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Natural world

Deeper history

Science and history come together in conserving the swamplands of southern Sydney.

Drawing to a close

An artist followed in the inspiring footsteps of a botanist rescued from a tragic expedition in 1848. 

Totems

How can a dialogue between Indigenous ancestors and descendants forge connections to country for all Australians?

Singing with the wind

Sydney writer and naturalist Ella McFadyen combined a love of nature, folklore and poetry. 

The real secret river: exploring Dyarubbin

A list of Aboriginal placenames was a trigger for seeking the ‘real secret river’.

River dreams

Bold plans to transform the Cooks River in Sydney are reflected in the Library's collection.

Through Darwin's eyes

Australia played an important role in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Splendid Species

The Library is delighted to announce the complete digitisation of its renowned "pattern" set of 681 folio-sized plates for  'The Birds of Australia' by John Gould. 

Alec Chisholm: bush naturalist and benign nationalist

Alec Chisholm (1890–1977) was once famous in Australia. Although that’s no longer so, he’s a man worth remembering.

Record catch: 80 years of east coast fishing

Merging history and science, a Library fellowship tracked 80 years of fishing off the east coast of Australia.

Slide show

The quirky and obscure Hallams slide collection is a curator’s dream, revealing ordinary Australian gardens in the 1960s and 70s.

The modern garden

Outstanding gardens are revealed by leading photographers in a new exhibition.

Planting Dreams: audio guides

Hear Jonathan Jones, Bruce Pascoe and Richard Aitken share their thoughts about some of the items on display in Planting Dreams

Antarctica: modern adventures

Like many other nations, Australia was looking to the future after the turmoil of the Second World War. Several countries saw Antarctica as a potential source of territory, fishing and mineral resources.

Early Antarctic adventures

The subject of much speculation, the idea of an unknown southern land began with the ancient Greeks.

Mysterious leaves from the past: Bray’s Museum of Curios

Historical discoveries from the Library's collections.

Looking north: Sydney's Upper North Shore

The Upper North Shore is one of the jewels of Sydney. Follow the development of this region from isolated bush and farmland to a prosperous residential area.

Hunter Valley

Caergwrle (pronounced Ka-girlie) is situated on the Allyn River, in one of the most beautiful rural areas of the Hunter Valley.

Papua New Guinea (PNG): Forty years of independence

Although European navigators visited and explored the Papua New Guinea islands for 170 years, little was known of the Papua New Guinea inhabitants until the late 19th century.

Australian agricultural and rural life

Images of the changing face of Australia’s rural landscape.

Hitting the slopes: a young woman’s alpine adventure in the 1930s

Thoroughly modern Miss Emily Chambers of Burwood, NSW, was always eager to try the latest fad.

From Terra Australis to Australia

Discover the original journals, logbooks, letters, paintings and drawings covering the voyage of the First Fleet, the mutiny on the Bounty and Matthew Flinders' journeys.

The Wallis album

The discovery and acquisition of a fascinating album compiled by Captain James Wallis reveals the artistic collaborations between a commandant and a convict.

The TAL & Dai-ichi Life Derby Collection

This extraordinary collection of natural history illustrations contains 745 watercolours in six volumes, the collection conveys Europe’s naïve yet genuine sense of wonder at Australia’s unique natural history.

Lasseter's lost reef

Nothing captures the Australian imagination quite like the thought of striking it lucky. So it’s no surprise one of our greatest legends involves a search for a mysterious vein of gold.

The Tasman Map: two voyages to the southern ocean between 1642 and 1644

The story of the Tasman Map is a tale of mystery, discovery and a chance finding on the Nullarbor Plain.

Antarctica: Frank Hurley

As the official photographer on the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, Frank Hurley provided a remarkable record of the dangers and heroism of Antarctic exploration in the early twentieth century.

Crossing the Blue Mountains

None of the settlers in Sydney knew what lay west of the Blue Mountains in the early 1800s. This vast natural barrier that stretched north and south beyond sight had thwarted all attempts to cross or go around it.