The Australian Centre aims to develop innovative research projects in the Australian arts and humanities across a range of disciplines, including Art History, Theatre Studies, Literary Studies, Cultural Studies, Media and Communication, Cinema Studies, Indigenous Studies and Creative Writing.


The Australian Centre was founded in January 1989 with the assistance of a grant from the Hugh Williamson Foundation. Its directors have included Professor Chris Wallace-Crabbe (founding Director 1989-1994), Professor Ruth Fincher (1995-1996) and Professor Kate Darian-Smith (1998-2005 and 2010-2012). Professor John Murphy, Dr Fay Anderson and Dr Sara Wills have also served as directors. During this time the Centre achieved national and international recognition for its undergraduate and graduate level teaching in Australian Studies, interdisciplinary doctoral program and a distinguished record of Australian Research Council (ARC) and other external funding for research projects and fellowships that fostered an appreciation and critical examination of Australian society, culture and history. The Australian Centre also administered a suite of national cultural and literary awards and continues to do so.

Australian grass trees (Xanthorrhoea species) with red kangaroos (Macropus laniger) at Yankalilla
‘Australian grass trees (Xanthorrhoea species) with red kangaroos (Macropus laniger) at Yankalilla’. Coloured lithograph by J. W. Giles, c. 1846, after G. F. Angas. Wellcome Collection gallery. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

News and events



The Australian Centre administers a series of prizes for outstanding endeavour in the visual arts, creative writing and biographical studies. The awards are presented on an annual or biennial basis.


Read the announcement of the prizes’ past winers and download the judges reports for the Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize, Peter Blazey Fellowship, Kate Challis RAKA Award and the Dinny O’Hearn Fellowships.

Past winners


The Australian Centre aims to develop research capacity in two key areas:

Australia Colonial Bank of Australasia 1 Pound Sterling

The Colonial Australian Archive

This field of research brings together current and new work across the following areas: colonial literary studies / print culture, theatre and performance, early cinema, visual art and design, migration and settlement, ‘contact’ studies, colonial typologies, frontier settler violence, law and order, race, and gender.

Research into the colonial archive in Australia is ongoing and always in need of further encouragement. The colonial archive holds information crucial to the foundations, aspirations and anxieties of an emerging modern nation. The aim is to develop and disseminate a sophisticated sense of the complexities of colonial life in Australia across a wide range of sites of cultural and social activity.

The Colonial Australian Archive

Bangarra Dance Theatre Performance at “Future Dreaming” Cultural Event

Contemporary Australian Cultural Practices

This field of research brings together current and new work across the following areas: literary studies, creative writing, theatre and performance studies, cinema, television, visual art, dance, publishing, new media, and social media. The aim is to develop and disseminate a sophisticated sense of contemporary cultural forms and practices in Australia, informing Australians’ sense of their relationship to the nation and the world.

Cultural practices provide one key site for Australians to engage with issues that are significant to the nation and to national identity. Understanding the contribution of the cultural sector to new ways of being, identifying and representing Australia, both to itself and internationally, is vitally important to the vision of the nation.

Contemporary Australian Cultural Practices