Natural History | 1940 | Sound | B/W
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This is a simple film in the 1940's, about Australia's wildlife, featuring the kangaroo, koala, emu, and birds; the ibis and the black swan, and it mentions the goanna and the water snake. It is presumed it is a wartime production geared to the 1 million United States servicemen who were stationed in Australia during the Second World War as it compares some aspects of Australia to those in the United States.
Several kangaroos of various size hop and graze about in a man-made and artificially lit area. Two kangaroos groom each other, a third lies in the grass and a fourth scratches himself. A mother kangaroo helps her joey into her pouch. A young kangaroo's head peeps out of its mothers pouch. An American eagle swoops down near a small kangaroo. One kangaroo wriggles on his back, others surround him.
Three horsemen on gallop down a country road. Kangaroos leap across a paddock which has deep grass, bush land is in the background. One kangaroo bounces through the grass. A group of the marsupials reach up to speeds of forty miles per hour and leap up to 25 to 30 feet as they hop along. One kangaroo is followed out onto a plain with less grass.
Back in the bush land a flock of emus runs across the grasslands. A man on a horse races after a kangaroo. They run into more treed country. The kangaroo keeps ahead of the stockman. Kangaroos are in the bush land. They bounce through more open country. The kangaroo hops along using the thrust of its powerful tail. Emus and kangaroos are flying over the grassland, the kangaroo passes the emu whose feathers flop up and down and shine in the sun. Four emus are running through the grassland. A dozen or so horsemen wearing hats race their horses over the grassy plains. The kangaroo in the man-made area is alerted to something and stands upright, his ears twitching in different directions. A close-up shows his head turning and his ears twitching.
A picturesque view from the ridge of one side of a valley shows the grasslands and the rocky ridge on the other side, eucalyptus frame the scene. The flat valley floor has the occasional tall gum tree. Up one of the trees is a koala, eating gum leaves in the dappled shade of the eucalyptus. The koalas sleepy eyes do not match the determination of his leaf eating. The koala leaps from one branch to another in the tree. She walks on all fours on the ground with a baby on her back. A low shot shows the other with her baby's front legs wound around her neck. With her baby, the mother crosses a horizontal log. The koala climbs from the log up a small sapling trunk, the baby follows. As the mother climbs the sapling, the baby koala climbs up too, and once again clambers onto her mother's back. There is a close-up of the baby koala's seemingly precarious grip on her back. Now two mothers attempt to climb up the same sapling trunk, there are two older-style cars parked near a farmhouse in the background.
Two baby koalas look bewildered. One decides to waddle off. He is seen from the rear on all fours ambling along in an ungainly fashion. There is a close up of a koala munching on eucalyptus leaves. A koala is sitting on a branch. She feeds herself. An old-fashioned wooden seesaw sits in the yard of the farmhouse, it has a koala placed on its either end, as one walks up the wooden plank the other end, on which sits the second koala, it drops to the ground unceremoniously. The two koalas have been placed at the centre, and look uneasy as their movements causes the seesaw to move. A koala is at the end of the seesaw, his front paws have been placed on the iron handles of the seesaw and someone is pushing it up and down.
Two koalas are wrestling playfully on the grass. One has the other down underneath him. Two girls in white frocks are holding a koala each, with gum leaf branchlets. One koala is reaching across for the leaves of the second girl. The pair are on a horizontal log of wood, one is gazing around, the other is using his hind paw to scratch around his face.
A koala's sleepy eyes are in contrast to his almost frenzied chewing. Another sits in a forked trunk, almost asleep. He becomes drowsier and drowsier. Another is lying out on a small bough, almost asleep. A koala prepares to sleep and his eyes close. Another is squashed awkwardly into a forked branch, his legs and paws twisted forward, his eyes are shut as he dozes.
In western New South Wales a pretty stream runs in a natural bird sanctuary. A large area of swampland with tall trees provides a haven for up to 20 million birds. Two horsemen ride through the watery swamp. They disturb a large flock of birds. Many ibis roost in the trees and shrubs of the swamplands. Several sit on the bough of a tree. Others fossick for food by the water. The black and white birds rise in a flock and fly away. The sky almost blackens with the huge flock. A black swan takes off from a small pond in a paddock. Several swans rise into the sky in graceful flight.
The swamplands have patches of grasslands that rise out of the water, and these are almost covered by nesting ibis. A close up shows the close proximity of the reed nests, all contain two or three or four eggs the size of chickens eggs. The sun warms the eggs up and they hatch. Another shot shows the swamp waters under the nests. A young ibis hatches. Several eggs are breaking. Two baby ibis have just hatched. A horseman wades his horse through the swamp waters. The horseman points to reeds in the water. He wades into the water and uncovers the little mound of floating reeds with his hands and reveals an ibis nest. It has three eggs in it, and the mother has covered them. The swamplands have many hovering ibis. A nest has two empty egg shells and two baby birds struggling together.
Four mutton-birds sit on the bough of a tree. Their nest is in the fork of a branch, it contains six speckled eggs. Their only enemy is a goanna which crawls at the base of the gum tree. The big lizard climbs the trunk. A water snake swims in the surface of the swamp waters.
A large flock of ibis rises to the air. Higher in the sky they bank and turn almost in unison. The flock's reflection is seen in the water. A group of ibis almost all in profile rises elegantly into the air. Thousands swirl in the sky above the marshes. Again they are seen rising. They fly overhead.
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