Australian Workers Film Guide


An in-depth account of the 1929-30 Lockout on the Northern District coalfields of New South Wales, this documentary recounts the events surrounding the 15 month dispute, which culminated in a bloody day of violence as police fired upon protesting miners.

Presented and narrated by noted Australian actor Chris Haywood, who starred in Richard Lowenstein’s Strikebound (1984), the film is a highly detailed account of the dispute, its origins and motivations, its opposing forces and socio-political consequences. In graphic detail, the film depicts the violence on that fateful day at Rothbury on the 16th of December 1929 when police opened fire on protesting miners, killing Norman Brown and wounding many others. It also featured the subsequent violence meted out by police and ‘basher gangs’ following a government crackdown on the coalfields.

Since no archival footage exists of the dispute and police shooting, the film draws heavily on re-enactments and dramatised elements, interspersed with non-specific archive of mining and industrial relations of Australian coalfields. Of particular interest are the interviews recorded with individuals who participated in the events at Rothbury, such as notable Australian unionist Jim Comerford. There is also an extensive use of historical photographs, newspaper headlines, drawings, paintings and unique visual effects.

Special Notes/Achievements

Commissioned by the Mineworkers Trust.

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 56 mins

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Film Producer: Greg Hall, Diane Michael,

Film Writer: Alan Murray, Paddy Gorman, Diane Michael,

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