By the 1920s, vastly improved rail cars, plus a shorter sea route through the Suez Canal, combined to create a modern renaissance in European travel to Australia and New Zealand. In addition, the Empire Scheme assisted over 200,000 British immigrants to settle Down Under. All of this was assisted by the golden age of the travel poster, which ascended to a true popular art form – often, through British immigrant artists.
24 1/2 x 39 3/8 in./62.2 x 100 cm
You will stare wide-eyed at this poster for a long time, searching in vain to see what is not there: the Sydney Harbour Bridge; the Sydney Opera House. This extraordinary time-capsule of a travel poster captures Sydney’s harbour in 1930, two full years before the Harbour Bridge was constructed. That’s why the view, here, doesn’t even capture the Bridge’s future location. Our vantage point is from an aeroplane swooping above The Rocks. At bottom left, Observatory Hill Park; then, on a diagonal up and right, Sydney Cove, and the future location of the famous Opera House, with the Botanical Gardens lying to the right. Above, a biplane, and below, steamships streaming into the harbor.
24 3/4 x 19 1/2 in./63 x 49.6 cm
A ghostly horse-drawn carriage, with mounted escort, careens through a landscape of misty hills and gum trees in this evocative vision of Down Under. Looking closer, we can see that the carriage is a Gold Escort from 1851; indeed, this was the first Gold Escort, from the diggings at Ballarat to Melbourne’s treasury, to protect against bushrangers and thieves from stealing miners’ treasure during Australia’s Golden Age.
25 1/4 x 39 5/8 in./64 x 100.6 cm
Who wouldn’t want to luxuriate here? The Château Tongariro, completed in 1929, was built in an august neo-Georgian style to welcome visitors to the newly-formed Tongariro National Park, created from a Maori gift of land to the people of New Zealand for all time. As Mount Tongariro smokes in the background, you can see a bright and inviting tableau of skiers, explorers, horseback riders and romantic weekenders to this splendid wilderness.
25 1/8 x 39 3/4 in./64 x 101 cm
Eileen Mayo is a superb illustrator of Australian flora and fauna, and here she produces a quiet bit of witty polyphony in this stylized, almost Audubon-esque lithograph. Cockatoos are the birds of Australia: the continent hosts 11 of the world’s 21 wild species. Here she places a red-tailed black cockatoo, also known as a Banksian cockatoo, upon a branch of banksia, a flowering plant critically important to both the food chain in the Australian bush, and the nation’s cut-flower industry. The convergence of the nation’s most famous bird, and one of its most important plants, with the brand of Qantas rather flies home the point of Qantas’s essentiality to Australia’s nature.