Celebrating our Antipodean Friends

On January 17, 1788, HMS Supply under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip sailed into Botany Bay, New South Wales.[1] Looking for a suitable place to establish a new penal colony,[2] Captain Phillip moved north to the Port Jackson area where he was joined by the remainder of his 11-ship convict fleet on January 26. When the British flag was raised that afternoon on the shore of Sydney Harbor, it marked the establishment of the first British colony in Australia and Britain’s claim to the land (which was considered free territory, belonging to no one).

The Commonwealth of Australia was established January 1, 1901. January 26 was nationally recognized as “Austraila Day” in 1935, though it did not become a public holiday until 1994, and then with some controversy given the treatment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who populated the area for some 40-70,000 years prior to the arrival of the first Europeans in 1606.

Motion picture exhibition arrived in Australia in 1896 with the first public presentation at the Athenaeum Hall on Collins Street in Melbourne. Within 10 years, Australia had produced what is generally believed to be the first feature film: The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906). The 60-minute feature was directed by Charles Tait and told the story of the bushranger[3] Ned Kelly. From this strong beginning, a very active film and television industry has grown up Down Under. Notable commercial successes from Australian cinema include Crocodile Dundee, Moulin Rouge!, and Babe, while major award-winners include Picnic at Hanging Rock, Gallipoli, and Shine. Well-known Australian actors include Errol Flynn, Paul Hogan, Judy Davis, Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Jackman, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Toni Collette, Margot Robbie and a variety of Hemsworths.[4]

In 2012, Stuff magazine assemble a list of the “25 best Australian movies ever,” which you may wish to consider the core of the Australian oeuvre.

25 Best Australian Movies Ever

Title Year EIDR ID
Walkabout 1971 10.5240/7AA0-9E33-B1CA-2EDF-E994-O
Picnic At Hanging Rock 1975 10.5240/6F49-F7C7-DD08-64F9-7A77-8
Mad Max 1979 10.5240/BDDA-6CEF-00DB-DDB6-7B58-A
Gallipoli 1981 10.5240/2D72-26E5-6AEE-4A59-49E2-J
Crocodile Dundee 1986 10.5240/F49B-69AD-D5F8-7691-4683-C
Dead Calm 1989 10.5240/BCB2-5C42-ACE3-69C4-1D58-J
Romper Stomper 1992 10.5240/FA79-A724-5781-2943-B1EE-X
Strictly Ballroom 1992 10.5240/436B-EC58-317B-F2E2-2764-O
The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert 1994 10.5240/09A6-95E7-E3BA-876B-1B14-7
Muriel’s Wedding 1994 10.5240/7068-4C76-6C76-4CB4-60ED-I
The Castle 1997 10.5240/B28A-3DAC-DB7D-2F57-A2C2-P
Dark City 1998 10.5240/5B88-49A3-F074-4267-87CD-2
Chopper 2000 10.5240/31E9-C32F-CF93-372B-E449-1
The Dish 2000 10.5240/1050-AFB0-5146-8A8F-452E-N
Moulin Rouge! 2001 10.5240/4F43-1BB5-91C8-62A7-E46D-4
Rabbit-Proof Fence 2002 10.5240/1DEF-D2E2-9826-88F1-0BB6-6
Japanese Story 2003 10.5240/4840-F739-EFC2-76DC-A63B-X
Ned Kelly 2003 10.5240/2E1A-0E90-FE91-2167-F389-V
Somersault 2004 10.5240/3151-0424-4D54-614F-6A3E-A
Wolf Creek 2005 10.5240/7925-0BF7-3254-A846-D6B8-O
The Proposition 2005 10.5240/D142-232A-603A-E5C3-8BAC-B
Candy 2006 10.5240/2266-555D-E480-2254-89CC-Q
Love The Beast 2009 10.5240/AA5B-E0EC-3A02-B8E3-F8FE-9
Animal Kingdom 2010 10.5240/9232-E3E8-7073-42E5-0923-9
Snowtown 2011 10.5240/E761-B154-3BC9-CC4A-1F67-Z

[1] The continent was first called New Holland by Dutch explorers in 1606, then New South Wales by later British explorers in 1770. It was not called Australia until 1804 when the English explorer Matthew Flinders gave it that name following his 1803 circumnavigation of the continent.

[2] Captain Phillip had been directed to establish the colony at Botany Bay, a fact later commemorated as the name of Khan Noonien Singh’s space ship in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) and the earlier Space Seed (1967), but did not care for the shallow harbor and swampy land, so moved the colony to what he felt was a better location in the Sydney Harbor area of Port Jackson.

[3] Bushrangers were originally escaped convicts who took to living in the Australian bush. The term was later used to describe anyone who practiced armed robbery as a vocation.

[4] Mel Gibson got his start on the Australian stage and screen, but is American-born.