Touring the past:
Tourism and History in Australia

Souvenir copper, photograph © Tim Harland

How did the Australian past become an object of the tourist gaze? For well over a century Australians have learnt to be nostalgic about their past. This exhibition charts the way Australians began to discover they had a past worth visiting. Convicts, bushrangers and rebellious diggers became standard tourist fare surprisingly early. At the same time, Australia’s past was also acquiring a patina of nostalgia, as artists discovered the beauties of colonial architecture and country towns recognised the benefits of promoting their history to tourists.

From Port Arthur to the Dog on the Tuckerbox, this exhibition explores the variety of pasts that tourists visited, the exhibits that drew them in and the souvenirs they took away.