The Victorian Commercial Travellers' Association was established in 1880 to improve the conditions of employment and residence of commercial travellers, who represented one of the most mobile elements of the colonial workforce. The Association exerted considerable influence within non-metropolitan economies. The national body, the United Commercial Travellers' Association of Australia, was formed in 1895. The Victorian Association had its offices and club in Flinders Street, where members enjoyed accommodation and meals. The heritage-listed Flinders Street building (1912-13) was designed by architects H.W. & F.B. Tompkins in Edwardian Baroque style. Conforming to the City of Melbourne height limit regulations, it was the tallest building in the city prior to the construction of the Manchester Unity Building. It was an important base for salespeople who travelled constantly, often under deplorable conditions.
The Association published The traveller (later the Australian traveller) from 1890 to 1976 and Australia to-day, the annual supplement to Australian traveller, which used original artwork by some of Australia's most renowned artists including Norman Lindsay and Dudley Wood. The commissioned covers immortalised iconic Australian images of the bush, beach culture, industry and the Anzac tradition.