Australia's best regional galleries revealed

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By now, most of us are aware of just how hard the pandemic, bushfires and travel restrictions have hit the economies of rural communities. The government has been urging domestic travellers to bring their much needed tourist dollars into these regions, and has even been offering vouchers for those who do so. But when it comes to exploring a new region, where does one begin?

The thriving and upcoming art galleries that sit in the hearts of many regional towns are the perfect starting point.

Bendigo Art Gallery in Victoria is one of the town’s biggest drawcards, and for good reason. Established in 1887, Bendigo Art Gallery is one of the oldest and best regional galleries in the country. It has a diverse collection and hosts world-class exhibitions with a special focus on bold fashion and design.

Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery (BHRAG) was founded in 1904, making it the oldest regional gallery in NSW. It is home to a permanent collection worth $10 million, including pieces by Arthur Streeton and Margaret Preston.

Read more: Time to go to Bendigo-go

Cairns Art Gallery is one of the city’s few remaining heritage buildings and is the largest public gallery in regional Queensland. It offers unique insight to the history and culture of far north Queensland and hosts a contemporary range of exhibits.

The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Launceston is located between two sites and is renowned for its collection of Australian colonial art.

The Bunbury Regional Art Gallery in Western Australia continues to put Indigenous history, stories and art at the forefront of exhibitions. Dr Joanne Baitz, director of the gallery, told Australian Traveller: “We are part of the oldest living civilisation in the world; this makes it imperative to support and learn about culture and country.

“We live on this land, we need to know its stories, to understand how to live and work together for the benefit of all,” says Dr Baitz. “Art is empowering and educational and a means of addressing difficult issues. It is a great way of unearthing hidden histories.”

Read more: Visiting South Australia

There are also a number of regional galleries that will be opening or reopening throughout the year, boasting new, state of the art exhibition spaces and works.

If you’re travelling to the Gold Coast in May, you’ll be able to visit the newly opened HOTA Gallery, Australia’s largest public gallery outside of a capital city. It will house one of the largest collections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art in regional Australia as well as the $32 million City Collection, containing more than 4400 artworks including works by Tracey Moffatt and Ben Quilty.

Later in the year, we’ll see the opening of the $31.5 million reimagined Rockhampton Art Gallery in Queensland. Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) in Victoria, Grafton Regional Gallery and Orange Regional Gallery in NSW are expected to reopen later this year with bold new designs and gallery spaces. 

Ngunungulla, a state-of-the-art gallery in NSW, is still taking shape, and is expected to open in August. It will be the first regional gallery to open in the Southern Highlands. Shortly after, the contemporary Bundanon Trust gallery is expected to open in Shoalhaven in October.

Are you passionate about the Australian art scene? Have you visited many of these regional galleries?

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Written by Liv Gardiner


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