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A tale of extremes

There are few substances on the planet more changeable than water.  As ice, water, and gas, water impacts almost every aspect of our lives. This blog post looks at places in Australia which have very distinct climates because of water’s ability to change form, from gas, to water, to ice.  In particular, it looks at places where the extremes are reached.  Welcome to the watery edge. Continue reading

New Goulbourn Weir. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Goulburn_Weir_005.JPG

Domestic to industrial

Water enables so many tasks in the world that sometimes, we can forget how essential it is. At the domestic level we use water to drink, cook with, clean ourselves and our clothes and to keep our gardens growing.  Industrially, water is a vital input to many industries but perhaps the most well recognised is the agricultural industry.  This post takes a look at two objects, relating to the home laundry and the development of large scale agriculture, as a means of exploring this spectrum of domestic to industrial.

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Introduced to native

The history of water includes the history of gardening. Different species have different water needs, reflecting their place of evolution. When European settlers arrived in Australia full of images of lush meadows and verdant trees, based on their lived experience in many cases, a kind of cognitive dissonance happened. The old environmental reality and their new reality didn’t match up. This gap has been slowly closing over time, and we can see this in action through the Continue reading

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A photo finish…

After six months on show, the Spirited horses are returning to their stables and paddocks for a well-earned rest. From 11 September 2014 to 9 March 2015, over 52,000 people visited the Spirited exhibiton, enjoying a stream of associated tours, talks, holiday programs and events. If you missed the exhibition, National Museum photographers George Serras and Jason McCarthy captured Spirited from every angle so that we can continue to explore, share and reflect on Australia’s horse story.

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The everything of water

This blog post introduces a series of essays that explore the meanings of water in Australian history and contemporary life. When I joined the Museum last year, I volunteered in the People and the Environment curatorial team. I wrote a series of thematic essays that applied ideas I’d developed in my PhD project to better understand water-related objects in the National Historical Collection. My PhD thesis explored the internationally significant Gippsland Lakes, Australia’s largest inland waterway, in southeast Victoria. It was a blend of cultural history, Continue reading

Petrologist Dr Germaine Joplin on a visit to Outokumpo copper mine, Finland. 
Image courtesy the Joplin Family.

Women in science – Dr Germaine Joplin

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Make it Happen’ – an approach clearly shared by the little-known yet talented Australian petrologist Dr Germaine Joplin (1903-1989).

50 years ago women were particularly prominent in the field of geology, yet they struggled to gain recognition and acceptance among their male counterparts. Today, the gender gap is still a concern for Australian science. Leading Australian scientists explored the reasons for this in 2011 in The Conversation. Despite outstanding talent and hard work women scientists experienced prejudice and discrimination in the workplace, if they were lucky enough to gain employment. Determination and a thick skin were prerequisite for any woman then aspiring to a profession in the sciences.

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Women on wheels – blazing the trail

When Australian track cyclist Anna Meares collected her 11th world championship medal a week ago in Paris it was another remarkable victory in a stellar career. On International Women’s Day, it is worth remembering that Meares’ remarkable achievements rest on the shoulders of giants. Her success and international prominence would be unlikely had it not been for the courageous and pioneering work of thousands of female cyclists who battled prejudice and discrimination in their fight to race on Australian roads and velodromes. Continue reading

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Coffee and bushrangers in gold country

Anyone unlucky enough to have encountered me sans my morning coffee knows that this is when I’m at my most desperate, perhaps my most murderous.  I feel deprived, entitled to what I believe is my just deserts, and I’ll stop at nothing to get it.  By ‘it’ I mean coffee and I know I’m not alone out there.

So it was no surprise to learn that the popularisation of coffee drinking in Australia, way back in colonial days, closely aligned with the proliferation of that other breed of Continue reading