Australia’s Capital Treasures

National Museum of Australia

Thirty years ago, growing up in Australia meant a Holden in the garage, a Hills hoist clothesline out the back and Victor lawn mower in the shed. Australia’s unique past and character is encapsulated in the displays of the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.

Divided into four regions the National Museum celebrates the land, its indigenous peoples, the national identity and enduring icons. The history of the Aboriginal people honours their culture and traditions, and details their struggles with the European occupation. A massive painting (10×8 metres) details the land claim of the Ngurrara people, telling the stories of their travels through the land over the centuries. The painting formed the evidence provided to the courts and helped to win their land claim.

All the modern icons of Australian life are represented in the displays, an immaculate FJ Holden car, the Hills hoist and Victor lawn mower sit comfortably alongside the woomeras, spear points and possum cloak. If a visitor to Australia wanted to reflect on what makes us Australian, this museum makes a good mirror. Best of all, its free. Open daily (closed Christmas Day) from 9am to 5pm. Photography is permitted throughout the museum but no tripods or large bags are permitted inside, use the cloakroom rather than leaving valuables in the car (Free parking). Your visit starts in the Circa rotating theatre where you receive a brief orientation of the museum artifacts before starting your own exploration of Australian history.

This is the first article of new series, Australia’s Capital Treasures, that will focus on the museums and attractions of the Australian Capital, Canberra.