Threshing at Allora
Farm workers feed wheat sheaves into a threshing machine. A conveyor belt transports the processed wheat to a large stack. In the foreground, a team of horses brings a loaded cart of wheat to the machine.
Summary by Elizabeth Taggert - Speers
This clip amply fulfils Wills and Mobsby’s government brief to capture footage of agricultural practices, in this case wheat threshing on a farm at Allora, on the Darling Downs in south-western Queensland. Threshing machines separate the wheat grain from the stalks and husks. This step in the process of preparing grain is the origin of the saying 'to separate the wheat from the chaff’ (to extract what is valuable from what is worthless).
Threshing at Allora synopsis
This 1899 actuality footage shows workers tossing wheat sheaves into a threshing machine on a farm at Allora, Queensland. A conveyor belt transports the processed wheat to a large stack. A team of horses brings a heaped cartload of wheat to the machine.
The Queensland Department of Agriculture funded the world’s first government film production project in October 1898. The official photographer for the project was Frederick Charles Wills who was assisted by Henry William Mobsby. Together they produced over 30 short films using a hand-cranked Lumière Cinematographe camera (see Cinema Papers, 1993, No. 96, p 35).
Wills and Mobsby were appointed to film agricultural processes to attract UK farmers to settle in Australia. Consequently most of their films were not screened publicly in Australia but instead accompanied lectures in Britain. Other films showing Queensland farm life and labouring include Wheat Harvesting with Reaper and Binder, South Sea Islanders Cutting Cane and Dipping Sheep (all 1899).
Notes by Elizabeth Taggert - Speers