A swimming gala poster featuring Beatrice Kerr. ANMM Collection.
“By-the-bye, everyone rushes after lunch to the Palace Pier to see a young Australian girl in a swimming and diving performance. We went with the rest, and can assure our readers that Miss Kerr is better worth seeing than nine out of ten of the famous dancers…”
Poster advertising Beatrice Kerr’s swimming and diving show. ANMM Collection.
Digitising the National Maritime Collection archive reveals some interesting stories from the lives of the people behind the objects. One such story was the career of aquatic star Beatrice Kerr. I found her both entertaining and inspirational, while scanning and researching her letters, handbills and photographs.
Blackmores First Lady surfing down a wave rounding Cape Horn. Painted by Jack Earl, 1988. ANMM Collection.
“It’s what I do — I do the sea … To people it may seem dangerous, foolish even but, for me, it’s not a strange environment. It’s not alien to me, it’s where I’m happiest.”
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston – (Still solo racing at 75)
Solo celebrating the milestones. Label reads `Rounding Good Hope. Kay Cottee’. ANMM Collection.
It has been 28 years now since Kay Cottee set out aboard Blackmores First Lady to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe non-stop and unassisted. Much has happened and changed in the world of solo sailing in that time. While still attracting those quiet adventurers, solo sailing also attracts big money, big boats and big speed.
Every year the museum awards various grants through its Maritime Museums of Australia Support Scheme (MMAPSS). These can take the form of financial assistance or in kind support, for which museum staff travel to the institution involved. This is an excellent outreach opportunity for the museum, and being onsite greatly improves the quality of the work its staff can do. As Curator for Historic Vessels I travelled well out into regional New South Wales to work with two of the successful recipients in the most recent round of grants. I was visiting two very different craft: the 107-year-old paddle steamer PS Ruby and an oyster punt built by Gus Cole, possibly as early as 1918.
Maggie II in action at Cumberland Entrance Credit: Xanthe Rivett, Silentworld Foundation
After having watched the waves pile up on top of the surrounding reefs for the last five days it was a great relief to finally get out from behind Waier Island and make our way slowly over to the western end of the Cumberland Entrance to commence searching for the wreck of the Hydrabad.
Down in the bottom of the deep blue sea, there are strange and wonderful things. Fish that glow in the dark or squirt bellyfuls of slime, one metre wide jellies and snaggle-toothed fearsome slithering things. This month we’ve been inspired by our Voyage to the Deep exhibition to craft a mischievous deep sea creature of our own — an octopus — that is hands-down the easiest soft sculpture craft you could make.
Wind, waves and spray at Waier Island. Courtesy Xanthe Rivett, Silentworld Foundation.
For the last five days (except for a brief trip over to Mer Island to allow six team members with pressing work or family commitments to fly back to the mainland) the expedition team have spent almost the entire time holed up on the southern side of Waier Island waiting for the strong North-westerly winds to abate.
However at long last the wind has started to drop off and the sea conditions have moderated enough to allow us to leave our sheltered anchorage to recommence our surveying work.
This 1973 dinner menu from the P&O liner SS Oronsay was part of a series of paintings of famous sea battles by John Smith. This image depicts the Battle of the Dardanelles, 18 March 1915. ANMM Collection Gift from William Brennan
On 18 March 2015, Turkey will commemorate the 100th anniversary of a victory over Allied forces just prior to the Gallipoli land campaign on 25 April 1915. The defeat of an Allied fleet attempting to force the Dardanelles Strait is a little-known story in the tale of the Anzacs, but one that changed the whole nature of the ill-fated campaign.
Sea conditions at the wreck site on Ashmore Reef. Credit: Xanthe Rivett, Silentworld Foundation
On the beach at Waier Island. Credit: Xanthe Rivett, Silentworld Foundation
The voyage in – Maggie II takes a beating. Credit: Xanthe Rivett, Silentworld Foundation
After a six hour voyage punching through 3-metre high seas created by the 40 knot North-westerly wind The Boss, with Maggie II in tow, passed through Hibernia Passage. We arrived at the anchorage on the north-western side of Mer Island at the eastern entrance to the Torres Strait. Mer is the largest of three islands (the others being Dauar and Waier) that were formed by the collapse of the crater of an extinct volcano many thousands of years ago.
Alexandra Shackleton is a special addition to the exhibition. The 7.6-metre boat is a replica of the James Caird, the lifeboat Sir Ernest Shackleton used to seek the rescue of his stranded expedition members after the expedition’s ship Endurance sank, crushed by ice in Antarctica.