The Horses in Australia project team has just returned from Equitana 2013 - one of the major events on the Australian horse calender. Held every year, alternating between capital city venues, the event combines commercial exhibits, horse-themed entertainment, and a range of competitions, demonstrations, presentations and clinics.
It’s difficult for us today to imagine a cycling competition where, as The Mercury (Hobart) reported on 17 February 1897, ’exhausted riders [were] lifted from and on to their wheels and carried to and from their quarters, their joints swollen and inflamed, barely able to see, with wandering mind, and only kept in a conscious condition by the efforts of trainers and physicians.’
The occasion referred to by the Mercury’s shocked and disapproving correspondent was a six-day bicycle race held at Madison Square Gardens, New York, in 1897 - a largely-forgotten type of cycling competition that, in its heyday from the early 1900s till the late 1940s, catapulted many cyclists 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
This afternoon, Australians around the country have once again take a few minutes to join in our nation’s annual bout of horseracing hijinks, known as the Melbourne Cup, and the winning owners have just happily taken possession of the elegant gold trophy. Here at the National Museum, Cup season has already been in full swing for a few weeks, kicked off in September when this year’s trophy stopped in for a brief visit with the 1866 and 1867 Melbourne Cups.
‘North Taylors’ is the name of a paddock on the relatively fertile southwest slopes of New South Wales, south of the Murrumbidgee River, between the farming towns of Narrandera and Boree Creek.
The sixty-hectare paddock is part of ‘Oakvale,’ a farm owned by the Strong family. Over the past ten years or so, the Strong family has bolstered the resilience and productivity of Continue reading
The dust has now settled on Warwick’s 85th week of campdraft and rodeo events, one of the most popular and famous sporting events in Australia. Museum photographer Jason McCarthy and I headed to Warwick to watch and talk to some of the best horse and human competitors as part of continuing research for the Horses in Australia project. Continue reading
“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
It was an eerie, smoky morning on Sunday the 20th of October, 2013. With the smell of the New South Wales bushfires in the air, Chief Minister Katy Gallagher formally opened the first stage of the National Rock Garden as part of the celebrations of the Centenary of Canberra. This was oddly appropriate, as it was the 2003 Canberra fires that opened up this space for the National Rock Garden and its far more extensive neighbour, the Continue reading
Australia just wouldn’t be the same without horses. These beautiful animals have played a key role in shaping our culture, society and environment, and the National Museum of Australia is now exploring this history with a new project, Horses in Australia, focusing on our nation’s equine and equestrian heritage.
The Horses in Australia project website has just gone live.
Have you seen a pennantian parrot lately? Do wattled bee-eaters live in your backyard? What about the crested goatsucker or the white vented crow?
This week is BirdLife Australia’s annual Bird Week, and, to celebrate, the conservation organisation is inviting Australians to vote for their favourite bird. This avian election prompted my colleague Martha Sear and I to wonder which species the first British settlers in Australia might have selected as their favourite local bird, so we looked at the National Museum’s copy of Surgeon-General John White’s Journal of a Voyage to new South Wales to see how he might have voted in the Bird Week survey.
It turns out that White was fascinated by a number of different birds that he found in the Sydney area, buts it’s tricky to figure out exactly which species caught his interest. His journal features birds with quite unusual names, like the pennantian parrot and the crested goatsucker, that I’ve certainly never heard of before.