#HoodsHarbour: April’s ‘People’s Choice’ winner

#HoodsHarbour competition entry winner

April’s #HoodsHarbour competition entry winning image and label from Myleah Bailey, currently on display
Photo: Nicole Cama, ANMM

I’m pleased to announce the first winner of the museum’s #HoodsHarbour People’s Choice competition for the month of April. Myleah Bailey from Victoria has chosen this photograph from the museum’s Samuel J Hood collection via our Flickr Commons photostream. It depicts crowds at Circular Quay, Sydney welcoming home the crew of HMAS Sydney II on 10 February 1941. The ship had left Australia 10 months previously for battle in the Mediterranean and relatives were keen to see their fathers, uncles, cousins, brothers, husbands, fiancées, boyfriends and friends again. Myleah told us why this was her favourite from the Hood collection, which now forms the basis for the photograph’s exhibition label:

The faces and fashions change, but be it 1941 or 2014 the heartfelt message, and title, of this image remains the same – ‘Welcome Home’.

Our winner told me she ‘was very surprised to receive it! I really enjoyed seeing the pictures in the exhibition and there were many beautiful ones displayed.’ Congratulations Myleah!

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A mutiny of a different sort

Captain Amasa Delano's ‘Voyages and Travels’

Captain Amasa Delano’s ‘Voyages and Travels’
ANMM Collection, Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds


In the history of maritime mutinies, it is the mutiny on the Bounty that is most often recalled, and it is generally assumed that mutinies involved tyrannical captains whose crews have rebelled. Yet in 1804, a mutiny of a different sort took place, and Captain Amaso Delano, an unsuspecting American sea captain at anchor near Chile, found himself both witness and participant in a dark page in history.

Delano and his crew aboard the Perserverance had been at sea for a year and a half hunting seals and whales, and he wrote that ‘future prospects were not very flattering’. It had not been a profitable 18 months, and Delano had not made enough money to pay the crew even 20 dollars each. Added to these financial woes, Delano tells of having unknowingly picked up 17 ‘outlawed convicts’ from Botany Bay who were a source of unending trouble throughout the rest of the journey. There was a constant fear that they would somehow steal one of the smaller boats to escape and discipline was a daily struggle. Although Captain Delano managed to offload a number of the worst behaved convicts, those remaining, as well as other ongoing problems, were putting him under a great deal of pressure when the Spanish ship Tryal appeared while Perserverance was anchored at Santa Maria, Chile.
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Search, Rescue and Survival

Courtesy Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)

Courtesy Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)

The search for Malaysian Air Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean is like looking for a needle in a haystack. By international agreement Australia is responsible for co-ordinating search and rescue efforts over an area of about 53 million square kilometres – more than one tenth of the earth’s surface! While this is an enormous area, the use of modern satellite and radar technology and the co-ordination of civil and military efforts by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) significantly improves the efficiency of the search and the possibility of locating something in the search area.

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Life, death and Antarctic rations

I had the privilege of documenting and registering the museum’s recently acquired collection of 184 glass lantern slides and 107 positive transparencies by Herbert Ponting, Charles Reginald Ford and others who documented Robert Falcon Scott’s British Antarctic Expedition of 1910-13 and the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-16.

Crew on board the TERRA NOVA

Crew on board the TERRA NOVA
ANMM collection

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Patriotic inspiration: The tale behind a wartime image

Every now and then, a story comes forward from within the museum’s collection that astounds us. For a long time the identity of the young woman depicted in this World War II propaganda poster was a mystery. Staggeringly, just two months ago, the woman on the poster came forward. This is a snippet from Weslee D’Audney’s story which has featured in the museum’s latest issue of Signals. The exhibition Persuasion: US  propaganda posters from WWII closes on 20 March 2014.

“I HAVE NEVER BEEN FAMOUS, though my face adorns a famous poster that blanketed America during World War II – and even now pops up almost weekly in a new form. I’m probably the only person alive who remembers its creation.

Become a Nurse your country needs you. Weslee Wootten D’Audney as a young woman. This poster is part of the museum's exhibition Persuasion: US propaganda posters from WWII, closing 20 March 2014

‘Become a Nurse your country needs you’
Weslee Wootten D’Audney as a young woman, ANMM Collection. This poster is part of the museum’s exhibition Persuasion: US propaganda posters from WWII, closing 20 March 2014


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#HoodsHarbour: Our super sleuths inspire an exhibition

Portrait of Hera Roberts

The inspiration for our exhibition #HoodsHarbour - Hera Roberts 10 October 1930,
Samuel J Hood Studio, ANMM Collection

The day has finally arrived for the opening of our #HoodsHarbour exhibition! Showcasing a small selection from our Samuel (Sam) J Hood collection, #HoodsHarbour pays homage to the work of a group of individuals we call our ‘super sleuths’. Thanks to their efforts on our Flickr Commons page, we were able to solve the mystery behind the image that formed the inspiration for this exhibition – the lovely Hera Roberts. The story of this discovery symbolises the way that our followers have enriched our collection, unearthing its secrets and finding its hidden stories. Hood’s photograph of Hera remains the highest viewed and most favourited on the museum’s Flickr Commons photostream to date. More than 80 years after it was taken, Hera continues to captivate and inspire our audiences. Continue reading

The death of Captain Barker

Barkers Knoll, sea outlet of the Murray 1840.  ANMM Collection

Barkers Knoll, sea outlet of the Murray 1840.
ANMM Collection

In Australia’s past, there were many unsung heroes whose quiet achievements deserve to be remembered, and it is often only by chance that they are brought to light. I recently came across a simple sketch of a remote and windswept piece of coastline in South Australia, and would have continued reading if I had not noticed the handwritten note on the top, “Spot where Captain Barker was murdered”. Although the area, particularly nearby Kangaroo Island, had been sporadically used by sealers since the mid 1700s, there was no settlement there in 1831 when Captain Barker visited. It seemed an unusual place for a murder to happen. As it turned out, not only was it a most unlikely location but Captain Barker was a most unlikely victim. Continue reading

Troopships – The Forgotten Ships of WW1

Soldiers waiting to board HMAT NESTOR  in 1916. Photographer J.E. Barnes ANMM Collection 00027604

Soldiers waiting to board HMAT Nestor in 1916. Photographer J E Barnes, ANMM Collection 00027604

Some of the most interesting items in the museum’s collection are the personal accounts of life’s experiences. Whether a voyage, a ship’s log or a diary these firsthand accounts are a priceless record. I recently came across one such journal written by 20 year old serviceman Allan Witt Edwards from Victoria. Edwards was sent to England in 1916 aboard the troopship HMAT Shropshire. His journal is a very personal account of what was a massive undertaking by Australia and is very endearing in its simplicity. For Edwards, as with all the troops, life on the ship was a new experience for them and I would imagine it embodied much of what they had envisioned the war to be. The camaraderie, the new sights and the thrill of seeing the surrounding warships in action must have been as exciting as they had hoped. For most however, it would be as good as war would ever get. Continue reading

Going for gold

As the XXII Olympic Winter Games begin tomorrow in Sochi, Russia, the museum will celebrate Australia’s success at last year’s summer Games in London by featuring one of Australia’s gold medal boats, the International 470 class dinghy Practical Magic.

With Olympic insignia blazing on its mainsail and hull, the dinghy will be on display in the museum foyer, along with a special showcase for the gold medals and apparel from its team – skipper Mathew Belcher and crew Malcolm Page.

Malcolm and Mathew on Practical Magic in 2012.

Malcolm and Mathew on Practical Magic in 2012.

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Sailing away into Sydney Harbour’s past with Britannia

Hi! My name is Geneviève Bourgon or ‘Gwen’ and I’m a museum studies student at the University of Sydney. I am currently interning in the Registration department of the Australian National Maritime Museum.

My project is to digitise an archival collection of photographs, postcards and sailing programs associated with Britannia, an 18ft sailing vessel and its builder, owner and skipper  ‘Wee’ Georgie Robinson. Digitising a collection makes all the information about the objects more accessible, 22,000 collection objects have been release on the museum’s collection website for everyone to access.

The collection I am cataloguing dates from the 1920s through to the 1960s. The majority are sailing programs of weekly sailing competitions on Sydney Harbour, special championships and anniversary regattas. They begin as a single page and double sided program and evolve into massive 100 page booklets filled with interesting events surrounding the regatta and advertising.

Flat bed scanner

Flat bed scanner

First, I scanned the items using a flatbed scanner, and then I created an image and a PDF of pages scanning them as an optical character recognition (OCR) file to enable searching through the text on individual pages which are combined to form a single PDF document. Information is added to the collection management database where all 140,000 objects in the museum’s collection, are catalogued.

Second, I update any missing cataloguing data from the records such as: the object measurements, update its title, what it’s made of, and what it looks like. Continue reading