This is a printer friendly page
Free for educational use

The Art of Cattle Droving

Video clip synopsis – An artist and two drovers capture the beauty of 1200 head of cattle making their way across the outback in the last great Australian cattle drive.
Year of production - 1988
Duration - 1min 52sec
Tags - cars, Indigenous Australia, The Dreaming, see all tags


The Art of Cattle Droving

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 cattle_pr.mp4 (13.8MB).

ipod icon Broadband MP4 cattle_bb.mp4 (6.5MB), suitable for iPods and computer downloads.

Additional help.

buy iconYou can buy this clip on a compilation DVD.

buy iconYou can buy the program this clip comes from.

About the Video Clip


The Art of Cattle Droving is an excerpt from the film The Last Great Cattle Drive (58 mins), produced in 1988.

The Last Great Cattle Drive: Australia’s last great cattle drive started in May 1988 with 1200 head of cattle on a journey from Newcastle Waters in the Northern Territory and ended 2000 km to the east in Longreach in September. This film is a tribute to the Australian drover and a celebration of the cattle drives that opened up the Territory and were a feature of outback life until the advent of road trains.

The Last Great Cattle Drive was produced by Film Australia.

Curriculum Focus


Reading standard: Students read, view, analyse, critique, reflect on and discuss contemporary and classical imaginative texts that explore personal, social, cultural and political issues of significance in their own lives. They will also read, view, analyse and discuss a wide range of informative and persuasive texts and identify the multiple purposes for which texts are created. They explain how texts are shaped by time, place and cultural setting in which they are created.

Writing standard: Students write persuasive texts dealing with complex ideas and issues and control the linguistic structures and features that support the presentation of different perspectives on complex themes and issues.

Speaking and listening standard: Students engaged in discussion, they compare ideas, build on others’ ideas, provide and justify other points of view, and reach conclusions that take into account of aspects of an issue.

The activities in this learning module are relevant to the Interdisciplinary Learning strand of Level 6 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 6 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


The European occupation of the inland area of northern Australia was stimulated by the availability of cheap pasture in areas that could be used to raise cattle.

While the land was often only able to sustain small numbers of head per hectare, the huge area of land meant that large numbers of cattle could be grazed.

However, the cattle grazing areas were remote from markets and the cattle had to be driven over long distances to road or rail points and then transported to ports or slaughter yards.

Aboriginal people provided the bulk of the labour used in the industry. This was because Aboriginal people saw this as a way of remaining in contact with their own country, the area where they were born, and also because cattle owners could not attract other workers to the area in any numbers. The Aboriginal workers, despite their skills, were paid very poorly, though support was given to their extended families to live in the area.

In the 1970s the federal government ruled that Aboriginal stockmen were to be paid the full minimum wage. This greatly increased the cost of running the cattle stations, to the point where many became unable to survive. At the same time increased technological developments, such as the introduction of helicopters and trail bikes for mustering, reduced the number of people needed to drove cattle.

In the video clip we see one of the last large musters and movement of cattle to market.

Classroom Activities

  1. Brainstorm your image of cattle droving and outback cattle country. What is your overall image?
  2. Play the video clip extract with no sound. What image or message is being presented?
  3. Now play the video clip with the sound on.
    1. How do the drovers in the clip react or respond to the country and their job? Create a list of words that summarise the image of the outback cattle country presented in the video clip. What is the overall image?
    2. Compare this to your perceptions as recorded in the brainstorm and discuss the similarities and differences. For example, do you think that your image of the country is harsher than theirs? Or that you do not stress the beauty like they do? If your images are similar, try and explain why. If they are different, try and explain why that is.
  4. The filmmaker stresses an image of great beauty. How is this image created? Consider such elements as the narration and the interviews, music, the types of film shots presented, the lighting.
  5. The video clip presents a variety of ways of responding to the same experience, and communicating that experience. These include:
    a painting
    moving images
  6. Look at each as it is presented in the video clip. Draw up a table summarising the strengths and limitations of each for communicating ideas and emotions effectively. Which do you find the most effective in the clip? Why?
  7. Imagine that you have been asked to create filmic impression of droving in outback cattle country. You only have the images presented in the video clip — but you can change the narration and change what is said in the interviews. Create an outline of a script that will achieve this.