Patricia Walter

Patricia Walter

Inducted into ACS Hall of Fame – 2022

Patricia Walter (Nee Harvey) was truly a pioneering camerawoman in Australia during the 1960’s, forging out a successful career in the male dominated preserve of the time.

She started working as a camerawoman way back in 1964 and as such, preceded any women coming out of film and Television schools by at least 10 years. During her career she covered some of the most historically significant events of the second half of the Twentieth century and was Australia’s first female news camerawoman shooting for ABC Adelaide.

This wonderful woman grew up in an orphanage and became a widow when her husband was killed in a motorcycle accident leaving her a single mum with three young children. With an interest in Photography and home movies and on a whim, she went and filmed a local bushfire with her DR-70 Bell & Howell which was shown on the ABC News that night. She recalls: “It was with that sense of excitement that I chased after the fire truck to a nearby property at Eden Hills where the fire was well alight in thick scrub. Only briefly did the thought cross my mind ‘What am I doing?’ I had a little exposure meter strapped on my wrist ready to point at whatever I was going to film. I knew I had to set the aperture according to wherever the needle pointed.”

After that she was offered a job as a stringer. Remember, this was the 1960s and at the time no Women’s movements existed, women had still not even achieved equal pay status and it was unheard of to see a woman turning up to film jobs. It was into this hostile atmosphere that Patricia Walter started shooting.

Pat was totally self-taught, learning on the job and as a freelancer never had camera assistants or support in the field so carried all her own gear. Getting no favouritism from News editors she was often assigned gruelling jobs and as a strong willed woman she quickly earned their respect and that of her peers.

Her work encompassed News and all the ABC rural and current affairs programs of the day and as a freelancer she worked for Channel 10 and the Nine Network shooting news reports, current affairs and TV specials. During her career Pat covered hundreds of stories and many significant events including: the Beatles arriving, Gough Whitlam’s sacking, Ash Wednesday bushfires and the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy in 1974.

As a ground-breaking camerawoman in Australia numerous articles have been written about her and a book about her life titled “Coralies’s Girl” was released in 2004.

Sadly, we lost Patricia in 2017 and posthumously welcome her as an ACS Hall of Fame inductee.