Arts and Culture for Expats in Australia

Submitted: July 2013

Australian art spans a wide cross section, ranging from Aboriginal to photography and sculpture influenced by European modernism, and even contemporary art. The visual arts have a long history in Australia; there is also evidence of Aboriginal art dating back to at least hundreds of years.  The nation’s indigenous cultural traditions and its rich mosaic of migrant cultures are reflected through these and many other forms of both visual and performing arts, including film, music and dance. Hence your experience of the various art scenes promises to be an enjoyable one.

Australia boasts several art museums and galleries, including major, private and municipal galleries which are primarily government subsidised. If you prefer art from the Asian Pacific Region, the National Gallery of Australia (, the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art ( and the Art Gallery of New South Wales (www.­artgallery.­nsw.­gov.­au) may prove to be the ideal locations. For an Australian collection of Western art, the National Gallery of Victoria ( in Melbourne is the place to visit. While Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art (, Sydney and the privately owned Museum of Old and New Art ( in Hobart, Tasmania and the White Rabbit Gallery ( in Sydney are widely regarded for their collections of international contemporary art.

Note that art galleries and museums in Australia are not limited to those listed above as there are many others. If you want to know what is happening on the art scene for both performing and visual arts, the following link may prove useful in providing you with updates and overview of special events such as art festivals and fairs:

Numerous art and cultural events are hosted each year on varying scales. Some of the better known large-scale events include: National Multicultural Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, Ten Days on the Island and Darwin Festival. These events have fostered cultural tourism as they attract people from all over the world. Additionally, more than half the number of international visitors participate in at least one cultural event during their stay.

National Multicultural Festival – this is held in Canberra over a two-week period and features many aspects of local, national and international cultures such as food, music, dance and creative arts.

Perth International Arts Festival – this is the oldest annual international multi-arts festival in the southern hemisphere and is Australia’s premier cultural event. This event features drama, theatre, music, film, literature and comedy.

Ten Days on the Island – this is Tasmania’s flagship celebration of the island’s art and culture. It boasts a multitude of events in about 50 locations across the island. Each event caters to various aspects of culture with individual artists and companies who are from all over the globe.

Darwin Festival – this is geared at celebrating Darwin’s uniqueness, such as its multicultural communities and tropical climate. The cultural programme covers a wide range of aspects while incorporating music and dance from indigenous, Indonesian and Pacific Islands communities.

A particularly useful resource with a calendar of cultural and religious events is Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship website -

Also worth mentioning are the National Maritime Museum, the Bundanon Trust, the National Archives, National Portrait Gallery and the Old Parliament House and the National Library of Australia. Information can be obtained by visiting the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade -

Note that while English is Australia’s national language, there are certain words and expressions which are unique to the Australian culture through common usage. These colloquial or slang terms may seem strange to non-Australians and may sometimes cause confusion. There are a number of books on Australian colloquialisms and slang, including ‘Macquarie Book of Slang.’




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