Narrated by Hugo Weaving, this series charts the history of Australia using a unique collection of cinematic moments brought to life for the first time in stunning colour. Reflecting on its character, attitudes, politics and struggle to value its Indigenous and multicultural past, the series tells the story of how Australia came to be the nation it is today.
Modern Australia is born on 1 January 1901 when six British colonies unite. Agriculture and mining transform the country despite a preference for white people limiting the availability of labour. Explorer Douglas Mawson, swimmer Annette Kellerman and the men fighting under Britain in World War I are the new nation’s first heroes.
Sport and comedy offer some relief from the hunger and hopelessness of the Great Depression – at least until war breaks out. Australia sends troops to Europe to fight beside Britain but when Japan invades Pearl Harbor the nation turns to America for protection and pulls troops out of the Middle East. Fighting reaches Darwin.
The government adopts the slogan “populate or perish” after World War II and immigration changes the face of Australia. This influx of labour, as well as the diversification of the economy, delivers increasing prosperity. National identity is embraced but Indigenous people face racism and discrimination – and their children are removed, creating the stolen generations.
The public supports Australia joining the Vietnam War – but not conscription – until the toll becomes apparent. Awareness grows about discrimination and the extent of everyday racism against Indigenous people – and about land rights. Gender inequality in the workforce and elsewhere also becomes an issue in the 1960s.