Bridging the Distance

6 March – 15 June 2008

From Indigenous people, European explorers and new settlers through to today’s ‘grey nomads’, Australians have learned how to live in a big country. Bridging the Distance reveals how a practical and inventive nation has managed to establish routes across the country, to maintain settlements, support agriculture and industry, and allow people to travel for both work and pleasure.

Discover in this exhibition of more than 150 pictures, photographs, manuscripts, objects and books how a country of large distances, difficult terrain and small population developed the communication systems essential to its prosperity. All drawn from the National Library’s collection, these items highlight the growth of transport by rail, boat and car and the development of the aviation industry, and explore what distance means for us and our lives.

Frank Hurley (1885–1962)
Dirt Road Bordered by Saltbush, Grey Chevrolet in Foreground, Central Australia [between 1955 and 1962]
digital print from 35 mm colour transparency, printed 2007

Download (5.39 Mb zip)

M. Bass
Launceston Town, Tasmania 1878
oil on canvas; 44.4 x 53.8 cm
Rex Nan Kivell Collection, NK6420

Download (6.31 Mb zip)

Smart cars in display stack, Capital Star, Fyshwick, ACT, 24 July 2007
colour digital print

Download (2.95 Mb zip)

Samuel Thomas Gill (1818–1880)
Native village in the northern interior of S. Australia c.1846
watercolour; 15.1 x 22.0 cm

Download (1.15 Mb zip)

Unknown maker
Waterbottle used by Captain Charles Sturt
black glass, fibre cover; height 31.0 cm

Download (1.23 Mb zip)

General Motors Holden
End of the main assembly line in Plant 1, General Motors Holden at Fishermen’s Bend, Melbourne, Victoria 1951–52
b&w photograph; 38.5 x 48.1 cm

Download (1.02 Mb zip)

Unknown engraver
Overland telegraph party, J. A. G. Little, Robert Pat[t]erson, Charles Todd, W. W. Mitchell, c.1873
hand-coloured engraving; 19.5 x 27.8 cm

Download (1.49 Mb zip)

Orford, June, 1946-
Welding rail joints
colour digital print
Canberra : National Library of Australia, 2003

Download (4.72 Mb zip)

Jeff Carter (b.1928)
A “School of the Air’’ classroom in progress at Broken Hill, presided over by Mrs Phyllis Gibb, a well-known district identity, c.1958
b&w digital print; 24.0 x 27.8 cm

Download (1.23 Mb zip)

J.L. Turner
Mr W.E. Hart, the first Australian aviator in his biplane, Penrith, 1911
b&w photograph; 9.9 x 15.6 cm

Download (4.12 Mb zip)

John Flynn (1880–1951)
Mr Alf Traeger transmitting by pedal-powered wireless c.1929
b&w lantern slide; 8.2 x 8.2 cm

Download (1.00 Mb zip)

Unknown photographer
On the wallaby track [between 1880 and 1910]
b&w photograph; 19.2 x 24.5 cm

Download (1.00 Mb zip)

Unknown lithographer
Washing tailings 1870s
chromolithograph; 11.8 x 17.4 cm

Download (7.03 Mb zip)

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