State Library Victoria calls on public to save Australia’s greatest news pictures

Bruce Postle, The real elephant in the room, 1972

Media release

Tuesday 26 March 2019


State Library Victoria today launched a public appeal to raise $75,000 to make the extensive archive of award-winning photographer Bruce Postle available to the public.

The Bruce Postle Archive will offer an important and compelling insight into the images that have captured the social, political and sporting history of Australia.

For more than 50 years working as a photojournalist for Queensland Country Life, The Courier-Mail and The Age, Bruce Postle gained rare access to significant people, places and events.

Known for his ability to capture the perfect frame at any cost, Postle was highly sought after because his pictures often elevated a story to the front page.

His personal archive contains nearly 100,000 items including prints, transparencies and ephemera. The collection will join the Library’s photographic archive of more than one million images, and is the largest of its kind to be acquired by the Library.

Highlights of the archive include the 1970 Vietnam War moratorium rallies, the aftermath of the 1970 West Gate Bridge collapse and the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. Happier moments include the Rolling Stones’ first tour of Australia in 1965 and the iconic image of Malcolm Fraser in his Windsor Hotel bed on the morning after his 1980 re-election.

Bruce Postle said: “I’ve been passionate about photography ever since I took my first photo of the family cat when I was nine. I’ve lost and destroyed 36 cameras over the course of my career all in the name of getting ‘that shot’. I have always loved telling stories through pictures and the public’s support for this appeal will help bring those stories to life for future generations to come.”

State Library Victoria CEO Kate Torney said the archive serves as an irreplaceable record of the most important moments in Australian history from the past 50 years.

“Nearly every Australian would have seen a Bruce Postle photograph. He scaled bridges and braved floods, fires and mobs to put viewers in the moment and capture the spirit of his subjects – be it a sporting star, performer, factory worker or politician.”

“Bruce’s extraordinary photographs give us a candid glimpse into the evolution of Australian life during the second half of the 20th century. With the public’s support we can protect this stunning collection, making it available for everyone to discover, re-discover and enjoy,” said Ms Torney.

About Bruce Postle

Born in 1940, the son of a press photographer, Bruce Postle began his career at Queensland Country Life, then The Courier-Mail in Brisbane before moving to The Age in Melbourne in 1969, where he shot the front page image on his first day.

In a time before digital photography and hard drives, Postle shot sparingly on film. Despite these limitations he was known to detour from a job when he saw a great photo opportunity, with some of his most well-known images spontaneously captured on the way to other jobs. He received a Quill Lifetime Achievement Award from the Melbourne Press Club in 2007 and was inducted into The Australian Media Hall of Fame in 2014.

The Bruce Postle appeal will run until 30 June 2019. To support the appeal please visit slv.vic.gov.au/postle-appeal