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National Museum of Australia

Collection Explorer



  • Pat and Gordon Bryant collection(1)

    Yirrkala bark petition, 1963

    This object is one of four similar 'Yirrkala bark petitions', each of which is comprised of a signed paper petition pasted to a painted bark panel. These four are a sub-set of a series of eight similar petitions which Yolngu Elders from the Yirrkala mission in north-east Arnhem Land sent to different parliamentarians and supporters in 1963. Two of the petitions were tabled in the House of Representatives in August 1963. Yolngu people used the bark petitions to call upon the House to 'protect their livelihood and independence' from impending mining activity. They further called for the appointment of a committee to hear the views of the Yirrkala people before excising their land for mining. This bark petition, one of the two not presented to parliament, has been held in the Bryant family since its presentation to Mr Gordon Bryant MHR in August 1963. Each of the bark petitions combined both Aboriginal and European modes of representation. The sheet attached to the front of each of the bark panels is a request or prayer typed in both English and Gumatj languages, signed by twelve Yolngu men and women. Senior Yolngu artists painted the borders of each of the panels with motifs belonging to the different Aboriginal clans whose land was under threat from the proposed mine.

    The Yirrkala bark petitions were the first petitions recognised by Australia's Commonwealth Parliament which incorporated Indigenous ways of representing relationships to land. Although the petitions failed to stop the mine, they can be seen as landmarks in the struggle to have Indigenous rights to land recognised. The public support and media interest in the bark petitions and Yolngu attempts to stop mining on their land, lead to a parliamentary enquiry. Ultimately their actions led to the passing of the Northern Territory Land Rights Act of 1976. The recipient of this petition, Gordon Bryant (1914-1991), was elected as the member for the Victorian electorate of Wills in 1955. Bryant had had a life-long interest in Aboriginal affairs, being a member of the Aborigines Advancement League and vice-president of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI). It was during Bryant and fellow parliamentarian Kim Beasley Senior's visit to Yirrkala in July 1963 that the idea of a bark petition was born.

  • Josef Lebovic Gallery collection no. 1(7553)

    Hume Reservoir, Albury, NSW
    Northern Territory Natives, John Burnett
    The selector's hut
    Industrial buildings with chimneys and a railway in the foreground
  • Dr Helen M Wurm collection no. 4(75)

    Bark painting 'The Formation of Clouds' by Bokarra Maymuru, Yirrkala, 1967
    Bark painting 'Djirird and Damala' by Narritjin Maymuru of Yirrkala, painted Darwin, 1967
    Bark painting 'Djeigung the Galbu Snake' by Mithinarri Gurruwiwi, Yirrkala, 1967
    Painting is divided into several panels and depicts several creatures, men and tools
  • Dr Herbert Basedow collection(424)

    Glass plate negative - Frank Feast, wearing a World War I uniform, walking beside the expedition buggy, central Australia, photographed by Herbert Basedow, 1920
    Glass plate negative - Humbert River station, Northern Territory, photographed by Herbert Basedow, 1922
    Black and white negative glass lantern slide - Base of Ayers Rock Northern Territory, showing effect of aoelian erosion, photographed by Herbert Basedow, 1926
    Film negative - Outcrop of desert sandstone, Lambina Soakage Well, South Australia, photographed by Herbert Basedow, 1903
  • Tanya McIntyre collection(1)

    Silkscreen print poster 'Stop the Miss Victoria Quest'

    The Tanya McIntyre collection consists of a screenprinted poster titled Stop the Miss Victoria Quest, 1984. This poster was created by Tanya McIntyre, probably while working as artist-in-residence at Redletter studios - one of Melbourne's earliest community screenprinting workshops. The poster is representative of the social protests held against the Miss Australia Quest (of which the Miss Victoria Quest was part) by feminist and activist groups for the disabled during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

    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 USA 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 over $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.

  • Springfield - Faithfull Family collection(3501)

    Piece of Springfield Merino note paper
    Black peaked jockey cap in silk satin
    Souvenir printed cream sillk habotai scarf [William Beach - World Champion [rower?]

    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.

  • Timothy Millett collection(314)

    Convict love token from Robert Bridges, 1843
    Convict love token from Benjamin Cox, 1839
    Convict love token from Elijah Swainson, 5th July, 1817
    Convict love token from Kettle, 1832

    The Timothy Millett collection comprises 307 convict love tokens dating from 1762 to 1856, and seven contemporary documents relating to the criminal justice system including: recommendations to commute the death sentences of Hester Sampson and Thomas Hayes to life transportation; a calendar of prisoners awaiting trial in the goals of Durham, Newcastle and Northumberland; a request to the Middlesex assizes for rewards to be paid; a printed copy of George Skene's last speech prior to execution; a printed broadside listing prisoners in Dorchester jail awaiting transportation; and a 60 page handwritten account of the life of Thomas Jones, who was transported twice and finally hanged at Winchester Prison in 1856.

    Convict love tokens, typically made from smoothed-down coins and engraved or stippled with a message, derive from traditional sailors' farewells. The production of these 'leaden hearts' rose as criminal indictments increased in Britain, with the majority produced during the 1820s and 1830s. As mementos made by or for convicts facing transportation (or death) to leave behind for their loved ones, the tokens provide a poignant, personal insight into the transportation system.

  • James Simon collection(1)

    Summertime Blues by James Simon