People living in arid areas of New South Wales often rely on underground water for their survival. Until the 1880s sheep could only be grazed in areas where there was lots of surface water - in rivers and dams, for example. The first of many bores was sunk into the Great Artesian Basin near Bourke in 1878. It tapped a reliable, underground source of water and so opened up the arid north-west of NSW to graziers.
By bringing water to the surface, settlers provided water for wildlife as well. As a result, kangaroo populations in some arid regions are very much higher today than they were 100 years ago.
Sandra McEwen, Curatorial, 2008
This photographic negative was published by the Sydney firm Charles Kerry & Co. and is part of the Powerhouse Museum's Tyrrell collection which contains over 2,900 glass plate negatives by Kerry & Co. Although a few appear to be from the 1880s most were produced between 1892 and 1917. Over this period, and well into the early 1900s, prints from these negatives appeared in many Australian publications and albums of views. In 1903 the company began producing postcards from these negatives, further establishing the images as some of the most significant and best known early views of New South Wales.
Some of the more significant themes covered by the collection include; views of New South Wales, Queensland, country towns, Sydney, Indigenous Australians, the South Pacific, rural life, native flora and fauna, and sentimental views. In addition there are a number of significant events from the 1900s covered by the collection including; Embarkation of troops for the Boer War, Hordens fire and the Inauguration of the Commonwealth in 1901, the arrival of the Great White Fleet and the Burns verses Johnson boxing match at Rushcutters Bay in 1908.
Geoff Barker, Curatorial, November 2008
David, Millar, Charles Kerry's Federation Australia, Sydney, David Ell Press, 1981
Valdon, 'Our Artistic Workers; Mr. George Bell', Australian Photographic Journal, Volume 17, Number 199, December 21, 1908