Local Treasures: The UoN Hunter Film & Sound Archive

Day Shift – 10/06/2014 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Interviewees: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, University of Newcastle (Australia)

The University of Newcastle’s Cultural Collections (housed within the Auchmuty Library) holds a significant collection of audio-visual archives consisting of sound and film reels in a diverse variety of formats. Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, discusses the challenges involved with the archival preservation and digitsation of sound and film, and the future plans and dreams for the establishment of a University of Newcastle Hunter Film and Sound Archive that aims to safeguard some of the historic audio-visual legacy of Newcastle and the Hunter Region.

Broadcast Notes:

The film above is a snippet from a series of discs recently donated to the University by Mr Pete Smith. Peter was a former employee of the Oak Factory at Hexham.

This is the first of a number of sequences used in the film “The Story of the Hunter Valley” [1951] It was digitised from the original 16mm reels by Pete Smith and donated to the University of Newcastle on a series of DVDs.

Thanks to TROVE, we believe the film footage contains the dream sequence material shot in King Edward Park, Newcastle and recounts the story of “Johnny” a lad who is sick of city life and wishes a life on the land.

From the Singleton Argus Wednesday 8 August 1951 p2: “In his wanderings through a city garden he sees in more vivid perspective the work of soil and nature. He falls asleep and dreams that he meets a farmer who gives him a letter to another farmer in the Upper Hunter, where Johnny goes bush and soon becomes a son of the soil. Interesting scenes of the Kia Ora Stud Farm at Segenhoe, work at the Glenbawn Dam, modern methods of preventing soil erosion by contour ploughing, drainage, vegetable growing, haymaking, and modern methods in dairying highlighted the shots of the film. The secondary industries covered included the B.H.P. Steelworks, Stewart and Lloyd’s Pipe Works and the Bradford Textile Mills.”

This film is part of a number of productions financed by the Hunter Valley Co-operative Dairy Company Ltd.

Here is another short colour silent film, shot by renown Newcastle photographer, Ron Morrison, of the Oak stand at the Muswellbrook Bike Races, sometime in the 1960s perhaps.

The University has custody of a number of these films, that have been donated over the past months, and all from the lost archive of the Hunter Valley Co-operative Dairy Company Ltd. A number have been digitised professionally including:

We have also had eight reels of outtakes from the “We Live in this Valley” (1962) and will be uploading the digitised results soon.

Other film collections include the Super 8 film archive of Jen Christensen, donated in 2011, and the University of Newcastle Graduation Videos, a large portion that exist on Super VHS Format, as well as a series of important 16mm films and audio recordings held across the collections.


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