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Josko Petkovic

Academic, filmmaker, geophysicist, gymnast (ret. 2014 as Associate Professor)


Ph.D (Murdoch 1997) - The Rhizome and the Images
BA Honours in Communication Studies (1st Class), (Murdoch 1985)
Postgrad Dip. in Applied Film and Television (Swinburne Film & TV School 1977)
B.A. Philosophy (ANU 1975)
B.Sc. Maths/Physics (UWA 1969)
See also: separate CV document with more detail.


Champion gymnast, both in Croatia (Croatian Under 14 Competitions, II-III place, Badija 1960) and at UWA (Full Blue, 1967).


From 1970 until 1982, Josko Petkovic worked and travelled extensively as a geophysicist and as a filmmaker, wintering twice in Antarctica as the Officer-in-Charge of Mawson Geophysical Observatory. [See references: Note 1.]

His Antarctic work included a 1972 summer expedition to the Prince Charles Mountains with the Australian National Antarctica Research Expedition (ANARE).

As a geophysicist with the Bureau of Mineral Resources he did the initial mathematical modelling of the Australian Geomagnetic Reference Field (AGRF).

Magnetic secular variation in the Australian region, from Petkovic, J.J. (1974).
[See references: Note 2.]

This much-used model is a major feature of the Australian geodetic data system, and Dr Petkovic’s early work is acknowledged in relevant publications.
[See references: Note 3.]

J.J. Petkovic has a glacier in the Antarctic named after him.


Josko Petkovic’s earlier career and his multidisciplinary qualifications inform his subsequent academic work and illuminate the multifaceted nature of his creative output. From the mid-1970s, he produced a number of reflective and scholarly essay-films in which he performed all the film crew roles (producer, writer, director, cinematographer and editor). The films he made during this period include: Subjective/ Objective (1977), A Look at Trails (1980), in association of Victorian School Commission), Journey of Anticipation (1981, filmed during 1978 ANARE), Frame on Dreaming (1984, in association with WA College of Advanced Education).

Following his 1988 academic appointment in the School of Media Communication and Culture (MCC) at Murdoch University, Josko launched a series of teaching and research innovations. Some of these are briefly described below.

In 1989, Josko Petkovic, working with his undergraduate students, authored and produced one-hour, 12-projectors, mixed-media, visual essay entitled Animal Locomotion: Muybridge. This multi-screen project foreshadowed the likely future development of the multi-screen digital media while documenting an important early period of image-making history. Animal Locomotion: Muybridge was selected by the Modern Image Makers Association (MIMA) for screening in Melbourne, Victoria, at its prestigious 1990 international Experimenta Festival.

In 1991, in association with the Australia-Indonesian Institute, Josko led a group of thirteen Murdoch screen production students on a cultural visit to Ponorogo, East Java. By all accounts these students were much inspired and can now be found as screen-related academic staff in various W.A. tertiary institutions. Many other students in Josko’s courses and workshops excelled in screen production and have won numerous awards in Australia and overseas, as evidenced in this list.

In 1992, he was awarded $160,000 by the Australian Film Commission (AFC) to produce an innovative documentary Letter to Eros. The AFC grants were extremely competitive, and only one such experimental grant was given out in Australia that year. The 56-minute film that resulted from this grant received in 1995 an award nomination from the Australian Film Institute (for Innovation in Film Form), and in 1996 from the Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM) for the Most Innovative Film. It also received the award nomination for the world’s best documentary award from the prestigious 1995 Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival in Japan and was in competition for the $50,000 Robert and Frances Flaherty Grand Prize.

In 2005 Dr Petkovic convened the National Academy of Screen and Sound (NASS) Research Centre and was appointed as its first director by Murdoch’s Centres Committee. It was the first research centre of its kind in Australia and it lasted from 2006 until 2015 when Murdoch University began implementing its new research program. In the same year, Josko co-convened the refereed e-journal IM: Interactive Media, which he supported with regular contributions and special journal issues.

Josko Petkovic was a founding member of the Australian Screen Production Education and Research Association (ASPERA) – Australian university film schools’ peak academic body. He was on the executive committee (2004-2006), its vice-president in 2005 and president in 2006.

In 2008 and 2011, he led ASPERA members to two successful ALTC/ OLT grant applications.

From 2008 till 2010, he was the Project Leader of the $219,000 ALTC funded Priority Assessment project Assessing Graduate Output in Nineteen Australian Film Schools (PP8-926 category 2 grant).

From 2011 until 2013, Josko Petkovic was the Project Leader of the $220,000 OLT funded, Innovation and Development project Developing A Collaborative National Postgraduate Research Program For 22 Australian Film Schools (ID11-2099 Category 1 grant).

In 2014, after retiring his full-time position as Associate Professor from the Murdoch University, Josko resumed his longstanding interest in Aboriginal reconciliation stories. This interest first began in 1984 with the production of the documentary Frame on Dreaming. This was followed in 2001 by a documentary on the 1875 Stefano shipwreck story. The one-hour, three-screen triptych The Resurrection of Barque Stefano was also the beginning of a major project on this shipwreck story with many ethnographic trips to the Gascoyne region and to northwest Australia. Since 2014 he has chaired the 100-strong not-for-profit Stefano Foundation that promotes the positive sentiments towards the Aboriginal people exemplified by this shipwreck story. In 2017, he authored eighteen permanent exhibition panels in the Ningaloo Cultural Centre, Exmouth, on this story. He has written extensively on this positive cross-cultural exchange on the Ningaloo coast, as is documented here and in several other websites.


Subjective/Objective, 1977

A Look at Trails, 1980, MIFF 1982

Journey of Anticipation, 1981

Frame on Dreaming, 1984

Muybridge, 1989

Letter to Eros, 1995

The Resurrection of the Barque Stefano, 2001

Tale of Two Cities, 2001

Reference and Links

Petkovic Glacier data, including this description: "A steep valley glacier, 3 miles long, in the central part of the Mawson Escarpment. It flows westward, midway between Rofe Glacier and Dolinnyy Glacier, to enter Lambert Glacier. Plotted from ANARE aerial photographs taken in 1956, 1960 and 1973. Named by the Australian Antarctic Names and Medal Committee after J.J. Petkovic, geophysicist at Mawson in 1971 and a member of the ANARE Prince Charles Mountains survey party in 1972.

Note 1

Petkovic, J.J. Mawson Geophysical Observatory Annual Report 1971
Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia), (BMR, Rec.1973/149)

Petkovic, J.J. Mawson Geophysical Observatory annual report 1978
Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia, BMR, 1979)

Note 2

Petkovic, J.J. (1974). Magnetic secular variation in the Australian region. In:
Annual Summary of Activities, BMR Report 190, 51-53.

Petkovic,J.J. and R.Whitworth (1975). Problems in secular variation in the
Australian region. EOS Trans. AG.U., 5Q, 51-53.

Note 3

See BMR Record no. 85/13 , Geomagnetic Workshop Canberra. 14-1 5th may 1985, Programme and Abstracts. Pp. 6, 7, 7a
On page 7:
The name Australian Geomagnetic Reference field (AGRF) was first used to describe
a modification of IGRF 1965 for the Australian region (Petkovic, 1974; Petkovic and
Whitworth, 1975; Dooley, this volume, p.22).

Garry Gillard | New: 2 March, 2022 | Now: 23 March, 2022