Pearl divers off the coast of Broome
Extract from The Pearlers (1949)
Documentary made in 1949 by the Australian National Film Board about pearl diving off the coast of Broome, West Australia. Divers are shown on the deck of a pearl lugger preparing for a dive, diving, being tended by a tender who watches their air supply line, and resurfacing for a break between dives. A supply ship visits the luggers to collect shells and pearls and leave rations. Back at Broome the mother-of-pearl is graded and packed for dispatch to countries including the United States.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have harvested oyster shell to use as tools and ornaments for thousands of years. In the late 1800s oyster shell became fashionable in Europe and North America, and by the summer of 1888–89, Broome had become the centre of the pearling industry in the colony of Western Australia. The most successful divers were Malays, Timorese and, especially, Japanese.
Film Australia Collection NFSA: 4389 Documentary courtesy National Film and Sound Archive
1. What does this short film clip show? Summarise what you see and hear.
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