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Learning to farm

After surviving the bloody battles on the Western Front and elsewhere, able-bodied returning soldiers were offered opportunities to become farmers.

Year:1919

LocationDookie and Merbein, Victoria, Australia

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Learning to farm

After surviving the bloody battles on the Western Front and elsewhere, able-bodied returning soldiers were offered opportunities to become farmers.


Year: 1919

Length: 1:05

Production Company: Amalgamated Pictures Australasia Pty Ltd

Source: National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

Catalogue Reference: NFSA title: 10517


Location: Dookie and Merbein, Victoria, Australia

Tags: repatriation, agriculture

Subject: repatriation, agriculture


As part of the push to resettle and retrain returned soldiers, the Australian Department of Repatriation invested in vocational training and reskilling of diggers on a massive scale.

This clip from a Department promotional film shows training in agricultural skills and farm management at Dookie Agricultural College, north of Melbourne, which is still operating today. Returned men and their families are also shown breaking in leasehold farms at Merbein outside Mildura, Victoria.

The new farmers had varying degrees of success. For many, the combination of war injuries, psychological trauma, and the marginal nature of the land due poor water supply made it a difficult life. Many farmers simply walked off. It wasn’t until a similar scheme was tried after the Second World War that a real success was made of this now rich agricultural area.

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Learning to farm

  • 0:00

    Intertitle: Farming classes at Dookie Agricultural College

  • 0:03

    Returned soldiers feeding pigs

  • 0:20

    Returned soldiers feeding hens

  • 0:38

    Intertitle: Returned Soldiers commencing operations at Merbein

  • 0:43

    Cooking over an open fire

  • 0:49

    Eating in front of a tent

  • 1:02

    Camera pans the farm

  • 1:23

    Intertitle: After eighteen months' cultivation

  • 1:27

    Scenes of the farm