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Bush Bikes — David S Vadiveloo, 2002

In a sleepy aboriginal settlement in central Australia three boys ride around together, on one bike. They cycle through the dusty landscape, across a bridge along the road to town. Once there, they gaze longingly through the window of a bike shop. The boys stop off at a rubbish tip and rummage around for bike parts, collecting tubes, spare wheels and seats. They use the collected materials along with natural resources, improvised tools and plenty of ingenuity, to construct two new bikes.

Use our video tutorial on 'Bush Bikes' to help you get started: Lesson guide - Bush Bikes.

You will also find a complete National 3 Literacy unit on 'Bush Bikes' here.

Classroom Activities

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  • Sound On/Vision Off. Play a short sequence from the film with sound only and ask pupils to write down what they hear. Then watch the film to compare ideas with actual images.
  • Ask students to predict what the film will be about. Perhaps discuss whether this will be fiction or documentary.
  • Freeze frame the film at 00:18 seconds, on the long shot of the landscape and cars. Discuss the definitions of ‘establishing shot’. Discuss what this opening shot establishes in terms of location and setting. As you play the rest of the film, look out for other examples of establishing shots in the film.
  • Why are there shots of birds in the opening few shots of the film?
  • Screen the first six shots in the opening sequence of the film. Look carefully at each of these six shots and draw them on a storyboard. What does the opening sequence tell us about who the film is about, where they live, and what kind of people they are?
  • Look for examples of close-ups and extreme close-ups (the Bike-Building Sequence between 02:09 – 02:56 is a good example). Why are they in the film? What are they adding: detail or intensity? Do they highlight any important messages in the film? What do they tell us about the boys’ strengths and skills?
  • Note the predominant colours while watching. What are they and why might they be important?
  • Would the film benefit from having dialogue between the boys throughout the film? What would it add to the film?
  • How can music add mood to a film? Draw examples from several different films then discuss the music in ‘Bush Bikes’. What mood does it give the film?


  • Does the landscape give us any clues about where the film is set?
  • How does the film represent young people? Does it reflect a negative or positive attitude towards young people?
  • How do your students’ lives compare with the lives of the bush bike boys?
  • Make a list of the ways in which they spend their leisure time. How is this similar to or different from the way the boys in the film spend their leisure time?
  • As a group or class discussion, talk about how young people are represented in the media.
  • Find a newspaper article about young people in this country. How does it represent youth? Is it an accurate or fair representation?



  • Write a script for a voice-over to go with Bush Bikes.
  • Write instructions for constructing a ‘bush bike’.
  • Design an instruction leaflet entitled ‘How to Make a Bush Bike’ using Publisher or similar software.


  • Using digital cameras, create a photographic captioned storyboard that outlines a film on how a group of young people in the local area spend their leisure time. Or make the actual film!
  • Prepare a script and storyboard for a non-fiction film on something that you do in your spare time.


  • Create a poster to advertise this film to other students in your school.


  • Research aboriginal culture.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-002-000-091-C
Project Ref RLS-12
Year of Production 2002
Genre Documentary
Curriculum Areas Health and Wellbeing, Modern Languages, Social Studies, Technologies
Director David S Vadiveloo
Country of Origin Australia
Medium / Content Live Action, Non-Fiction, Colour, Sound
Themes Relationships, Culture / Society, Work / Ambition, Food / Environment, Poverty / Class
Clip Length 04:23
Clip Length 04:23
Age Group P1-P4, P5-P7, S1-S3, S4-S6