Exploring Australia's South West from 1907 to 1972

BY BETH TAYLOR

There are many film and sound titles relating to Australia’s South West in the NFSA collection. This includes historic footage of Perth, Fremantle, Rottnest Island, Bunbury, Augusta, Margaret River, Cape Leeuwin and Albany. Here is a sample of the collection dating from 1907 to 1972.

Throughout 2013 the NFSA is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Film Australia Collection, which preserves and provides access to the nation’s documentary record – our collective memory.

If you have any information about the people or places in these films, we would love to read your comments.

Please note: this clip is silent

Street Scenes in Perth, Western Australia (1907) from the Corrick Collection.
Source NFSA / John Corrick, NFSA title 761273.

Featuring Perth’s Hay, Barrack and William Streets and St George’s Terrace, it shows a time when trams and horse and cart dominated the streets and everyone wore a hat.

 

The Sunny South West (1930). Part of the NFSA’s Film Australia Collection. NFSA title FP00002.

Includes scenes of Perth on the Swan River and street scenes, the War Memorial in Kings Park, Rottnest Island, Yanchup Park, Green Mt National Park and the Darling Ranges, Bunbury Harbour and its surrounds, and Albany, originally the major seaport of WA.

 

Please note: this clip is silent

The Golden West (1940). NFSA title 9519.

This film was made by William George Alma, known as Will Alma, a member of the Victorian Amateur Cine Society. Shots of Perth’s main streets capture the people, transport, architecture and flora of the city in the 1940s. Watch excerpts of the film and read more about it on the NFSA’s australianscreen website.

 

 

Postcard From Perth (1954). Made by The National Film Board and part of the NFSA’s Film Australia Collection. NFSA title FP00805.

Directed by Shan Benson. As the narration says, ‘Perth keeps its past in mind. There is an air of pleasant leisure about the city. For all the work they get done, the people don’t seem to be in a hurry.’ Features the Swan River and King’s Park.

 

 

Tea and Sugar Train (1954). Made by the Commonwealth Film Unit and part of the NFSA’s Film Australia Collection. NFSA title FP00812.

Once a week the Tea and Sugar Train leaves Port Augusta, South Australia, and heads west along the Nullarbor with all the supplies needed by the track maintenance workers and their families that live along the route. Everything from a needle to a radiogram, from a broom to health services, comes on the train they call the Tea and Sugar.

 

 

South West Corner. Around Australia No. 1 (1961). Directed by Dennis Hill. Made by the Commonwealth Film Unit and part of the NFSA’s Film Australia Collection. NFSA title FP01426.

Set in the south-west corner of Western Australia, around the Augusta Margaret River country, this film features the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse and Hamelin Bay. Along with a discussion about many of the historical highlights it shows the way in which people of the area live, work and relax. Also a popular destination for tourists it concludes with an excursion into the Augusta Jewel Cave.

 

Another Sunny Day In Western Australia (1961) Made by The Commonwealth Film Unit and part of the NFSA’s Film Australia Collection. NFSA title FP01425.

Directed by Ian Dunlop. Shows the outdoor activities that take place on a typical sunny day in Perth, including bowling, athletics, sailing and surfing.

 

 

Life in Australia: Perth (1965) Made by The Commonwealth Film Unit and part of the NFSA’s Film Australia Collection. NFSA title FP01727.

Directed by Henry Lewes. A picture of life in Perth in the mid 1960s. The social, business, sporting and other activities of an average Australian family in Perth are told through the eyes of the local newspapers.

 

Taxi (1972). Made by The Commonwealth Film Unit and part of the NFSA’s Film Australia Collection. NFSA title FP25038.

Directed by Greg Reading. Jim McKenzie is a taxi driver from Bentley in Perth. We follow Jim on a typical day driving his cab, back when taxi drivers could smoke on the job and a ride cost $1.50.

 

 

Timber Town (1972). Made by The Commonwealth Film Unit and part of the NFSA’s Film Australia Collection. NFSA title FP25044.

Directed by Oliver Howes. Life in a country town dependent on the timber industry in Karri country, south-west WA. It also shows a little of the migrant experience in the region.

 

 

NFSA collection items relating to Western Australia are available for viewing at the NFSA in Canberra, and its access centres around Australia.

Titles include:

  • Silent documentary The Golden West (1929). NFSA title 9821.
  • Home movie Around Australia, 1959 (1959). NFSA title 543998.
  • Home movie Albany, Western Australia: Town and Coastal Scenes (1964). NFSA title 63588.
  • Documentary Evolution (1969). NFSA title 1857.
  • Compile Albany and District: Moving Memories: 1920s-1990s (1997). NFSA title 326895.

If this has whet your appetite for more, there are over 200 videos on the NFSA Films YouTube Channel. See also the NFSA’s YouTube Channel, and the australianscreen (ASO) website, with more films featuring Western Australia here.