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Sunday Too Far Away (1975) HD online

Sunday Too Far Away (1975) HD online
Language: English
Category: Movie / Drama
Original Title: Sunday Too Far Away
Director: Ken Hannam
Writers: John Dingwall
Released: 1975
Budget: AUD 271,000
Duration: 1h 34min
Video type: Movie
A hard-drinking but hard-working gun shearer leads a group of Outback sheep herders into striking after wealthy landowners attempt to drive them from their territory.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Thompson Jack Thompson - Foley
Max Cullen Max Cullen - Tim King
Robert Bruning Robert Bruning - Tom
Jerry Thomas Jerry Thomas - Basher
Peter Cummins Peter Cummins - Arthur Black
John Ewart John Ewart - Ugly
Sean Scully Sean Scully - Beresford
Reg Lye Reg Lye - Old Garth
Laurie Rankin Laurie Rankin - Station hand
Lisa Peers Lisa Peers - Sheila Dawson
Gregory Apps Gregory Apps - Michael Simpson
Doug Lihou Doug Lihou - Rousie
Ken Weaver Ken Weaver - Quinn
Curt Jansen Curt Jansen - Wentworth
Phyllis Ophel Phyllis Ophel - Ivy

The Port Augusta Town Hall doubled as both a film set and a production headquarters while location shooting was being undertaken in the Flinders Ranges district. The interiors of a pub bar, complete with running beer, were created by art director David Copping in the town hall's basement

A two-and-a-half (approximately 150 minute) version existed before its Sydney Film Festival Premiere. A two hour director's cut played at this Sydney Film Festival on 1 June 1975. The final release cut runs just over an hour and a half (94 minutes). Australian film historian, critic and curator Paul Brynes has said: "Thirty minutes of the original film were cut by producers, and some critics suggest the removal of important subplots might have diminished the story. The 'director's cut' has never been made available to the public."

The first Australian film to be invited to the Cannes Film Festival.

The main tagline for the film: "Friday night... too tired. Saturday night... too drunk. Sunday... too far away" is called The Shearer's Wife's Lament.

Leading man Jack Thompson sings the title song.

For the final edit, producer Gil Brealey, who was in charge of finalizing the film, swapped the opening and closing scenes around. According to the book 'Australian Film 1900-1977' by Ross Cooper and Andrew Pike, "A scene in which Foley [Jack Thompson] crashes his car and walks away from it in disgust was also moved from the end of the film to the beginning".

Reportedly, an average day's total crew cost on this picture was $3,500 (Australian).

Director Ken Hannam once said of the bad weather that affected this film's shoot: "It was incredible! We just had to chuck the schedule out of the window. The thing that hurt most was that it was a film about heat and somehow we had to retain that feeling. The twenty-minute drive to the shearing shed would take two hours there and two hours back. We were always covered in mud. It was particularly hard on Matt Carroll, the production manager who was really acting as field producer...The dry, parched areas we'd seen during the recces were muddy lakes. So much of the film was improvised around what we had at our disposal. It's a big tribute to cast and crew that it worked out at all".

According to 'Home Cinema', Director "Ken Hannam had been working for British television for six years (making episodes of Z Cars (1962) and Dr. Finlay's Casebook (1962), amongst others) when he was sent John Dingwall's treatment, then called simply 'Shearers'. Dingwall's original treatment would have made a very long film: half of it dealt with the characters of the shearers, with a second half covering the 1956 shearers' strike. Dingwall reduced his screenplay in length, with only a few scenes at the end touching on the strike. (A final caption tells us how the strike was resolved.) Hannam's cut ran about half an hour longer than the final version, which was edited to its present running time by producer Gil Brealey, who removed at least one subplot. This version played at Cannes in the Director's Fortnight and won the 1975 Australian Film Institute Award for Best Film (beating Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) amongst others). Hannam and Jack Thompson have spoken of how superior the longer version was. As Hannam's cut has never been shown publicly, it's impossible to tell if they are right or whether Brealey, less close to the material, was".

This picture was one of fifty Australian films selected for preservation as part of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia's Kodak / Atlab Cinema Collection Restoration Project.

The first theatrical feature film produced by the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC). The SAFC was established and incorporated three years earlier in 1972. Prior to this feature film, the SAFC had produced short films and documentaries such as Kangaroo Island (1974) and The Players (1974).

Brian Kavanagh was originally touted to direct the movie.

Sheep were shorn outside the theatre at the film's Opening Night Sydney Film Festival Premiere screening on the evening of 1 June 1975.

First ever Australian film to be selected for the Director's Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival. This film made the final three shortlist for top honors in this event.

The majority of the cast had to have their hair cut 1950s style short-back-and-sides as well as learn to shear sheep, though lead actor Jack Thompson had worked on a sheep station prior to making Sunday Too Far Away (1975).

First theatrical feature film directed by Ken Hannam who previously worked in television.

First of three theatrical feature films that director Ken Hannam made for the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC). Hannam's second was Dawn! (1979) whilst his third and final film for the SAFC was Robbery Under Arms (1985).

A half-hour television special entitled The Making of 'Sunday' (1975) was produced by the South Australian Film Corporation as a promotional tie-in for this movie.

This film is considered one of the key films of the Australian New Wave cinema of the 1970s.

Director Ken Hannam said that lead actor Jack Thompson turned down a lucrative part in an American movie so that he could appear in this film.

The place where the shearer's shear their sheep in this movie was the Carriewerloo Station in South Australia's Flinders Ranges. This film was made and released about fifteen years after The Sundowners (1960) which was the first and only other earlier film that had used the station and it's shearing shed for filming in a movie. Reportedly, at time of this film, about 20,000 sheep would be shorn there a year.

At the Australian Film Institute Awards in 1975, this film came away wining three awards including Best Film, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. In those days, the Best Film award was called the Golden Reel Award. Jack Thompson's performance for both this film and his other movie Petersen (1974) tied for the Best Actor Award (known then as the Hoyts Prize for Best Performance) with Martin Vaughan for Billy and Percy (1974). Reg Lye's Supporting Actor gong was categorized as an Honourable Mention.

DOP Geoff Burton's cinematography was inspired and influenced by classic Australian paintings such as 'Shearing the Rams' by Tom Roberts and various bush landscapes by Russell Drysdale.

First of five theatrical feature films that British television director Ken Hannam made in Australia. The subsequent pictures were Break of Day (1976), Summerfield (1977), Dawn! (1979) and Robbery Under Arms (1985).

This movie was made and released about twenty years after the Australian mid-1950s era in which it was set.

'Allmovie' has said of this film that it was "...the first Australian film of the 1970s to gain international acclaim, paving the way for the Australian New Wave and the success of movies such as The Last Wave (1977) and 'Breaker' Morant (1980)".

'VideoVista' (Gary Couzens) has said of this film that "John Dingwall's original treatment gave equal time to the strike, which would have made for a three-hour film. [Director Ken] Hannam's original cut, never publicly shown, ran half an hour longer than the present version, which was shortened by the producer".

Writer John Dingwall based his original story for this film on the experiences of his brother-in-law who was a "gun-shearer" of sheep.

In this film Jack Thompson plays Foley who is a "gun shearer". A "gun-shearer", also known as a ringer or a professional shearer, is a shearer who can shear more sheep in a day than his fellow shearers. An average amount of sheep that a shearer might shear in a day may be around the one hundred mark. A gun-shearer is said to be able to shear about double this amount or even more than two hundred a day. The "gun" shearer can shear a sheep in two or three minutes and can shear the fleece without seriously cutting or marking the animal. The shearing time can be even less than two minutes in the elite arena of competitive shearing.

First produced screenplay for a feature film for writer John Dingwall who had previously worked in television. His later feature films as a writer would be Buddies (1988), Phobia (1990) and The Custodian (1993).

Second lead starring role in a theatrical feature film for actor Jack Thompson. Thompson's first was Petersen (1974).

The people of the South Australian township of Quorn in the Flinders Ranges, who at the time of filming had a population of about 1000, assisted with this film by providing facilities for the production as well as appearing in the movie in small roles and as extras.

The production shoot for this film was scheduled for six weeks but with weather delays, ran to about eight weeks. This movie was filmed between March and May 1974.

Reportedly, Jack Thompson once said to Australian film critic David Stratton in Autumn 1976 that this film's two-hour second longer cut (the first ran 2½ hours) was emotionally shattering and was one of the finest if not the finest of achievements of the Australian cinema.

Reportedly, director Ken Hannam's salary on this film was $6,000 (Australian) and was without residuals.

A number of film writers and critics have likened this film about Australian male mateship to the work of Howard Hawks who specialized in making movies of macho masculine culture such as men-dominated war films and westerns.

This film's cast is male-dominated and it's story centers around Australian men shearers in 1950s Australia. This movie only features two women characters, Lisa Peers as Sheila Dawson and Phyllis Ophel as Ivy, a barmaid.

The shearing stalls featured in this film, shot in the shearing shed at Carriewerloo Station in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia, have been commented as being rather unique. The shearing barn featured about twenty stalls whereas in reality such typical shearing houses (at least of this 1950s period) actually featured only about six to eight shearing stalls.

Jack Thompson received top / first billing, Reg Lye received second billing, Max Cullen received third billing.

The post-production problems associated with this film are notorious and legendary within the Australian Film Industry. Such a marred and controversial process actually resulted in the creation of one of the classics of the Australian Cinema, winning four Australian Film Industry awards including Best Film, garnering international acclaim, and is historically considered as launching the modern wave of Australian Cinema onto the world platform.

The post-production controversy allegedly arose around the editing of the film due to unworkable sub-plots, a slow pace, miscasting and poor performances in a couple of roles, extensive length and some technical faults. There were allegedly extensive creative differences at different times between the filmmakers.

According to The Last New Wave (1980) by David Stratton (page 103), in a conversation between actor Jack Thompson and film critic David Stratton in the autumn of 1976, Thompson stated that in its longer version, this film was "emotionally shattering" and "one of the finest achievements of the Australian cinema, if not the finest."

A two-and-a-half (approximately 150 minute) version of "Sunday Too Far Away" existed before it's Sydney Film Festival Premiere cut of about two hours. The Final Cut runs just over an hour and a half (94 mins). Apparently, this original cut no longer exists.

All the male cast members had to have their heads shaven to the short-back-and-sides hair look of the 1950s so effectively, like the sheep in "Sunday too Far Away", the shearers also got shorn .

This picture, according to screening notes for the 2018 Adelaide Film Festival, "was the feature that launched the South Australian Film Corporation, confirming the genius of Gil Brealey, Matt Carroll and Ken Hannam, and brought Australian cinema back to Cannes for the first time since 1965."

In summary form, the film's achievements were reflected by the following accolades, according to the South Australian Film Corporation's 'Showcase'. The picture was the "winner of [the] Australian Film Institute Award for Best Film, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor and was "selected for [the] Cannes Film Festival Director's Fortnight."

Debut theatrical feature film lensed by Australian cinematographer / director of photography (D.O.P) Geoff Burton.

This movie's original script title was 'Shearers'.

Torrential rain and flooding produced serious problems during the filming of this movie which was set in hot, dry and barren conditions. At least at one stage, it rained constantly for two weeks.

A title card at the start of this film sets the time and place as "Australia 1955".

The film's closing epilogue states: "The Strike lasted nine months. The Shearers won. It wasn't the money so much. It was the bloody insult".

Reviews: [19]

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    The first time I saw this film was in my capacity as a projectionist on board a Royal Naval Warship. By the end of the first reel the dining hall (Cinema) was deserted except for myself and one other everyone having been put off by the lack of action. Because there was one remaining viewer I was obliged to show the entire movie. We were richly rewarded because this film is full of finely crafted observation well portrayed by fine actors expertly directed. A rich vein of understated comedy runs just beneath the surface occasionally erupting most notably in the hand laundry scene and again in the undertaker scene. Altogether a worthy film which should have received greater acclaim
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    A delightful Australian film produced in the 1970's that captures the true essence of the Australian character and Australian bush in the 1950's. This is an unashamedly "male" film that results in the cry "Ducks on the Pond" when female's venture into their domain.

    Sunday Too Far Away is almost a documentary of one 1955 shearing run in outback South Australia. Minor events like the coming and going of the first Chef become immensely interesting when viewed through the lives of these characters.

    If you are interested in Australian film, this one is not to be missed.
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    Wooden Purple Romeo

    Sunday Too Far Away (STFA) is one of those movies that all but disappeared on its initial release in the UK during the late 70s in spite of the late resurgence of Aussie films at that time which included Picnic At Hanging Rock.

    STFA is hard, tough & grim movie, set on a sheep shearing farming community in the Australian Outback. The little town is dependant on sheep to keep their bleak economy ticking over but when for the men who have to spend 9 or 10 hours a day in back-breaking conditions shearing the sheep life is tough and the money relatively poor.

    So when the leader of the shearing gang, Foley (a truly brilliant performance by the much underrated Jack Thomson) demands a pay increase for his team the owners try to bring in scab labour from out of town, which only causes friction amongst the shearing crews, the owners and the townspeople.

    So that's the story, but what is so marvellous about the film is the conditions the men have to work in; that they have to compete with each other with scoreboards kept on display so that rivals can see who has shorn how many sheep per day. Foley is the Sheep King but he has to fight to retain the crown with up & coming farmers ready to take it from him.

    And then once their work is finished there's very little left for them to do apart from drinking beer in the bar or sitting out in the shade swatting flies and talking about women or a better life.

    It truly is a bleak suffocating film, especially with the hot sun & the stifling heat the men work under. Just watching the movie made me feel clammy & tense. And yet the movie is excellent on all levels, not only with the routine storyline, but also with the characters and the cinematography.

    Director, Ken Hannam, does a superb job moving the film the along at either a very lethargic pace (to suit the mood & feel at the time) or he steps up a gear when the men are at their work shearing the bemused sheep.

    With this kind of simple storyline you'd be forgiven for thinking it could ever be interesting. But think again because this is the old Australia where life was tough in the Outback.

    I recommend it highly.

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    This film is what real cinema should be. A great script, great direction, great photography and great acting. Although the story is simple the character studies from the superb cast keep you glued to the screen.

    I recently put this in a competition for a personal top 10 movies of all time. I also included that other Aussie masterpiece "Newsfront".
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    One of the few Australian movies that shows the outback and the men who worked there as they really were, without trying to romanticise and play down the brutality of the place and time. Great performance by Jack Thompson as the ageing gun shearer.
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    This movie would definitely make my personal top ten. Along with "The Odd Angry Shot", "The Club", and "Newsfront" this is one of the highlights of that golden age of Aussie movies made in the mid 70s to the mid 80's.

    Jack Thompson is magnificent as the chief shearer (I think the technical term is "Ringer") of an itinerant gang of shearers who arrive at sheep station to work. The wonderful photography captures the heat and dust of the landscape as well as the harsh living and working conditions.

    The main dramatic event in the movie centres around a strike by the shearers and the owners attempts to break it using scab labour. In this aspect it gives a nod to the political agenda portrayed in "Newsfront". There are some great character roles by minor players, the sub plot involving the awful cook is a little gem. Which pretty much sums up the film, not a major epic or Hollywood rubbish, just a good honest well made movie that bears repeated viewing.
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    This 1970s look at the plight of shearers in the Australian outback of the 1950s was lucky, indeed, to do good box-office and win a couple of AFI film awards. It's a simple tale of Foley, a gun shearer, who looks ahead at his future and dislikes what he sees. What ended up on-screen is of an acceptable quality. Thompson's acting is good, for the period of his career. (Although he should never have sung the opening credit song.) He's well supported by a gang of other Australian actors, some of whom would also go on to wide acclaim, like the uncredited John Hargreaves. Sadly, this film was 'finished off' by one of the producers, Gil Brealey, who shuffled many scenes around and took out one vital sequence that has Foley explaining his fears (therefore his character's motivations) about his future as a shearer. What ends up on screen is a succession of set-pieces, just like that other Australian film 'The Odd Angry Shot'. Both are way too fragmented and their narratives are all over the place. The big deal over who is going to be the 'Ringer' in the shed, is never shown. If ever a film needed a 'Director's Cut' then this is it. Had the producer left the edit alone this good Australian film could have been an absolute classic of its genre and period.
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    As somebody who worked with Australian sheep shearers in 1969 as a "pommie tar boy" in Queenbeyan ACT i can say from experience that this film is so close to life it's unbelievable. The characters in the film could have come straight out of my personal memory bank drinking and gambling on Friday and Saturday night and flat broke on Sunday ready to start work all over again on a Monday.Only to finish a shed with the same amount of money they started with none. As in the film the station owner come"cockie" treats you with contempt like the scum he thinks you are.But one thing the film puts across well is the Australian "mate ship".
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    There's a slow moving shot halfway through SUNDAY TOO FAR AWAY taken from inside the shearing shed looking through a window out into the yard. The camera pans across the yard before pulling back into the shearing shed, rising as it continues panning across the shed interior, following the action before settling on a particular character. It's a beautiful shot and a lovely example of the stunning cinematography that gives the film a palpability in which you can really feel the heat, dust and flies.

    I watched the film for the first time this evening and was blown away by its lyricism, claustrophobia and grandeur. I grew up on a dairy and sheep farm in 1970s Northern Victoria when the kind of hard working, hard talking, hard drinking labourers who travel where the work is was still very much a cultural tradition in country Australia. The people in this film display an authenticity, brashness, sense of humour, bravado, timidity and mateship that is readily recognisable. It all feels genuine. It's no wonder the film was so readily embraced by Australians on its initial release.

    Aspects of the film also reminded me of Tim Burstall's 1979 film, LAST OF THE KNUCKLEMEN in its exploration of class in a tough homosocial workplace culture. There's also a humorous bum-wiggling scene that reminded me of a shot from another Jack Thompson film, THE SUM OF US (Burton 1994) in which he is vigorously stirring a saucepan over a stove. I would not be surprised to learn that the shot in THE SUM OF US is a homage to SUNDAY TOO FAR AWAY.
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    I am glad that I can sometimes revisit Australia as it once was through films like "Sunday Too Far Away" and "Newsfront". At the time of their making, we still had the faces and voices that rang true to the 50's - 60's prior to the influence of television that forever changed the way we talk and even the way we walk. Jack Thompson and the rest of the male cast moved in the way Australian men and, in particular, shearers moved. Compare this with the cast of "Kokoda". As my mother commented, Australian men of the 1940's just didn't look so muscular or move with such rigidity. They were a Depression generation - wiry with a casual slouch born of being raised on lean rabbits and fish and hardships that knocked pretentiousness sideways.

    However, "Sunday Too Far Away" is far more than a sentimental journey. It is a view of life that is at once tragic and humorous. It also has genuinely touching moments when seemingly hard and practical men display their concern for each other in an understated manner that is indicative of their rejection of overt displays of sentimentality. They all know that they are probably going to end up like old Garth if they remain shearers. "That's shearing for you, Foley" says Garth as he muses about the fact that he has hardly seen his wife and son for over 30 years. Garth's death is symbolic for all the shearers and their indignation at the undertaker not providing "the proper vehicle" to bear his body on his final journey reflects their insistence upon their dignity as shearers. As in the strike action, "it wasn't so much about the money as the bloody insult."

    But I intellectualize too much. I love this film for many reasons but most of all because it could have been made for people like me in mind. It is about yarns that my uncles told and characters who were like my father who had been a "rousie" on a shearing floor after leaving school at the end of year eight even though he had been the dux! Times were such that work was valued above all else - life was work.

    In the 1980's, I once rented a farmhouse when I taught in rural Australia. One of the conditions of my tenancy was that shearers would share the house in the shearing season. These shearers were tough, smelled of lanolin no matter how they washed and ate mountains of food all cooked up in a giant iron skillet. And they argued about everything - who was a gun and who was not, which cocky had treated them the worst, which type of sheep were the easiest to shear. However, when I asked them about the authenticity of "Sunday Too Far Away", they always agreed that it was the best evocation of the life of a shearer they had ever seen - praise indeed for the film.(Not that they would have used the word "evocation")
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    I've seen this 30 times! Great script, cast and photography. This is what Oz filmmaking was about -- Aussie flicks for Aussies. Our history, our culture, our actors, our funding and our own psyche. This movie personifies everything that my great country once was: Work Hard; Play Hard and She'll be Right Mate!
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    SUNDAY TOO FAR AWAY is a matter-of-fact drama from Australia, that is perhaps one of the most Australian-feeling films I've watched. The good old boy Jack Thompson plays a sheep shearer who organises a number of his fellow workers into a strike at the conditions imposed upon them by wealthy landowners; a stand-off ensues. This is a film that manages to cram in many of the cliches of Australian cinema, from rugged bar-room brawling to sun-belted landscapes, without making them seem tired. Thompson and his fellow actors give naturalistic performances throughout, and the film's realism is undoubtedly high. The story isn't quite the most exciting or compelling out there, but it does the job.
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    Musical Aura Island

    A great movie reflecting the the lead up to the Shearer's strike of 1955. Jack Thompson leads a group of shearers ( not sheep hearders) and shows life on an outback station just before the 9 month long strike when the "prosperity bonus" was cancelled and shearers pay was cut.

    A great movie, made for Australians, showing how Australia was once. Highly recommended
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    To me, this movie is an Aussie classic and I really enjoyed watching it,

    This movie gives us a very good indication on how they used to work/ live back in those times and that the pay wasn't all that great.

    Not only is this movie about how they worked but it's also demonstrates how they lived, which is a lot different now a days.

    But as each movie does this movie has its share of sadness which could bring a tear to your eye.

    I encourage everyone to give this movie a watch as I think it is a very funny and enjoyable Aussie film.
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    Good, old, classic Australian movie, with great Australian actors who portrayed the classic Aussie shearer. The story was good and had a few comedy moments. The movie showed what the shearer's have to do with the job and what they have to deal with,such as annoying cocky's and terrible chefs. This movie allows us to see the lives of the shearer's and creates empathy for the characters when they are going through tough times. One moment in the movie that struck me was when Foley had the car accident at the start, it just came out of nowhere and he just walked away from it without any worries. I really enjoyed seeing the inside of the shearing shed and seeing the process of actual shearing. Sometimes I found it hard to understand what was happening throughout the movie, as I haven't had much to do with shearing and don't know some of the language associated with it.
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    I saw this movie when I was a student in Perth and it's one of the films that I'd like to add to my collection. I've searched various places and never had any luck finding it (even on VHS).

    I've found it available on Dstore and have ordered it. This company can now deliver DVDs (and other items) to the UK and other European countries, USA and Canada as well as Japan.

    The web site is I have used them personally on about six or seven previous occasions and can now be used for a useful source of Australian movies (some of which can be hard to find). Previously I've had some delivered to my parents address in Perth and they've sent them onto me.
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    Tiresome film about men in a weird and somewhat suspect macho culture shearing sheep, boozing, shearing more sheep and boozing more. It's an amazing slice of life. Men ( the few women in the movie are not relevant to the story) who seem to have little or no connection to life beyond booze and monotonous work. There's an interesting exposure to the arcane language of shearing but little interchange about much else of interest. It's a monoculture and not a hugely interesting one at that. The British and Irish working class origins of Aussie culture are apparent. Anyone familiar with the kinds of booze ridden, gender segregated cultures found in the British isles rural or working class ghettoes will be familiar with this culture. It was reminiscent of the culture portrayed in " Once were warriors" from neighbouring NZ. I watched the whole thing even though I was ready to dump it when the men started wiggling their naked bums, but it never really reached sny climax or conclusion.
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    This movie wasn't a great movie to watch as a teenager in the 21st century because the video quality wasn't all up to scratch, but I do understand that this movies was made back in the 80's, and I must agree with the reality of the film as the life of a shearer on a remote cattle station. This movie could of been set out better because there are some scenes that in reality wouldn't survive or do. I found it a little hard watching the film because since this movie was based in around mid 1900's, the way of life is completely different from 2013, where as men ruled life and women and children had very few rights, which I think it was very wrong, but thank goodness for modern times.

    I personally don't recommend watching the movie as a teenager but it is the people's choice.
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    my take on this movie is that it was a classic Aussie film filled with Aussie humour but it has a its fair share of sadness.One such scene was when the old shearer dies after a heavy night on the booze. This movie also has a few classic Australian bar fight scenes where its a good old fashioned punch on.

    One of the things that struck me about this movie was how hard the workers had to live while out on the farm considering how hard they work every day. The other thing that I found different was the way that everything seemed to be a job for the male and not much was done by the females because it wasn't considered right.