Menu toggle

National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

Collection Explorer





Object information

Physical description

A tapestry featuring the wild river logo. The design is a drop shape picture featuring a brown gorge with a blue and green river running through it. At the front of the picture is a grey platypus swimming in the river. On the left there are white flowers and on the right are green trees that go beyond the outline of the drop that encompasses the rest of the picture. The words around the picture read ""FRANKLIN & LOWER GORDON" at the top of the picture and "TASMANIAS LAST WILDERNESS / LET THEM FLOW FREE" below the picture. The words are black and the background is cream coloured. The tapestry is stapled and glued on to board. A frame has been removed from around the tapestry and glue and remaining splinters of wood are stuck to the edge of the tapestry. The back of the tapestry has a note written with black felt tip pen on white paper that has been stuck on with sticky tape. The note reads "THE WILD RIVERS EMBLEM HAS BECOME THE SYMBOL / OF THE GROWING NUMBER OF PEOPLE DEDICATED / TO THE PRESERVATION OF THE SOUTHWEST / TASMANIAN WILDERNESS / THIS TAPESTRY IS AN ORIGINAL HANDCRAFTED WORK / FRAMED IN RARE HUON PINE WITH TASMANIAN BLACKWOOD INLAID / SOUTHWEST TASMANIA COMMITTEE NSW. MARCH 1981".

Statement of significance

This collection of approximately 3000 items consists of ephemera, documents and personal artefacts relates to the life and work of Senator (Bob) Robert James Brown, one of Australia's most prominent conservationists and environmental activists. The collection is particularly strong in relation to ephemera from the 'Save the Franklin' campaign of the late 1970s and early 1980s, but also includes some pro-dam ephemera that shows the opposition's point of view. Material from the earlier 'Save Lake Pedder' campaign is also well represented.

Dr Bob Brown, a medical doctor, rose to prominence in the late 1970s after taking on the directorship of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society (TWS) and becoming one of Australia's most outspoken and high profile opponents of the Tasmanian Hydro Electric Commission's plans to flood the Gordon and Franklin Rivers in Tasmania's largely untamed southwest. Building on the impetus of earlier campaigns against the flooding of Lake Pedder, the TWS was spectacularly successful in galvanising national public opinion against the Gordon and Franklin dam proposal. This reached its zenith with the 'No Dams' campaign that commenced in 1981 and culminated in the July 1983 decision by the High Court of Australia against the construction of the dam. This decision also had broader political and constitutional ramifications because it was seen by some as an undermining of state rights, while others saw it as a milestone in national conservation awareness that underscored the power of environmental issues in national politics.

As a result of his very public efforts to preserve Australia's natural heritage Dr Bob Brown was made Australian of the Year in 1983, and received the UNEP Global 500 Award 1987, and the Goldman Environmental Prize USA 1990. He was elected as an independent to the Tasmanian House of Assembly in 1983 and has served as a federal senator for the Australian Greens since 1996.

Object information

Back to top