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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 - Australian landscape, change and continuity, environment, land, 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.

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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


Focus: The unique characteristics of Australia’s physical environments and the responses of people to the challenges they present.

This Digital Resource can be used to achieve the following outcomes:
A student:
5.1 identifies, gathers and evaluates geographical information
5.2 analyses, organises and synthesises geographical information
5.3 selects and uses appropriate written, oral and graphic forms to communicate geographical
5.4 selects and applies appropriate geographical tools
5.5 demonstrates a sense of place about Australian environments

This material is an extract. Teachers and students should consult the Board of Studies 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. Why would this clip be of use to a teacher wanting students to learn of the unique characteristics of Australia’s physical envronments and the responses of people to the challenges they present?
  2. Australia is uniquely a one country continent. In how many other countries could a muster of such length be carried out?
  3. Locate both Newcastle Waters and Longreach on a map of Australia and draw in the general path of the muster from west to east.
  4. The film clip highlights not only the vastness of the continent but also its beauty to those who get to know it. What scenes in the clip stand out as highlighting both vastness and beauty?