'Life in Central Australia' is the final film production documenting the Board for Anthropological Research (BAR) expedition to Cockatoo Creek, Central Australia [Northern Territory] during 6-27 August 1931. The film was shot by a cinematographer EO Stocker (AA 311) with the assistance of BAR member HJ Wilkinson (AA 370). The expedition party included numerous BAR members.
The exhibition party passed through localities including: Quorn, South Australia; and the following locations in the Northern Territory: Finke, Rodinga, Alice Springs, Aileron and Cockatoo Creek. The filming was largely concentrated on Cockatoo Creek, [NT] Latitude: 21o 50' S. Longitude: 132o 02' E.
During this expedition 'special attention was given to cinematography, and it was hoped that several thousand feet of motion picture film exposed would produce many records of unique interest and value.' Source: 'Important Expedition' The Advertiser 28/8/1931. Copy enclosed in NB Tindale's Cockatoo Creek Journal (AA 338/1/7) p.81-82.
Approximately 1,400 feet of 35mm nitrate film and 2,400 feet of 16mm safety film was shot. Both the 35mm and 16mm films were black and white, silent. The final film production 'Life in Central Australia' consists of Reels 1-6 (duration 60:00 minutes) with intertitles and corresponds to items (AA 346/5/1-20). It appears that none of the 35mm nitrate film footage was incorporated within this final film production. The 35mm nitrate film held in the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA), managed as 'NFSA Title No. 333556' consists of the same scenes and events but shot from a different angles to the 16mm film. This nitrate film and all other South Australian Museum Archive (SAMA) nitrate films were deposited with NFSA in 1979. See: 'Notes 1' at the end of this inventory and the Series Report (AA 346/9).
The South Australian Museum Archives Master Preservation Tape (AA 346/9/5/22) consists of Reels 1-6 (AA 346/9/5/1 - AA 346/9/5/6) followed by 'NFSA Title No. 333556' (AA 346/9/5/21) which contains material that did not make it to the final film production Cockatoo Creek Expedition film 'Life in Central Australia.' The SAMA Master Preservation Tape represents the entirety of known film footage from the Cockatoo Creek expedition, duration 76 minutes 48 seconds, with intertitles.
The original master copies of the Cockatoo Creek expedition films were processed in the BAR Film Catalogue as B#3 - B#8. This expedition film was previous held in the EO Stocker collection (AA 311) and was transferred into the BAR collection (AA 346) in December 2005.
In this summary all intertitles are italicised and within quotation marks. All spelling within intertitles have been left as originally spelt. Language and terms which reflect the author's attitude or that of the period in which the item was produced may be considered inappropriate today.
The method adopted by BAR expeditions to undertake research and record the results involved assigning a unique number to each individual (here called 'individual subject number'). This number was given the expedition symbol as a prefix, and remained consistent throughout the research. This expedition was assigned the symbol 'G.' All individuals recorded during the expedition were assigned an individual subject number, for example [G75]. Where possible the 'individual subject number' of those who appear in film have been noted.
The time coded summary is in hours, minutes and seconds. Following the summary of this film is a list of references and further notes. Formats Held: 16mm, SP Betacam, Digital Betacam, Access DVDs.
Summary (Time Coded) Taken from Access DVD 3 (AA 346/9/5/26)
00:00:00 'Cockatoo Creek, CA [NT] 1931.'
00:00:00 'Cultural Sensitivity Warning.'
00:00:00 'The Museum Board of South Australia © 1931.'
00:01:30 'Life in Central Australia, Reel 1.'
00:01:40 'As seen by the Members of the Adelaide University and Museum Anthropological Expedition, August 1931.'
00:01:50 'Leaving Adelaide for Alice Springs.'
00:01:52 Expedition party on the Adelaide rail platform before the train's departure. TD Campbell (AA 52), HK Fry (AA 105) and HJ Wilkinson on the platform, NB Tindale (AA 338) looks out of the railway carriage door.
00:02:12 Departure of the train.
00:02:19 'Settling down. Some to work, some to sleep.'
00:02:22 Expedition members on the train. HK Fry smokes a pipe whilst studying psychological test diagrams, HJ Wilkinson sleeps.
00:02:30 'While others -'
00:02:32 TD Campbell eats an apple.
00:02:36 'The Fortnightly "Unlimited" from Quorn to Alice Springs. Unlimited time to cross unlimited deserts.'
00:02:43 Views of the train and of landscape from the train, along the southern shores of Lake Eyre.
00:03:06 'Where Wings and Hoofs are the popular means of communication.'
00:03:10 An Afghan pigeon loft.
00:03:21 Camels behind fencing.
00:03:28 'Natural soaks occur here and there along the way. Beresford Dam.'
00:03:33 View of Beresford Dam, an artificially constructed water storage which provides water for the North-South Railway line.
00:03:40 Coward Springs train station, a typical railway station along the line.
00:03:46 Footage of a slow moving train, with the dam the foreground.
00:04:07 Expedition members observe the water welling up from the depths below through a bore pipe. The water is hot and full of gases. The train is stationary in background.
00:04:14 'It takes many gibbers to make a desert.'
00:04:18 View of landscape of gibber rocks.
00:04:38 'On the Banks of the waterless Finke.'
00:04:41 From the side of the railway track we see the train approaching the crossing over the River Finke.
00:05:51 After recent flooding the ground is carpeted with dense growth of wild flowers, chiefly everlastings.
00:05:16 'Aptly named are the mountains of Rumbalara.'
00:05:19 Mountains in the background shot from the train.
00:05:32 'The gateway to the Centre. "The Gap" through the MacDonnell Ranges.'
00:05:37 Landscape shot from the train.
00:05:50 'Beneath their shelter nestles -'
00:05:52 The town sign, ALICE SPRINGS.
00:05:58 'Setting out for the North West'
00:06:00 Expedition party load several cars with their equipment. JB Cleland (AA 60) walks around carrying an overcoat, other members of the expedition may be noted including T Harvey Johnston (AA 161), JH Gray (AA 111), RH Pulleine. In the background is the brush-covered home of F Colson, driver and cook for the expedition. One of the expedition's informants, Wheeler, is seen tying equipment to the side of a loaded truck.
00:06:33 'Along the track to Darwin.'
00:06:35 For the first part of the journey, as far as the Hann Range, Northern Territory, the expedition party followed the 'Darwin Track.' This scene is shot from the top of Mount Boothby where members of the expedition party are seen looking northwards along the track which is clearly distinguished from the mulga scrub.
00:06:51 'Other travellers.'
00:06:53 Pack horses and mules being lead through scrub.
00:07:11 'The going was heavy at times after leaving the Darwin track.'
00:07:15 Expedition members pushing a heavily loaded truck over the sandy bed of Warburton Creek. The tuck strikes firmer ground it races ahead, leaving the expedition members to walk through the sand to the waiting truck. TD Campbell and CS Hicks discuss the situation as they trudge across the sandy river bed.
00:07:26 'The Heart of Australia.'
00:07:28 Landscape of Central Australia. Mulga scrub with thin lines of gum trees mark the position of the Lander Creek. The panorama moves in an arc around from Mount Finnis in the South-East to Mount Stafford (north by west). We then see Mount Thomas, situated near at hand towards the South-West. The camera again scans the direction of Mount Stafford and continues its view of the country in the north-westerly direction. We look down Lander Creek, the bare flood plain of which may be seen in the foreground, and the final scene shows the mountainous country westwards towards Mount Gardiner.
00:08:10 'The country was the colour of a camel, and was almost as rough.'
00:08:14 The camel team attached to the expedition loaded with stores on its journey to the expedition's base camp. Views of the country in the vicinity of Cockatoo Creek. The camel team reaches the base camp at Aknatalja, Cockatoo Creek, where three young Australian Aboriginal children watch their arrival.
00:09:13 'The end of the journey.'
00:09:14 'The end of the journey. Cockatoo Creek.'
00:09:16 Camels tended too after the journey.
00:09:28 View of the expedition camp which is situated in the bed of the Cockatoo Creek and on the low banks of its flood plain.
00:10:12 'What is home without a mother?'
00:10:15 F Colson makes pancakes and prepares bread.
00:10:52 'Yes, the bread was fine, but every man to his taste.'
00:10:55 Australian Aboriginal man sitting in profile, eating witchetty grubs.
00:11:25 'The real Australians.'
00:11:27 A group of the Walpiri, Ngalia, and Anmatjera people seated in little groups about their fires at Cockatoo Creek.
00:11:37 'Here are a few types.'
00:11:39 Three Australian Aboriginal men eating.
00:11:57 One of the men who is eating, conveys to us in sign language, by using his hands the information that the food is good.
00:12:02 'End of Reel 1.'
00:12:25 'Life in Central Australia, Reel 2.'
00:12:27 'The Medicine Man: A power in the land.'
00:12:30 Kakuta [G57] of the Walpiri people sits with another man.
00:12:43 A woman with her child on her shoulder. [See also: Time Code: 01:08:25]
00:12:52 Girl of fifteen, Welinjia [G72] of the Walpiri people, laughing.
00:13:07 Two babies asleep in wooden dishes.
00:13:13 'So this is where they go in the Wintertime.'
00:13:16 Several close-ups of babies asleep.
00:13:32 'Each in his own style, members of the party fraternising with the natives.'
00:13:36 Sequence of shots where T Harvey Johnston is offering boiled lollies to children in return for hair parasites. RF Matters, physiologist to the party, walks about with a group of children. CS Hicks, physiologist, talks with an old man, Wanman tjurkurpa [G.46] of the Walpiri people. Both laugh and imitate the movements of the camel. JH Gray attends to the foot injuries of an Australian Aboriginal man.
00:14:44 Still shot of EO Stocker with a cinematographic camera.
00:14:52 In the camp we see a great many children who are waiting to receive their share of food that Ernest Kramer is distributing. They play as they wait.
00:15:08 'Aboriginal pastimes.'
00:15:10 Children are playing at spear fighting, using shafts of cane grass as spears.
00:15:27 'Shafts of Mitchell grass become shafts of flight.'
00:15:30 The movements of throwing a grass stem spear, shown in slow motion.
00:16:31 'The Ball is made of opossum string.'
00:16:34 Others play at a ball game in which an opossum fur ball is thrown from one to another while a third individual attempts to retrieve it from them. Occasionally the ball is kicked.
00:16:58 Restricted Content Starts.
00:20:34 Restricted Content Ends.
00:20:44 'After the ball is over.'
00:21:09 One of the performers is observed removing from his foot one of the many three-spiked weed seeds (known as prickle-jacks) which lie on the ground. A man is seen lying asleep.
00:20:17 'But all pastimes are not so hilarious.'
00:20:20 Two Australian Aboriginal men make imitations of animal and bird tracks on the ground. The first track is that of an emu, followed by the tracks of a baby, the tracks of a sheep that he has seen at Mamba [Coniston Station] in the eastern country. He then makes the tracks of the wallaby and then the Australian bustard.
00:22:01'The primitive crafts of these Stone Age People.
00:22:05 ' The primitive crafts of these Stone Age People. The Pubic Tassel is made from human hair.'
00:22:08 Making and attaching the pubic tassel.
00:23:01 'On retiring, the suit is hung on the back of the bedroom door.'
00:23:06 Man hangs his pubic tassel on a branch and lays down to sleep.
00:23:28 'End of Reel 2.'
00:23:41 'Life in Central Australia, Reel 3.'
00:23:42 'Man's first great discovery.'
00:23:45 Two men are seen to be lighting a fire by the sawing method, using a bean wood shield as the base or hearth, and a spear-thrower made of mulga wood which is to saw across it.
00:23:52 'The hard, long grain of the spear thrower is rubbed against the shield's soft cross grain.'
00:23:57 A close view shows us the shield is an old and broken one used many times before in the kindling of fires and many transverse saw grooves remain as scars on its face. It may be noticed that the longitudinal groove has been cut down the middle of the shield. This forms a convenient trap for the hot bean wood dust which is engendered by the friction of the spear-thrower. Soon the smouldering mass is tipped out on to a bundle of grass, and waved in the wind until a flame appears.
00:24:34 'A weapon of War and Ceremony. The Boomerang.'
00:24:38 A Walpiri man is roughly trimming a boomerang with the aid of a adze. We then see him at close quarters cutting with the same implement but using more care as he prepares the final cutting surface of the boomerang. He then demonstrates the use of one of the finished boomerangs. Some slow motion shots.
00:25:43 A man stalks a rose-breasted galah which is perched in a tree. He walks carefully towards the object of his attack, keeping his eye always on the game. The weapon is thrown with a flick of the wrist which causes it to spin rapidly as it travels though the air. The hunter watches its fight until it falls again. The birds escape, for bird-killing by boomerang is not an easy task. A series of slow motion pictures demonstrates the spin imparted buy the boomerang when thrown high into the air.
00:27:06 'The shield is hewn from the Bean tree.'
00:27:08 A Walpiri man uses a metal axe in the manufacture of a shield from the soft wood of the Bean tree. He fells the tree and proceeds to manufacture the shield. The whole of the unwanted log is chopped away from the log, leaving the shield on the ground. In chopping both hands are used. Some of this process are shot in slow motion.
00:28:58 'Finishing-off is an old man's privilege.'
00:29:01 The roughed out shield is given to an older man who completes it, using an adze in order to complete the wide longitudinal grooves which adorn the finished article. After the grooving on the surface of the shield has been completed the old man turns over it over and cuts down the inner surface until he has obtained the correct thickness. From time to time the piece of iron in his adze is reset. He uses a mulga digging stick to dig a cavity in the shield, to make a handle.
00:30:15 While preparing the shield, another man is seen to take another segment from the trunk of the felled Bean tree, to prepare a wooden dish, using similar methods. The older man drinks from the recently completed dish, and offers water to his child.
00:31:20 'The art of spear making and throwing.'
00:31:23 Men heat and shape a green wood of the witchetty bush, by placing the shifts over a fire then straightening them by applying pressure with their feet against the ground.
00:31:59 Kakuta [G57] a Walpiri man demonstrates the use of a spear as a hand thrown implement. Some of this process are shot in slow motion.
00:32:13 'Let us examine the warrior's walk.'
00:32:16 The man throwing the spear is filmed in slow motion as he walks to retrieve his spear. When he hurls the spear towards the camera we see that the throwing motion is such as to impart a spin to the weapon.
00:32:34 'Ingenious aids for surprise attacks and stalking.'
00:32:37 Restricted Content Starts.
00:32:48 Restricted Content Ends.
00:32:48 'A study of poise and caution.'
00:32:50 A Walpiri man re-enacts an episode in his day's hunting for an audience. He walks briskly through the open mulga scrub on his way to hunt. He comes upon a kangaroo feeding and stalks to within seven yards without being seen, he carefully steadies his feet and throws the spear. The animal is transfixed, and is killed with a few blows from the spear-thrower. The young kangaroo is brought back to camp, and we see the first stage in its preparation cooking.
00:34:25 'End of Reel 3.'
00:34:38 'Life in Central Australia, Reel 4'
00:34:40 'Nothing is wasted.'
00:34:42 The cooking of the kangaroo is continues. The animal is gutted, fire is prepared, fur is singed and rubbed off, the animal placed in the pit and covered with the hot ashes from the fire. After cooking the men divide the meat between themselves. It is the hunters privilege to make a division of six pieces, one for each man present, excluding the hunter; each recipient removes about one third of his share and returns it to the hunter. He is then seen eating his portion of the animal.
00:37:42 'A portion of the bag is saved for families in camp - a welcome variation from the usual yelka, or onion grass bulb.'
00:37:50 The hunters return to camp after a successful day's game hunting after wallabies.
00:38:12 An Australian Aboriginal boy uses a boomerang to turn over the soil of the dry riverbed in his search for bulbs. He holds out a yelka bulb for the camera.
00:38:26 Restricted Content Starts.
00:45:50 'End of Reel 4'
00:46:04 'Life in Central Australia, Reel 5'
00:46:06 Continuation of Restricted Content.
00:47:30 Restricted Content Ends.
00:47:30 The BAR Expedition members stand and talk to each other as the camera pan's the party [from left to right] JB Cleland, leader of the expedition. On his right is HJ Wilkinson, followed in turn by HK Fry, RF Matters, CS Hicks, RH Pulleine, T Harvey Johnston, NB Tindale, TD Campbell (wearing a cap), JH Gray, A Rau and HM Hale (AA 124).
00:47:46 'The Expedition at work.'
00:47:48 ' The Expedition at work. NB Tindale collecting ethnological data.'
00:47:51 NB Tindale is seated amongst a group of Walpiri men recording a vocabulary. He asks for their language's terms for teeth and tongue.
00:47:59 Professors Cleland and Harvey Johnston engaged in serological work.
00:48:03 Serological tests conducted with participating Australian Aboriginal individuals.
00:48:37 'Professor Hicks and Dr Matters at Basal Metabolism tests.'
00:48:41 Basal Metabolism tests with participating Australian Aboriginal individuals.
00:49:23 'Replenishing the oxygen supplies by an emergency outfit.'
00:49:27 CS Hicks and RF Matters preparing their equipment for testing.
00:49:57 'Professor Wilkinson collecting dermagraphs.'
00:50:00 HJ Wilkinson making hand prints with participating Australian Aboriginal individuals.
00:50:27 'Doctors Fry and Pulleine conducting sense and intelligence tests.'
00:50:31 Sense and intelligence testing with participating Australian Aboriginal individuals.
00:51:13 'HM Hale and NB Tindale making plaster face moulds.'
00:51:17 HM Hale and NB Tindale making plaster face moulds with participating Australian Aboriginal individuals.
00:51:32 'The organiser of the expedition Dr TD Campbell and NB Tindale recording songs.'
00:51:38 An Edison gramophone is used to obtain a wax cylinder recording of songs. Time is kept by striking together two boomerangs. Owing to the limited range of the gramophone pick up, only the voice of the individuals singing into the horn is recorded.
00:51:54 'After a little washing HJ Gray was able to chart hair tracts.'
00:51:58 HJ Gray charts the hair tracks with participating Australian Aboriginal Individuals.
00:52:27 A woman sits for her individual subject photograph.
00:52:53 'The Adelaide Museum benefited by A Rau's excursions.'
00:52:57 SAM taxidermist, A Rau and other men on camels return to the BAR camp after a collecting excursion.
00:53:42 'Here is a rare species, the rabbit-footed Bandicoot.'
00:53:45 Footage of the rabbit-footed Bandicoot.
00:54:12 'Too soon came the day to break camp.'
00:54:15 Footage of BAR Expedition members breaking camp, loading up camels.
00:54:35 Sign nailed to a tree 'ADELAIDE UNIVERSITY AND S.A. MUSEUM ANTHROPOLOGICAL EXPEDITION CAMPED HERE AUG. 1931.'
00:54:39 Campfire at night.
00:54:47 'The natives take to the bush.'
00:54:50 View across the dry river bed where the Australian Aboriginal people are returning to their camping grounds, carrying gifts of food to help them on their journey.
00:55:06 A tame camp dingo looks at the camera before walking away.
00:55:12 'And then - back to the South through the portals of Central Australia.'
00:55:17 Footage taken of the landscape of the MacDonnell Ranges from the back of a train.
00:55:50 End of Reel 5. [No Intertitle]
00:55:51 Start of Reel 6 [No Intertitle]
00:55:51 Scene on the banks of Cockatoo Creek showing the red river gums some of which bear scars indicating the removal of bark dishes from their trunks. Members of the expedition party stand and scan the country.
00:56:26 Shot of termite mounds which are abundant in this part of Central Australia.
00:56:32 Well and tank at Aileron, Northern Territory, on the North-South Telegraph line.
00:56:39 HK Fry and another member of the expedition are seen walking towards a white wash gum tree. In the tree is an eagle's nest.
00:57:26 The expedition party is stopped to repair a tyre that has been damaged by a piece of mulga branch lying on the rough road.
00:57:37 Nests of ants are common on the mulga tree plains and we see one of their nests.
00:57:43 Restricted Content Starts.
01:00:29 Restricted Content Ends.
01:00:30 Portrait of three girls, Ngarnbula and Orokuiya [G69] of the Anmatjera people with Kinmaŋgala [G62] of the Ngalia people.
01:00:55 End of Reel 6 [No Intertitle]
01:01:17 Start of 'NFSA Title No. 33556' [No Intertitle]
01:01:17 Car drives down the 'Darwin Track.'
01:01:27 Two expedition party members walk towards homestead buildings, stopping by a tree along the way to observe something.
01:01:42 Expedition party at Alice Springs loading cars with equipment. The departure of the expedition party's cars.
01:02:20 Scene at Connor's Well, Northern Territory.
01:02:34 Australian Aboriginal girl on a camel. Camel team walking.
01:03:18 Ant-hill country, mulga in the background.
01:03:39 Expedition members pushing their car truck over sandy terrain.
01:03:47 Two Australian Aboriginal men coming back from a hunting expedition.
01:04:04 An Australian Aboriginal man wearing a nose-peg, stands in a tree breaking off a bark dish with a stone implement.
01:04:23 Restricted Content Start.
01:07:09 Restricted Content Ends.
01:07:09 RH Pulleine and HM Hale assist in the removal of sticks from an Australian Aboriginals man's foot.
01:07:20 Scene of the camp at Cockatoo Creek. NB Tindale sitting with a large group of men recording genealogies and vocabulary.
01:08:02 HJ Wilkinson taking individual subject photographs.
01:08:23 A woman having her individual subject photograph taken.
01:08:25 An Australian Aboriginal woman holds her daughter on her shoulder. [See also: Time Code: 00:12:43]
01:08:34 An older Australian Aboriginal woman having her photograph taken.
01:08:46 TD Campbell and JH Gray are shown taking anthropometric measurements, matching the skin colour of the individual to a skin colour chart and examining the individual's teeth.
01:09:29 JH Gray studies hair tracts patterns. HJ Wilkinson is makes dermagraphs of hands.
01:10:04 T Harvey Johnston and JB Cleland conduct serological tests with participating Australian Aboriginal individuals.
01:10:56 RH Pulleine examines the nose and throat of an Australian Aboriginal boy.
01:11:33 HK Fry conducts the 'pull-strength' tests.
01:11:52 RH Pulleine stands near a line of pegs in the dry creek which are placed to conduct visual acuity tests.
01:12:04 RH Pulleine and HK Fry conduct intelligence tests with an Australian Aboriginal girl.
01:12:47 An Australian Aboriginal man drawing with crayon on paper.
01:12:58 A man makes hand prints in the sand depicting the footprints of a baby, followed by the tracks of an emu and a dog.
01:13:49 RF Matters and CS Hicks conducting basal metabolism tests with participating Australian Aboriginal individuals.
01:15:14 HM Hale and NB Tindale make a plaster face-cast with a participating Australian Aboriginal boy.
01:17:26 TD Campbell and NB Tindale record songs on to a wax cylinder using the Edison gramophone.
01:18:18 End of 'NFSA Title No. 33556' [No intertitles]
Tribal / language groups recorded during this expedition as noted in the Data Cards (AA 346/4/13).
Tindale Tribes: Walpiri; Ngalia; Anmatjera; Kukatja (NT); Aranda; Jumu