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Material acquired and approved by council 1 July 2003 – 30 June 2004

ACT Bushfire Service

ACT bushfire danger sign

This sign, with its moving indicator to show the bushfire risk on a given day, is a familiar Australian icon. Similar signs appear along roadways across Australia, warning of dangerous conditions and informing travellers and residents of current fire bans in force. The sign promotes awareness of fire as an ever-present element of the Australian environment.


Northern Territory Bushfires Council

'Frilled Not Grilled' sign

This sign promotes an understanding of the frill-necked lizard in relation to burnt and unburnt landscapes, and its vulnerability to certain kinds of fires. It is symbolic of a new understanding of fire and the environment.


Australian Republican Movement

Political ephemera

These items were used in the 1999 Republic Referendum Campaign by the pro republic organisation, Australian Republican Movement.

The Australian Republican Movement was formed in July 1991. The declared aims of the Australian Republican Movement include working to ensure Australia becomes a Republic with an Australian as Head of State; representing the views of Republicans around Australia; emphasising that an Australian Republic embraces Australia's heritage and is the next natural step in the evolution of Australia's democracy. In the 1999 Republic Referendum the Australian Republican Movement was the major non-partisan political organisation to support the Yes campaign.


Judy Mackinolty

Two large fabric banners

The hand-painted 'Justice for Violet and Bruce Roberts' banner was produced by artist Toni Robertson in 1980 and depicts expressive portraits of Violet and Bruce Roberts. The second banner, 'Jails are the crime Women Behind Bars' was screenprinted by artist Chips Mackinolty and the embroidery added by Marie McMahon for the Women Behind Bars Organisation in 1980.

In December 1975 Violet Roberts and her son Bruce Roberts were arrested and later convicted of murdering Violet's husband, Eric Roberts. Violet and her six children had endured years of violence and abuse at the hands of Eric Roberts. However, the Roberts' personal story was not told during their trial as the law required that a defence of provocation could only be argued if the killing was done 'in the heat of the moment'. In response a 'Free Violet and Bruce Roberts Campaign' was started by the Women Behind Bars organisation. The banners were produced as part of this campaign and succeeded in attracting public and media attention and were regularly featured on television news. These banners are icons of the successful campaign which resulted in the release of Violet and Bruce Roberts and the subsequent change to the New South Wales Crimes Act to provide recognition of the impact and effects of domestic violence.

Donation - Cultural Gifts Program


Royal memorabilia

Most of this material relates to the reign of Queen Elizabeth II with a large component devoted to Prince Charles, Lady Diana and the Queen Mother. The collection is significant from a number of perspectives. It provides material evidence of the enduring attraction of the British royal family. It also provides an insight into the marketing of souvenir items associated with the royals. The collection is a wonderful example of a 'magnificent obsession' on the part of the collector.


Alick Myers

Wooden ballot box

This ballot box, dating from about 1910, was held by returning officer, JM Koth, who owned property at Gobarralong, New South Wales between 1958 and 1979. The ballot box was used in state and federal elections, although Mr Koth doesn't recall them being used for any referenda that took place outside of election times. The production of wooden ballot boxes ceased around 1930. Voting and the ballot box hold a position of central importance in Australian political culture and history. An understanding of voting leads into rich areas of Australian political culture and social history. Voting is closely linked to the development of liberal democracy and notions of citizenship in Australia.


John Davenport

One large masonite protest placard with '11-11-75' painted in white numerals

The placard was used during the Queen's visit to Canberra in 1977 to protest against the actions of Sir John Kerr in sacking Gough Whitlam on 11 November 1975. The protest was captured by a Canberra Times photographer, with Sir John Kerr greeting the Queen under the placard.

The dismissal of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam by Governor-General Sir John Kerr in November 1975 created lasting controversy within Australian political circles. For supporters of the Whitlam government, the dismissal was an outrage and public demonstrations took place condemning the actions of the Governor-General. In the subsequent election of December 1975, the Australian Labor Party was soundly defeated but many Labor supporters took Whitlam's election plea to 'maintain the rage' to heart and never forgave Sir John Kerr, while the expression itself gained popular currency. The dismissal was also an important referent point during the republican debates of the 1990s, and remains one of the most significant moments in Australia's political history.


Bill Neidjie

Black T-shirt

Bill Neidjie was an important Kakadu elder who passed away on 23 May 2002. He was a member of the Bunitj clan and he was the last fluent speaker of the Gagudju language. Prior to his death, a celebration of his, and the lives of other Kakadu elders, was held at Cannon Hill in Kakadu National Park on 3 July 2001. This T-shirt, as well as others like it, was given to all guests attending the event.


Peter Graves

Limited edition print of the word 'Eternity' by Sydney artist, cartoonist and filmmaker, Martin Sharp

Inspired by the words of an Evangelist preacher, Arthur Stace wrote the word 'Eternity' on the footpaths of Sydney an estimated half a million times between 1932 and 1967. Many Sydneysiders viewed Stace's mysterious ephemeral message with fascination and it has since become a cultural icon, one which artist Martin Sharp has incorporated into a number of works over the years. Sharp produced posters for numerous local events and used icons and characters from high and popular culture, transferring them into the context of contemporary events. Growing up in Sydney, Sharp viewed Stace's work first hand and it appealed to both his sense of social history and graphic art style. The Eternity poster is part of a culturally significant body of work which can be interpreted as a slice of Sydney's social history.

Donation - Cultural Gifts Program


Placards and baseball cap

The placards were carried by Anthony Polinelli (a former Ansett employee of eight years), Catherine Bridges and Ms Bridges' mother at a protest at Parliament House in September 2001. The baseball cap was worn at the protest by Mr Polinelli and was originally won by him as part of an Ansett Olympics staff competition in 2000. The protest was part of the reaction to the collapse of Ansett airlines, Australia's largest domestic carrier, and an attempt to pressure the government to intervene on behalf of the airline and its employees.

On 14 September 2001, Ansett airlines was grounded by its administrator, who had been appointed to run the ailing airline two days earlier. The collapse of Ansett was a major loss to Australian industry, but was only one of several significant corporate collapses (along with HIH Insurance and OneTel telecommunications) at a time when the Australian economy was otherwise healthy, having survived the Asian crash of 1997 in good shape. Global events obscured and contributed to the demise of Australia's leading domestic airline, which represented a major collapse. Various attempts to keep the company in the air failed and the crisis affecting the global airline industry after the hi-jackings of September 11 made the industry as a whole susceptible to enormous losses and bankruptcies. A last-minute bid to buy Ansett by Melbourne transport businessmen Lindsay Fox and Solomon Lew failed and the last Ansett flight landed in Sydney from Perth on 5 March 2002.


Paul Hills

'One million pound' banknote election flyer

The 1931 election was contested over issues of financial management of the Australian economy and in the context of the Great Depression. This piece of election ephemera refers to the issue of Australia's overseas loans and the various plans to deal with national debt. Theodore and Scullin were for an inflationary policy based on printing money to fund social welfare programs; Lang wanted to repudiate the loans altogether, while Lyons and the conservative parties were for re-establishing overseas lenders' confidence in Australia by repaying the loans in full and pursuing cautious fiscal policies. The issue of 'money' was a central concern of governments and populace during this period. Lack of money encouraged ideas of 'thrift' and 'making do'. The prospect of inflation endangered the savings of middle class Australians. The note itself is a useful way of introducing these Depression-era debates and popular attitudes to money.


Driver Alison Hope Oliver

Various military medals, badges and a commemorative scroll

British War Medal, 1914-1920; (Allied) Victory medal, 1914-1918; next-of-kin plaque (or 'dead man's penny'); commemorative scroll; hat badge; two lapel badges and two shoulder badges - all from an Australian serviceman who died during the First World War, and his mother's Mothers and Widows badge.

The medals were awarded to the son of Elizabeth and William Dowell Oliver, Driver Alison Hope Oliver, of the 10th Brigade, Australian Field Artillery, who died on active service on 22 March 1918. Oliver's hat and shoulder badges were returned to his mother Elizabeth (he was single when he enlisted) and she was sent the medals and awarded the Mothers and Widows Badge, which were issued in 1919. The scroll and next-of-kin plaque were awarded in 1920. Of the 331,000 Australian men (and 2000 female nurses) who served overseas during the First World War, 60,000 died in active service. Such losses were commemorated at personal and national levels. These medals and badges tell an important story of service and loss in wartime Australia and lead into important areas of gender relations, memory and forgetting, and political organisation.


Australian Superfine Wool Growers Association Inc.

Framed Ram's Head ceramic

The ceramic, produced from a gouache by Graham Sutherland, was presented to the Australian Superfine Wool Growers Association by Gruppo Ermenegildo Zegna in 1980 to commemorate the introduction of the Ermenegildo Zegna Trophy for Extrafine Wool Production.

Gruppo Ermenegildo Zegna has been one of the largest users of Australian superfine Merino wool since 1920. The company has sponsored an annual competition for superfine wool producers since 1963. The awards recognise the continuing quest for excellence in superfine wool by Australian woolgrowers. Fine works of art have been part of the Ermenegildo Zegna Awards since 1963.


Richard and Caroline Forster

Large wool table and a corn drill

The wool table was installed in the woolshed on Willows, near Cootamundra, by the Forster family in 1960 and remained in use until 1973. The corn drill was used on Murrindale, a small property at Castle Hill, by Robert Crawford from the 1930s and subsequently by his son-in-law William Dent, also on a property at Castle Hill.

The stories of the above two farming families - linked by the marriage of Caroline Dent to Richard Forster - contain several elements reflecting the history of family farming in Australia. These include the factors which have shaped family farming and how these are changing, the effects of family farming on the physical environment, and the role and influence of governments on family farming.


Pest Animal Control Cooperative Research Centre Collection

Rabbit radio-tracking collar

This collar, from the Pest Animal Control Cooperative Research Centre, Division of Wildlife and Ecology, CSIRO, represents the recent end of an historical continuum of government-sponsored rabbit control and rabbit impact research in Australia. This started in earnest with the establishment of the CSIRO's Wildlife Survey Section in 1949, which initially concentrated its efforts on rabbit control. There was initial success with myxomatosis in the 1950s, until its effectiveness waned. This then created impetus in the 1990s for the introduction of the rabbit calicivirus. Following a dramatic decline in rabbit numbers in the wake of the mid 1990s release of rabbit calicivirus, research demonstrated that foxes and feral cats that had built up numbers on a diet of rabbits were turning their attention to native species such as possums.

The rabbit radio-tracking collar is one of many that were used by the CSIRO Pest Animal Control Cooperative Research Centre to monitor changing predatorprey relationships following the introduction of rabbit calicivirus. It has bite marks, indicating that the rabbit wearing the collar was taken by a fox.


Thelma Jean Smith

Rabbit pelt rug

Introduction of the rabbit to Australia ranks as one of the most significant human interventions in this country's environmental history. Yet while the species has caused ecological and agricultural devastation, it has also secured a central place in the country's collective memory. Indigenous and non-Indigenous people have hunted rabbits for meat and hides, especially in times of hardship and distress. Rabbit skins have been used for felt-making, and in patchwork quilts and coats. Frequently, small rural businesses such as tanneries and furriers have relied on the relative abundance of rabbits to sustain production. The rug in this collection is an excellent example of the way in which rabbits have been valued and incorporated into the national story.