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Video Clip Synopsis:
125 million sheep are spread across Australia. 90 thousand tons of lamb and 3 million tons of wool are exported annually. Australia truly rode to prosperity on the sheep’s back.

1min 20sec

The Post War Wool Boom is an excerpt from the film Men and Mobs (20 mins), produced in 1947.

Men and Mobs: Sheep and the Australian economy cannot be separated. Men and Mobs relates the growth of Australia’s flocks, starting with the few Spanish merinos that John Macarthur mated to the progeny of Indian sheep brought out by founder Captain Philip. Using song and anecdote, the film builds up the story of the men and mobs of sheep that provide fleece for our textile mills and materials for clothing a nation.

Men and Mobs is a National Film Board Production. Produced by the Department of Information for the Commonwealth Department of Commerce and Agriculture.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: SOSE/HSIE
Year: 7-8
Strand: Place and space
Theme: Environment & Work

Key Concepts

Economy, environment, sustainability, propaganda, change over time, values

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Place and space – Environmental impacts
NSW:Geography Stage 4, 4G2, 4G4
NT:Environment 4.2
Qld:Place and Space Level 5
SA:Place, space and environment 4.4, 4.5
Tas:World Futures – Creating sustainable futures. Standard 4
Vic:Geography 5.2, 5.3, 5.4
WA:Place and space
Time, continuity and change
Natural and social systems

Context / Background Information

In 1945 World War 2 ended. The Australian economy had been greatly affected by the war. The disruption of international shipping had forced Australia to develop its own manufacturing industries, rather than rely on imports from overseas. However, Australia's main export revenue still came very much from its primary products, with wool the most significant component. Wool at this time was the backbone industry in the Australian economy. The post war wool boom led Australians into a brighter future. "We rode to prosperity on the sheep's back." It was this more secure financial environment which gave the baby boomers a start to a far easier life than their parents.

Sheep, drovers, stockmen and the Kelpie dog are a rich part of our cultural heritage. Waltzing Matilda is our alternative national anthem. Sheep and the environment have been the subject of many Australian paintings. Our fine merino wool produces sought-after fashion wool garments here and overseas.

Discussion Pointers

  1. What is your image of the ‘environment’? Record your ideas in a list of single words or short phrases. This will give you an indication of your own definition of and values towards the environment. It will be a modern one.
  2. Watch the extract with the sound turned off. List your reactions and impressions, in single words or short phrases, particularly to the scenes showing the environmental activities shown.
  3. Now watch it again with the sound on. What are the main messages of the video clip? If your own ideas are different from those actually presented in the video clip, try to explain why.
  4. How do the film-makers persuade you to accept or adopt these messages? Consider such elements as the music, the type of shots used, the narrative.

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. For 150 years sheep were a significant part of the Australian economy. They had a huge impact on the environment, both in the way that land was cleared for them as pasture, and then in the way sheep used the land. Make a list of the benefits and the harm that sheep might have had on Australia and Australians.
  2. Use an atlas to discover the distribution of sheep in Australia today. Why are they distributed in this way? What climatic conditions are needed for successful sheep grazing?

Modules That Use This Clip

SOSE/HSIE Year 9-10, SOSE/HSIE Year 7-8, The Arts Year 11-12