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Interior of Burrangalong Cavern (Abercrombie Caves), near Bathurst, New South Wales 1843–49

by Conrad Martens

Abercrombie caves, situated on the road between Bathurst and Crookwell, were also known as Burrangalong Caves in the first half of the 19th century.

Martens painted a number of views of the cave after his visit there in 1843. It is likely that this version was exhibited in the Society for the Promotion of Fine Arts exhibition held in Sydney in 1849, where this ‘wild and romantic’ painting was said to have been ‘painted on the spot’ — in other words painted in the cave itself. If this is the case, it is one of the earliest recorded instances of en plein air oil painting (or painting in front of a view, rather than in a studio) in Australia.