Story By Mark Butterworth

In the the late 19th century, public lectures were a favourite form of entertainment and outback Australia was a favourite subject. These pictures are scans of precious glass photographic slides from that time. Such images of the bush were in constant demand from lecturers around the world.
For most people, even those within Australia, the photographs were the closest they ever came to the bush. Carefully chosen images showed superb detail and illustrated how people lived and went about their daily lives. Unusual aspects of the country would catch both the imagination and the photographer’s eye, and it was every lecturer’s goal to describe a way of life that was far removed from that of his audience.
At just over eight centimetres, these square glass plates represent some of Australia’s most famous 19th-century photographers. Charles Kerry, of Sydney, travelled around regional New South Wales photographing squatters’ lands, homesteads, families and livestock. Nicholas Caire, of South Yarra, Victoria, photographed men living alone in the outback. John Watt Beattie photographed almost every corner of Tasmania, and George Washington Wilson, one of the largest publishers of photographic prints, sent Fred Hardie from Scotland in 1892, specifically to acquire images for lecture slides.

This story excerpt is from Issue #61

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2008