"The past is never fully gone. It is absorbed into the present and the future. It stays to shape what we are and what we do."
Sir William Deane, Governor-General of Australia, Inaugural Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture, August 1996.

Fire-Awareness Magic Lantern Slides

In its 1929-30 Annual Report, under the title of Propaganda, the Forests Commission noted that it had:

“Devoted considerable attention to the total prevention of bush fires, and an important step in this direction was the organization, for the first time in Australia, of a ''Bush Fire Prevention Week", which was held at the beginning of the danger season this year. Into this "Week" the whole of the publicity resources at the command of the Commission were concentrated, and valuable assistance was received from the Shell Company of Australia, which supplied 15,000 windshield stickers, the British Australasian Tobacco Company, which donated a large supply of stamp stickers, and many other firms which drew attention to the campaign in their current newspaper advertisements.
"His Excellency the Governor, the Rt. Hon. Baron Somers, K.C.M.G., D.S.O., M.C., assisted by the Rt. Hon. the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Cr. H.D. Luxton, officially opened the "Week" at the Melbourne Town Hall before a large and representative gathering. Luncheon talks were given to city clubs, lectures were broadcast by the principal wireless stations, and articles on the need for fire prevention appeared daily in the Melbourne press.
"Reports from country centres indicate that the campaign was excellently received in the rural districts, and numerous requests have been received for it to be made an annual function.
"One of the most gratifying features of the ''Week" was its low cost to the Government, the major part of the publicity material being donated by private firms."

Raising public awareness of bush fires continued with publicity programs such as, from 1934 for a couple of years, the Postmaster General's Department cancelled postage stamps with an anti-bush fire slogan; the Victorian Railways Department and many city firms displayed special fire posters; and Bryant and May posted messages on match-box covers.  Also in the 1930s enamel road-side fire pevention signs (about 2m X 1m in size) were erected on most roads leading to forest areas.

From 1930 and up until about the 1950s the Forests Commission produced a series of 'Magic Lantern' slides promoting bush-fire awareness which, by arrangement with Val Morgan, were projected in picture theatres around the State.

As indicated in the images below, some of the slides were made by GUNN’S of Collins Place, Melbourne; and it appears that GUNN’S name was blacked out on others; those without attribution were made by T. W. CAMERON of Bourke Street, Melbourne.  

Although specific dates of manufacture can’t be determined, one slide depicts Sir Albert Arthur Dunstan KCMG, who was Premier of Victoria between 1935 and 1945.  The FCRPA appreciates the foresight of Andrew Pickworth (DELWP - Arthur Rylah Institute) who found these slides and a trove of photographic negatives (copies of some of which are also included in this website) and digitised them.



Contact the Editor