Roslyn Russell, Kylie Winkworth
© Commonwealth of Australia, 2010
ISBN 97 80977544363 (pbk)
Distributed collections and significance
Items and collections held in archives and art galleries, libraries and museums across Australia help to tell our national stories. We have chosen to look at two of these stories–of Australia's great folk hero, Ned Kelly, and our most famous extinct animal, the thylacine. Preserved in collecting organisations and at heritage sites, the essential records and artistic expressions of Ned Kelly and the thylacine will continue to demonstrate their significance into the future.
Ned Kelly's story across collections
Perhaps no other story in Australian history has exerted such a strong influence on our visual and literary culture as that of the outlaw or 'bushranger' Ned Kelly, and his gang. It has inspired artists and musicians, historians and novelists, film and documentary makers and cultural tourists, and evoked a range of opinions about the outlaws. Were Ned Kelly and his gang vicious murderers, or champions of the poor and oppressed? Was Ned, their leader, a hero or a villain?
The thylacine across collections
The thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus), also known as the Tasmanian tiger or Tasmanian wolf, is Australia's best known example of recent species extinction, with the last known animal dying in Beaumaris Zoo, Hobart, on 7 September 1936. The poignant reminders of its fragile existence, terminated within the living memory of many Australians, have been captured in physical specimens, in photographs and on film, and pictured in works of art. The thylacine has become a potent symbol of man's impact on the natural environment and, from being a vilified pest hunted to extinction in previous centuries, has now achieved iconic status, not least as the symbol of the only state in which it lived at the time when Europeans settled Australia.