Menu toggle

National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

Collection Explorer



  • Geoff and Sheila Lacy collection(1)

    Section of the Number 2 rabbit-proof fence from Hill View Homestead, Meekatharra, WA

    The Geoff and Sheila Lacy collection consists of a length of wire mesh fence stretched between two dried and cracked grey wooden fence posts, with plain fencing tension wires along the top edge and middle and lower sections. A length of barbed wire is strung between the posts and secured through a hole in the top of each post.

    Forty years after their release in Victoria and South Australia in the late 1860s, European wild rabbits took advantage of good seasons to begin a relentless advance west across the Nullarbor Plain. Rabbits moved through South Australia at the rate of 110-130 kilometres a year. They entered Western Australia along the coast and north of the Nullarbor. Following a Royal Commission to 'Enquire into the Rabbit Question' in February, 1901, the Western Australian government built a series of rabbit fences across the Australian continent from north to south. The advance of rabbits beyond the No. 1 fence-line, before its completion, necessitated the construction of the No 2 fence which was built roughly parallel with No 1 - 90 to 160km further west - starting from Point Anne on the South Coast through Cunderdin to Yalgoo, joining the No 1 at Meekatharra at Gum Creek. It was approximately 724 miles (1158 kilometres) long and completed in 1904. The section of No 2 fence in this collection is from the Lacy's property Hill View near the junction of the No 1 and No 2 fences at Gum Creek corner (west of Hill View homestead). A third fence was completed in 1907. The combined length of the three fences was 2,023 miles (3237 kilometres), built at an average cost of (pounds) 167/1/- (around $400) per mile. While the rabbit fences failed to exclude rabbits from Western Australia the structures are valued today for their role in keeping out dingoes, kangaroos and feral goats.

  • Josef Lebovic Gallery collection no. 1(7551)

    The Murray River, Swan Hill, Vic
    Rushcutters Bay, Sydney
    Macleay St. Potts Pt. N.S.W
    The Prospectors
  • Dr Alex Van der Leeden collection(14)

    Painting on masonite by Madi, 1964 -  depicts five sharks
    Bark painting by Ginjuwai , 1964 - depicts two women on either side of white fire, surrounded by heaps of flour (red circles)
    Painting on masonite by Mindjugak,1965 - depicts eight groper fish.
    Bark painting by Ngardangi, 1965 -   depicts 10 large brolgas and a very small white brolga
  • Springfield - Faithfull Family collection(3501)

    Big House at Springfield with a woman and small girl in the doorway.
    Church of St Jude Randwick decorated for wedding Aug 1890
    Dame Pattie Menzies, her daughter, Heather Henderson and grand-gaughter, Edwina Henderson
    Cream-coloured partial dance program titled 'MASONIC HALL, 15th August 1867'

    The Springfield Collection comprises about 1550 artefacts from Springfield station, south of Goulburn. It includes colonial era costume, a bushranger medal, surveying instruments, a late-19th century landau, firearms and edged weapons, wool samples and Joseph Foveaux's pocket watch and bible. The objects are complemented by over 400 photographs. This diverse collection reflects the growth and economic success of the property, responses to changes in the wool market and the daily lives of the people who have lived on Springfield.

    Springfield has grown from a 518-hectare land grant given to William Pitt Faithfull in 1828 to the current 3183 hectares with ownership remaining in the one family. William Pitt Faithfull established the Springfield Merino Stud in 1838 with ten rams selected from the Macarthur Camden Park stud. The stud evolved slowly over the years until the early 1950s when, under the management of Jim Maple-Brown, a scientific approach to wool-growing was adopted and the stud's name was changed to Fonthill to reflect this.

  • Lady Nelson Painting collection(2)

    Oil painting depicting H. M. Brig. Lady Nelson
    Rectangular, gilt timber plaque inscribed H.M. BRIG

    This oil on canvas painting of the ship the Lady Nelson is in the style of the British School, C.1830, and measures 35cm x 52.5cm.

    The Lady Nelson was built at Deptford in England in 1799 and selected by the Admiralty in 1800 to provide exploration services to the Colony of New South Wales. After an illustrious career as a survey craft, including its use by Lieutenant James Grant and Matthew Flinders (as an accompanying craft of HMS Investigator), and as a supply vessel, the Lady Nelson was seized by pirates off Timor in 1825. The crew were killed and the vessel scuttled at Baba Island. The historical significance of this painting covers three key themes: the ship's association with the settlement of Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Tasmania, Port Phillip and northern Australia; the importance of detailed surveying in the exploration of the Australian coastline; and the early efforts to exploit Australia's natural resources, in particular the discovery of coal.

  • Blair Gardner collection no. 1(1)

    Painted marine turtle shell featuring thirteen totemic animals representing the clans of the Lardil people of Mornington Island

    The Blair Gardner Collection consists of a decorated turtle shell from Mornington Island, painted by a collective of artists in either 1977 or 1978. The artists likely to have been involved in the work were Sammy Reid, son of the local handicraft store owner, and younger members of the Roughsey clan including Lindsay Roughsey and possibly Dick Roughsey. The shell is that of a male marine turtle and has been decorated with thirteen animals painted in black, white, brown and yellow ochre, representing totems important to the clans of the Lardil people.

    Lardil people are the main cultural group on Mornington Island, located in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland. At the time the turtle shell was painted, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living on reserves in Queensland were able to take otherwise protected wildlife by any method and without restriction. Mornington Islanders at this time regularly hunted both dugong and turtle for meat. In either 1977 or 1978 the owner of the local handicraft store, Pat Reid, encouraged local Lardil people to varnish a turtle shell and paint it with animals important to the Lardil economy and religion. The animals painted on the shell include stingray, dugong, goanna, crab, bustard, rat, threadfin salmon and turtle.

    The National Historical collection contains over 200 items representing the Indigenous cultures of Mornington Island. These include children's drawings, paintings, tools, weapons, ornaments, musical instruments and religious paraphernalia. The Blair Gardner Collection will complement and extend these collections. This collection addresses the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples collecting domain of the Collections Development Framework 2002-07.

  • Louise Thibou Decorated Spearthrower collection(1)

    Spearthrower with incised pattern

    Spear-thrower by unknown manufacturer. Made of made of wood and resin. Decorated on the back with concentric circles and connecting lines.

    The spearthrower is an excellent example of a western desert spearthrower. Its status as an iconic tool is complemented by the inclusion of engraved designs on the back. The designs reflect typical western desert iconography. Although the associated narrative for the design is not known, similar better-documented examples exist in other museums that would suggest the designs represent significant places in the lands of the manufacturer. The spearthrower thus also served the function of a map.

  • Jan Taylor collection(7)

    Linen dress with Australian wildflower embroidery
    Pale gray sash, stamped
    A Look at Australia: Miss Australia in America
    Large-format brown paper scrapbook containing newspaper and magazine clippings relating to Miss Australia 1964, Jan Taylor

    The Jan Taylor collection documents Jan's experience as a participant through regional, state and national contests for the Miss Australia Quest, her crowning as Miss Australia 1964, and her participation in the 1964 International Beauty Congress. The collection includes three sashes, a scrapbook, a Miss Australia 1964 sceptre, an LP record, and a dress designed as 'national costume' by Beril Jents, worn by Jan at the International Beauty Congress in Long Beach, California. The collection is supported by thirty-two (32) photographs and ephemera items documenting Jan Taylor's experience as participant, and eventual winner of the Miss Australia Quest.

    The Miss Australia Quest (from 1992 known as the Miss Australia Awards) ran continuously from 1953 to 2000 and was arguably the longest running, most popular and most successful charitable enterprise in Australia's history. The first documented nationwide contest to identify Australia's ideal woman was held in 1907, however the first official use of the title 'Miss Australia' is more generally thought to have been used in relation to 'Miss Australia 1926' - Beryl Mills from Western Australia. Further contests were held in 1927, 1937, and from 1945 until 1950. It was in 1953 when Bernard Dowd (manufacturer of Hickory Lingerie in Australia) and his company Dowd Associates took over running of the competition that the Quest became a registered business enterprise, and the 'search for Miss Australia' gained momentum. From 1954 until 2000 the Quest ran primarily as a fundraising event for the Australian Cerebral Palsy Association (ACPA), and is estimated to have raised $90 million for people with cerebral palsy. Over its lifetime, the Quest reflected many of the changes that took place in Australian society and culture: the changing role and perceptions of women; changing perceptions of people with disabilities; the influence of migrants and 'New Australians'; and the presentation of Australia and Australians overseas.