Airmail bag

‘Par avion’ – French for ‘by airmail’

While visiting Australia during 1914, French aviator Maurice Guillaux flew his Bleriot monoplane to deliver Australia’s first official airmail, flying from Melbourne to Sydney on 16-18 July. Over this coming weekend, the The Aviation Historical Society of NSW, with the assistance of Australia Post, will lead the centenary celebrations for this significant event, through a re-enactment flight by Owen Zupp in his Jabiru and accompanying aviators and aircraft. Although the idea of carrying mail by aircraft these days seems very ordinary, in 1914 Guillaux’s flight was an exciting and inspiring moment for many Australians.

Continue reading

Head of a horse-shaped children's tricycle

A horse tricycle and SO much more…!

The Museum recently acquired a single family’s impressive collection of nearly 350 toys and we are marking the arrival with the display of one of the most beautiful pieces in its number – a 1920s horse tricycle. The trike, like the rest of the toys in the Susan and Andrew Gibson collection, belonged to a single generation of children in whose memory the collection was donated and named – the enviable sibling duo, Susan and Andrew Gibson. Continue reading

indian farmers_cropped

Science & suburbs: new stories about food

We’ve uploaded some fascinating new pages onto the Museum’s Food Stories website. The pages feature a stump-jump plough, and reveal its close ties to Majura Primary School, our Food Stories partner school in the ACT.

Majura Primary School students live in houses built upon paddocks and scientific plots formerly managed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), which operated the Dickson Experiment Station on the lower slopes of Mount Majura between 1940 and 1962.

Much to the annoyance of CSIRO research scientists working at the Station, the rapid expansion of suburban Canberra after World War Two eventually forced the transfer of their activities to a site near the western boundary of the ACT. By 1965, the patchwork Continue reading

golden crust bakery detail

The Golden Crust Bread Company

When Museum Friend John Thwaite read about the Horses in Australia project in our ‘The Museum’ magazine he thought we might be interested in a 1938 photograph of the delivery teams at his family’s bakery, the Goulburn Crust Bread Company. John recently had this treasured photograph restored and digitally copied, and in this guest post shares its story.

Continue reading

Cycling revolution

Cycling revolution? Velo-City Global 2014: a personal view

There’s a scene in the 1999 blockbuster The Matrix that kept jumping into my mind during the annual international cycling conference Velo-City Global held in Adelaide in May. In a flash restaurant, one of Neo’s (Keanu Reeves’) collaborators is making a deal with the enemy, the machines. He bites into a piece of steak admitting that while he knows it is merely a virtual construction that makes it seem juicy and delicious, he would preferred to enjoy the meal and forget about the complex reality around him. In exchange for betraying Neo he will be given a virtual life full of everything he has ever wanted. His memory will be erased so he will never be aware of the awful truth that has befallen the planet: that humans have been enslaved and now exist as passive batteries, their lives played out in a virtual space, the matrix.

Continue reading

Kangaroo closeup

A frosty reception

Hobart and Canberra rank as two of the coldest cities in Australia. As winter temperatures set in, spare a thought for our latest acquisition, the Forester kangaroo taxidermy specimen. In late 2013, this female kangaroo died of natural causes within the Boronong Wildlife Sanctuary in Brighton, Tasmania. The taxidermy was commissioned by the National Museum of Australia and prepared by Tom Sloane from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

The kangaroo has arrived from Hobart at the National Museum’s storage facilities at Mitchell, a suburb on the outskirts of Canberra. Unfortunately, the welcoming committee was far from warm. As soon as the kangaroo was removed from the packing crate, she was covered in calico and plastic wrappings and put into the freezer.

There she remained for a week, at a constant temperature of minus 21 degrees C. Continue reading

???????????????????????????????????

Objects in place: the Springfield collection

How might a place inform our understandings of historical objects? The National Museum of Australia yesterday launched The Springfield Collection, a new online feature that illuminates an extraordinary set of objects with intimate ties to a particular locale near the inland city of Goulburn in southern New South Wales.

About ten years ago the National Museum of Australia began negotiating the acquisition of a collection generated by the establishment and operation of Springfield, one of Australia’s oldest and most influential merino studs. Most of the donated items were stored for generations inside the grand Springfield homestead and its many Continue reading

Rushworth Heritage Easter Festival. Image: Blake Rosenberg.

Working horses showcased at Rushworth Heritage Easter Festival

Within the last two decades, the fortunes of Australia’s working draught horses have undergone something of a revival. Once the nineteenth and early twentieth century’s most abundant source of haulage muscle, the use of larger breeds declined during the 1950s as Australians embraced motorised power. However, as our team found out during a recent jaunt to Woo back, held in Yass, NSW, Australian heavy horse owners have been quietly nurturing a growing public interest in these magnificent animals. Every season, many community events featuring draught horses take place across the country.

After hearing about our Spirited: Australia’s Horse Story exhibition from a friend, Blake Rosenberg, the official photographer for the Rushworth Heritage Easter Festival got in touch to let us know about one such example, the Moora Working Draught Horse Muster. This event was held during the festival in Rushworth, Vic., on 19th and 20th April this year. In this guest post, Blake shares some of his beautiful photographs, as well as his thoughts on documenting the significant relationships between people, animals and localities despite the accelerated pace of our twenty-first century lives. Continue reading

Halfway along the walk to Duck Reach.  (Photo by Suzanne Brown)

Politics and water power

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