From traditional landscapes to boundary-breaking contemporary works – these country and regional galleries are a destination in themselves. (By Susan Gough Henly)
1. Neram, Armidale, NSW
Visit for Margaret Olley’s triptych, The Yellow Room, and explore the $36 million Howard Hinton Collection – an anthology from 1880 to 1948 with works by big name Australian landscape artists such as Arthur Streeton and Tom Roberts.
Neram’s onsite Harvest Café is also worth a visit, run by Rowan Tihema, formerly of Melbourne’s two-hatted Pearl Restaurant. (ph) 02 6772 5255.
2. Design Tasmania, TAS
Design Tasmania is the only museum of its kind in the country offers a terrific range of contemporary Tasmanian design, crafted from Indigenous timbers such as Huon pine, celery top pine, sassafras and myrtle. There’s also revolving exhibitions of contemporary craft in a wide range of media. (ph) 03 6331 5506.
3. Yaam Ganu, Moree, NSW
Yaama Ganu, meaning ‘welcome all’, is home to an art collection that is as reasonably priced as it is stunning. Featuring works from the local Kamilario people as well as other remote Indigenous Australian art centres, it’s co-funded by Aboriginal Employment Strategy (started by a local cotton grower) and the Indigenous Land Corporation – so the centre not only helps preserve culture but offers Aboriginal hospitality training too. There’s also a fabulous on-site restaurant called Gali Café, headed by Sydney restaurateur Toby Osmond, of Will & Toby’s. (ph) 02 6794 3280.
4. Benalla Art Gallery, VIC
This modernist gallery is home to Sidney Nolan’s Glenrowan Tapestry from his Ned Kelly Series. There’s also the Ledger Collection’s 19th and 20th-century art, with works by renowned artists like Frederick McCubbin. Make time to see Rick Amor’s The Arc in the Bush Mt. Buffalo – a powerful response to the area’s 2003 bushfires. (ph) 03 5760 2619.
5. Cairns Regional Gallery, QLD
Tropical North Queensland is a melting pot of artistic influences and this Cairns gallery is a reflection of just that with works by locals and artists who have been inspired by the region. The permanent collection features richly coloured works from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island artists as well as paintings by renowned Australian artists such as Brett Whiteley, Russell Drysdale and Ian Fairweather. (ph) 07 4046 4800.