As the second Ashes test on Australian soil for the 2013-14 series begins in Adelaide tomorrow, I wonder what Colonel Light would think of the growth of his city and in particular the re-development of Adelaide Oval. Since 1938, the statue of Colonel Light has watched over the city of Adelaide, perfectly positioned on Montefiore Hill. The view towards the city, with Adelaide Oval in the foreground, is known as Light’s Vision and has for many years featured on postcards and promotional shots of Adelaide. Continue reading
They were big, bulky, orange and made you look like you were about to be fired from a circus cannon. If you were spotted near your school (and, let’s face it, stealth was impossible when you were wearing one of these skidlids), you could be guaranteed days of ridicule, if not complete ostracism. If the FJ Holden is a key symbol of 1950s Australia, has the Stackhat earned the right to become an icon of the 1980s?
Don’t we all wish we had some heroism in our family line? Somebody to be proud of and whose courage and spirit we perhaps could hope to have inherited? Well this is not just a wish but reality for one group of cousins who recently visited the Museum to view prized family heirlooms that commemorate their ancestors’ famed bravery. Continue reading
Huge thanks to the year seven students and teachers at Burgmann Anglican School for inviting me to talk to them about the history of rabbits as an invasive species in Australia. We had over one hundred students for the talk and it was impressive how focused the entire group was on the subject. We covered the first fleet’s introduction of rabbits to the continent, the 1859 diffusion of wild rabbits, the subsequent proliferation of the animals on country and the beginnings of containment operations through trapping, poisoning, the massive fencing projects across the nation and eventually in the mid-20th century the lethally effective biological campaigns. The students were working on individual projects in relation to invasive species in Australia and I was really impressed with the quality of questions they offered up after the talk. Thanks go especially to Mr Ed. Breidis for his great assistance in putting together a slide show to accompany the presentation.
Photograph courtesy Ed. Breidis
“The Opera House will have something the pyramids never had – it will have life. They were built as tombs, but this building is built to give happiness and refreshment to millions.” – Queen Elizabeth II speaking at the opening of the Sydney Opera House, 20 October 1973
The Sydney Opera House turned 40 this month and observing its jubilant birthday celebrations, it is hard to imagine a time when it was not Australia’s favourite building, an international icon of our nation and the architectural envy of the world.
When it first opened to the public in October 1973, however, this extraordinary structure had been widely regarded as a proverbial thorn in the side of the New South Wales Continue reading
Are you a ‘Briney’?
Perhaps you know someone with that last name?
Maybe your family traces its roots back to the Tamworth area of the Liverpool Plains?
Or perhaps you are a budding detective and would relish the opportunity to solve an old mystery?
If so, you may be able to assist us in our search for information about an Aboriginal breastplate from our collection that was recently installed in the Museum’s Landmarks gallery. The information available for individual breastplates varies significantly and unfortunately, in this case, we are certain of little more about its origins than what is inscribed on the plate.
The installation of new objects to our galleries is often done in the mornings, before the Museum opens to the public. Staff members from curatorial, conservation, registration and exhibitions are all involved in the process.
A recent addition to our Landmarks gallery is this wood engraving showing a panoramic view of Melbourne by the artist, Thomas Carrington. It was originally published as a supplement to the Melbourne weekly paper, The Australasian, and shows the rapid expansion of the city during the 1870s. After many hours of research, writing, conservation treatment, design and planning, it is great to finally see the object on display.
The story of Nelson the Newfoundland’s collar is a classic tale of Melbourne in the late nineteenth century – dog rescues cab driver from drowning in Swanston Street.
Walking in central Melbourne when storm clouds gathered was a risky business – dozens of people were killed or injured in torrents of stormwater that rushed down city streets laid over ancient watercourses leading to the River Yarra. But recovering the story of Nelson’s heroic rescue has turned out to be a quintessentially twenty first century tale.
How often do we look up and wonder ‘What’s the cultural value of a patch of blue sky?’
A few days ago, international urban conservation expert Dr Ron van Oers prompted me to consider this very question. Ron was at the National Museum to present a public lecture discussing the evolution and achievements of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre’s ‘Historic Urban Landscape Initiative’. This initiative, launched in 2005, aims to help urban planners resolve the complex interests shaping the management of many world heritage listed urban areas, monuments and buildings. It focuses particularly on the integration of conservation plans with agendas of socio-economic development. Continue reading
It’s always a bit tricky in the scrum to summarise why an object is significant, especially in a form pithy enough for the media to use. We’ve just put Cadel Evans’ 2008 road bike on display in the Main Hall to coincide with a series of road cycling races being held in Canberra over the weekend.
I don’t remember much about the 2008 Tour de France. Cadel came second … again. He wore the leader’s yellow jersey for 5 days. But, overall, the race was a clinical affair, with one team dominating proceedings and skilfully delivering their yellow jersey contender to the line at the right time.
I do remember one stage. On stage 17, the quiet Spanish climber, Carlos Sastre, had been protected all day by his team, before a gut-busting finale on the Alp d’Huez. At the base, he shot from the pack and danced to the summit, winning the stage and enough time to win the Tour. Cadel was left in the wake of this spectacular performance. But as in previous years, he grimly hung on, hurling his bike back and forth, propelling it up the mountain. He ground to the finish, having limited his loses. And although he beat Sastre in the final time trial, it wasn’t enough to take the prize. He missed out by 58 seconds.
Cycling is an unforgiving sport. In the modern era, a three-week stage race is often decided by seconds. Over the years, Cadel had endured bad luck, a lack of team support and criticism of his riding style. Yet, in 2008 he displayed the kind of the tenacity and fight that he would need to eventually win the tour three years later.
That’s what makes this bike so interesting. It speaks not to a failed attempt at victory, but to the way he rode and the way he dealt with the physical and mental challenge of falling just short of your goal. It has been his humility and his determination that has endeared him to many Australians, many of whom only started watching cycling on television because an Australian was in a position to win.
What’s your favourite Cadel moment?
For more information on Cadel’s 2008 road bike, visit the National Museum’s Cycling in Australia project.