Film Archives

1 October, 2010 at 10:22 am 6 comments

If a picture tells 1000 words, then what about moving pictures?

I’ve mentioned my ancestor (Leslie) Hay SIMPSON, who played the role of Ned Kelly in the 1934 film of When the Kellys Rode and then was lost at sea in 1937, soon after making the film Mystery Island on Lord Howe Island. The National Film & Sound Archive has many audiovisuals at, including clips from Mystery Island. Hay Simpson can be seen in (he’s the drunk with the bottle).

However you don’t need an actor ancestor to find something interesting on film. World War 1 troops heading to the docks in Sydney can be seen in the 1915 footage at

Crowds at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932 can be seen at

Even educational resources are available. Excerpts from a documentary retelling the story of the Victorian gold rush can be seen at

Have a look at the offerings on the Australian Screen website. Try entering a town or suburb name of interest, and see if there is historic film footage available. Think about the significant events in which ancestors might have been involved, and even if you can’t identify an ancestor, such historic footage gives you an opportunity to see things through their eyes – and isn’t that one of our goals of  family history research?

"Mystery Island" (1937)

Hay Simpson

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. curatorialassistant  |  2 November, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Dear Kerry, we have a few photographs you may be interested in of the cast of Mystery Island departing Sydney. We think this photograph may be of Leslie Hay Simpson (second from right).
    Would you be able to confirm this?

    Kind regards,
    Nicole Cama
    Curatorial assistant
    Australian National Maritime Museum

  • 2. Kerry Farmer  |  2 November, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    I’m not certain but I don’t think that your photograph has correctly identified (Leslie) Hay Simpson. Photos I have seen of him have a rounder face.

  • 3. Kerry Farmer  |  7 November, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Thanks Nicole for sending me the link to your own blog post about the cast of ‘Mystery Island’. Most interesting insight into the story.

    • 4. curatorialassistant  |  7 November, 2012 at 4:48 pm

      Thank you Kerry, really appreciate your help in trying to identify your ancestor, Leslie Hay Simpson. Hopefully with a closer study of the images we will be able to find him.

  • […] to the magazine, no hint was given as to what those reasons were. Abbot and Desmond Hay (real name Leslie Hay Simpson), set off from Lord Howe Island in the 16-foot motor launch Mystery Star on 6 October 1936. The […]

  • 6. Virginia  |  1 October, 2013 at 12:37 pm

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