.
The 35mm format was usually reserved for professional filmmakers, suggesting that the camera operator for this film may have had a formal connection to the nascent film industry in Australia. This would also explain the relatively sophisticated filming technique.
It was carefully filmed in a series of shots, each deliberately framed. The shot from inside the bridal car of the couple walking out of the church was clearly planned to be edited with the next shot – a reverse from outside the car looking in at the bride.
Each shot is formally framed – the opening is composed so that two brick pillars on either side of the path leading into the church frame the guests. This symmetry is repeated in the shot filmed from inside the car, with its door forming a dark frame-within-the-frame as the married couple walk towards the camera and step into the car.
Bruce Beresford is one of Australia’s most successful and internationally recognised film directors. But at 16 years of age Bruce was only just discovering what he could do with a movie camera. In this clip we see Melbourne street scenes and the banners for the Olympic Games, crowds scenes, the Olympic Village and athletes. He also filmed the Soviet Union – Bulgaria soccer semi-final.
The British Commonwealth Occupation Force was in Japan from 1946–52, with two squadrons of the Royal Australian Air Force based at Iwakuni near the village of Bofu (now Hofu).
Kip Porteous was stationed there and recorded events as part of the photographic unit.
Many in the squadrons befriended Japanese locals, recounting that they felt more like visitors than an occupying force.
The footage supports this as we see people eat, sing, drink and relax among the cherry blossoms.
Kip Porteous went on to hold numerous roles at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) including film supervisor and head of features.
He was also a foundational member and one of the longest serving presidents of the Producers' and Directors' Guild of Australia.
The NFSA holds numerous items that Kip Porteous produced or participated in, including 27 home movies.
A futuristic cone-head hairstyle is a popular style at this convention, as well as multi-coloured hair dyes ranging from dusty green to bright pink.
This film is one of several in a collection of 16mm home movies shot by Newcastle resident Gordon Edwards. He was a camera operator for a local television station, and in this amateur film he documents the hairdressing trends of the 1950s.
The film also features 1950s fashion, make-up, products, and an amusing demonstration with a male client and hairdresser who creates a cone-head piece for him by using coconut as its base. He then adds flora to it to finish it off.
This clip from a home movie, filmed by Australian Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, shows Queen Elizabeth II arriving at Westminster Abbey in a horse-drawn carriage. She alights from the carriage surrounded by her Maids of Honour and enters the Abbey. The Groom of the Robes delivers the Robe Royal of Pall cloth of gold with the Stole Royal to the Dean of Westminster, who, assisted by the Mistress of the Robes, puts it upon the Queen. The Lord Great Chamberlain fastens the clips.
The Archbishop of Canterbury gives the Sceptre and then the Rod with the Dove to the Queen. The Archbishop then lowers a crown onto her head then kisses her right hand. The Duke of Edinburgh then ascends the steps of the Throne, and having taken off his coronet, kneels down and places his hands between the Queen’s and says the words of Homage. Then Her Majesty leaves the Chapel wearing her Crown and bearing the Sceptre and the Orb. Summary by Elizabeth Taggart- Speers.
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 home movie is unadulterated sightseeing, with R Minter recording the local sites and temples as he and his family travelled along the streets and canals around Bangkok and beyond.
The Minters recorded their many stops through South-East Asia and India until ultimately arriving in Italy.
The NFSA holds four Minter home movies, although this is the only one recording their travels outside Australia.
The Gerakiteys family celebrate their daughters’ birthday in their family garden. Their younger son watches on as the girls sit with their birthday cakes. Other family members are shown and the whole family poses for a portrait.
Summary by Poppy De Souza
This film was donated to the National Film and Sound Archive by Steven Gerakiteys.
The film begins with Wirth's famous circus elephants being dressed in their costume rugs. This is followed by a menagerie of animals: horses, ponies, zebras, more elephants and a caged lion.
The footage shows George Wirth with two women and another shot that shows him with his 16mm motion picture camera in hand – it is assumed that his brother Philip Wirth is filming him. We see a number of performers, including a dancer and a very tall and very short man.
In one scene, all the circus performers and animals are gathered out the front of the tent for a formal photograph; the photographer can be seen setting up his camera at the edge of the frame. The film ends with footage of a performer wearing a Wild West inspired costume holding a gun.
This footage is teamed with a recording of Philip Wirth playing the tin whistle, originally recorded on lacquer disk and digitised by the NFSA. It is unknown what year this music was recorded, however it is known that Philip Wirth took up playing the tin whistle in his older age and would often play it in the circus ring during performances.
Wirth’s Circus was Australia’s largest and most prestigious circus company. For 80 years Wirth’s was billed as Australia’s own ‘Greatest Show on Earth’, and was a huge travelling circus of international standard and reputation.
It was the sons and daughters of Johannes and Sarah Wirth, of German origin, who formed the circus: John, Harry, Philip, George, Marizles, Mina and Madeline.
The Wirth brothers began performing with their father as a travelling band though they soon advanced their show into a variety troupe and established themselves as a small circus by 1882. The circus grew rapidly; extended family featured as artists, they embarked on world tours, travelled Australia extensively, boasted an exotic menagerie of animals and recruited star attractions from Europe and America.
It was Phillip and George Wirth that continued to manage the circus as Wirth’s Bros Circus from the 1910s. George Wirth retired in 1930, though Philip Wirth and his extended family continued running the business up until its demise in 1963.
The NFSA currently holds approximately 50 x 16mm home movies that document the Wirths' private life, circus life and performances from aproximately 1926 to the 1950s. They primarily cover the period that Philip and George managed the circus.
The majority of the films are thought to be shot by George Wirth, who became a director of Pagewood (Film) Studios after his retirement in 1930.
Note: the NFSA does not endorse the use of animals for entertainment purposes. This film must be understood in its historical context.
This clip from Hal Turner's home movies includes footage of him performing as Bobo the Clown with his daughter Gayle as Lenny the Lion. The footage also shows his wife, Pearl, setting up a stall at the Adelaide Show and Turner celebrating his wedding anniversary.
As Bobo, Hal Turner first appeared in an ensemble cast on NWS9’s children’s program, The Channel Niners. In addition, Turner also wrote, produced and acted in the station’s Christmas pantomimes including Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Aladdin. He was also hosting two radio programs as Bobo and wrote a newspaper column. Bobo quickly became a household name, first in Adelaide and then nationally.
Turner left NWS9 and began a five-month publicity campaign of public appearances, radio interviews, charity work and special events for the soon to be launched SAS10. Meanwhile at NWS9, Bobo’s old station, Rex Heading was developing a new character, Humphrey B Bear. The iconic children’s TV character first appeared on Here’s Humphrey on 24 May 1965 and ran until 2008 as the second-longest-running children’s TV program in the world.
This film contains footage shot by Anthony Buckley of the Grand Canyon in 1958–59. He recalled of the experience:
'The Grand Canyon at dawn was worth an early morning change of trains. Even the best travel writer in the world would be hard put to describe the sight that greets you as you approach the canyon rim and the colours and moods of the canyon throughout the day, and I was hoping the Kodachrome unspooling in the camera would catch some of its magic appeal.'
Anthony Buckley started shooting 9.5mm home movies in 1950 and 16mm in 1956. His childhood fascination with home movies led to a successful film career, first as an editor on notable films such as Wake in Fright and then as a producer of iconic Australian titles such as Caddie, Bliss, The Harp in the South, Bedevil and the Oyster Farmer.
Wander among the stunning landscape of a golf course that was established in 1916, later becoming the Shanghai Zoo in 1954.
This home movie includes comedic scenes of the Club Secretary and staff preparing for the upcoming China Gold Championship in 1940.
This is a clip from a 1940s home movie with footage of a street parade through Sydney for Anzac Day in 1946.
This footage was identified as being filmed in 1946 for several reasons. The vehicle number plates align with those issued around 1945–6.
Also, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, the route of the march in 1946 included an incline – seen here at the St James end of Hyde Park – which caused some older ex-service personnel to collapse.
From 1947, a longer route provided more vantage points for spectators. Ex-service personnel took to marching 16 abreast so that the duration of the march didn't increase greatly with the longer route. Here, you can see them marching in formations of 12 or fewer abreast.
Approximately 30,000 people attended the dawn service at the Cenotaph at Martin Place in Sydney, with some securing their viewing positions the previous afternoon. Newspaper reports suggest that numbers could have been greater but public transport did not adequately meet the demand.
The Barrier Miner newspaper reported that the procession through Sydney in 1946 lasted more than two-and-a-half hours with 50,000 ex-servicemen and women marching.
In the clip we see women marching with men, which was unusual. A small contingent of women are marching together who may have been nurses, as they are not wearing uniforms. These marching women have medals pinned to the left-hand side, indicating that they served. Also visible are women in uniform, as they could serve in the Australian military from 1941. Servicewomen were banned from marching in Brisbane that year, essentially because their presence had not been planned for by march organisers.
The Red Ensign features prominently in this clip, as was common up until the passing of the Commonwealth Flag Act in 1953.
On Australia's Rooftops is a home movie travelogue made in 1956 by amateur filmmaker Ernest Singer. It is a family travelogue to the snowfields of Charlotte Pass in Mount Kosciuszko National Park that compares favourably to similar professional productions of the day thanks to a thoughtful script (narrated by Ernest's wife Cora), tight editing and a strong visual aesthetic.
Ernest Singer (1905-1981) was born in Vienna but relocated to Melbourne in 1938 to escape Nazi persecution. He was a keen amateur filmmaker and an active member of the Victorian Amateur Cine Society throughout the late 1950s. Filming on his favoured 16mm colour film stock, Singer's films are a mixture of travelogue, social commentary and humour, revealing aspects of Australian life that have long since vanished.
This film is from a collection of approximately 20 of Ernest Singer's 16mm and Super 8mm home movies donated to the NFSA by Ernest's children Joan and Peter.
This clip from a Sir Robert Menzies home movie begins with a close-up of Sir Winston Churchill. It then shows him sitting on a rock beside a small waterfall, playing fetch with a dog. We then see Sir Robert and Sir Winston feeding bread to black swans. The clip ends with Sir Winston walking arm in arm with Menzies’s wife, Dame Pattie Menzies. Summary by Elizabeth Taggart-Speers.
Australian dancer and make up artist Dawn Swane talks about her years touring with the London Festival Ballet in the 1950s. In this clip she recalls how she acquired her camera in Denmark, which she'd later use to document the tour, as well as her work at Granada TV (Manchester) in the 1960s. The clip features an excerpt from the NFSA Oral History interview, recorded in 2006. Dawn was interviewed by Chris Rowell. Dawn's collection of home movies and video recordings have been donated to the NFSA by her daughter, production designer Melinda Doring.
The opening sequence and intertitles suggest this film was intended for family and friends to enjoy at a home movie night.
Max Afford and his wife Thelma travel along Queens Road and end up in Lautoka, exploring the Saturday morning market.
Max was an author, playwright and radio dramatist who worked at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and in commercial radio from the 1930s until the early 1950s. He was the scriptwriter for the Ken G Hall feature film, Smithy (1946).
He was married to costume designer Thelma Thomas, who donated their 31 home movies to the NFSA.
This clip shows the Archibald family enjoying themselves in a backyard swimming pool in the early 1930s. This film was donated to the National Film and Sound Archive by Helen Phillips, the daughter of John Ernest Archibald. Summary by Elizabeth Taggart-Speers
From the Film Australia Collection. The Richards Home Movie Collection was donated to Film Australia in 2006 where the collection of 16mm films were restored and digitised. The collection represents the home movies made by Rupert Henry Richards of his family and their travels and adventures around Australia and overseas. The collection covers the the a period from the 1940s to the late 1960s. A keen amateur cinematographer Rupert went to great lengths to film, edit and add titles, music, effects and dialogue to his films.
This particular compile show the family at play on Sydney's Clontarf beach and at Burragorang Valley. It also shows some Christmas scenes at the family home. The first sequence includes a title, music and dialogue and effects added by the film maker. The sounds of the children swimming sound suspiciously like bathtub effects and demonstrate the effort the family went to in producing their home movies. The Clontarf sequence had no audio so contemporary effects have been added here. Also the Christmas scene was also mute so existing music from the Film Australia Collection was used.
This collection is now part of the National Film and Sound Archive Australia. We would like to acknowledge and thank the Richards family for their donation and contribution to the living memory of Australian life through these wonderful home movies.
As one half of the 'Leyland Brothers’, Mike Leyland traveled through the Australian outback when it was still something of a remote frontier and largely unknown to most Australians living in urban areas. The Leylands became household names and pioneers in Australian television documentary filmmaking. In 1956, 15 year old Mike won a drawing competition, the prize was a trip to the Olympic Games in Melbourne. His father bought him a movie camera and Mike recorded his experiences, even making his own opening and end credits.
This clip is from a colour 8mm home movie showing behind-the-scenes footage of the popular black-and-white UK-Australian film The Shiralee (1957), starring Peter Finch and directed by Leslie Norman.
In the clip, we see images of western NSW in the 1950s flash by along with everyday street scenes of Bathurst, with its welcome sign encouraging people to visit the Mount Panorama race track.
There are some wonderful images of cars from the era before the footage continues to Lithgow and Molong and we arrive on the set of The Shiralee near Coonabarabran.
We see cast and crew setting up equipment on a country road. Director Leslie Norman demonstrates to star Peter Finch how he wants him to carry child actor and co-star Dana Wilson (playing his daughter) on his shoulders for the next scene.
They film the scene with the camera crew using a dolly to capture the action and Finch chats to the director between takes.
Later in the clip we see the production filming in the town of Binnaway, which was renamed ‘Bungana’ for the movie.
It appears like a typical Australian country town of the 1950s, with shops including a general store, bakery and a pub. You can also spot advertisements for peanut butter and tea in the home movie. We see locals watching the production shooting scenes of Finch and Wilson in town.
The home movie, which lasts about 15 minutes in full, was shot by an unknown photographer and is a travelogue following the journey of three men on a road trip heading west from Sydney.
The Shiralee (1957) is the fourth of five films produced by British Ealing Studios in Australia during the late 1940s and 1950s. It had its Australian premiere at Scone in New South Wales on 16 August 1957. The production commenced location filming in Coonabarabran, in western NSW, nearly a year earlier, on 18 August 1956.
One of the best known Australian film stars at the time, Peter Finch’s career would see him earn five British BAFTA best actor awards as well as being the first Australian to be posthumously awarded an Academy Award in 1976.
Read more about the home movie and location shooting for The Shiralee (1957) and watch clips from the completed film.
Costume designer Norma Moriceau (1944–2016) drew upon her background as part of the London punk and fashion scene to create the memorable costumes in Mad Max 2 (George Miller, 1981) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (George Miller and George Ogilvie, 1985).
This rare home movie shot by Moriceau in an unknown location captures the artistic and creative scene in which she was immersed, circa 1980.
In her early teens, Moriceau started her career as a model with June Dally-Watkins before taking herself to London to pursue other opportunities.
In the swinging 60s, she entered the fashion world as photographer, stylist and editor for a string of hip fashion magazines including Nineteen, Vogue and London Life.
By the 1970s, she was friends with fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and her partner Malcolm McLaren (they lived around the corner) with whom she often collaborated on film shoots.
She took the iconic photograph of Westwood in her designer 'Destroy' t-shirt, a garment originally sold at Westwood and McLaren’s boutique store Sex and now part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
She also worked with Julien Temple on the film The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle (1980), styling McLaren and the Sex Pistols.
As well as solidifying the look for Mad Max, Moriceau also worked on another iconic Australian creation.
As costume designer on Crocodile Dundee (1986), she fashioned Paul Hogan's look with its distinctive Akubra hat, shark-tooth necklace and worn leather vest.
Read more about Norma Moriceau and the costumes she designed for the Mad Max universe.
The Farey family enjoy a picnic on a river bank in the 1930s. They drink tea and throw stones into the river. Leslie Francis Farey captures this simple family picture on 16mm film, providing a social record for others to view. Summary by Elizabeth Taggart-Speers.
This silent footage is only a small part of a personal collection donated to Film Australia in 2006 and now part of the NFSA FAC Library collection. Donated by Mr Gordon Innes it represents his family's private film history from the mid 1920s to 1930s.
In this preview we see early shots of Sydney including several stages of construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The opening ceremony and parade for Bondi Beach Pavilion in December 1929. Also shown are Navy ships anchored in Rose Bay, car racing on the beach, flyovers with bi-planes performing aerial stunts all interspersed with the family's more private moments on road trips and private country properties that give an interesting insight in to a privileged lifestyle of the era. This collection also contains material shot in Europe, The United States, The Middle East and Asia as the family cruise the oceans and seas, documenting as they go.
With over two hours of footage now preserved the subject matter reveals the personal memories of an affluent Australian family at play on travels around Australia and the world. At the same time it records some significant events for the nation at a time when film recording was still in its earliest forms. Many of the institutional and professional film collections from this time are well known and thankfully well preserved. In recent times interest has turned to the more ephemeral collections coming to light from the hitherto unknown private collections of amateur filmmaking and 'home movies'.
The films were presented to the Film Australia Library in a state of critical disintegration. The approximately 10 rolls of 16mm, black and white, mute, footage were badly affected by vinegar syndrome and had shrunk to a state as to be almost unviewable on most standard equipment. A methodical, time consuming and expensive restoration involving repair to the original components and then copying to new film stock was undertaken before telecining to digital tape stock and digitising to file formats could take place.
Thanks to the generous donation by Mr Innes this collection is now preserved at the NFSA and can be made available to wider audiences and filmmakers and is a significant part of Australia's film history.
This is an excerpt from colour home movies made between 1944 and 1948 by Reverend James McCarthy, the Superintendent of the Presbyterian Mission on Mornington Island.
Mornington Island, a remote community in the Gulf of Carpentaria, has been occupied by its traditional owners, the Lardil people, for thousands of years.
In this excerpt from the home movies we see the medical dispensary and Flying Doctor Service, school students performing calisthenics, people fishing and swimming and a plane dropping supplies by parachute.
Read more about Mornington Island including personal recollections from someone who grew up there.
This clip includes five-year-old Wally being picked up and hugged by his parents; an older man dressed as Santa Claus; children on a seesaw and playing ring-a-rosie; Wally being pushed on a swing by his mother and then father; guests and family members standing in the garden; children dancing; Wally standing on a table spread with cakes and sweets about to cut a cake; and Wally blowing bubbles towards the camera.
Summary by Poppy De Souza
This is a clip of an Anzac Day march in 1933 at Strathalbyn, South Australia. It is taken from a home movie shot by K Loader.
The march comes down from Alfred Place, the site of the Strathalbyn and District Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, past the then St Andrews Presbyterian Church to Sunter St.
The procession stops at the Strathalbyn War Memorial, for the laying of wreaths. The town erected the memorial in 1921 to commemorate soldiers from the district who died during the First World War.
Also marching are a group of women who may be active nurses or Red Cross members. They wear a uniform with the international symbol of the Red Cross sewn on on the left-hand side.
Youth organisations – like Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, Junior Red Cross, and school and marching bands – also featured prominently in Anzac Day marches around this time; a troop of boy scouts is visible briefly in this clip.
After the march there was a Grand Sports Day nearby, raising funds for the Strathalbyn Soldiers’ Memorial Gardens Improvement Fund.
According to the Southern Argus newspaper, events on the day included a married ladies’ race, egg-and-spoon race for single girls over 15, a melon race on horseback and a competition to guess the weight of a sheep.
By 1933, traditions for marking Anzac Day were well established across Australia, with dawn vigils, marches, memorial services, reunions among members of the armed services and two-up games.
In this short excerpt from a home movie donated to the NFSA by amateur filmmaker Sid Bennetts, we see a group of young men and boys building a barbecue in their backyard.
Long before barbecuing became big business in Australia, it was an Aussie tradition to build your own in the backyard on a slab of concrete using cement besser blocks and a few aluminium trays. For fathers and sons, building a backyard barbie was almost a rite of passage. Once built, the extended family and neighbourhood friends would be invited over to enjoy some nicely charred snags and chops.
This home movie is a perfect example of such a ritual, with the newly built barbecue providing the setting for the social gathering. The film provides a rich snapshot of life in Australia in the mid 1960s.
This footage opens with scenes of a family picnic at Mt Wellington, Hobart, in 1909, and then documents family events such as Christmas (1922), childrens' birthday parties, toy cars, picnics, holidays and other family gatherings up to 1924. -- General Note : this footage of the Higgins family was largely shot by Ernest Higgins, the Australian cinematographer and shows other members of the family, including baby Bryce with his mother c1922 and Bryce's 4th birthday party (February, 1924). The footage has some intertitles.
The NFSA has a number of home movies of Gold Coast holidays. This clip from the 1970s is an excerpt from home movies shot by Eileen Smith. It features Jack Evans' Porpoise Pool, Bullen's Lion Park, boat tours, waterskiing, Marineland and other attractions. The closing image of an XP Falcon car hooked up to a caravan is enough to bring back memories for many people.
By the late 1950s and 60s, the Gold Coast was rapidly becoming a major holiday destination. All along the coast, resorts, guesthouses and holiday homes sprang up swelling the population five times over during the holiday season. The region now attracts over 13 million visitors and approximately 12,500 new residents each year.
Filmed in slow motion, Tamara Toumanova, wearing a green and black swimsuit, performs a series of leaps and poses on the sand at Bungan Beach. Summary by Poppy de Souza.
See more incredible footage from Ewan Murray-Will's home movies in the Ballet Russes collection.
Beautiful blues and vibrant greens fly by as Tim Bonython navigates Bali in search of the ideal waves to glide along.
Bonython has been an avid documenter of surf-related footage as a cinematographer, director and producer since 1978. He also established the Australian Surf Movie Festival.
The NFSA holds 100 of his films, mostly home movies.
Amateur cinematographer George Browne shot this silent home movie at the opening of the Sydney Opera House on 20 October 1973.
The NFSA collects home movies to show a broader range of lived experiences – something that commercial films alone cannot provide.
Film reels were short and expensive to buy and process, so the choice of subject shows us moments that were deemed significant enough to memorialise by the home-movie enthusiast or amateur filmmaker.
This footage moves around Sydney Harbour, capturing the fanfare and buzz generated by the opening of the Sydney Opera House. The forecourt is covered with people and the harbour is bustling with watercraft, all trying to gain the best vantage point for the celebration of this new and already iconic landmark. We see a helicopter fly-over as well as navy vessels and military planes flying overhead in formation.
This footage was shot on 9.5mm film, which was not as common a format for home movies as super 8. The format was created by Pathé for distributing commercial releases to a home audience in the 1920s. A camera was released later so the home-movie enthusiast could film and then project their own films along with the commercial titles.
Notes by Heather Gill
This is an extract from a 16mm home movie from the JO Fairfax Estate, filmed between 1928 and 1933.
The Fairfax home movies document the lives of the media family, with this clip showing family members and friends enjoying a day by the pool on their vast Double Bay property Fairwater, Australia's most expensive home.
When Britain declared war on Germany in 1939 Prime Minister Robert Menzies declared Australia was also at war.
In 1941 he flew to Britain (the first Australian Prime Minister to fly overseas rather than go by ship). En route he visited Australian troops in Singapore, and realised how vulnerable Singapore was to attack. In Britain he asked Prime Minister Churchill to increase Singapore’s defences, but without success. Menzies also reluctantly committed Australian troops to what became a disastrous campaign in Greece.
Menzies also saw the devastation of the German bombing campaign on London and other major cities. He took his wind-up film camera everywhere he went, and his very personal record of the visit includes strikingly informal footage of a young Princess Elizabeth.
On his return to Australia in 1941 he lost the confidence of members of Cabinet and his party who believed he was an electoral liability and he was forced to resign. As an Opposition backbencher during the war years, he helped create the Liberal Party and became Leader of the Opposition in 1946. At the 1949 federal election, he defeated Ben Chifley’s Labor Party and once again became Australia’s Prime Minister.
Robert Menzies (1894–1978) was Prime Minister of Australia twice: from April 1939 to August 1941 and December 1949 to January 1966. Robert Menzies’ camera is held at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.
The Prime Ministers' National Treasures is also available for purchase from the NFSA Online Shop.