Science and Art in a New Nation

Australia’s Federation, in 1901, coincided with a new era in scientific thought. Scientists began to dig deeper into the evolutionary and bio-geographic origins of Australian fauna. Palaeontologists uncovered the remains of extinct fauna, speculating on their form and behaviour.

This period also witnessed an increasing sense of national identity forged through identification with Australia’s environment. Victoria’s first national park was created on Wilsons Promontory, and artists and scientists were increasingly drawn into the emerging conservation movement.

Questions for the classroom

Humanities Inquiry
Federation marked the bringing together of different states to form one Australian nation.

Research the history of the first national park in Victoria and explain how its development reflects the changing values of the federated nation.

Science Inquiry
What scientific evidence does Knight draw on his illustration of the Thylacoleo, which was an animal that was already extinct at the time of drawing?

What hypothesis can you make about what motivated Rowan to create this stunning image of the Brooding Egret?

Art Inquiry
Ellis Rowan is a famous Australian botanical illustrator.

Investigate Botanical illustration in Australia. What were Rowan's influences?

Find a botanical specimen and create a botanical illustration.