TarraWarra Museum of Art, Yarra Valley, Victoria © cop
Discover Australia’s best regional art galleries
You’ll find world-class art galleries in every corner of Australia.
By Simon Webster
In Australia, art thrives not just in the big capital cities like Melbourne and Sydney but further afield, too. You’ll encounter remarkable art galleries in less likely places, such as country towns, and even underwater, right across Australia. Here’s how to get your art fix as you make your way around the country.
TarraWarra Museum of Art
Where: 313 Healesville-Yarra Glen Rd, Healesville, Victoria
Healesville, a town famous for its gourmet food and wine, is in the beautiful Yarra Valley wine region of Victoria, a one-hour drive east of Melbourne. It’s also home to the TarraWarra Museum of Art, Australia’s first privately-funded public visual arts museum.
TarraWarra Museum of Art specialises in Australian works from the 1950s onwards, and has a collection that includes pieces by Australian greats such as Brett Whiteley, Arthur Boyd, John Olsen and Russell Drysdale.
The artworks are housed in an architecturally stunning building on the TarraWarra winery estate, amid the Yarra Valley’s rolling hills. After viewing the collection, you can sample TarraWarra’s wines at the estate’s cellar door and dine at its popular onsite restaurant to round off a wonderful day of culture and indulgence.
Newcastle Art Gallery
Where: 1 Laman St, Cooks Hill, Newcastle, New South Wales
The city of Newcastle, a two-hour drive north of Sydney in New South Wales, has undergone a cultural renaissance in recent years, with arts venues rising up to complement the city’s dining scene and stunning beaches.
The Newcastle Art Gallery is no newcomer though; it’s been around since 1957, and houses one of Australia’s most important collections, featuring art from colonial times to the present, as well as Aboriginal bark paintings, Torres Strait Islander works on paper, and Japanese and Australian ceramics.
You can get an excellent overview of the history of Australian art here, as well as catching some of the nation’s most innovative portrait and figurative painting in the gallery’s annual Kilgour Prize.
Museum of Underwater Art
Where: Off the coast of Townsville, Queensland
The museum plans to have installations at four locations along this stretch of coastline: already completed is Coral Greenhouse, the creation of underwater sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. The work sits on the ocean floor, 18 metres (60 feet) below the surface on the Great Barrier Reef, and houses 22 sculptures of “reef guardian” children. This living, evolving installation has become a habitat for fish and coral since its opening in 2020. The “greenhouse” is two hours offshore, and you can scuba dive or snorkel the site with one of five tour operators.
Closer to land, deCaires Taylor’s Ocean Siren sculpture stands in the water just off The Strand beachfront promenade in Townsville. It’s modelled on a local Wulgurukaba Aboriginal girl, and the sculpture’s LEDs change colour in response to water temperatures out on the reef.
Murray Bridge Regional Gallery
Where: 27 Sixth St, Murray Bridge, South Australia
The Murray Bridge Regional Art Gallery is on the mighty Murray River, an hour’s drive east of the South Australian capital, Adelaide. What started life as a community-run space, established by art-loving locals in 2001, is now a professionally run gallery that is home to three beautiful exhibition spaces.
They showcase everything from local art to nationally significant exhibitions, such as Weapons for the Soldier, a major 2019 show in which Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists presented alternative depictions of war.
The light here is terrific, and the size and flexibility of the spaces often means that touring exhibitions can be shown in their entirety – rare for a regional gallery.
Geraldton Regional Art Gallery
Where: 24 Chapman Rd, Geraldton, Western Australia
In the early 1980s, Geraldton’s town hall was almost demolished to make way for a car park. Thankfully, the heritage-listed building in this coastal town, a four-hour drive north of the Western Australian capital of Perth, was saved.
It’s now the home to the Geraldton Regional Art Gallery, which hosts touring shows from Australia’s leading institutions, as well as its own curated exhibitions featuring Western Australian artists.
Its permanent collection includes works by such famous Australian names as Norman Lindsay, Elizabeth Durack and Tracey Moffatt, and the gallery’s flagship exhibition, the Mid West Art Prize, takes place every two years.