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Aboriginal People in the Gibson Desert

From the website Australians At Work.
Video clip synopsisAboriginal People in the Gibson Desert is an excerpt from the film Desert People (51 mins), produced in 1966. In 1966 a few Aboriginal families were living nomadic lives in the heart of Australia's Gibson Desert.
Year of production - 1966
Duration - 2min 2sec
Tags - Australian History, change and continuity, Indigenous Australia, indigenous cultures, sustainability, see all tags

play Warning - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers should exercise caution when watching this program as it may contain images of deceased persons.

Aboriginal People in the Gibson Desert

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About the Video Clip


Aboriginal People in the Gibson Desert is an excerpt from the film Desert People (51 mins), produced in 1966.

Desert People: When this film was made, there was still a handful of family groups living a nomadic life somewhere in the heart of the Gibson Desert. Desert People tells of a day in the life of two such families. Djagamara and his family were filmed where they had camped, beside an unusually plentiful supply of water in an otherwise dry creek bed at Badjar in the Clutterbuck Hills. Minma and his family were taken back to Minma’s country from Warburton Mission to record how they had lived until just a few months before. This extraordinary film offers a rich experience of Aboriginal culture as the families share their traditional knowledge.

People Of The Australian Western Desert: In 1965 and 1967, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies sponsored film trips by the then Australian Commonwealth Film Unit (now Film Australia) to the Western Desert region of Australia. The object of these trips was to film the daily life of nomadic Aboriginal people living in the Gibson Desert of central Australia. Although this land is one of the most arid regions of Australia, the people who lived there regarded it as rich in resources.

People Of The Australian Western Desert is an Australian National Film Board Production. Produced by the Australian Commonwealth Film Unit for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies

Curriculum Focus


Outcomes for this module

  • Students will recognise the centrality of ‘country’ in shaping Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ identities and investigate how British colonisation of Australia affected the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Students will discuss and anlayse how the film clip presents Indigenous culture and other portrayals of Aborigines in written and media forms.

National Civics and Citizenship Curriculum Statements year 5

To access the complete Civics and Citizenship National Statements of Learning go to Year 5 Statements of Learning

Background Information


In the 1960s a film crew made an *ethnographic record of the dwindling *Indigenous population of the Gibson desert area. Indigenous people had lived in the area for thousands of years in a traditional way, before the destruction of that way of life in the late twentieth century.

  • Indigenous – born or produced naturally in a land, native
  • ethnographic – documentary style filmmaking that records information about a society or culture

Classroom Activities

  1. List five points of information about Indigenous culture given in the video clip.
  2. Discuss the aspects of Indigenous cultural life shown in the video clip and how they differ from your life.
  3. What are your reactions to the video clip — do you admire the traditional lifestyle shown? Is it sustainable (able to be continued)? Give reasons for your answer.
  4. This video clip is taken from a film made in 1966. What other documentary films or TV programs have you seen depicting traditional Aboriginal life? Is there any evidence of bias in this or other depictions of Aboriginal life you have viewed or read about?
  5. What are the central aspects of Australian indigenous identity? To what extent do they differ from non-indigenous Australian culture? How can the two be reconciled as being the identity of an Australian citizen?

Further Resources


Go to Aboriginal Studies WWW Virtual Library for information about Aboriginal Culture and historical perspectives.

Go to the module Aboriginal People Make a Canoe and Hunt a Turtle for another archive Film Australia clip depicting Aboriginal traditional lifestyle.

Go to the module An Outback Policeman’s Life for another Film Australia depiction of an Aboriginal living and working with other Australians in the 1950’s.