We stand on the threshold of another Australian Spring – a particular time when the whole land is in beauty, arrayed with Wattles all abloom in the most exquisite tints and tones of yellow, and there from is ascending like a continual oblation, an invisible cloud, the soft, sweet perfume of pure wattle incense.
These are the opening lines in the photographic essay on Australian wattles titled, Golden Wattle, Our National Floral Emblem, published in September 1921. 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 scenes of Wattle Wilds, together with descriptive letterpress.”
Archibald James Campbell (1853-1929) – known usually as ‘A.J.’ – was a pioneer enthusiast and promoter of wattles, particularly Golden Wattle Acacia pycnantha, as the national floral emblem, during the early years of Australia’s story as a federated nation. As far back as 1899, AJ had promoted a private ‘Wattle Club’ that annually visited such places in Victoria as Werribee, the You Yangs, and Eltham on the Yarra – at the start of Spring – to enjoy the ‘Wattle Wilds’.
Wattle is said to offer a glimpse of hope, and heralds the change in seasons and new life. As the golden bloom lights up the Australia-scape right now, we wanted to share some of photographer A.J. Campbell’s dreamy and serene Wattle Nymphs. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
Australian National Botanic Gardens
Museums of Victoria
Australian Humanities Review