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The travellers and the ten periods of australian migration

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Each of the ten Travellers figures represents a period of migration to Australia (as defined by historian Dr James Jupp AM). More than 3.7 km of stainless steel (in 4455 pieces) was used to create the sculptures. The average weight of each figure is 2307 kg while the heaviest figure is 7701kg.

A full explanation of the artist’s concept and the corresponding period of migration can be found on page 5).
1. Gayip – The Aboriginal Period (designed with the assistance of Indigenous artist Mandy Nicholson).
2. First Settler – The Convict Period (1788 – 1868).
3. Melbourne Beauty – The Gold Rushes (1850 – 1890).
4. Walker and his tucker bag – Assisted Migration (1830 – 1930).
5. Shelter – Displaced persons (1947 – 1953).
6. Urban Wheel – European Migration (1947 – 1983).
7. Running Couple – Refugees (1856 – 2005).
8. Butterfly Girl – Asian and middle east migration (1975 – 2005).
9. Technoman – Students and professionals (1975 – 2005).
10. Walking Sun – Australian Multiculturalism.


  • The Sandridge Bridge is situated near the old Yarra Falls site (now Queens Bridge), a traditional Indigenous meeting place and just upstream from the landing point of Melbourne’s first white settlers (Enterprize Park).

  • The Yarra Falls was used as a river crossing and marked the point where the Yarra turned from salt water to freshwater. Because of this fresh water supply the site was chosen as the location for Melbourne by John Batman. The falls were dynamited in 1880’s to improve upstream access.

  • The current bridge is the third constructed on this site and was opened to rail traffic in 1888 making it 118 years old this year. The current bridge replaced two earlier railway bridges, erected in 1853 and 1859.

  • The Bridge was the railway route to St Kilda and Port Melbourne from 1853 until it was replaced by a light rail service in 1987. The Bridge was also used as a rail freight link until the 1950’s.

  • Sandridge Bridge is constructed of steel and is considered one of the earliest examples of steel girder bridge construction in Australia.

  • The bridge was built in 1888 by David Munro, a well known and important colonial builder who also constructed the Princes' Bridge (1888) and Queens Bridge (1890).

  • Major-General Sir John Monash is believed to have worked on the Bridge as a young engineering graduate employed by David Munro and Chief Engineer John Nash.

  • The Sandridge Bridge is situated near the old Yarra Falls site (now Queens Bridge), a traditional Indigenous meeting place and is just upstream from the landing point of Melbourne’s first white settlers (Enterprize Park).

  • The Yarra Falls marked the point where the Yarra turned from salt water to freshwater. Because of this fresh water supply the site was chosen as the location for Melbourne by John Batman. The falls were dynamited in 1880’s to improve upstream access.

  • Interestingly, the old falls played a key role in the naming of the Yarra. Apparently John Batman’s surveyor John Wedge overheard members of the Wurundjeri clan using the words `Yarra Yarra’ at the falls and mistakenly believed they were the indigenous name for the river. In fact the words refer to the pattern of water flows around the falls in the Woiworung language (literally ‘water cascading over water’).

  • Sandridge Bridge is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register and is considered to be of State significance.

  • The bridge is 178.4 metres long and is made up of five spans, measuring in length from the south bank to the north bank: 36.9m, 36.6m, 36.3m, 36.9m and 31.7m. The bridge is 17m wide and the girders are 2.74m high from the top to the bottom of the flange.

  • The bridge has been constructed at a 33 degree angle to the river bank, reflecting the Sandridge line's direct route from Flinders Street to the port.


The new pedestrian path on the Sandridge Bridge will celebrate its historic role as a place of arrivals and meetings by recording the Indigenous and immigrant history of Victoria on a series of 128 glass screens.

The screens, conceived and underwritten by Melbourne businessman Les Erdi, will run the length of the path and record the details of Indigenous peoples and immigrant arrivals to Australia by country of origin since 1788. Details on the screens have been prepared by Dr James Jupp AM, author of The Australian People.
Each panel represents a community of more than 1000 people. Communities of between 100 and 1000 are mentioned on summary panels.
As well as the glass screens a series of interactive computer touch screens will provide more information about migration to Australia.
The screens are the idea of Melbourne hotelier and philanthropist Les Erdi to publicly record and celebrate the origins, growth and diversity of modern Victoria.

With a background that fuses Oriental, Western and Japanese theories of space, Nadim Karam went on to create his own concepts, like ‘micropluralism’, ‘the architecture of performance’, and ‘story-telling architecture’.

‘Hapsitus’ (the unpredictable outcome of choreographed hap penings and situ ations) he chose for the name of his firm, founded in 1996.

His use of many different mediums; paintings, sculptures, urban installations and architecture; has given rise to inter-disciplinary fusion through which a consistent conceptual line can be traced.

His experimental book, VOYAGE, was published in 2000 with Booth-Clibborn Editions, London, and a new book on his works, URBAN TOYS, will come out in 2006 with the same publisher.

He has regularly held academic positions in Tokyo and Beirut, and was Dean of the Faculty of Architecture Art and Design at Notre Dame University in Lebanon from 2000-2003.

He was selected in 2002 by the UN and the Center of International Cooperation at New York University as co-chairman of a London conference on the reconstruction of Kabul, and by the first Rotterdam Biennale as the curator for Lebanon.
Nadim Karam has participated in several art and architecture biennales, and is invited regularly to lecture at universities and international conferences, like ‘A Sense of Place’ (Cardiff, Wales Dec.2003), ‘A Free State’ (British Museum Feb.2004) and the World Creative Forum (London, Sept. 2004.
Atelier Hapsitus

A pluri-disciplinary group founded and led by Nadim Karam, Atelier Hapsitus is a think-tank focused on the creation of an original urban vocabulary.

Based in Beirut, they have created large-scale temporary and permanent projects for various cities. Their major projects over the last decade include large-scale urban installations for the National Museum of Beirut (1995), Kwangju Biennale in Korea (1995), the Manes Bridge in Prague(1997), downtown Beirut (1997-2000); works for Notting Hill Gate, London, (1998- ongoing); around 140 works for Nakameguro, Tokyo (2000-2002); and a large-scale temporary installation for Todaiji Temple, Nara, Japan (2004).
Architectural works so far include the Atelier Hapsitus office extension, Daroun House and Sehnaoui Residence in the Lebanon.
Current works include ‘The Travellers’, urban art work commissioned by the Victorian State Government and the City of Melbourne for the Sandridge Bridge, Melbourne and ‘Net Bridge’, a sculptural bridge for Beirut marina.
The 1997-2000 project for central Beirut by Atelier Hapsitus was selected amongst five urban projects worldwide by the Van Alen Institute in New York in 2002 for their exhibition and publication “Remembering, Renewing, Rebuilding” on the role these urban projects played in the rejuvenation of city life and morale after a disaster.

Each of the ten Travellers figures represents a period of migration to Australia. The artist’s concept and a description of the corresponding period of migration by Dr James Jupp AM are listed below.

1. Gayip (designed with the assistance of Indigenous artist Mandy Nicholson).

Since remote times Gayip has been standing on a rock. Recently, it has been observing travellers passing by. At night it rises into the skies and spirals over its territory to ensure the well-being of all. It has seen darkened times, thick with mistrust, and others clear and warm. It is a guide to the things that have always been there – Nadim Karam

The Aboriginal Period

Aboriginal people settled Australia at times variously estimated as 50 000 to 70 000 years ago, although many claim to have always been here. Tasmanians were separated from the mainland about 12 000 years ago and Torres Strait Islanders came over from Paua about 3 000 years ago. Apart from the TSI, who practiced garden agriculture, Aborigines were hunter gatherers. Estimates of the Aboriginal population in 1788 vary between 250 000 and 750 000 with some extreme estimates at over 1 million. There were no permanent settlements but control over traditional lands was recognized.

2. First settler

He came ashore with a flag and a shovel. After he planted the flag its colours began to fade in the sun. But it gave him shade and indicated wind direction, while he continued to work the land with his shovel – Nadim Karam.
The Convict Period (1788 – 1868)

Convict transportation was redirected to Australia as a result of the American War of Independence which concluded in 1781. Convicts transported to New South Wales between 1788 and 1840 totalled 80 000 of whom the great majority were English. Convicts transported to Tasmanian (Van Diemans Land) numbered 66 000, also mainly English. Convicts transported to Western Australia between 1850 and 1868 numbered 9 700. The second most important nationality was the Irish. Many convicts were sentenced for seven years and were assigned to rural employers. The majority were released in due course. Few were imprisoned except for crimes in Australia when they were sent to prisons like Norfolk Island or Port Arthur.

3. Melbourne Beauty

She was such a rare beauty that the mention of her name was enough to cause a stampede. She was usually seen near the Yarra River, wearing a golden glow. No one ever got close enough to determine whether she was real or just a mirage – Nadim Karam.

The Gold Rushes (1850 - 1890)

Gold was discovered in New South Wales in 1850 and in Victoria in the following years. This created a massive movement of immigrants, raising the Victorian population of from 77 000 in 1851 to 538 000 ten years later. The non Aboriginal population of Australia reached one million in 1860. While the majority of these were English, the Irish, Scottish and Chinese population also rose rapidly. Chinese in the goldfields from the 1850s to the 1880s were subject to some violence and restrictions. Gold rushes also took place in Queensland in the 1870s and Western Australia in the 1880s, raising the population rapidly in both cases.

4. Walker and his tucker bag

He scoured the city and country in search of work. Over time he collected anecdotes from the places he visited, and putting them in his bag, wandered elsewhere to trade and collect more – Nadim Karam.

Assisted migration (1830 – 1930)

To replace the convicts, British and colonial governments assisted the migration of British subjects by paying or subsidising their fares. Migrants were selected as labourers, craftsmen and domestic servants and rural workers. These schemes also aimed to correct the imbalance of the sexes caused by the convict system. The largest numbers came to Queensland in the 1880s, increasing its population from 211 000 in 1880 to 493 000 in 1900. Assisted migrants were British subjects, including Irish, except some Germans and Scandinavians in Queensland. Assistance ceased with the 1890s depression and Irish immigration dropped away, never to recover. After the depression assistance was resumed for British subjects. The Immigration Restriction Act of 1901 ended non-European immigration for the next sixty years under the White Australia Policy. Pacific Island labourers were returned to their islands but Asians were allowed to stay. After the first world war assistance was begun again to replace the large numbers killed. It aimed to settle British immigrants in the land and most such schemes were destroyed by the world depression which began in 1929. During this period a number of immigrants came from Italy, Greece and Croatia mostly becoming rural workers or miners.

5. Shelter

The shelter was a haphazard assembly of bits and pieces of old homes, dreams and memories that arrived on boat from different far away places. Pieced together with clay from the land, they multiplied to create cities – Nadim Karam.

Displaced persons (1947 – 1953)

With the end of the World War Australia adopted a policy of populate or perish, which extended assisted passage to Europeans, especially those displaced by warfare between the Germans and the Russians in central Europe. Most of these were living in refugee camps. They came mainly from nationalities which had not previously come to Australia in large numbers such as Poles, Croatians, Hungarians, Latvians and Ukrainians. They were officially known as New Australians but popularly as Balts. A number of Jewish refugees also arrived, adding to those who had escaped from Hitler in the late 1930s. Altogether 171 000 arrived in six years under Displaced Persons schemes, the largest number of non British immigrants to arrive in such a short period.

6. Urban Wheel

The Wheel lives in the grid. With the ability to move both horizontally and vertically, he used to scale two storey buildings. Now he freewheels up and down the sides of skyscrapers – Nadim Karam.

European migration (1947 – 1983)

After the Displaced Persons camps were cleared Australia began to arrange assisted passages for other Europeans under agreements with their governments. The first was with the United Kingdom in 1946 and the last with Yugoslavia in 1971. Assistance differed from country to country and was most generous for the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. However many from Italy and Greece also came without assistance and those were more numerous by the 1960s then ever before, mainly becoming industrial workers in the major cities. Policy continued to favour the British and to exclude non-Europeans into the early 1970s. A campaign to bring out Britons was begun with preference for families and with little emphasis on skills. During this period the great majority of British immigrants received assisted passages. The number of English increased from 556 000 in 1961 to 842 000 ten years later. Scottish immigration also rose but there was no recovery from Ireland. However numbers were reduced in the mid-1970s and assisted passages were finally ended, except for refugees, in 1983, leading to a steady decline in the British intake until recently.

7. Running Couple

They came from the same village far away, but never met in the haste of departure, not even on the boat. Since their encounter on the banks of the Yarra River, they now run together chasing the wind and the sun – Nadim Karam.

Refugees (1956 – 2005)

Australia had taken refugees from Hitler in the 1930s and from Communism in the 1950s. It signed the United Nations Convention on Refugees in 1954, obliging it to give asylum to those with a fear of persecution. The first major intake was from Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. The most controversial was from Viet Nam after 1975 as this was the largest number of Asians to be admitted in a short period in Australian history. Between 1981 and 1991 Vietnamese numbers grew from 41 000 to 122 000. This caused some controversy as it was the first major breach in the principle of White Australia which was finally abolished in 1972. Later refugee intakes were mainly from Asia until events in the Balkans switched the focus back to Europe. Controversy arose over those seeking asylum without prior official approval, who were controversially detained from 1992 in large numbers.

8. Butterfly girl

She collects butterflies, but never keeps them for longer than a day. She brought her favourites with her, coloured with strange and beautiful patterns, and released them into the bush – Nadim Karam.

Asian and middle east migration (1975 – 2005)

With the ending of White Australia and the advent of Ind. o-Chinese refugees the character of immigration began to change with a decline of British and Europeans and a rise in numbers from Asia and the Middle East. There was also a rise in Muslim immigration from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Indonesia. This caused considerable controversy although no Australian government favoured a return to White Australia. By 2001 there were over 500 000 Chinese and 280 000 Muslims in Australia, with the largest numbers of non-Europeans living in Sydney.

9. Technoman

Made of electromagnetic pulses, he changes his appearance at will, but is usually recognisable from his cubist angles. He inhabits cities, speaks all program languages and travels through data streams – Nadim Karam.

Students and professionals (1975 – 2005)

Immigration to Australia had been historically aimed at recruiting manual workers until the 1930s and industrial workers in the post-1945 period. However as the economy changed more emphasis was placed on skills and education. Overseas students, predominantly Asian, were encouraged to enrol in local universities and colleges. Accountants, doctors, and information technology experts were often better educated than the Australian average. Apart from the large numbers from New Zealand the bulk of these immigrants were from Asia.

10. Walking Sun

The Walking Sun is a festive wheel of prosperity, bringing different and stories and elements together as it turns – Nadim Karam.

Australian Multiculturalism

As the society changed with the addition of Europeans and the Asians, it was gradually realised that these new comers were unlikely to change into ‘Australians’ overnight. If they were sought after to increase the workforce and raise the population concessions had to be made to their varying lifestyles, practices and beliefs. Languages hitherto unknown in Australia had to be used to communicate with the hundreds of thousands of new arrivals. This led to the policy of multiculturalism, which was first developed in the early 1970s and has been the official approach of all governments, Commonwealth and State, since then. Despite some controversy in the 1990s it is now widely accepted that Australia is a multicultural society and will continue to be so. This is a complete reversal of expectations when the post-1945 immigration programme began.

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