Max Dupain / Australia 1911–92 / Gas works at Roma, Queensland c.1970s, printed 1987 / Gelatin silver photograph / 43.8 x 39.1cm / Gift of CSR Limited through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 1987 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © Max Dupain / Licensed by Copyright Agency

Max Dupain
Gas works at Roma, Queensland c.1970

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CSR Limited, Australia’s major sugar refinery, initiated the CSR Photography Project in 1978 to commemorate their hundredth anniversary. Six photographers recorded different aspects of the refinery’s activities and the lives of employees. Although printed in 1987, Max Dupain’s photographs for the CSR Collection were taken in the 1950s. They document the landscape in Queensland’s sugarcane growing regions, as well as family and working life.

Dupain monumentalises the gas valve in Roma as a spring of industrial achievement which had only a year earlier seen Queensland become the first to build a 435 km gas pipeline. Still in operation, the  Roma-Brisbane natural gas pipeline opened on March 17 1969, running from Wallumbilla (30 km east of Roma and 200km south of Carnarvon Ranges) into Brisbane. This made Brisbane the first capital city in Australia to have a supply of natural gas for commercial and domestic use.1


1 The Australian Pipeliner, The Roma to Brisbane Natural Gas Pipeline – 1969 / 2016 / URL: Date Accessed: 19/05/2020

Max Dupain was born in Sydney in 1911. He became interested in photography around the age of 14, and after leaving Sydney Grammar School in 1930, he began a three-year apprenticeship in Cecil Bostock’s photography studio. He also began exhibiting around this time. During the 1930s, Dupain pioneered modern photography in Australia.

By 1938, he had a reputation as a leading commercial photographer in the fields of fashion, advertising and portraiture. Between 1943 and 1944, Dupain was a war photographer, before transferring to the Department of Information, where he undertook a promotional photography assignment focusing on Australia’s postwar recovery, including the experience of immigration.

Max Dupain enjoys an unrivalled position in the history of Australian photography, with his name inextricably linked to images signifying the Australian ethos.