‘See Australia!’ is a collection of travel posters dating from 1930 to 1959 – now viewed as a ‘golden age’ of poster production – that promoted Australia nationally and internationally. There are examples from all states and territories. Displayed in colour, the posters represent a range of artistic styles and feature the work of some of Australia’s best known graphic artists. Viewed as a set, they provide valuable insight into those aspects of Australia the tourism industry deemed marketable for national and international campaigns.
- This picture trail includes eye-catching and colourful travel posters that were an important part of campaigns to market Australia locally and overseas. Because they were displayed in travel and tourism offices and in public places, it was important that the posters be enticing to passersby. The posters used popular symbols of Australia – sand, sea, surf and exotic landscapes, flora and fauna – as hooks to persuade potential travellers to visit.
- The marketing strategies for tourists in the UK, Europe, North America, Asia and Oceania focused on Australia’s natural beauty and healthy lifestyle. Posters by James Northfield and Percy Trompf embellish the remarkable light and colour of the Australian landscape. They contrast with Gert Sellheim’s more abstract but equally vibrant work. Two posters that celebrate the 150th anniversary of European settlement are included in the trail, and both feature the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge.
- Posters designed for interstate travellers emphasise the natural advantages of the featured state or territory rather than built objects. The invitation to ‘COOL OFF IN TASMANIA’ contrasts with the invitation to enjoy the winter sun in Brisbane. Major cities including Adelaide, Perth and Sydney are seen at a distance. They are depicted as safe and well organised, but less important than the natural environment.
- After the Second World War and the introduction of longer holidays and shorter working hours, tourism began to flourish. Posters in the trail invite tourists to explore desirable destinations and to adventure into more remote areas. Posters from Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory encourage people to become involved in physically active pursuits.
- The posters reflect the cooperation that existed between the national and state travel associations and commercial interests to promote tourism. The financial support received from hotels, railways, shipping and airlines is indicated by acknowledgements at the bottom of most posters. The means of travel was an important part of a holiday and some posters invite tourists to ‘WING YOUR WAY WITH ANA’ and travel ‘THERE and BACK by TRANS-AUSTRALIAN RAILWAY’.
- The posters in the trail were produced using lithographic techniques, enabling the graphic artists to produce highly expressive images cheaply and efficiently. Their appeal lies in their capacity to catch the eye and impart their message quickly by using simple forms with large areas of uniform colour and integrating image and text. The work of the artists is highly valued by collectors and is displayed in books, libraries and galleries.
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