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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware this website contains images, voices and names of people who have died.

Impacts of drought (silent)

Warning: The following video includes images of animals that have died in drought. 

Extract from The Breaking of the Drought (1919)

The film is based on a stage melodrama of the same name written by Bland Holt in 1902. A severe drought was crippling the country at the time of the writing of the play. The film shows the outback station of Wallaby, gripped by drought.

Australia is the driest inhabited continent where long periods of low rainfall, sometimes lasting many years, are common. The Federation Drought from 1895 to 1903 (named after Australian Federation, achieved in 1901) was the worst drought ever recorded in Australia. During the drought Australia lost more than 40 per cent of its cattle, and it took 50 years for sheep numbers to recover. The drought also broke up the huge farms occupied by squatters and changed Australian farming practices.

NFSA: 6450 Feature film (silent) courtesy National Film and Sound Archive


1. What does this short film clip show? Summarise what you see.

2. Does the film appear to have a main purpose or message? If so, what do you think it is?

3. Who made the film clip and when was it made? Use this information to try to work out why the film was made. Does this change what you think about the purpose of the film?