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Passion, like love, attracts and is attractive. Full of longing and desire, a passion for someone or something – intense love or an outburst of anger – can become so strong it's barely controllable. If you feed this raw appetite, passion can tip into obsession. Once aroused, in all its fervent keenness, passion can be something to relish.

Flora Pell and her passion for cookery


Flora Pell was probably Australia's first 'domestic goddess'.

Flora Pell portrait.
Flora Pell as seen in the 'Aims and Work of the Education Department, Melbourne' 1906 souvenir book.

Born in rural Victoria in 1874, she started teaching cookery at the age of 15 and went on to become a first-rate, published and celebrated cook.

She wrote three highly regarded cookbooks: A Sunshine Cookery Book with 50 dried fruit recipes for the modern table; Miss Flora Pell's Tested Cookery Dishes and Valuable Home Hints, and her most popular, Our Cookery Book, which was reprinted more than 24 times.

Our Cookery Book was used as a textbook in Victorian schools from 1916 to 1929. Alicenne Stevens recalls: 'my mother and her sisters swore by her book and I still have my mother's battered copy. Mum used to say she liked her because the instructions were so clear, almost basic'.

Lorna Roberts, Nelva Roberts and Valerie O'Bryne's mother used the book at school and said, 'Flora Pell was our bible'.

In 1923 Flora Pell travelled to the United States on a study and lecture tour of cookery schools. Flora then had a segment on Melbourne's 3LO radio about cooking. She also spoke to business, women's and charity groups on 'the domestic arts'. In 1924, after rising through the ranks of the Victorian Education Department, Flora became Inspectress of Domestic Arts Centres.

Flora Pell defied social norms. Not only did she have a successful career but she also stepped outside the traditional role for women.

However, Flora still believed that a woman's most important role was as mother and homemaker, where they were 'in a position to wield tremendous influence on the mind and body, hence upon the family, society and the nation'.

'Recipes for reading culinary heritage: Flora Pell and her cookery book' by Alison Wishart and Adele Wessell in reCollections

audio_w15 Download Flora Pell audio programs

AE Smith and his passion for making violins


AE Smith in his workshop at home
AE Smith in his workshop at home, about 1954. Courtesy: National Library of Australia.

Arthur Edward (AE) Smith is considered the most important violin maker in Australian history.

As a young man, Smith abandoned a promising career as an engineer and devoted his whole life to violin repairing and making. Born in England, Smith came to Australia in 1909 and set up a business. In 1912 he opened a violin repair shop in Sydney that soon became a hub of activity. His workshop established the careers of many other leading Australian violin makers such as Charles Clarke, William Dolphin, Harry Vatiliotis and Smith's daughter, Kitty.

Smith's violins are prized for their excellence of tone and decorative elements such as the sound holes, scrolls and curves. Some of the world's top violinists admired and collected handmade Smith violins, including Yehudi Menuhin and Isaac Stern. In 1971 Smith was awarded an MBE for services to music.

An AE Smith violin is on display in Eternity. 

More about the AE Smith instruments

Alan Puckett and his passion for art


The 1970s saw the emergence of a culture of painted panel vans and customised motor bikes in Australia. Alan Puckett was one of those artists, airbrushing images of long hot summers and erotic imagery from his base in Sydney.

Puckett was commissioned to create an exciting and sexy object specifically for the Eternity gallery. He painted a Harley Davidson Sportster in the theme of passion, with white roses and butterflies twisting on a cherry-coloured background.

Graeme Clark and his passion for hearing

Born 1935

Professor Graeme Clark is the foundation professor of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Melbourne and director of the Australian Bionic Ear Institute. Motivated by his father's deafness, Clark has devoted the greater part of his professional life to researching and developing a device that brings hearing to the profoundly deaf by means of electrical stimulation of the hearing nerve.

During the development of the multichannel cochlear implant, Clark was faced with seemingly insurmountable barriers. He endured criticism and doubt from the scientific, medical and deaf communities and embarked on an inexhaustible appeal for funding to support his research. The first implant recipient was 48-year-old Rod Saunders in 1978 and following further research and refinement the cochlear implant became commercially available in 1982. Thousands of Australians have since received a Cochlear implant.

Parts of the bionic ear designed by Clark are on display.

More on the bionic ear

Marie Byles and her passion for bushwalking


Marie Byles sitting on a rock
Marie Byles. Courtesy: State Library of New South Wales.

Marie Byles immigrated to Australia from England in 1911 at the age of 11. She was one of the first women to graduate in law at the University of Sydney and was the first to set up practice as a solicitor in Sydney. She was also a committed Buddhist, writing many books on the subject and establishing the Buddhist Society in Sydney with her friend Leo Berkeley.

The Eternity story focuses on Marie's passion for the bush and the fledgling conservation movement of the 1930s and 40s. She helped establish Boudi National Park in 1935 and, along with Paddy Pallin, established the Bush Club for people who loved the bush but were unable or unwilling to meet the stringent requirements for entry to existing bushwalking clubs.

Eternity features Maria's bushwalking compass.

Stories previously on display

Tilly Aston
Passion for the rights and welfare of blind people (early 1900s)

Austin Byrne
Devoted his life to commemorating Australian aviators Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm (1930s)

Irene Chatfield
Passion for her football team (contemporary)

Margaret Grosvenor
Debutante (1959)

Geoff King
Passion of men for sheds (contemporary)

Monte Punshon
Passion for Japanese culture during the Second World War (1939–45 and after)