Four womern standing in a line in period costume

2018 at the NFSA

NFSA acquisition highlights for 2018

What did we collect in 2018?
 Adam Blackshaw

The NFSA collection now includes over 2.8 million items. Here is a small taste of what we acquired in 2018. Highlights include Fairfax family home movies, nearly 1,000 TV game show episodes, an oral history with Hugo Weaving, a signed AC/DC drum head and the master tape collection of independent Fable Records.

WARNING: this article may contain names, images or voices of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


We collected a number of 16mm home movies from the JO Fairfax Estate, filmed between 1928 and 1933. The 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:

JO Fairfax home movies, 1928. NFSA title: 1541359. The woman in the light-coloured swimsuit is likely Marcie Elizabeth 'Betty' Wilson, who married Warwick Oswald Fairfax in 1928. The man performing stretching exercises is likely Warwick Fairfax.

We also collected Virtual Reality (VR) productions like The Unknown Patient (Michael Beets, 2018), which immerses the viewer in a true story of an unidentified Australian soldier found wandering the streets of London in 1916:

The Unknown Patient (trailer), 2018.

Portrait of Gurrumul playing guitar
Gurrumul, 2017. NFSA title: 1541558

Other VR titles added to our collection this year included Storm Riders (Bad Faith, 2018), Thalu: Dreamtime Is Now (Frame VR, 2018) and Awake (Start VR, 2018).

We also acquired 31 unique nitrate film reels shot by Tassilo Adams, the official ethnographer for the Dutch government of the East Indies in Indonesia during the 1920s.

Recent film productions collected include music documentaries Gurrumul (Paul Damien Williams, 2018) and RocKabul (Travis Beard, 2018); and web series, including the award-winning This is Desmondo Ray! (Steve Baker, 2017).

Oral History

Among the oral histories we recorded this year was an interview with Hugo Weaving. Weaving first came to prominence playing the English cricket captain Douglas Jardine in the popular Kennedy Miller TV mini-series Bodyline (1984). In this clip, Weaving talks with Margaret Leask about researching the role and playing a real-life person:

Hugo Weaving oral history (excerpt), 2018. NFSA title: 1545943

Below, Weaving talks about meeting the directors of The Matrix (Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski, USA, 1999) and the Australian films that led them to cast him as Agent Smith:

Hugo Weaving oral history (excerpt), 2018. NFSA title: 1545943

We also recorded oral histories with actors Noeline Brown and Barry Otto, media personality Gretel Killeen and radio presenters David Mitchell and Margaret Throsby.


We acquired 980 episodes of the Grundy Organisation's television game shows, spanning the 1970s through to the 2000s and including Sale of the Century, Wheel of Fortune and Australian Idol. We also received a 16mm telerecording of the only known surviving episode of Australia’s Celebrity Game hosted by Bert Newton:

Australia’s Celebrity Game, 1969. NFSA title: 1527789. Courtesy Nine Network

Simon Townsend with his dog, Woodrow
Simon Townsend with Woodrow, c1979. NFSA title: 789867. Courtesy Network Ten


We acquired a significant collection of 1-inch masters of the multi-award winning Australian children’s series Simon Townsend’s Wonder World (1979–86), hosted by Townsend and his bloodhound, Woodrow.

Throughout 2018 we looked back at 30 years of our TV news and current affairs acquisition program Newscaf and published notable news stories from the past three decades. 

We added to the news and current affairs collection this year with stories covering the passing into law of the same-sex marriage bill, Scott Morrison becoming Australia’s 30th prime minister and coverage of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Recent TV productions collected in 2018 include the telemovie Riot (Werner Film Productions) and FremantleMedia Australia's Olivia Newton-John: Hopelessly Devoted To You, Wentworth (Series 6) and Picnic At Hanging Rock.

Documents and Artefacts 

White drum head signed by members of AC/DC with an illusrration of Angus Young as a devil.
Signed and illustrated AC/DC drum head, 2018. NFSA title: 1531835

Among the more unusual items we collected this year was a Channel 9 audio boom from the 1970s; a brass plaque of the winged, guitar-wielding Triple M icon, Dr Dan; and an AC/DC drum head with a 'Lil Devil' illustration drawn by lead guitarist Angus Young and signed by five band members.

We acquired a rare three-sheet poster of Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood, German posters for Australian films Somersault (2004) and Jindabyne (2006), and a Belgian Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985) poster.

We also collected autographs and memorabilia belonging to silent film star Louise Lovely, actress Googie Withers and opera singer Marjorie Lawrence (see gallery below).


This year we acquired the master tape collection from independent record label Fable Records (1970–84) and its subsidiary, Bootleg Records. The collection includes the AFL's unofficial anthem, 'Up There Cazaly' (1979), by The Two-Man Band:

'Up There Cazaly' by The Two-Man Band, 1979. NFSA title: 290258. This song is the perfect AFL anthem, with its conversational verses slowly building to a rousing chorus that demands you sing along. When chanted by a crowd at a game, the effect is dramatic. The phrase 'Up there, Cazaly!' was used by Australian soldiers during the Second World War, which imbues the song with a depth of patriotism that goes beyond football.


NFSA sound curators resting on a stack of boxes with a shelf of CDs behind them.
NFSA Sound curators Thorsten Kaeding and Tamara Osicka complete the sorting of the Adelaide ABC Music Library, 2018.

Other Fable artists include the Bootleg Family Band, Johnny Chester, jazz vocalist Kerrie Biddell and Brian Cadd.

We also obtained recordings of: contemporary female Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists MC Lady Lash, Leah Flanagan and Emily Wurramurra; singer Margret RoadKnight; and early opera singers Elsa Stralia, Rosina Buckman, Marjorie Lawrence and Frances Alda.

We acquired over 250 master tapes from the York Street Recording Studios, a major Melbourne recording studio in the 1970s and 1980s, and the personal collection of Australian Jazz figure Errol Buddle, which included home movies and a cassette tape collection of live unreleased recordings.

In addition, we sorted over 24,000 CDs from ABC CD libraries across Australia and 12,000 vinyl discs from SBS Radio's Melbourne World Music Collection.


Radio highlights collected this year include the last programs of Hamish and Andy; Triple M’s coverage of the 2017–18 Magellan Ashes cricket series; the final recordings of Macquarie’s Talking Lifestyle station; broadcasts of the AFL and NRL Grand Finals and coverage of the year in politics.

These were only a small part of the 14,000 hours of commercial Australian radio broadcasts we received through our off-air radio capture program, which also included top-rating breakfast, drive and talk shows. This program has been made possible through the support of the Australian Radio Network, Macquarie Media and Southern Cross Austereo Networks.

Below is a clip from JOY 94.9‘s outside broadcast at the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras’ 40th Anniversary parade in March:

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 40th anniversary parade, 2018. JOY 94.9 (podcast version). NFSA title: 1533182. Courtesy JOY  94.9. Photo: Holly Friedlander Liddicoat

We also received a significant collection of papers and recordings of radio pioneer John Brennan OAM spanning his career on Sydney radio stations 2WG, 2UE, 2SM and 2GB; and a collection of recordings and photographs of radio station 3XY, including a 1981 history of the station.


Main image at top: Picnic At Hanging Rock, 2018. Courtesy: Fremantle. Photo: FMA, Ben King.