[Passengers Leaving s.s. Brighton, at Manly, Sunday Afternoon]


[Passagers débarquant du ss Brighton, à Manly, Dimanche après-midi]

[Passengers Leaving s.s. Brighton, at Manly, Sunday Afternoon]

[Desembarque de pasajeros del s.s. Brighton, en Manly, Domingo por la tarde]


1 Lumière HC Aus 001  
2 Marius Sestier  
3 04/10/1896 [17m]
4 Australia, Sydney  

hc aus 001presse


27/10/1896 Australia, Sydney, Salon Lumiere Marius Sestier   
24/11/1896 Australia, Sydney, Criterion Theatre Marius Sestier  
18/12/1896 Australia, Sydney, 478 George Street Marius Sestier  
20/02/1897 Australia, West Australia, Perth,  Ye Olde Englishe Fayre Marius Sestier  
30/05/1897 Australia, Queensland, Brisbane, Telegraph Buildings Marius Sestier  
08/1897 Australia, Queensland, Bundaberg Marius Sestier  
27/08/1897 AustraliaNSW, Wollongong, Town Hall Marius Sestier  


Passengers disembark the ferry S.S. Brighton after it berths at Manly


Amusements. The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 October 1896


In contemporary Australian press this film was recognised as the first Australian film to be made and screened for the public on Tuesday evening 27 October 1896 at the Salon Lumiere. Believed to have been filmed on the Sunday 4 October 1896, of the Eight-Hour Day long weekend, it was not screened until the final presentation of Sestier’s first tour in Sydney at his Salon Lumiere. The film was not part of the main program but was held to the last moment and presented as a special event. The audience was suitably appreciative and wished Sestier and Barnett the best of luck in their venture to make more films.

The film was not accepted into the Lumière Catalogue and unfortunately, the [Passengers Leaving s.s. Brighton, at Manly, Sunday Afternoon] has not survived. Based on newspaper reports we can only imagine its content as they reflect the title: this was a film of passengers disembarking a ferry at Manly. In 1896 Manly was Sydney’s pre-eminent seaside resort and on holiday weekends crowds paid their 6d fare and packed the ferries to get there. The ferries docked in the calmer Manly Harbour which was linked to the Manly Ocean beach by the Corso which was a mix of private homes, guesthouses and shops and seaside activities included boating, fishing and shrimping.

With the large influx of people from all over the state into Sydney for the long weekend and with the legitimate theatre and the cinematographe closed as they would be every Sunday the crowds coming into Manly would be huge. This would be the perfect opportunity to film Australians at leisure on a day of significance in a recognisable location.


Amusements. The “Olde Englishe Fayre”.
The Inquirer and Commercial News, 26 February 1897, pg. 7


Amusements. Lumiere’s Cinematographe.
The Brisbane Courier, 31 May 1897, pg.6


Typical scene of Manly Wharf taken from a vessel, c. late 19th C to early 20th C
Glass Slide. Courtesy Private Collection

And indeed the crowds were huge, the ferry company estimated between 13,000 and 14,000 people travelled to Manly over that weekend on their new saloon steamers including the s.s. Brighton and extra trips were added for the day. Based on similar contemporary films, Sestier’s film may have captured the hustle and bustle of the day, the throngs of people leaving the ferry in anticipation of an enjoyable day, laughing and talking as they made their way past the camera, perhaps one or two staring down its lens. We may have seen ladies stepping carefully from the gangplank onto the wharf. We may have noted the movement of the ferry swaying and dipping on the water as it disgorges its passengers.

One unexpected result from this film was a wife recognising her husband on the screen with another woman. Despite his denials she watched the film many times with opera glasses but still refused to accept his explanation. 


The Bulletin (Syd) 19 December 1897

National Film & Sound Archive of Australia



Advertisements. Shipping. Manly. Manly. Manly. The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 October 1896, Front page. Fares and times for the 8 Hour Day Weekend 

Champion, Shelagh OAM and George Champion OAM. Manly’s Two Camera Obscuras. July 2003, 4pp.

Long, Chris. Australia’s First Films: Facts and Fables. Part Three: Local Production Begins. Cinema Papers No 93, May 1993, pgs. 34-41, 60-61

Manly – The Queen of Australian Watering Places. The Australian Town and Country Journal, 25 February 1899, pgs. 30-35

Mead, Tom, Manly Ferries of Sydney Harbour: The Seven Mile Ships. Child & Associates, 1988, 181pp.

Metherell, Terry and Shelagh Champion. Manly Wharf. 2005, 2pp

Records, [ca. 1880]-1971. Port Jackson and Manly Steamship Co.

“St Magnus”. Manly to Broken Bay: A Pictoresque and Healthy Trip. The Australian Town and Country Journal, 11 November 1893, pgs. 19-20, 22 ad 31

Seguin, Jean Claude et Michele Aubert eds. La Production Cinématographique des Frères Lumière, BIFI, 1995, 557pp.

Sestier Tournée. In this account book a trip to Manly is noted to have taken place on Sunday 4 October 1896.