Deborah Mailman singing on stage in a still from the film The Sapphires

2017 at the NFSA

What did we collect in 2017?
 Adam Blackshaw

The NFSA collection has now reached 2.8 million items. Here is a sample of what we acquired in 2017. Highlights include costumes from The Sapphires (2012), AFL sports commentary in Arabic, rare 1960s music television, recordings of whale song, American cinema classics on 35mm and oral histories with leading figures in the film, sound and broadcast industries.

Documents and artefacts

This year we added the Tess Schofield-designed costumes from the hit film The Sapphires (2012) to our collection. Costumes from Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), My Brilliant Career (1979), Moulin Rouge! (2001) and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) are also on display until 4 March 2018 at Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits, an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra presented by the NFSA and the Portrait Gallery.

An aboriginal man stands chained in an arid landscape.


Pictured left: a portrait of David Gulpilil taken by stills photographer Matt Nettheim on the set of The Tracker (Australia, Rolf de Heer, 2002). It was acquired from de Heer for Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits.

Also acquired this year: the Belgian release poster for Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985); Eddie Vormister's homemade film projector from the 1940s; and a 1950s autograph book collected by Lesley Cansdell when she was a teenager.



Country and Western Hour; Ep.183, 1967. Courtesy: Nine Network and the Lindsay Family. NFSA title: 1507077

This year we acquired 99 episodes of the Country & Western Hour (later titled the National Country Music Hour, 1963-72). Above, a performance by special guest actor-comedian Lucky Grills (who played the title role in the crime drama Bluey, 1976). Some of the biggest names in Australian music appeared on the Country & Western Hour, including Slim Dusty, Jimmy Little, Little Pattie and Johnny Farnham.

We also now have a 16mm telerecording of Where The Action Is (Episode 23, 1967), only the second known episode in existence of the short-lived TV program hosted by Johnny O'Keefe. We collected recent TV mini-series biopics of Paul Hogan (Hoges, FremantleMedia Australia, 2017), Alan Bond (House of Bond, CJZ, 2017) and The Easybeats (Friday On My Mind, Playmaker Media, 2017) as well as the online series High Life (More Sauce, 2017), Kiki and Kitty (Porchlight Films), St Francis (Endemol Shine Australia, 2017) and The Other Guy (Stan Original, 2017).


Highlights of the 3ZZZ – 92.3FM’s coverage of the AFL match, Hawthorn v Collingwood. Courtesy: 3ZZZ – 92.3FM and the National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters’ Council (NEMBC). NFSA Title: 1520858

Man sits in the commentary box the the Melbourne Cricket Ground wearing headphones
Ahmed Osman in the MCG commentary box. Courtesy: Radio 3ZZZ – 92.3FM


Above is a clip of the AFL game between Hawthorn and Collingwood with commentary in Arabic by Ahmed Osman, who received an award for Professional Excellence in Media at the 2017 Afroshine Australia Awards.

We also acquired a selection of 3ZZZ’s first live-match broadcasts of the 2017 AFL season with commentaries in Arabic, Hindi, Mandarin and Spanish. Complementing these new acquisitions are episodes of 3ZZZ’s Multicultural Football Show, giving context to the recordings and the initiative between the AFL and the National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters' Council. 

We collected 570 podcasts of the popular Kyle and Jackie O Show from 2014-17. Episodes featured high profile guests including Margot Robbie, Chris Hemsworth, Miley Cyrus, Kylie Minogue, Harry Styles and Julian Assange.

In November we began a pilot program to capture off-air recordings of a selection of commercial DAB+ (Digital Audio Broadcast) radio programs, starting with a 24-hour capture of 3AW’s outside broadcast of the 2017 Melbourne Cup. This pilot has been made possible with the support of Macquarie Media, Australian Radio Network and Southern Cross Austereo.

Coverage of the passing of the same-sex marriage legislation in Parliament included a 3AW news bulletin straight after the vote, an interview with Magda Szubanski on Mornings with Neil Mitchell and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull talking to Eddie McGuire during Triple M’s Hot Breakfast.

Mornings with Neil Mitchell, 8 December 2017. Copyright and courtesy of Radio 3AW Melbourne. NFSA title: 1522010



Wirth's Circus (excerpt). 8mm home movie, c1950s. NFSA title: 1501791

We supplemented our collection of 6000 home movies with two notable additions. First, we added two 8mm movies by unknown American tourists who filmed in Australia and New Zealand in the 1950s. The clip above captures candid behind-the-scenes footage of the raising of the Wirth’s Circus big top. We also acquired a further fifteen 8mm home movies from Harry Leggett of the Leggett family, spanning 1937–83. Harry and Emily Leggett established Leggett’s Ballroom, a major dance and entertainment hub, in Melbourne in 1920.

Lurid film poster shows a man with a guitar surrounded by cars, a skulls and the text 'death wish at 120 decibels. Stunt Rock'
Poster for the film, Stunt Rock, 1978.


We continue to receive recent feature films including Warwick Thornton's Sweet Country (2017). We also collected 35mm prints of Australian films Thank God He Met Lizzie (Cherie Nowlan, 1997) and Stunt Rock (Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1978 - pictured left) and classic American films Frankenstein (James Whale, 1931), The Misfits (John Huston, 1961), The Jazz Singer (Alan Crosland, 1927) and Freaks (Tod Browning, 1932).

We also acquired the award-winning Australian short film Lost Property Office (Daniel Agdag, 2017), a finalist for an Academy Award nomination in 2018; and the documentaries The Pink House (Sascha Ettinger-Epstein, 2017) and League of Her Own (Nicole Minchin and Angela Pippos, 2017), about the rise of women's football.


Oral history

Catriona Rowntree discusses how she got her first break on radio station triple j, 2017. NFSA title:1514802

Portrait photo of Catriona Rowntree outside
Catriona Rowntree, 2017.

In the clip above, Catriona Rowntree (pictured at right) describes how she got her job on triple j. Catriona was interviewed for our Oral History program in 2017. Well known for her work as presenter of the Nine Network's popular travel series Getaway, she is possibly Australia's most travelled woman!

Below you can listen to an excerpt from our interview with Deniz Tek, the proto-punk pioneer who formed the legendary band Radio Birdman with lead singer Rob Younger in 1974.

Other interviewees this year included lawyer, comedian, author and presenter Steve Vizard; comedian, presenter and writer Julia Zemiro; actress Anne Phelan OAM; journalist and radio presenter Neil Mitchell; and veteran race caller Greg Miles.



Deniz Tek talks about the early origins of the Australian protopunk band, Radio Birdman, 2017. NFSA title:1504984.


This year we were delighted to acquire a number of extraordinary field recordings of eastern humpback whales. This clip is an excerpt of whales singing to each other, known as a 'Pleiades', meticulously preserved by Mark Franklin in the 1990s. He added reverb and delay effects to create a custom acoustical environment in the same way that a producer would enhance a human singer’s voice in a studio environment.

Pleiades (East Australian Humpback whales) recorded by Mark Franklin, c1990. NFSA title:1521740

This year we also collected a very rare album by Bidjigal singer-songwriter, Vic Simms. His album The Loner (1973) was recorded in Bathurst Gaol and Vic was special guest at the fourth birthday of The Vinyl Lounge in October. Another rare Indigenous musical recording we collected was a cassette of Brand New Day (1980) by Kuckles. This album inspired Jimmy Chi to write the play Bran Nue Dae (1990), which was adapted into a hit film in 2009. Another addition to the collection was the soundtrack from Peter Weir's The Last Wave (1977), which was available for the first time in 2016, the year of composer Charles Wain's death.

Filling a gap in our collection of Australians who have made a significant impact on international popular music, we collected several albums crediting producer and songwriter Mike Chapman. A driving force in the British music industry in the 1970s, he wrote hits for performers such as The Sweet, Suzi Quatro and Smokie. He later produced albums for The Knack, Rod Stewart and ABBA's Agnetha Fältskog, as well as American bands like Blondie and Cheap Trick.