This photograph was taken by Archibald James Campbell in preparation for his book Golden Wattle: Our National Floral Emblem which he published in 1921, however it did not make it into the final edition. The frontispiece of the book declares it is "a particularly unique series of photo-pictures of Wattles, or Australian Acacias, in full flower (with the introduction of a figure for idealistic purposes), and some scences of Wattle Wilds, together with descriptive letterpress."A well-known naturalist, Campbell argued for recognition of the wattle as a symbol of Australian patriotism. Campbell promoted spring excursions in search of wattle to establish the Wattle Club in 1899. In 1908 he delievered a lecture which became very popular, "Wattle Time; or Yellow-haired September," and in it he advocated for a National Wattle Day. Wider acceptance of a national Wattle Day was achieved at a major Australian Wattle Day League Conference in Melbourne in January 1913. Branches were formed in a number of States, with the general aim of officially proclaiming wattle as the national floral emblem and extending Wattle Day celebrations throughout the nation. About this time, wattle was officially introduced to representations of the Commonwealth coat-of-arms. In December of the same year, the first wattle blossom stamp was issued. As public support for Wattle Day reached a peak, World War I broke out. Wattle took on a new significance in the war years as a potent symbol of home for military personnel serving overseas, and as a means of raising money for organisations such as the Red Cross. Beautifully designed Wattle Day badges as well as wattle sprigs were sold. Ironically, the destruction of wattle for Wattle Day displays and fund-raising sales reached such heights that farmers within an hour of Melbourne locked their gates and wrote angry letters to newspapers. The use of badges depicting wattle instead of actual wattle sprigs saved many blooms. Campbell was also one of the first nature photographers in Australia. Campbell's adoration of the wattle and his nature photography came together in this series of images. Campbell notes that this variety of wattle, Acacia dealbata is "prime only when planted by a stream, spring or soak; attain a great size."


  • Title: Silver Wattle, Acacia dealbata
  • Creator Lifespan: 1853 - 1929
  • Creator Nationality: Australian
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Box Hill, Victoria, Australia
  • Creator Birth Place: Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia
  • Date Created: 1890
  • Physical Dimensions: w11 mm
  • Type: Image
  • Rights: Source: Museum Victoria, Out of Copyright, Source: Museum Victoria / Photographer: Archibald James Campbell
  • External Link: Museum Victoria Collections
  • Medium: Photograph
  • Themes: Artwork, lantern slides
  • Artist biography: Archibald James Campbell was born on 18 February 1853 at Fitzroy, Victoria. He was the eldest son of Archibald Campbell, who came to Australia in 1840, and his wife Catherine, née Pinkerton, both of Glasgow, Scotland. After education at a private school in Melbourne, Campbell entered the Victorian civil service in 1869 where he worked as a customs officer, retiring in 1914.His interest in nature was aroused in childhood at Werribee where he lived with his grandparents until the age of 10. His first love was egg-collecting, and his general interest in birds was further inspired by the study of John Gould's works at the Public Library.Campbell studied photography under Mr. L Hart, at the Working Men's College, Melbourne. His main aim in doing so was to illustrate his work of Natural History.He was for many years active in the Field Naturalists' Club of Victoria. By 1896 his collection of eggs represented 500 species. Campbell initiated the first of several dinners which led to the formation in 1901 of the (Royal) Australasian Ornithologists' Union; he was president in 1909 and 1928 and co-editor of its journal, 'The Emu', for 13 years.In the 1890s he contributed a series of articles on Australian birds to the Australasian and in 1905 was a founder of the Bird Observers' Club. In quest of eggs and bird-lore he travelled throughout Australia, often under rough conditions. He scientifically described and named over 30 Australian birds although only a few of these names have resisted synonymy. He published papers on eggs in the Southern Science Record, the Victorian Naturalist and the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria; one was read at the International Ornithological Congress at Budapest in 1891. These papers formed the basis for his major and still useful 'Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds' (1900), in an edition of 600 copies published in both one and two volumes. His pioneer collection, made when custom divided sets of eggs for exchange rather than preserved them as full clutches, was later presented to Museum Victoria.Campbell was elected a colonial member of the British and an honorary fellow of the American ornithologists' unions. He was a keen conservationist, showing concern for disappearing species, and a pioneer bird-photographer (having photographed Lesser Noddies as early as 1889). A lover of acacias, he was founder in 1899 of the Victorian Wattle Club (later League). He helped organise spring excursions on 1 September each year into the bush surrounding Melbourne, which evolved into the first 'national' Wattle Day, celebrated in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide on 1 September 1910.He was a member of the board of management of Toorak Presbyterian Church, a tenor in its choir, and an elder of Box Hill Presbyterian Church.Campbell married a teacher, Elizabeth Melrose Anderson (d.1915), at South Yarra on 11 March 1879; they had five children. By his second marriage to Blanche Ida Rose Duncan, a trained nurse, at Toorak on 27 March 1916, he had one son. He died at Box Hill on 11 September 1929 and was buried in St Kilda Cemetery.
  • Artist: Archibald James Campbell

Additional Items

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps