Railways At Work

Australian Workers Film Guide


This government documentary showcases the Australian railway network in the 1960s and its importance to the nation in transporting passengers, mail, agricultural products such as wool, wheat and livestock, as well as manufactured goods and raw materials.

There is extensive footage of trains transporting people and goods across the country, as well as railway workers involved in making the system function. Scenes are shown of signal men, gangers repairing tracks, yardmen coupling up carriages, safety inspectors examining the undercarriage, engine drivers, station managers, train loaders and porters, skilled tradesmen building locomotives and carrying out maintenance, as well as shunters directing railway trucks. The film profiles the building of a new route in the country with surveyors planning the route, and tracks being laid and stabilised. Trains are seen transporting passengers and freight across the country. Livestock is loaded onto to trains, the Queensland ‘sugar train’ travels through the countryside, logs are loaded onto trains in Tasmania, while coal is loaded at Leigh Creek Mine in South Australia and the open cut mines at Yallourn and Morwell in Victoria.

Some of the special railways services are also profiled, including the Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie Pickaback rail service, which shows workers securing vehicles to train carriages and the ‘tea and sugar’ train supplying mail and supplies to railway workers and families living on the remote Nullabour, with women and children the meeting train. The Western District New South Wales health clinic train visits isolated towns and mothers bring their babies for care.  The film concludes with extensive footage of steam, diesel and electric trains.

Special Notes/Achievement

This is the first film in the Transport In Australia series.

Produced by the Film Division of the Department of the Interior. An Australian National Film Board Production.

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 15 mins 18 secs

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