Animalia Australis

Art Gallery of Ballarat

Image courtesy of Art Gallery of Ballarat

This exhibition, selected from the Gallery’s extensive collection, celebrates the first encounters between white explorers, scientists and settlers with the animals of the Southern Continent and highlights the prevailing perceptions and depictions of native fauna of the period.

Australian plants and animals were often shockingly different to anything the European settlers had seen before — swans were not meant to be black, and mammals were not supposed to lay eggs. Many of these ‘new’ animals were also simply terrifying. However, there was also an exotic and intriguing beauty to be encountered, documented and published. The European settlement of Australia occurred at exactly the time when advances in science meant that people had both the means to describe these new discoveries, and the inspiration and interest to do so.