Tourists' Pictures of the Past

Associate Professor Richard White, Department of History, the University of Sydney

A History Week 2013 event, co-presented with the Macleay Museum for the exhibition Touring the Past

10 September

This illustrated talk considers the ways in which tourists came to visualise Australia's past as a destination worth visiting. It will cover a range of ways in which tourists learned to 'see' the past over the last century - through art (especially etchings), postcards, photography, posters, film, souvenirs, coffee table books - as well as considering the ways they themselves took away their own tourist snapshots (what's been called the 'circle of representation’). From Port Arthur to the Dog on the Tuckerbox, from explorers’ trees to bushrangers’ graves, from stately homes to theme parks, this lecture explores the variety of pasts that tourists visited, the exhibits that drew them in and the souvenirs they took away.

Richard White


Associate Professor Richard White is a graduate of the University of Sydney and has taught in the Department of History since 1989. His books include Inventing Australia, The Oxford Book of Australian Travel Writing, Symbols of Australia and On Holidays: A History of Getting Away in Australia. His current research projects include 'Touring the past: tourism and history in Australia 1850-2010', which seeks to explain the origins and development of history tourism in Australia, a poorly understood activity with a surprisingly long history.