School Performances at the Museum

Each year the Museum plays host to a variety of school bands, showcasing their talent and musicality through well known songs, from past and present. Over the last couple of weeks we have been fortunate enough to have some talented students come along and take to the stage on our Performance Platform, The Cashmere High School from New Zealand and the Pulteney Grammar School from South Australia.

Touring the east coast of Australia with a mixture of bands, The Cashmere School have their concert band, stage band, choir and orchestra in tow, showcasing varied songs to engage the crowds. Even though the sky was scattered with intermittent cloud it didn’t dampen the talent displayed by these students.

Years 10 to 12 from Pulteney Grammar School from South Australia, showcased their abilities, drumming and singing up a storm through their choir, percussionists and stage band against the spectacular backdrop of our submarine, HMAS Onslow. Despite the ominous clouds overhead and swirling winds casting their music sheets to the entertainment gods, the students and teachers performed a myriad of songs that the crowd enjoyed. Even though the gathering storm shortened the performance, we all still appreciated and enjoyed the day.


Latest technology on an 18th Century ship

I wonder what Captain Cook would think of the latest navigation equipment we are installing on HMB Endeavour? We are getting the ship ready for September when we sail to Newcastle, and what an exciting month of sailing it will be! During the voyage, science and botany will be explored with Dr Trevor Wilson and Dr Matt Renner from the Royal Botanic Gardens, and also astronomy with Fred Watson from the Australian Astronomical Observatory on board.

Andrew Laurie along with John Holden are the brains behind putting together the new ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information System) in the chart room. In the days of Captain Cook they used paper charts, (however we still do use paper charts) and along with the ECDIS comes a new Sailor Sat C, a satellite communication system to receive accurate and instant weather and traffic updates. Oh, and we also have the latest radar system available. Andrew says the safety of the crew and passengers is important. “This equipment is a priority in voyaging overseas as well as in Australian waters”.

AndrewAndrew Laurie is our Engineer and the brains behind HMB Endeavour – with a bit of a sense of humour to spice things up a bit. He joined the crew during the Circumnavigation of Australia as an Engineer, came back for the Fleet Review in 2013 and has been with us ever since.

Born in Western Australia his background is fishing, pearling, farming cattle along with square rig sailing & sail training which is his passion.

When I asked him what one of his highlights was on HMB Endeavour he said: “a day when the toilet alarm doesn’t go off and I have to fix it (the black water tank alarm)”. That’s a highlight?! “That, and also when we turn the engines off and we REALLY GO SAILING”. However the best part, he says, is arriving back at port after a long voyage with a happy crew who have had the time of their lives.

So Andrew, where do you see yourself in the next two years? “I would like to be on board the HMB Endeavour on an international voyage”.

By Rina Timpano, Voyage Coordinator, HMB Endeavour

Carl Halvorsen, 1912-2014

Carl Halvorsen (left) at the museum with niece Randi Svensen, his sister Elnor Bruem, and brothers  Trygve and Magnus Halvorsen

Carl Halvorsen (left) at the museum with niece Randi Svensen, his sister Elnor Bruem, and brothers Trygve and Magnus Halvorsen
Photo: Jeffrey Mellefont

A life in boats shaping and crafting their construction from timber, a life on the water working with the waves, currents and wind – this was Carl Halvorsen’s remarkable century that came to a peaceful close just over a week ago. From birth he was instilled with a passion for the sea from his maternal ancestors who had been captains, seafaring from their Norwegian homeland, while boatbuilding was a trade and skill passed from his father. Carl and the Halvorsen family continued this trade not just because it was the tradition, but because this was where they were comfortable and capable – working with boats and the sea.

The Halvorsen story is well known and recorded, and the Australian Register of Historic Vessels (administered by the museum) captures their beginnings in Norway and their passage to Cape Town and then later to Sydney in the 1920s, and follows the rise of the family business to its eventual pre-eminence in Australian boatbuilding. The register hosts pages about their individual vessels, from the well-known luxury cruisers, through to the hire boats and wartime craft. Their yachts are represented as well, including Maud, built in Sydney in 1927 and raced by Harold and Carl to success at the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club. Continue reading

Black Sailors – Indigenous service in the navy during WWI?

Black Sailors on HMAS Geranium in 1926.  National Library of Australia

Black Sailors on HMAS Geranium in 1926. From an album compiled by crew member Petty Officer A A Smith. National Library of Australia nla.pic-an23607993

NAIDOC Week (celebrating National National Aborigines and Islanders Day) is held every second week in July. The NAIDOC theme for 2014 is ‘Serving Country: Centenary & Beyond.’ The theme honours all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have fought in defence of country.

While we are starting to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who fought as Black Diggers during World War I, what do we know of any Indigenous sailors?

The image above shows Aboriginal sailors on HMAS Geranium when it was conducting a mapping survey of waters across the north and west of Australia in 1926. They may well have been recruited for their intimate knowledge of the area. The title ‘Black Watch’ – while a reference to the famous Scottish regiment – may also refer to their role and skills in surveillance. Continue reading

Introduction to Endeavour

I would like to introduce myself. My name is Rina and I am the new Voyage Coordinator for HMB Endeavour. It has been two months since I started in this position and – let me just say – I am loving my work.

My day at the office

My day at the office


When I first began, I was lost in some of the nautical terms the crew were using – for example; the ‘yard’ I thought was a measurement or a backyard, rather it is a spar on the mast on which the sails are set. I have started understanding the nautical language with thanks to the Captain and crew for being patient and answering my many questions. My partner is surprised by how much of the nautical terminology I have picked up already!


Discussing the upcoming voyages while making repairs to the main yard.

Capt. John and 1st Mate Anthony Discussing the upcoming voyages while making repairs to the main yard.



HMB  Endeavour is going through some transformations at the moment before setting sail in September. During September we will be voyaging to Newcastle with two botanists from The Royal Botanic Gardens onboard. Dr’s Trevor Wilson and Matt Renner will be giving talks and searching for seeds and new species of plants. Matt Renner has been looking into the botanical collections around the Hawkesbury Bay area, and was surprised at the low number of botanical collections that have been made so far, saying that “this voyage is going to increase our knowledge of an area that we should have known more about already!” The crew onboard are quite welcome to participate in the search for new plant life in The Royal Botanic Gardens research project and who knows what they may find? They may even name a new species after one of the crew. If this or any of our voyages appeal to you please visit

I’ve never realised just how many people are drawn to Endeavour. So many people from diverse cultures and backgrounds, not forgetting the crew that treat her with love and care, through to a NASA Astronaut I met who had returned to earth on the Endeavour space shuttle.

The HMB Endeavour sits in front of the museum with pride. Why not come visit and say hello.

HMB Endeavour sitting with pride

HMB Endeavour sitting with pride

Rina Timpano

Endeavour Voyage Coordinator

Reading prayers at the bottom of the sea – The harrowing journey of submarine AE2

AE2 at Portsmouth, England, 1912

AE2 at Portsmouth, England, 1912

The first images of the interior of submarine AE2 were shown on ABC television on 3 July 2014 – almost 100 years since the vessel was scuttled in the Sea of Marmara on 30 April 1915.

While interest grows in what the wreck might reveal about the RAN submarine that was the first vessel to breach Turkish defences of the Dardanelles Strait, an account of the incredible voyage written by Stoker Petty Officer Henry James Elly Kinder sheds a human light on the story. Kinder’s account, a memoir written after he returned from several years in Turkish prison camps, has not been published.

Continue reading

Silent Anzac – Inside submarine AE2 for the first time in 100 years

Officers and crew on deck of the newly commissioned submarine AE2 at Portsmouth, England, 1912  ANMM Collection

Officers and crew on deck of the newly commissioned submarine AE2 at Portsmouth, England, 1912 ANMM Collection

The Royal Australian Navy submarine AE2 was scuttled in deep water in the Sea of Marmara on 30 April 1915 after it had run the gauntlet of Turkish minefields, warships and forts in the Dardanelles Straits. AE2 was behind Turkish lines the night before the Anzacs landed at Gallipoli.

Last month, for the first time in almost 100 years the conning tower hatch of submarine AE2 was opened. High definition cameras and imaging sonar were inserted through the opening and an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) surveyed inside the submarine.

AE2 has remained underwater relatively untouched since Commander Stoker ordered the crew to dive overboard and left the hatch slightly ajar to assist in quickly scuttling the vessel. It has since been a home to marine growth, fish and a large conga eel.

Continue reading

Univative at the museum!

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Manager of Registration, Sally Fletcher, taking students through the collections

This year we were asked by Sydney University to be a host organisation for the Univative program, an inter-university consulting competition where students engage with real organisations and work in small teams to solve actual business problems. It offers students the chance to gain valuable experience and insights into an organisation, while practicing their skills in developing a creative business proposal and in research.

We are lucky enough to have three teams from the University of Technology Sydney, University of New South Wales and Sydney University working on our project called Citizen Science – audience participation or source of free labour? By way of background to this question: we are finding that museums and other scientific organisations are increasingly turning to citizens to assist in a range of projects and scientific research efforts, in a collaborative process called “citizen science”. Yet, how much should organisations be reliant on this form of (usually free) labour? In order to address this question we have asked the teams to:

  • Review what’s happening in the field
  • Undertake a SWOT analysis of the uses of citizen science in museums and like institutions
  • Identify up to four citizen science projects and write up as case examples
  • Identify opportunities, options and resource implications for the ANMM in embarking on a citizen science project

We met with the students yesterday morning, introduced them to the museum and the project and took them on both a collections tour and general museum tour to get a sense of who we are and what we’re about.

A panel of three staff will judge their reports at the end of July and award the winner so we’ll post the results from the successful team then.

The Maritime Museum tour : ‘Celebes Sailors, Ships and Spice’

You haven’t seen Indonesia until you have been to South Sulawesi.

Our group of 14 intrepid ANMM members set off on 2nd June with our leader Jeffrey Mellefont, five Indonesian guides and a driver for a two week adventure tracking the history of the Makassan/Bugi forays to Northern Australia in search of the Trepang, the building of the pinisi wooden boats and the magic culture of South Sulawesi.

Photo courtesy of fellow traveller Robert Osmond

Photo courtesy of fellow traveller Robert Osmond

Continue reading

What is it about deep water?

If you’re a swimmer, even though you know you’ll be fine, just the idea of being suspended above something tens, let alone thousands of metres dark and deep can cause that weird tingling combination of excitement and fear.

As part of the USA Gallery program, we’ve been negotiating with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts to bring Deepsea Challenger to the museum. This is the submersible vessel piloted by James Cameron 11kms down to the bottom of Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. It’s a bit like having the lunar lander from Apollo 11 on display, only in reverse!

DeepSea Challenger at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, photo: A Tarantino WHOI

DeepSea Challenger at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, photo: A Tarantino WHOI

What makes it extra special is that Deepsea Challenger was built (in secret) in Sydney. Continue reading