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A Farmer's Life in Drought

Video clip synopsis – It hasn't rained for 18 months and 5,000 sheep have already perished. Farmer Max Russell is desperate to save his remaining flock. He hands them over to a drover.
Year of production - 1968
Duration - 2min 2sec
Tags - environment, habitats, sustainability, water, see all tags


A Farmer's Life in Drought

How to Download the Video Clip

To download a free copy of this Video Clip choose from the options below. These require the free Quicktime Player.

download clip icon Premium MP4 drought_pr.mp4 (15.0MB).

ipod icon Broadband MP4 drought_bb.mp4 (7.1MB), suitable for iPods and computer downloads.

Additional help.

buy iconYou can buy this clip on a compilation DVD.

About the Video Clip


A Farmer’s Life in Drought is an excerpt from the film Drought (4 mins), a segment of the series Australian Diary, produced in 1968.

Drought: A look at how grazier Max Russell is affected by drought and copes by sending his sheep out with drovers.

Australian Diary: Filmed between 1947 and 1970, the Australian Diary series records how Australians have lived, worked and played over the years. Each of these short black-and-white films provides a snapshot of Australian life at the time, from rural areas and small towns to capital cities. Informative, entertaining and often amusing, the subjects range from serious to quirky and cover everything from innovations in agriculture, industry and science to sport, art, education, fashion, flora and fauna. There are a total of 136 diaries with 440 individual stories, providing a picture of a proud, diverse, idiosyncratic and constantly changing nation.

Australian Diary is a National Film Board Production. Produced by the Department of Information.

Curriculum Focus


Reading standard: Students read and view imaginative, informative and persuasive texts that explore ideas and information relate to challenging topics, themes and issues.

Writing standard: Students produce, in print and electronic forms, texts for a variety of purposes, including speculating, hypothesizing, persuading and reflecting.

Speaking and listening standard: Students express creative and analytical responses to texts, themes and issues. They identify main issues in a topic and provide supporting detail and evidence of opinions.

The activities in this learning module are relevant to the Interdisciplinary Learning strand of Level 5 Communications (Listening, viewing and responding standard; Presenting standard) and Thinking Processes (Reasoning, processing and inquiry standard; Creativity standard).

The activities are also relevant to the Physical, Personal and Social Learning strand of Level 5 Interpersonal Development (Building social relationships standard; Working in teams standard) and Personal Learning (The individual learner standard; Managing personal learning standard).

This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


Australia is the driest inhabited continent on Earth (Antarctica is the driest overall). Our climate is highly variable – across the continent generally, as well as from year-to-year.

Drought is an abnormally dry period when there is not enough water to meet the needs of people in that area.
There have been several notable droughts throughout the 20th century in Australia and many are remembered for the effect that they have had on the sheep and cattle populations

This video clip was taken during a long drought that occurred between 1958 and 1967. In the last two years of that drought there was a 40 per cent drop in wheat harvest, a loss of 20 million sheep, and a decrease in farm income of $300-500 million.

One of the effects of drought combined with over-grazing, is to strip the land of vegetation. This can then lead to soil erosion and rising ground water which causes salinity.

Classroom Activities

  1. Write a 50-word summary of the video clip and include what an audience would best appreciate from the video clip.
  2. Discuss and identify the message(s) about drought that you think the filmmaker is trying to convey.
  3. List as many points as you can from the video clip under the headings: facts, problems and solutions.
  4. Write a new 500-word voice-over script that suits a modern teenage audience but keeps the same message(s) about drought and farm work.
  5. In two columns, list the images the filmmaker uses to show the effects of the drought on people and animals.
  6. Do you think that the music suits the topic? Give reasons why or why not.
  7. Brainstorm and list other images you think may have been included to make a more effective film.

Further Resources


Go to: Bureau of Meteorology
Mandy Chang (director), Remembering Rain, Film Australia & ABC, 2005