On the Wallaby Track

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On the wallaby track
Frederick McCubbin - On the wallaby track - Google Art Project.jpg
Artist Frederick McCubbin
Year 1896
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions 122.0 cm × 223.5 cm (48.0 in × 88.0 in)
Location Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

On the wallaby track is a 1896 painting by the Australian artist Frederick McCubbin. The painting depicts an itinerant family; a woman with her child on her lap and a man boiling a billy for tea. The painting's name comes from the colloquial Australian term "On the wallaby track" used to describe itinerant rural workers or "swagmen" moving from place to place for work.[1] The work has been described as "among the best known and most popularly admired of Australian paintings".[1]

McCubbin painted the work near his residence in Brighton, Victoria, a suburb of Melbourne. He used his family as models—his wife Annie for the woman and his young son John for the baby. Michael Moriaty, Annie's younger brother was the model for the man.[2]

A infra-red photograph of the painting revealed that the head of the woman was originally painted facing the viewer and only later turned to face away.[3]

The painting is popularly known in Australia for its use in an advertisement for Kit Kat chocolate bars.[4] On 17 June 1981, the painting also formed a new Australian $2 postage stamp.[5]

The painting is now part of the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales,[1] having been bought in 1897 for £126.[6]

Scottish-Australian poet and bush balladeer Will H. Ogilvie (1869–1963) wrote the poem 'The wallaby track' which was printed in The Bulletin in 6 June 1896, the same year as McCubbin's painting. The poem was later included in Ogilvie's inaugural anthology Fair girls and gray horses.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "On the wallaby track". Art Gallery of New South Wales. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
  2. ^ "On the wallaby track". Artist's Footsteps. Countrytowns Productions Pty Ltd. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
  3. ^ Whitelaw, Bridget; Payne, John; Leahy, Gillian. "The art of Frederick McCubbin: a view of his materials and technique". Art Journal 33. National Gallery of Victoria. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
  4. ^ "Contemporary views". Australian Impressionism. National Gallery of Victoria. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
  5. ^ "LIFE STYLE) TV- ARTS- ENTERTAINMENT Stamp honours McGubbin". The Canberra Times. 55, (16, 694). Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 11 June 1981. p. 21. Retrieved 13 June 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ "SYDNEY ART GALLERY". Chronicle. 40, (2, 038). South Australia. 11 September 1897. p. 13. Retrieved 13 June 2018 – via National Library of Australia.