Documentaries you must see before traveling to Australia

Jan. 26, 2024

Australia, a land of stark contrasts and stunning beauty, has long captured the imagination of travelers and nature enthusiasts alike. From its sprawling beaches to dense bushlands, vibrant cities, and rich indigenous cultures, Australia offers a journey of discovery like no other. For those planning to explore this magnificent country or simply wishing to travel virtually, a well-curated list of documentaries can be the perfect starting point. These films not only showcase the natural and cultural wonders of Australia but also provide invaluable insights into its diverse ecosystems and heritage.

Australia’s documentaries offer a window into the country's unique landscapes, wildlife, and cultural heritage. They range from breathtaking aerial views of the coastline to intimate encounters with its diverse fauna, including the iconic kangaroos and koalas, as well as lesser-known species. Beyond wildlife, these films explore Australia’s bustling urban centers, indigenous history, and environmental conservation efforts, providing a comprehensive view of the country’s many facets.

These documentaries do more than just highlight tourist destinations; they invite viewers to contemplate Australia’s complex environmental and cultural narratives. They encourage a deeper appreciation of the country's natural wonders and an understanding of the importance of preserving its delicate ecosystems and respecting its ancient indigenous cultures.


Top 10 Documentaries on Australia:



Australia's Ocean Odyssey

This gripping docuseries takes viewers on an epic journey along the East Australian Current, showcasing the diverse marine life and spectacular oceanic landscapes along Australia’s eastern coastline.


Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story

This captivating documentary delves into Australia's complex relationship with its most famous marsupial, the kangaroo. It explores the species' role in Australian identity, the ecosystem, and the controversial practices surrounding kangaroo management.


Great Barrier Reef

Narrated by David Attenborough, this series provides an in-depth look at the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world's most incredible natural wonders. It showcases the vibrant coral ecosystems and the myriad of species that call the reef home.


Lousy Little Sixpence

This poignant documentary tells the heart-wrenching story of the forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families, a dark chapter in Australian history known as the Stolen Generations. These children were taken away to work as servants for white families, a practice rooted in deeply ingrained racial prejudices and policies of assimilation. The film also highlights the resilience and resistance of the Aboriginal community, focusing particularly on the rise of significant Aboriginal organizations in the 1930s, like the Aborigines Progressive Association. This organization played a crucial role in advocating for the rights of Aboriginal people, marking the beginning of a critical fight for justice, recognition, and reparation. Through interviews, archival footage, and personal stories, the documentary sheds light on this painful past while also celebrating the strength and activism of the Aboriginal community in their enduring struggle for equality and recognition of their cultural heritage.


In My Blood It Runs

A boy dark hair

This intimate and compassionate documentary provides a profound observational insight from the perspective of a 10-year-old Aboriginal boy living in Alice Springs, Australia. Caught between two worlds, he navigates the complexities of balancing his traditional Arrernte/Garrwa upbringing with the demands of a state education system. The film delicately captures his daily life, illustrating the challenges he faces in reconciling his cultural heritage with the expectations of modern Australian society. Through his eyes, viewers are offered a unique glimpse into the rich traditions of the Arrernte and Garrwa communities, along with the struggles of indigenous people to maintain their identity and values in a rapidly changing world. This documentary is not just a story of cultural conflict; it's an exploration of identity, resilience, and the journey of a young boy finding his place in both his traditional community and the wider world.


Australian Big Birds

This amazing shot documentary is a visual and auditory masterpiece, capturing nearly 140 species of Australia's big birds in their natural habitats. The film is the result of ten years of dedicated fieldwork and half a century of experience in birdwatching and photography. Each bird is presented with its unique song or call, alongside ambient sounds of their environment. The narration provides detailed insights into the birds' features and behaviors, making it an invaluable tool for identification and learning. This video guide stands out as the first of its kind in Australia, offering a comprehensive look at the country's large avian species. It's perfectly suited for use on mobile devices for on-the-go identification or a more immersive experience on desktops.


Tasmania, A World Apart

Embark on a visual odyssey through Tasmania's untouched splendors. From its evolution-inspired wonders to the majestic geological formations that sculpt its landscapes, Tasmania reveals itself in layers. Ancient forests stand tall alongside rugged mountains, while serene lagoons mirror the sky's hues. The coastline, kissed by turquoise waters, beckons with its dreamlike allure. Amidst the remnants of Gondwanan flora, the island's unique fauna, highlighted by the iconic Tasmanian Devil, thrives in this Eden of the Southern Hemisphere.


Carnarvon, Back in Time

The majestic sandstone cliffs stand as silent sentinels to a time long past, housing ancient flora, fauna, and a wealth of cultural narratives. These towering formations reveal the tales of the Earth's oldest civilization, offering a bridge between the present and a distant, ancient era. This documentary takes viewers on an evocative journey through this timeless landscape, retracing the footsteps of its primeval inhabitants and unearthing the profound heritage they left behind.


Great South to Sacred Land

Embark on an awe-inspiring expedition through some of Australia's most treasured landmarks. Begin with the scenic wonders of the Great Ocean Road, before diving deep into the heart of Coober Pedy, the gleaming opal capital of the world. Witness the stunning hues and formations of The Breakaways, stand amongst the enigmatic Devil’s Marbles, and glide through the serene waters of Katherine (Nitmiluk) Gorge. The journey culminates in the resplendent Uluru-Kata-Tjuta, a beacon of the Red Centre and a sacred testament to the Anangu people's enduring spirit.


Servant or Slave

This poignant documentary, directed by Steven McGregor, sheds light on the dark era of early 20th-century Australia, where Aboriginal girls were forcibly taken from their families to serve in white households. It features the heartrending stories of five Aboriginal women who endured this brutal policy of assimilation, revealing their experiences of abuse and trauma. Their powerful testimonies not only recount a history of systemic oppression but also challenge contemporary Australia to confront and heal from these deep, generational wounds. McGregor's film transcends a historical narrative, offering a profound commentary on identity, resilience, and the ongoing struggle for justice and reconciliation within the Aboriginal community.


These documentaries offer more than just visual spectacles; they are an invitation to understand and appreciate the beauty and complexity of Australia. As the Aboriginal proverb goes, "We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love... and then we return home." Let these films be your guide in observing and learning about the breathtaking land of Australia, growing in your understanding of its wonders, and loving the experiences it offers.


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