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Introductory Snapshot

While it's obvious Australians love their sport, they also have a quiet love affair with the arts. From cinema, literature and music to theatre, dance and the visual arts, Australia's varied cities all offer a good dose of culture. To give you a small taste of what's on offer country-wide, the following section focuses on the visual arts, providing details of galleries and museums showcasing Australian art in each of the capital cities. Permanent collections in the places listed are all free (apart from Adelaide's Migration Museum).

Of course, Australian culture wouldn't be what it is without its multicultural dimension. Read on to find out just how culturally diverse the country is.

A Taste of the Best Art Galleries & Museums


The Art Gallery of NSW in Art Gallery Rd, City Centre is one of the best public galleries in the country, with permanent displays of Australian, European, Asian and tribal art. Look out for works by Oz masters Lloyd Rees, Margaret Preston and Brett Whiteley. The Yiribana Gallery, with its exemplary collection of Aboriginal and Islander art, is ever popular.


Housed in a dramatic steel and glass building at the eastern end of Federation Square, the Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria Australiain the City Centre is home to a marvellous collection of more than 20,000 pieces of Australian art, from the colonial to modern periods and with an entire floor dedicated to indigenous art.


The fascinating Migration Museumin the City Centre tells the stories of migrants who came from all over the world to make South Australia their home. There's information on over 100 nationalities along with touching personal stories.


The challenging QUT Art Museum at the Queensland University of Technology specialises in paintings, prints and ceramics. It features contemporary art from around the world alongside home-grown works, including pieces from QUT students.


Providing a fascinating journey through Western Australia without leaving Perth, the Berndt Museum of Anthropologyat The University of Western Australia is one of Australia's finest collections of traditional and contemporary Australian Aboriginal art and artefacts.


A highlight of the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territoryin  Fannie Bay is the Aboriginal art collection, with carvings and bark paintings from the Tiwi Islands and Arnhem Land. The large exhibition devoted to Cyclone Tracy is also well worth a look, and be sure not to miss 'Sweetheart', a 5m long, 780kg saltwater crocodile...


The stunning National Gallery of Australiain Parkes has arguably the best collection of Australian art in the country. The collection ranges from traditional Aboriginal art through to 20th-century works by Arthur Boyd, Sidney Nolan and Albert Tucker. There's also an impressive Sculpture Garden to explore.


Incorporating Hobart's oldest building, the Commissariat Store (1808), the excellent Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery in the City Centre features a Tasmanian Aboriginal display and relics from the state's colonial heritage, plus a good collection of colonial art.


Australia continues to benefit from its multicultural make-up – one of the most diverse in the world – enjoying a wealth of ideas, cuisines and lifestyles. The last census reported that 23% of the population is foreign-born, and over 40% of Australians are of mixed cultural origins. Every four minutes and eight seconds Australia gains another international immigrant. Many foreign-born Australians came from Italy and Greece after WWII, but recent immigrants have mostly come from New Zealand and the UK, as well as China, Vietnam, Africa and India, among many other places. Some 2.2% of the population identifies itself as of Aboriginal origin, and most live in the Northern Territory. Australia's other Indigenous people, Torres Strait Islanders, are primarily a Melanesian people, living in north Queensland and on the islands of the Torres Strait between Cape York and Papua New Guinea.


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