Take a Look is a new installation from the National Library of Australia, exploring Australian stories through the Library’s collections. Located in front of the Library’s entrance, each letter reveals significant moments in our Nation’s history, with an item inside that brings these stories to life.

Whilst navigating the world is a challenge, you can explore these stories and more from the Library online. Go ahead and #TakeALook

N is for a nation of sport and music lovers

Archie Roach and dancers performing at the Australian Football League grand final, 1993
Tim Webster, Archie Roach and Dancers Performing at the Australian Football League Grand Final, 1993, nla.obj-136832789

I remember when I was a lad, kicking a footy round my backyard.
—Archie Roach, Colour of Your Jumper, 1993

Can you have a sporting moment without a sporting song? A look at the National Library’s collection suggests that it might be a challenge. Whether it’s beloved First Australian musician Archie Roach singing at the 1993 AFL Grand Final or the song Hurrah for the Bat and Ball, written to commemorate the Australian cricket tour to England in 1896, it’s hard to imagine our ‘national’ sports without some kind of musical performance.


  • Discover which sport is being played inside the letter N in our forecourt installation
  • Visit the Treasures Gallery to see the Olympic gold medal won by Fanny Durack at Stockholm (1912) and memorabilia relating to the life and career of cricketer Sir Donald Bradman
  • Learn more about sport and Australian culture in our Digital Classroom
  • Listen to boxer Lionel Rose and Jenny Rose talk about boxing and their life together

L is for a ‘living memorial’

Women's March 4 Justice in the Treasury Gardens, Melbourne. Demonstrators at the rally
Leigh Henningham, March4Justice, Melbourne, 2021

Let us remember that the price of the privilege of democracy is that all citizens shall participate fully in public life – women as well as men.
—Ruby Rich, 1 December 1967

From the suffrage movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to the March4Justice in March 2021, the National Library’s collection reveals the story of women’s fight for equality, both in Australia and overseas. Here you can find a rare Holloway Prison badge, awarded to radical suffragette Louisa C. Cullen, following her imprisonment in Britain’s Holloway Prison in 1908.

The collection also includes the papers of the Australian Federation of Women Voters, forming part of the long story towards equality for women. This collection features a treasure trove of letters, notes, names, stories and voices of Australian women who were instrumental in progressing women’s rights in the post-suffrage world of the 20th century. Not happy with merely voting, they wanted to see women elected, to work for legislative change in areas that would improve the lives of women and their families, and to see women become leaders in their own right. In the words of activist Bessie Rischbieth, the National Library’s collections are a ‘living memorial’ to women and their fight for equality and justice.


A is for an abundance of water

Map of Lake Burley Griffin foreshore development
National Capital Development Commission, Lake Burley Griffin Foreshore Development, 1964, nla.obj-363272708

Ornamental water was one of the requirements in the competition for the design of the federal capital city of the Commonwealth of Australia. Lake Burley Griffin was created by the damming of the Molonglo River, reshaping the landscape. Today, the lake is at the heart of the city, linking north and south, providing a place for people to gather for recreation and exercise.

For a while, the foreshores of Lake Burley Griffin were home to Alexander Bunyip, the mischievous mythical creature created by Michael Salmon in his children’s book The Monster That Ate Canberra.

From plans and maps to oral histories and photographs, the collection reveals the story of the development of Canberra, of Lake Burley Griffin and of the people who have lived in and shaped this city.


Take a Look