The Australian Journeys gallery explores the journeys of people to and from Australia and the social, political and economic impacts of those journeys. Here are some of the highlights from the 750 objects on show in the gallery. These objects are from the National Museum's collections, unless otherwise stated.
All photos by George Serras, Lannon Harley, Dragi Markovic and Dean McNicoll, unless otherwise stated.
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Colour aquatint plate Field Sports, &c. &c. of the Native Inhabitants of New South Wales 1813
Governor Bligh's memento
The newly colonised continent of Australia was a subject of great curiosity in Europe. In order to satisfy the demand for information about the indigenous people of the new Colony, the illustrated book Field Sports &c &c of the Native Inhabitants of New South Wales was published in England in 1813. It was the first work to draw exclusively for its subject matter from the Aboriginal people of Australia.
Field Sports portrays Aboriginal culture and features their weapons and tools in use. For the many keen collectors of such weapons and tools in England, Field Sports provided valuable information on their purpose and uses. This ensured that Field Sports was reprinted in numerous editions and supplements until the 1820s.
Following British fashions
By the 1880s wool was Australia's most important export. Thousands of fleeces were shipped to Britain's mills to be scoured, carded, combed, spun, dyed and woven into cloth.
Some of the wool eventually returned to Australia — as bolts of fabric or ready-made clothing, drapery and furnishings.
The Faithfull family of Springfield station, near Goulburn, New South Wales, grew wealthy supplying wool to Britain. In about 1885, one Faithfull daughter bought this dress from David Jones department store in Sydney.
This pink fine wool dress consists of a bodice and skirt, made in about 1885. It represented the latest in British fashion, but its origins probably lay close to home. It is made of fine wool of the type grown on Springfield.
Wolseley shearing machine
A new shearing machine demonstrated to the citizens of Melbourne in 1885 by Frederick Wolseley of Euroka station, Walgett, New South Wales, was quickly adopted and soon replaced traditional hand shears.
Powered by a steam engine and incorporating a revolutionary handpiece and overhead mechanism, pastoralists hoped the mechanical shearing machine would enable even an inexperienced shearer to remove wool quickly and cleanly.
Wolseley established factories in Sydney and Birmingham, England. His machines were installed in shearing sheds across Australia and the world.
In England the Wolseley company began building engines, cars and agricultural equipment, as well as shearing machines.
The two-stand machine pictured here was manufactured in Birmingham in about 1930 and used on a sheep station in New South Wales.
Sandpiper specimen collected by Robert Hall and Ernie Trebilcock
Tracking migratory birds from Australia to Siberia
In 1903 Australian ornithologist Robert Hall and his assistant, Ernie Trebilcock, travelled to Russia to research the migratory patterns of birds.
They collected this sandpiper specimen at the mouth of the Lena River in Siberia. This was tangible proof that, each year, shorebirds such as the sandpiper travel 26,000 kilometres from southern Australia to their breeding grounds in the wetlands of Siberia and back.
This specimen was among more than 200 sold to English naturalist Walter Rothschild.
Today, the Australian Wader Study Group continues Hall and Trebilcock's work, tracking birds migrating along the East Asian–Australasian Flyway from Australia to Siberia.
Lent by the American Museum of Natural History.
Sir Joseph Carruthers' uniform
A statesman's journey to Britain
In 1908, Australian politician Joseph Carruthers travelled to England for the first time, where he received a prestigious knighthood from King Edward VII. During his career in the New South Wales government, Carruthers contributed to the shaping of the new Australian Constitution and, along with many others, celebrated the Federation of the nation in 1901.
Carruthers attended the spectacular program of inauguration celebrations in Sydney, and the grand opening of the first provisional Federal Parliament at Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building. For Carruthers, wearing this uniform at Buckingham Palace was the pinnacle of a career dedicated to imperial loyalty and the ideals of a federated Australia.
The National Museum's collection also includes a dress worn by Lady Alice Carruthers at Buckingham Palace.
Photo: Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW - Call no PXE 1104 /1/ 7.
Debrie 'Le Parvo' motion picture camera used by Frank Hurley
Filming the Antarctic
In 1929 Australian photographer Frank Hurley boarded the steam yacht Discovery at London's East India Dock and embarked on his third voyage to Antarctica.
Hurley was official cinematographer to the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE).
He spent the next two years recording life on board the Discovery, the Antarctic scenery and wildlife, and the scientific work of the expedition.
Hurley purchased the Debrie camera especially for the expedition. He used it to make a 'talkie' called Siege of the South. This film premiered in Brisbane in 1931, bringing the alien world of the Antarctic home to Australian audiences.