‘Race to the Pole – Captain Scott successful’ claimed The Age’s headline writer on 8 March 1912, the day after Norwegian adventurer Captain Roald Amundsen slipped quietly into Hobart in his polar ship Fram. The headline was in hindsight tragically way off the mark but it was not a deliberate ‘alternative fact’ of its day splashed across the established masthead. It was more an excited assumption based on expectation in the former British colonies of Australia and a misreading of Amundsen’s Nordic reserve on his arrival there after 16 months in Antarctica in his well-publicised contest with British naval Captain Robert Falcon Scott.
This is part of a series by Curator Dr Stephen Gapps who received an Endeavour Executive Fellowship from April to July 2016. Stephen is based at the Swedish History Museum and the National Maritime Museum (including the Vasa Museum) in Stockholm, Sweden. He is working on several Viking Age and other maritime history and archaeology related projects.
This is the last note in this series of Viking ‘journeys’. After nearly three months in Stockholm, it was time to see some of the famous museums, burial sites and stone arrangements across Scandinavia. And some not so famous.
First stop was the island of Birka for a sail on Aifur, the reconstructed Viking Age vessel that travelled by sail, by oars on rivers and overland on wheels from the Baltic to the Caspian Sea in the 1990s. It was one of several important journeys of historical reconstruction that make it beyond doubt the Vikings could have travelled so far to the east.
There’s almost no end to the fun that can be had when kids have torches in their hands. Shadow play, bedroom projections, reading under the covers after lights out, spooky face stories, or… a handheld miniature planetarium.
This month we’ve been inspired by current exhibitions Ships Clocks and Stars, as well as our upcoming school holiday program, to make a nifty little star gazer out of some everyday items for our kids craft spot. This mini-planetarium is perfect for projecting under the covers, onto bedroom walls or with evening story time. More than just a toy, it’s also a great way to learn to identify constellations in the night sky.
The Australian National Maritime Museum in partnership with the NSW Department of Education will share the Rough Medicine – Life and Death in the Age of Sail exhibition with teachers and students in a #TwitterTour.
“The more meetings there are, the more exchanges that take place between nations, the better individual relations are : collaboration, solidarity and comradeship are no longer empty words, but the foundations for a better understanding of human problems and a bringing together of nations.”
Dr. Vesely, 1932. Cited by Margareta Niculescu, “Once again… UNIMA”, in UNIMA 2000, UNion Internationale de la MArionnette (UNIMA), Charleville-Mézières, 2000, p.9
Lois Carrington (nee Griffiths) was a lover of language, she studied Russian, French and Latin at university, her other passion was teaching. It was a natural fit for her to answer the Australian government’s call for teachers to help smooth the transition to Australian life for the influx of post World War II migrants. So in 1949, fresh out of university, passionate and with few resources, Lois began her career to teach English “on the way”, aboard migrant ships and at reception centers across Australia.
In late 2015 the museum acquired an important artwork by Indigenous artist Karla Dickens.Titled ‘The nips are getting bigger / I’d better go and get somethin’ harder’, this collection of Captain-Cook-shaped whisky bottles has been usurped and turned into a commentary on the devastating influences of alcohol and disease on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples since the arrival of Europeans in Australia.
It is so often the way that in the name of progress, much of what once was is now lost. So it was with great fortune that in 1988 Australian National Maritime Museum staff were able to work together with developers to salvage part of Sydney’s rich maritime history. As part of a renovation of the Orient Line Building in Sydney, the interiors were to be gutted and the fixtures and decorations removed. These included maritime themed murals, glass panels and floor mosaics. The glass panels designed by Lynton Lamb, 20 in all, were carefully extracted and taken to the museum.
The Corroboree Sydney festival kicked off yesterday and is running until 30 November. The festival celebrates Australia’s rich Indigenous culture, featuring leading artists, writers, dancers and musicians showcasing their creativity and sharing stories in over 100 free and ticketed events around Sydney’s iconic foreshore. For the first time, the museum will take part in the festival, with programs highlighting that for thousands of years prior to European settlement, coastal Aboriginal people fished and hunted in the waters and hinterlands, living a rich and spiritual life harmoniously with the land and environment. The museum will present four days of inspirational events including tours of our Indigenous Gallery, unique vessel tours from an Indigenous perspective and traditional canoe building demonstrations.
The museum will showcase our ongoing NAWI project by presenting a fascinating demonstration of the construction of a full-size traditional NSW Aboriginal bark canoe. Traditional community canoe builders from around the country will join museum staff to build a NAWI using traditional methods from Saturday 29 to Sunday 30 November. The demonstration is free and all are welcome to watch.
Indigenous people have a deep spiritual connection to land and water. Take part in our discussion as canoe communities share their stories of past and current projects about Indigenous watercraft and connections in Canoe Conversations. This free, casual session of discussions and presentations is on the afternoon of the Saturday 29 November and is open to all.
Families inspired by the NAWI canoe building demonstrations can also try their hands at building their own mini versions to take home in free children’s paper canoe workshops for 5–12 year olds and their parents, also running from Saturday 29 to Sunday 30 November.
We will also be providing special Indigenous interpretation of some of our permanent attractions during the festival. Jump on board the museum’s Endeavour replica and get a glimpse of what it was like for the traditional Aboriginal people living along the foreshores of the harbour. We’ll also host guided tours reflecting on our Indigenous history and encouraging visitors to look at the vessel through different eyes, taking on a dual perspective of the East Coast journey.
–Donna Carstens, Indigenous Programs Manager
Find out more about the museum’s Corroboree Sydney events.
In 2012 the museum acquired a vast collection of negatives of Australian commercial photographer Gervais Purcell (1919-1999). Purcell worked for a variety of clients such as David Jones, P&O, Ansett Australia, Jantzen and many others.
In the past few months, I have been cataloguing his ‘swimwear’ work that mainly contains negatives of models wearing swim and beach wear shot in studio settings, beaches and other outdoor locations during the 1940 – 1960 period.
Through these photographs I have witnessed the evolution of swimwear styles, starting with the fairly conservative 1940s one piece.
With fabric shortages during the war time, the US Government issued the L-85 order that basically made smaller swimming suits patriotic. Manufacturers in countries like Australia followed suit introducing the cut outs in midriff and bikinis.
As the swimwear evolved, so did advertising. In the 1950s, ‘Golden Era’ of Cinematography and ‘Golden Age’ of Television, advertising became even prominent and daring.
Informed by market studies, agencies started positioning their ads to address the perceived consumer needs of safety, belonging and success. They also capitalised on featuring scantily-clad young ladies, which noticeably improved ad content and sales scores.
I can just imagine the people at the 3M abrasives and sandpaper company branch, looking for ways to make their abrasive paper products look sexy and appealing to the masses. What a better way than ask Gervais to take two bikini beauties to a lovely beach and make them interact with… yes, sheets and disks of sand paper!
And didn’t they do a fantastic job? I’m not sure if the masses were running to their nearest hardware shop to get their hands on a box of sand paper, but what I can see is the models and perhaps, even Gervais, having a giggle at the crazy ways to accommodate abrasive material into a perfect beach scene!
Sunday 21 September 2014, 1600
HMB Endeavour replica is now back alongside at the Australian National Maritime Museum, concluding the series of three September voyages.
After our lovely evening on Saturday in Broken Bay with Dr Fred Watson, we weighed anchor at 0530 this morning to return to Sydney – under engines due to the southerly breeze.
This voyage something rather unique has happened. We occasionally have a couple come aboard Endeavour for a particular voyage, or perhaps two people who are related in some other way. This trip, there were no less than three sets of family groups – one in each of the three watches, foremast, mainmast and mizzenmast.
The dynamic of each watch was a little different than usual – the presence of two or three people who already know one another so well helps the watch click as a team faster than it otherwise might.
In foremast watch, father and son team Richard (Dick) and Charles Pearse joined the Endeavour crew for a few different reasons. They both sail Endeavour class yachts – Dick bought an Endeavour 24 when Charles was 11 years old and they went on to race and win at state and national level.
They also have a particular interest in Captain Cook. Charles remembers the two hundredth anniversary of Cook’s arrival in Botany Bay – it was Charles’ sixth birthday on the day of the celebrations and he’s been interested in Cook ever since. Dick is also a bit of an expert on Cook’s sailing logs and both were interested in the celestial navigation element of the voyage.
At 82, Dick is delighted with the experience he had on board, which included sail handling, standing watches and climbing the rig – all the elements of square rig sailing.
Beth Higgs and her teenage son Kristian were part of mainmast watch, so I got to know them both very well during the five days of the voyage. Beth is a mariner by trade, holding both watchkeeping and maritime engineering tickets.
Like the Pearses, Beth was particularly interested in the celestial navigation element of this voyage. Beth and Kristian both took noon sights and calculated the ship’s latitude.
Kristian already has a great deal of experience on the water for a teenager, but neither he nor Beth had sailed a square rigged ship before so this was a new experience. Beth is keen to get more experience sailing square riggers from here on.
Ken Honeysett decided he was interested in sailing on Endeavour and why not bring the kids? His two adult children, Rachael and Will, were keen to accompany Ken on board. Rachael and Will are students at the University of Wollongong.
Ken said that he saw Endeavour as a great opportunity – not just for the experience but also for a chance to spend some quality time with his children and for them all to experience the teamwork required to sail an 18th century square rig vessel.
Will described the last few days as an ‘all-encompassing voyage of adventure’. Sailing on Endeavour has well and truly created an interest in tall ships for Will and he says he’s planning to sign up to volunteer with the Sydney Heritage Fleet.
Rachael had been nervous about getting seasick but didn’t feel nauseous at all. She was signed on as a supernumerary and she’s correct when she says she had the best cabin on the ship – Joseph Banks’ cabin.
That’s all from the Endeavour crew for a little while now as the ship will be back alongside at the Maritime Museum until late October.
But please join us – either in person or by following this blog – for the voyage to Eden (27-31 October 2014) and the return Eden to Sydney trip (3-7 November 2014). We’ll have a whale expert on board, will take part in the national whale count and expect to fully enjoy the Eden whale festival!
Until then, fair winds.
– Suzannah Marshall Macbeth
Noon sights and calculating latitude
In clear conditions with minimal swell, day 3 of HMB Endeavour replica’s voyage was perfect for using sextants to measure the angle of the sun at its zenith.
Voyage crew and supernumeraries gathered in the waist of the ship at 1115 to practice using sextants. The sun’s highest point – known as Meridian Passage – would be at 1145, not noon, due to the time of year and the ship’s longitude.
One of our supernumeraries, Bill Morris, ran this session along with Penny, the third mate. Bill is an expert on sextants – he has collected 65 nautical sextants and is the author of The Nautical Sextant. His interest in navigation began at a young age.
‘I bought a book called Teach Yourself Navigation when I was about 14,’ Bill said. ‘I had no sextant and no horizon but I taught myself the rudiments of coastal navigation.’
The specific interest in sextants arose when he and his wife visited the Maritime Museum in London on their honeymoon. He didn’t really get to indulge this interest until he retired, many years later and then living in New Zealand. He has since started to collect and repair broken sextants.
Bill crossed the Pacific on a container ship, the Natalie Schulte last year – a 19-day passage from Auckland, NZ to Oakland, USA. During the voyage he took several sights on celestial bodies each day to determine the ship’s latitude.
After lunch on day 3, Bill and the other interested voyage crew and supernumeraries gathered in the Great Cabin to do the calculations required to determine the ship’s latitude.
There’s something very special about gathering in the Great Cabin to do this kind of work. Spangled reflections from the sea played across the bulkhead from the great windows in the stern as Penny explained the process of calculating the latitude.
At a table just like this one, in a Great Cabin just like that of the Endeavour replica’s Great Cabin, Cook would have followed similar calculations and would have worked on the detailed charts of Australia’s east coast.
At that time, there would have been little margin for error as there were no pre-existing charts to work from and no other way of working out the ship’s position.
Keen to repeat their successes of the previous day, some of the voyage crew gathered again on day 4 to measure the altitude of the sun – this time at 1146 and 44 seconds. The sun’s highest point is a little later each day as it moves north until the summer solstice on December 21.
With a little more swell running on day 4, Endeavour was not quite the stable platform that she had been on day 3. My calculated latitude was out by more than I care to admit, but Bill’s calculated latitude was within three miles of our GPS position.
Day 4 at sea
Overnight on Friday (day 3) the ship gained ground to the south under engines, taking us past Pittwater. With the strong southerly breeze, we were able to turn around and go sailing on Saturday morning – just for fun!
We began furling* sails around 1500 while sailing towards the entrance of Broken Bay. Furling continued once the rest of the sails were handed and we were waiting for Fred Watson AM and his partner and colleague Marni to arrive in the ship’s seaboat for the evening’s astronomy talk.
HMB Endeavour dropped anchor at 1700 in Broken Bay and we prepared for the last evening of the voyage.
The highlights of the evening were two sessions delivered by Fred about what we could see in the night sky. In the first, the sun had just set and Marni kept a keen eye out for the first star of the evening, Alpha Centauri (also known as Rigal Kentaurus), which is one of the two pointers to the Southern Cross.
Telescopes were set up to have a closer look at Saturn – thankfully there was no wind so the anchorage was very calm and the ship was a stable base for using a telescope.
After dinner, voyage crew returned to the deck with Fred to look at the after-dark night sky – including the Southern Cross, sitting low to the horizon at this time of year.
*Furling is the process of rolling or gathering a sail and securing it with gaskets (lengths of line) so that the sail does not flap in the wind.
– Suzannah Marshall Macbeth
The first week of September sees the Blu-ray release of The Monuments Men. Imbued with an all-star cast, including George Clooney, Cate Blanchett & Matt Damon, this isn’t just another wartime drama, but the true story of the greatest art heist in history.
Julian Bickersteth of International Conservation Services tells part of that story here.
It is not often that a conservator appears in a movie – we are one of those professions that tend to operate under the radar, hidden away in the back of museums. But when we do hit the limelight we like to do it in style, so it is great to see a conservator taking a lead role in The Monuments Men, played by none other than George Clooney.
George plays the central character of George Stout (called Frank Stokes in the film) who was a key player in the Monuments Men, or to give them their full title, the Monuments, Fine Art and Archives (MFA&A) section. Set up by the Allied Forces in World War II, they were entrusted with the mission of locating and protecting works taken by the Nazi Regime. The film is based on the book of the same name by Robert Esdel, and tells their remarkable story, based around a simple job description: to save as much of the culture of Europe as they could during combat.
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”.
Andrew 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
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.
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