These forty two photographs show aspects of urban and rural life, resource use, farming and transport in Australia between 1890 and 1915. Most depict changing technologies and some of them capture events that still affect us today. They demonstrate how our actions can have long term consequences.

Most of the photos were taken by government photographers in New South Wales and come from the studios of Charles Kerry or Henry King, who ran two of Sydney’s main photographic businesses at that time.

The original images exist as glass plate negatives in the Tyrrell Collection of the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Some of the plates are cracked or have broken corners. These imperfections form part of the image’s history and so are included in the reproductions. The Tyrrell Collection was donated to the Museum by Australian Consolidated Press in 1985.

The photographs may be reproduced and used for non-profit educational purposes.

Kosciuszko the main divide


Founding a dairy farm clearing the land in the 1890s

Farming & land clearing

Kiama quarry supplying ‘blue metal’ for Sydney

Mining & rural infrastructure

Shipping wool exporting natural resources

People & industry

A wool team taking wool to market


Urban pollution mountains of horse poo

Urban places and systems

Belalie Bore tapping the Artesian Basin near Bourke