Vintage footage of 1940s Australia found in garage sale

We’ve all sifted through the local garage sale before to see what treasures we could find, but this Californian hit the
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We’ve all sifted through the local garage sale before to see what treasures we could find, but this Californian hit the jackpot with a video reel of an Australian holiday from the 1940s.

The amazing footage was found at a front-yard sale in San Jose, California and has left historians gobsmacked.

Historians Tim Peddy and Rick Helin who found the reel, say it’s rare to find such excellent quality footage from that long ago.

“I passed on them initially, but Tim went back three days later and noticed they were still among the last items remaining to be sold,” Helin said.

“He then picked them up for $20USD just on a lark, believing as I did, that they were probably worthless geography films for educational purposes and mass produced. They obviously weren’t.

“In fact, they are quite remarkable — not only the Australian films, but the Hawaiian films as well. New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Mexico, Central America, and South American films are also included in the collection.”

Little is known about the original photographer but it is thought the footage was taken by a man travelling with his wife, likely aged in their 50s.

“We still have no idea who the photographer was, but we can surmise he was someone of great importance and access to enough money to travel extensively at this time of his life,” Helin said.

“In addition, only the wealthy could afford such a quality 16mm movie camera at this moment in time, but more importantly, it was very expensive to purchase film and to process these reels into a final product to be projected on screen.”

See the footage below and tell us: what do you think about this amazing video? What’s the best thing you ever found at a garage sale?

  1. Rosalind Battles

    Times have sure changed since then, the thing I noticed most, apart from the main street of Sydney was the lack of people..go there now and it is just brimmed to over full of people everywhere. They were good old days before immigration

    • Jeanette Pullar  

      A wonderful snapshot of Sydney and beyond – so many years ago and before the harsh reality and losses of WWII really set in. In regard to the comment “… the good old days before immigration”, immigration had been happening for many years prior to 1940. Without it, many of us who are not indigenous wouldn’t be here. Certainly the origins are broader but so are the many positive outcomes. And weren’t we all so slim!

  2. Rosalind Battles

    Times have sure changed since then, the thing I noticed most, apart from the main street of Sydney was the lack of people..go there now and it is just brimmed to over full of people everywhere. They were good old days before immigration

  3. Vivienne Beddoe

    Wonderful footage! Look at the traffic and weep. How elegantly dressed were the women outside David Jones.

  4. Vivienne Beddoe

    Wonderful footage! Look at the traffic and weep. How elegantly dressed were the women outside David Jones.

  5. Libbi Elliot

    My dad was in the Australian Army at that time and my Mum was working in a munitions Factory in Newcastle. My grandmother would have been madly knitting socks and baking lamingtons to send the boys overseas and my grandad would have been attending his market garden, they kept the whole street supplied with free fruit and vegetables

  6. Libbi Elliot

    My dad was in the Australian Army at that time and my Mum was working in a munitions Factory in Newcastle. My grandmother would have been madly knitting socks and baking lamingtons to send the boys overseas and my grandad would have been attending his market garden, they kept the whole street supplied with free fruit and vegetables

  7. Trish Daley

    What amazing footage, it was interesting to see the ladies going shopping with their hats on and all dressed in their finest, and the music WE ARE ONE which I love, however that is fast unraveling with the riots never seen before in this wonderful country of ours. It saddens me to think our once very relaxed life style will never be experienced by our Grandkids. Very sad!

  8. Trish Daley

    What amazing footage, it was interesting to see the ladies going shopping with their hats on and all dressed in their finest, and the music WE ARE ONE which I love, however that is fast unraveling with the riots never seen before in this wonderful country of ours. It saddens me to think our once very relaxed life style will never be experienced by our Grandkids. Very sad!

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