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.
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
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
Recently, in one of those happy accidents of timing, I went on holiday to Tasmania where I was able to visit one of the places I had recently been researching. I have been working on some artefacts from Tasmania, all drawn from the Bob Brown collection. There are 3000 items in this very large collection, and it remains an ongoing challenge to decide which to choose.
Given that this collection is about political activism against the ongoing development of hydropower in the latter half of the twentieth century, part of the research necessarily includes establishing the historical context of hydroelectricity. I decided to find out, just Continue reading
I’m a volunteer in the People and Environment curatorial team, and I’ve just started working on an online feature about water history.
Recently, on a bakingly hot day, I had my first visit to the Museum’s stores. It was a little bit Dr Who, frankly. Some of what I saw could easily have come off a set from the Tom Baker years. The Doctor, in whatever regeneration he’s in, has the capacity to produce from the bowels of the TARDIS some object that saves the day, or provides a vital clue to Continue reading