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Image Dry weather in Melbourne, 1882

TLF ID R4649

This is a black-and-white drawing in pen and ink depicting a street scene in Melbourne in 1882. It is captioned 'Dry weather in Melbourne suburbs, no water in the houses'. Measuring 10.0 cm x 15.5 cm, the drawing shows a range of activities involving men, women and children. One man appears to be struggling under the weight of two buckets, although they are not full. Two of the children in a group playing on the road in the middle of the scene are holding buckets. Another child has a jug. On the right-hand side, a man is squatting on a horse-drawn cart. Another man is drinking from a container. On the left-hand side, a woman with a parasol and a girl are standing on a footpath. Nearby, a dog is drinking from a paved open drain. In the background, behind a low fence, are several single-storey houses with brick chimneys.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset shows a busy street scene in Melbourne in the 1880s, when Melbourne was the largest city in Australia - there is no indication which suburb is depicted in the drawing, but the type of houses in the drawing suggest it is now an inner-city suburb; there appear to be concrete footpaths, but the road is unsealed.
  • It portrays Melbourne at a time of water shortage - in 1882, Melbourne had only one reservoir, Yan Yean, which had opened in 1857; during times of low rainfall in the catchment area north-east of the city, water supplies were limited, and there was a serious drought in Victoria from 1877 to 1881.
  • It depicts an open drain in a Melbourne street - Melbourne did not have a sewerage system until the 1890s, and in 1882 open drains carried sewage and other waste, the omnipresent odour prompting the city to be labelled 'Smellbourne'; the smell was particularly bad in summer, and outbreaks of diphtheria and typhoid were common.
  • It possibly shows a horse-drawn water cart - although water began being supplied from the Yan Yean Reservoir in 1882, however, water carts were still a common sight in Melbourne; they sold water to householders not connected to the piped network.
  • It provides an example of 1880s architecture in Melbourne - the relatively narrow single-storey house that can be seen is typical of the period, with a slate roof and two brick chimneys, indicating it has fireplaces in two rooms; the corrugated-iron-roofed veranda has decorative ironwork.
  • It depicts examples of 1880s Australian women's, men's and children's fashion - the woman with the parasol is wearing a full-length bustle gown and the girl with her has an elaborate dress and bonnet; the old man on the footpath also appears to be 'dressed up', but the other men and children appear to be wearing everyday clothes.
  • It is an example of the work of Harold John Graham (1858-1929) - this drawing was for one of Graham's books, 'Sketches in Victoria and Tasmania, and of the voyage out on the "Sobraon"', published in 1882.

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Description: Content provider
  • URL:
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: Harold John Graham
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements