Three-channel work 'Beneath Roads' being watched by audiences at ACMI
'Beneath Roads' (2024) installation view, ACMI. Photo by Phoebe Powell

ACMI presents

Beneath Roads



Tue 25 Jun – Sun 25 Aug 2024

10am – 5pm

Freedom, heartache and exploitation – what does the road on screen tell us about the Australian Identity?

The road movie is central to Australian cinema. Whether it’s the Ford Falcon hooning down the highway in Mad Max or hoofs pounding the highlands in The Man from Snowy River, traversing the country reflects a sense of adventure and national advancement.  

But beneath the roads connecting the country are Indigenous walking paths and trading routes, from the Omeo Highway to the Bicentennial and Birdsville tracks, that have existed long before cities or cinema. These passages were often exploited to transport natural resources, connect infrastructure and progress colonialism. Historical accounts often reframe them as stockmen or cattle routes, denying First Peoples knowledges and legacy.  

The Australian road movie has had a similar effect on our cultural consciousness, symbolising freedom and control over a perceived harsh land. It has become a cinematic trope and cultural export, a celebration of progress that excludes First Peoples relationship to these vital navigational networks.  

Beneath Roads is a three-channel work that reveals the Indigenous experience and innovation underlying our national identity. By juxtaposing archival government films, iconic Australian road movies and newly captured footage of the Aboriginal motorcycle club, The Southern Warriors, Beneath Roads reinserts First Peoples knowledge legacies and representation into our cinematic canon, recontextualising our relationship to history, culture and Country. 

An ACMI Production, developed by Jenna Rain Warwick


9 mins 7 secs


FREE (drop in)


Gallery 3, Ground Floor
ACMI, Fed Square

How to get there


Three-channel video

Suitable for

All ages welcome

Learn more about the road movie and Australian Identity

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