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21 Photos That Give Us A Peek Into The Soul Of Australia

Worth a thousand words.

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Throughout Australian history photographers have witnessed and preserved important events for future generations.

On World Photography Day we celebrate the works of those who were there, and sometimes took great risks to capture a magical moment, for eternity. Here is a sample, with commentary from Getty Images vice-president of editorial, Stuart Hannagan.

Sean Sexton / Getty Images

"It wasn’t until 1932 that the [Sydney Harbour Bridge] opened to the public. The event marked the end of almost a century of speculation and planning around a bridge or tunnel that would cross the harbour, and it changed the way Sydneysiders travelled around the city. The Sydney Harbour Bridge has become one of the most recognisable icons of Sydney."

Keystone / Getty Images

"The dismissal of the Whitlam government [1975] provided one of the biggest political shocks in Australian history. It put on open display vice-regal powers that most did not know existed."

Simon Fergusson / Getty Images

"In this photo Ronald 'Ringo' Terrick, an elder the Wurundjeri tribe, is seen sitting on the steps of Parliament House during Sorry Day on May 26, 2007, in Melbourne. The day offers Aboriginal communities the opportunity to participate and be involved in activities to acknowledge the impact of the policies of forcible removal on Australia's Indigenous populations."

Chris Mcgrath / Getty Images

"This [2003] photo of the Sydney Opera House staff scrubbing off the ‘No War’ graffiti split the country between those shocked by the vandalism of a national icon, and others who supported the anti-war message."

Adam Pretty / Getty Images

"This is one of the most iconic sports moments from one of Getty Images' top sports photographers, Adam Pretty {2000]. Instead of taking the usual photograph from the side of the starting block, Adam took the opportunity to set up this aerial view [of Cathy Freeman]."

Fox Photos / Getty Images

"March of 1954 was an exciting time for Australians, as it was the first time a reigning monarch had visited our shores. An estimated 75% of Australia’s nine million people saw her at least once, and photographs like this one helped to transfix the nation on the young monarch."

Chris McGrath / Getty Images

"In 2002, inland Australia suffered one of the worst droughts. While many photographs convey the listlessness of drought, nothing compares to an image of a farmer faced with putting down his livestock, his livelihood."

Clive Mason / Getty Images

Getty's photographer Clive Mason captured the exact moment an Australian won a gold medal for the first time at a Winter Olympic Games. Steven Bradbury’s winning performance at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics was an iconic example of an underdog’s triumph."

Mark Kolbe / Getty Images

"This photograph by Getty's Mark Kolbe was taken a few months after the [Cronulla] riots, and features [people] in the crowd holding up a banner in reference to the riots on Cronulla Beach."

Mark Dadswell / Getty Images

"The 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria were the most devastating in Australian history, and Australia’s worst peacetime disaster. It was through aerial photography, including this one by Mark Dadswell, that Australians were able to grasp the sheer magnitude of the disaster."

Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

"This photo [2015] captured the nation and drew headlines across the globe. Minutes after winning the NRL Grand Final, North Queensland Cowboys star Johnathan Thurston shared an emotional moment with his two-year-old daughter, Frankie, and her favourite doll."

Haynes Archive / Getty Images

"In this photo Australian geologist Sir Douglas Mawson and his team hoist the flag on the newly claimed Antarctic territory of Proclamation Island. His trips also involved more exploration and provided valuable information for scientists."

Getty Images

"Compared to the Rio Olympic Games, where photographers took over 1.5 million images, the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 would have had decidedly fewer! It would have been very difficult to set up and capture iconic moments like this one of Australian athlete Ron Clarke lighting the Olympic torch."

Chris Hyde / Getty Images

"In this photo, a man comforts his daughter on their roof as they inspect damage to their neighbourhood when parts of southern Queensland experienced record flooding in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Oswald in 2013."

Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images

"Getty photographer Lisa Maree Williams is an expert in capturing raw human emotion, and she has an extensive career covering prominent news, portraiture and cultural events around the world. This photograph from the 2013 [Blue Mountains] bushfires was impactful in rallying practical and emotional support services to residents."

Joosep Martinson / Getty Images

"This photo from Sydney's Lindt Cafe siege [2014] still haunts us today; but it is also the photos of the thousands of floral tributes for the deceased hostages Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson that are a reminder of the response and resilience of a community that refused, and refuses yet, to be divided by those who wish to cause harm."

Ian Waldie / Getty Images

"Two Tasmanian goldminers, Todd Russell and Brant Webb, were trapped 3,000 feet underground for 14 days before being rescued in 2006, ending a saga that had gripped Australia."

James Pozarik / The LIFE Images Collection / Getty

"This aerial photo of ships on Sydney Harbour as part of the ‘Parade of Sails’ shows the absolute excitement that Australia’s Bicentennial celebrations created across the country. The celebration marked 200 years since the arrival of the First Fleet of British convict ships at Sydney in 1788, and the event triggered debate on Australian national identity, Aboriginal rights, historical interpretation and multiculturalism."

Museum Of Flight Foundation / Getty Images

"In 1928, Australian pilot Charles Kingsford Smith and his four-man crew flew their Fokker F.VII B/3M passenger transport plane on a record breaking flight from California to Brisbane. Kingsford Smith was met by a huge crowd of 26,000 at Eagle Farm Airport."

Ernest Brooks / Iwm / Getty Images

"British photographer Ernest Brooks was the first official photographer to be appointed by the British military. He produced several thousand images from the First World War. In this photo, he expertly captured the mateship that marked the Australian troops in Gallipoli in 1915."

Anna Mendoza is a photo editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Anna Mendoza at

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