When the 20th century was new, Australians took active part in most of their amusements. At home they would play musical instruments, or they would play cards or other games, they would watch magic lantern shows, or they would read. If they went out it was likely to be to a dance, unless it was for spectator pleasure such as the theatre, a circus or a concert.
At the start of the century, too, disc and cylinder recording techniques began to improve, and it was not long before the great singers of the European opera houses, concert halls and music halls could be heard in Australia. Soon the horn of a gramophone or a phonograph sprouted in every up-to-date drawing room.
Motion pictures were another novelty when the Commonwealth began, but it was not long before Australians were watching Australian made films – two of the world’s earliest feature films, “Soldiers of the Cross” and “The Story of the Kelly Gang”, were shot in Melbourne before 1910.
By the late 1930s one Australian in 16 had a radio set and the next two decades were a golden age of radio stars and everlasting serials. Then in 1956 came television. Entertainment was back where it had been at the start of the century – in the home. But now Australians just sat back and watched.
Pay a visit to our museum to see our current display, “Family Fun in the pre-Digital Age”, where our Magic Lantern is on display – among many other interesting items. Grandparents come along and relive old memories – and bring your grandchildren with you to show them how you had fun in the “olden days”. Check out our picture gallery for more photos from the display.