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On the wallaby track



Frederick McCubbin


25 Feb 1855 - 20 Dec 1917


With an evident empathy for rural labouring life, and a nationalist message, this much-admired painting by a principal member of the Heidelberg group was painted close to the artist's Melbourne home, using his family as models. Key influences for Frederick McCubbin at this time included the academic naturalism of Bastien-Lepage and the new focus on everyday subjects by leading French Barbizon school artists Corot and Millet. The title of the painting - 'On the wallaby track' - was a term used for itinerant workers roaming the bush on the fringes of properties looking for work.



Other Title

In the bush



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


122.0 x 223.5 cm stretcher; 119.5 x 221.0 sight edge; 176.5 x 278.0 x 10.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, brown oil "F McCubbin/ 1896".


Purchased 1897

Accession number


Artist information

Frederick McCubbin

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 47 publications


A.C., Age, 'Australian artists of the past: Frederick McCubbin', Melbourne, 26 Nov 1932.

Leigh Astbury, Australia 1888: a journal for the study of Australian history centred on the year 1888, 'Frederick McCubbin: the spirit of the pioneers', pg. 26-58, Melbourne, 1982, 38-40, 43, 45.

Leigh Astbury, La Trobe Library Journal [vol. 6, no. 24], 'The art of Frederick McCubbin and the impact of the first war', pg. 79-83, Melbourne, Oct 1979, 82.

Dr Ann Galbally, This Australia, 'Classic painting: Frederick McCubbin', pg. 74-75, Canberra, 1982, 74-75 (illus.).

James Gleeson, Impressionist painters 1881-1930, St Kilda, 1971, 88, 89 (colour illus.), 90-91. plate no. 20

David Hansen, Australian Impressionism, 'National Naturalism', pg. 281-287, Melbourne, 2007, 284, 345, 289 (colour illus.). 15.9

Ursula Hoff, Meanjin, 'The phases of McCubbin's art', pg. 301-306, Carlton, Spring 1956, 303, 304.

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 122 (colour illus.).

Lionel Lindsay, 150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938. 17

Andrew MacKenzie, Christie's Australia; Frederick McCubbin: Bush Idyll 1893, Sydney, 17th August, 1998, 'Frederick McCubbin (1855-1917)', pg. 11-15, South Yarra, 1998, 14 (colour Illus.), 11, 14. 4

Suzanne McDonnell, The Weekend Australian, 'Artist's mystery pioneer revealed', pg. 4, Sydney, 06 Jul 1991-07 Jul 1991, 4.

Hal Missingham, A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Sydney, 1953. 53

William Moore, The story of Australian art from the earliest known art of the continent to the art of today (Vol. 1), 'National life', pg. 122-152, Sydney, 1934, 134 (illus.).

Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 18 (illus.).

Barry Pearce, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Introduction', pg. 10-16, Sydney, 2000, 13, 37, 69 (colour illus.), 302.

Laura Pia, Look, 'Seeing art takes more than looking: Audio description tours now at the Gallery', pg. 12-13, Sydney, Jul 2009, 13 (colour illus.).

Ron Radford, McCubbin: last impressions 1907-17, 'Introduction: Fredrick McCubbin 1855-1917', pg. 9-20, Canberra, 2009, 10, 18, 36, 43.

Bernard Smith, 100 years of Australian painting, 'Foreword', pg. 2-4, Sydney, 1948, 5. 9

Jill Sykes, Look, 'Art, business and a Vatican contact', pg. 54, Sydney, Feb 2007, 54 (colour illus.).

Bernard William Smith, Australian painting 1788-1970, South Melbourne, 1971, 88, 119.

Alan McCulloch, The golden age of Australian painting - Impressionism and the Heidelberg school, Melbourne, 1969, 91 (illus.).

Editor Unknown (Editor), Frederick McCubbin exhibition: to mark the centenary of the artist's birth in 1855, Melbourne, 1955. 12

Bernard William Smith, A catalogue of Australian oil paintings in the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1875-1952, Sydney, 1953, 138.

National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1899, Sydney, 1899, 46 (sepia illus.). 250; Oil Paintings-Australian, titled 'On the Wallaby Track'

Editor Unknown (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 10 Sep 1897.

Editor Unknown (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 09 Sep 1897.

Studio, London, Feb 1896, 69 (illus.). titled 'In the bush'

Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales: Minutes 1.9.1891-4.5.1898, Sydney, 1891-1898. 7 September 1897, 15 December 1897

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 86 (colour illus.).

John McDonald, Art of Australia. Vol 1: Exploration to Federation, 'Individual and national feeling', pg. 545-610, Sydney, 2008, 568-569 (colour illus.).

Unknown, Read-to-go Art Picture pack, Glebe, 2000, (colour illus.). card no. 2

Unknown, Masters of the Heidelberg School, Leichhardt, 1998, 70 (colour illus.). plate no. 66

Unknown, Australia: Studies of Society and Environment, Sydney, 1996, 162.

Donald Williams, In our own image: the story of Australian art, Sydney, 1995, 60 (colour illus.).

Jeanette Hoorn (Editor), Strange women: essays in art and gender, Melbourne, 1994, 102 (illus.).

Margaret Meagher (Editor), State of the arts, Sydney, Dec 1991-Mar 1992, 36.

Unknown, The art of Frederick McCubbin, Melbourne, 1991, 60 (colour illus.), 61 (colour illus. detail), 133, 134. 20

Unknown, Frederick McCubbin 1855-1917: 'The Proff' and his art, Australia, 1990, 88, 89 (colour illus.), 90, 91. plate no. 23

Leigh Astbury, Sunlight and shadow: Australian impressionist painters 1880-1900, Rushcutters Bay, 1989, 191 (colour illus.). plate no. 141

Unknown (Editor), Frontier Country, Sydney, 1989, 130 (illus.).

Terence Maloon and Ursula Prunster, Art & the West, 'Mythmakers', Sydney, 1987, (colour illus.). AUS 4 card.

Leigh Astbury, City bushmen: the Heidelberg school and the rural mythology, Melbourne, 1985, 153 (illus.). plate no. 25

Edmund Capon and Jan Meek (Editors), Portrait of a Gallery, 'Australian Art in the Old Courts', pg. 24-37, Sydney, 1984, 33 (colour illus.).

William Splatt and Unknown, Australian impressionist painters: a pictorial history of the Heidelberg school, Windsor, 1981, 80.

Ann Galbally, Frederick McCubbin, Melbourne, 1981, 89, 93 (colour illus.), 97, 102, 110. plate no. 18

Unknown, A treasury of Australian bush painting, Adelaide, 1979, 34 (colour illus.), 36. plate no. 26

William Splatt and Barbara Burton, 100 masterpieces of Australian painting, Adelaide, 1973, 88 (colour illus.), 89. plate no. 41