Southern Queensland time capsule

Southern Queensland time capsule

Southern Queensland time capsule
 Beth Taylor

There are many film and sound titles relating to Southern Queensland in the NFSA collection. This includes historic footage of Brisbane, Kingaroy, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Maryborough and Doomben. To celebrate Big Screen’s upcoming tour to Nanango, here is a sample of the collection (including sound, documentary, newsreel and home movies) dating from 1938 to 1994. The sample features snapshots of local towns depicted as industrious and prosperous centres of agriculture, industry and sports, and a rarely seen depiction of slum housing in Brisbane before World War II.

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.

First, to get you in the mood for this step back in time, here is a cheeky tune about the region performed by Gwen Ryan and Claude Carnell’s Orchestra.

It’s Hot in Brisbane but it’s Coolangatta (1953)
The Maryborough Railway Employees’ Picnic (1938)

This silent footage shows the Maryborough Railway employees’ picnic held at Scarness, Queensland on 20 March 1938. Children and families from Gympie, Bundaberg, Kingaroy, Childers and other south-east Queensland areas all attend. It includes scenes of children boarding trains at Maryborough, the ‘Belle of the Beach’ beauty contest and happy children eating ice-creams supplied by Maryborough Railway. The railway line at Scarness closed in 1994.

A Brief Survey of the Activities of the Brisbane City Mission (c.1939)

This promotional documentary made by the Brisbane City Mission surveys the Mission’s activities and services during the late 1930s and the relief they provide for thousands of the city’s urban poor. It details the distribution of meals, clothing and blankets to the needy, and the preparation of Christmas parcels for families with young children.

Australian Diary: Peanuts At Kingaroy, Episode 2 (1947)

Kingaroy is a town famous for its nuts and this film shows how they are grown, harvested and processed providing Australia with 90% of its peanut needs.

Australian Diary: Australia’s Richest Horse Race, Episode 2 (1947)

Racehorse Bernborough wins the 1947 Ahern Memorial 10,000 at Doomben.

Australian Diary: Grain Sorghum Relieves Wheat Shortage, Episode 10

A look at the growing and harvesting of sorghum in the Darling Downs, Queensland.

The New Ipswich

A look at life in the industrial centre of Ipswich, Queensland. Featuring railway workshops, woollen and timber mills, coal mining, schools, housing, food, local shops and sports.

Baby Parking Station

One of the country’s early childcare facilities, in Brisbane. The narrator says wryly, ‘You can leave your baby by the hour or the day, but not permanently’.

Eventide and Westbrook Farm Home: Brisbane City Mission (1950)

Operated through the Queensland State Government Department of Health and Home Affairs, the Eventide aged care facility is situated in the seaside suburb of Sandgate in Brisbane. In another area of the State, just outside Toowoomba in the Darling Downs, the rehabilitative Westbrook Farm Home for Boys houses male convicted juveniles and wards of the state. This short documentary promotes the work of the Brisbane City Mission, whose members provide support to the residents of Eventide and assist with activities at the Westbrook Farm Home.

Carnival of Flowers, Toowoomba (1953)

This clip shows the crowning of the floral queen at the Carnival of Flowers in 1953. In 2011 the NFSA approached the community to find out the identity of the floral queen and other participants in the Carnival of Flowers shown in this film. We had a wonderful response, and the floral queen was identified as Val Edwards (nee Sinclair) of Toowoomba. 

Overland Adventure: The Story of the 1954 Redex Reliability Trial (1954)

This is a Cinesound documentary about the Round Australia 1954 Redex Reliability Trial – a 15,450 kilometre motor endurance rally over rough terrain and unsealed roads. Overland Adventure follows the changing fortunes of some of the 246 entrants during the 18-day journey. In this clip the cars make it to the checkpoint at Maryborough before heading north through sugarcane country to Bundaberg.

Just Peanuts (1954).

This documentary filmed in Queensland details the growing, harvesting, distribution and processing of peanuts. It also features peanut-related products, ‘ETA’ company vans advertising peanut butter leaving the factory, and children consuming peanut butter in school canteens.


All Manner of Trains (1962). Directed by Malcolm Otton. Produced by The Commonwealth Film Unit. 

An overview of Australia’s railways in the early 1960s, before gauges across the country were standardised. You can watch the section of the film which features the journey from Cairns to Western Australia via Brisbane on NFSA Films Youtube channel.


Life in Australia: Brisbane (1964). Directed by Robert Parker. Produced by the Commonwealth Film Unit. 

A picture of life in the Queensland capital of Brisbane in the mid 1960s.

Viewpoint on Brisbane (1975)

The city of Brisbane, Queensland as seen through the eyes of European migrants.

Brisbane Dreaming (1994)

May contain names, images or voices of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Brisbane Dreaming (1994). Clip courtesy of Meanjin Productions.

This documentary is about the original Indigenous custodians of the Brisbane area.

Other titles relating to Southern Queensland in the NFSA collection include:

  • Home movie Southeast Queensland: Town and Country Scenes (c. 1948). Featuring Toowoomba, Warwick, Gatton, Ipswich and Brisbane. NFSA title 65802.
  • Documentary City in the Sun: Brisbane (1954). NFSA title 544680.
  • Home movie Ampol Trial, 1958 (1958). NFSA title 397632. Follows the journey of the survey car for the Ampol Trial 1958. Most scenes show the car travelling quickly along dirt roads in the country, not far from Murwillumbah NSW and also through Kingaroy in Queensland.
  • Newsreel Dig That Nut: Modern methods speed up harvest (1961). NFSA title 130877. Shows the latest methods adopted for harvesting peanuts in the Kingaroy region of south-eastern Queensland.
  • Song Brisbane Ladies – Warren Fahey and The Larrikins (1978). NFSA title 612290.
  • Song The Psychiatrist’s Joy from Kingaroy – Chad Morgan (1981). NFSA title 190642.
  • Documentary Australian Biography: Flo Bjelke-Petersen (1994). NFSA title 279238. See excerpts on the NFSA’s Australian Biography website.

You can view other titles relating to Queensland on NFSA’s australianscreen.

The films Unfinished Sky and The Proposition were both shot in Southern Queensland and feature the region.