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Homestead, Dunlop Station, Darling River, from the album New South Wales Royal Commission: Conservation of water. Views of scenery on the Darling and Lower Murray during the flood of 1886.



Charles Bayliss

England, Australia

1850 - 1897


The photographs taken by Bayliss along the Darling and Lower Murray rivers in 1886 were made for the Lyne Royal Commission into Water Conservation in New South Wales. Bayliss and six others travelled by paddlewheel steamer down the Darling River to Adelaide, studying land conditions and taking evidence from locals. The ultimate aim of the commission was to develop strategies for water conservation and distribution to avert ‘the disastrous consequences of the periodical droughts to which the Colony is from time to time subject’, a project still unrealised 120 years later.1

Ironically, the expedition was made at a time of flood. This photograph shows the river bursting it banks and flooding the outer paddock of the homestead. The commission’s steamer is visible, moored at the upper left. The Dunlop Station, between Wilcannia and Bourke on the Darling River, played an important role in the history of shearing in Australia. In 1886 it covered nearly 180 000 acres and employed more than 100 people at mustering time. The first complete shearing by mechanical means took place here two years after this photograph was taken.

1. 1884 report in Jeffcoat K & Byron S 1991, 'Down the Darling: the Charles Bayliss photographs', Department of Water Resources New South Wales, Parramatta p 8

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007




Media category


Materials used

albumen photograph


20.9 x 28.2 cm image/sheet; 21.9 x 29.1 cm card; 26.2 x 34.0 cm paper (irreg.)

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 1984


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Charles Bayliss

Works in the collection


Shown in 6 exhibitions

Exhibition history

  • Colonial Photographers, Josef Lebovic Gallery, Kensington, 24 Mar 1984–28 Apr 1984

  • Critic's Choice, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Apr 1994–10 Jul 1994

  • We Are Family, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Oct 1994–20 Nov 1994

Referenced in 8 publications


Judy Annear, The photograph and Australia, Sydney, Jun 2015, 40 (colour illus.).

Sandra Byron and Kevin Jeffcoat, Down the Darling - The Charles Bayliss Photographs, Sydney, 1991, 26, 27 (illus.).

Robyn Donohue, Look, 'Arcadia: Nineteenth Century Australian Photography', pg. 22-23, Heidelberg, Oct 1998, 22 (illus.).

Robyn Donohue, Arcadia - nineteenth century Australian photography, Sydney, 1998, (illus.). no catalogue numbers

Josef Lebovic Gallery, Colonial Photographers, Sydney, 1984. 116

Robert McFarlane, Critic's Choice, Sydney, 1994. no catalogue numbers

Steven Miller, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'In every house, and in every tent', pg.33-51, Sydney, 2007, 48 (illus.).

Jill Sykes, Look, 'Picturing the past', pg.38-9, Sydney, Aug 2007, 39 (illus.).