Selling Queensland

Postcards of Queensland Postcards are an integral part of how the state has been promoted. As well as depicting the natural beauties of Queensland, early postcards also highlight and celebrate industrial and agricultural “developments” and infrastructure, from railway lines to Council buildings. H1622 Bikini Made from Olive Ashworth's 'Tropical Fan Palms' design. H19831 Bikini Made from Olive Ashworth's 'Tropical Fan Palms' design. H19831

Queensland has been “sold” through propaganda, policy and legislation since its inception in 1859 150 years. The sale of state resources – land, timber, minerals, agricultural and pastoral products – is part of our identity.

  • Land was a major resource for the colonial government. Legislation allowed land to be parcelled for sale and lease.
  • Queensland was and is metaphorically “sold” through tourism marketing campaigns for regions like the “Gold Coast” and the Great Barrier Reef.
  • The sell was heightened during the rapid development era under the governance of Sir Joh Bjelke Peterson from 1968 - 1987
  • Queensland continues to be sold through large-scale mining ventures, and recent promotions of the “Smart State”.

Promoting Queensland

International Exhibitions

Queensland has “showed off” in one form or another throughout its history. As the “Sunshine State”, Queensland marketed itself as a tourist destination throughout the twentieth century.

In the second half of the 19th century Queensland participated in 30 exhibitions in Australia and internationally to promote colonial resources and industries. Participation in Exhibitions aimed to publicise Queensland as a destination for investment, trade in mining and agricultural products, and to attract desirable migrants.

Echoing this age-old tradition Brisbane hosted The World Expo in 1988 and attracted more than 18 million visitors to the capital city. The event is regarded as a defining moment in Queensland history, and Expo 88 is credited with transforming Brisbane into a modern city, marking a shift in political and social agendas.

Queensland Museum has collected souvenirs, mascots and marketing associated with the event, recognising its significance in the creation of modern Brisbane.


Symbolic imagery and representational imagery are closely linked in the promotion of Queensland. The long-standing depiction of Queensland as the “Sunshine State” was well established by the 1950s and was promoted through poster images of sun, sand and sea. The Gold Coast, and Surfers Paradise in particular, became renowned for its beach, was a premier destination for holiday makers in the 1960s and 1970s.

Representations of the reef and rainforest add to the image of Queensland as a destination for international visitors. These pictures appear on everything from photographs and postcards to plates, clothing and stationery. In designing tropical fabrics for resort wear, Olive Ashworth drew on imagery from such iconic localities places.

Peter Beattie, Premier from 1998 to 2007, rebadged Queensland as the “Smart State”, even introducing it to vehicle number plates. Presented as an alternative to the “Sunshine State”, he aimed to promote Queensland as a destination for technology and innovation. This change reflects an earlier emphasis on natural resources and investment opportunities.

Representations of Queensland

Cave of Adullam, Cave Creek, Gilbert River", photo by Richard Daintree "Cave of Adullam, Cave Creek, Gilbert River", by Richard Daintree H26820 "Mary River Ferry, Maryborough", by Richard Daintree "Mary River Ferry, Maryborough", by Richard Daintree H26825 Lumiere Camera Lumiére Movie Camera and Projector, probably one of the first three brought to Australia in 1896. H838

Pictorial representations of Queensland play an integral role in the selling and promotion of Queensland. The Museum holds a number of significant collections of material that demonstrate how the state was promoted and the methods used to do so.

Daintree Photographs

Richard Daintree (1832-1878) was the first Government Geologist for the north of Queensland. In the course of his appointment he took many photographs of the landscape and geology of the state and became an accomplished photographer in his own right. He created his photographs through a process known as ‘wet collodion’ which is difficult to control. The images are outstanding examples of the art and present a vivid picture of early settlement in Queensland.

Daintree’s photographs were shown in Queensland displays at 10 International Exhibitions between 1871 and1897. They were used as a form of “propaganda and education”, to promote Queensland and sell its resources. Daintree's collection of photographs and geological specimens were the focal point of the Queensland contribution at the 1871 Exhibition of Art and Industry in London, and he travelled with the display to England. Much of this material was lost when the ship carrying Daintree and his family was wrecked.

Queensland Museum holds a large number of Daintree photographs including more than 150 large format canvas-mounted photographs and more than 100 card ones. The canvas mounted images were produced using a carbon printing process and over-painted with oil to make them more striking.

Lumiére Camera and Film

Among the earliest depictions of Queensland is film recorded on a Lumiére Cinematograph. The Cinematograph was the invention of Frenchmen Auguste and Louis Lumiere. The device functioned as camera, projector and printer. In 1899 the Queensland Government purchased a Lumiére Cinematographe to film moving images of Queensland for the Greater Britain Exhibition in London. The aim was to attract British migrants to the colony of Queensland.

The Lumiére films created by Frederick Wills and his assistant Henry Mobsby show several aspects of Queensland life. They were the first films produced by an Australian Government Department, and possibly the first produced by any government in the world.

Related links

Richard Daintree, Australian Dictionary of Biography

National Film and Sound Archive

Queensland Museum's Find out about... is proudly supported by the Thyne Reid Foundation and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.