blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Australian National Maritime Museum

Back to November and Australia!

On Monday Nov. 18th, we went to visit the Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour, a fine piece of architecture with a roof that looks like sails. I took this photo on a clearer day than the 18th, when we had to shelter in a business district bar for lunch on the way there or we'd have been soaked to the skin in a torrential burst of rain. We sat watching people's umbrellas blowing inside out before venturing over the footbridge.

The museum was excellent and deserved a whole afternoon; we could have explored all the ship replicas and the submarine outside, had we wished.

As in the art gallery, I learned an enormous amount. Near the entrance is the fastest boat in the world, the Spirit of Australia, as driven by Australia's Ken Warby in 1977 (511.11kph). He had built it in his backyard (which reminds me of the entertaining film The World's Fastest Indian starring Anthony Hopkins as Burt Munro, a New Zealander who'd built the world's fastest motorcycle in his backyard. I first watched that film on board our container ship, the Flottbek, half way across the Atlantic).

As you walk further into the museum you see a mural showing the Sydney wharfs and the union of "wharfies" in the 1930s, during the world wide Depression before World War II. On another wall is a series of "Saltwater Visions": Aboriginal bark paintings, some of which have been used as evidence of indigenous rights in court cases over the ownership of saltwater lands. They depict turtle fishing from dugout canoes with sails. It seems that Australia's first peoples learned their boat building techniques from Indonesian sailors. The artwork also represents the crocodile eggs and dugongs found in the mangrove swamps of the Northern Territory. Fish or sharks are carved from branches.

The old maps of Terra Australia (New Holland) show how little white men knew or understood about this part of the world before the expeditions of Captain Cook. When the white men took over though, they were arrogant about it. From 1901 a racist "White Australia" policy forbad any non-European immigrants, especially Asians, from settling here and after the 2nd World War the situation changed only gradually. British immigrants were positively encouraged to come, especially solitary but healthy war orphans, teenage boys, 7000 of whom had been dispatched overseas, care of the Big Brother Movement, to be met by Australians and put to work on Australian farms. During the long weeks on board the ships they and the immigrant families from Britain were entertained by Poncho and Bubbles, clowns.

Another part of the museum was dedicated to a collection of famous surf boards and yachts including the yacht belonging to Kay Cottee who was the first woman to sail round the world single handed in 1988. The vessel's appropriately named First Lady and you can clamber over it in the museum.

The first warships of the Royal Australian Navy were built in 1913 to accommodate the men who responded to the wartime appeal for service, as illustrated on a typical poster, saying:
It is nice in the surf, but what about
Nowadays the RAN is more involved with peaceable activities such as a hydrographic survey from the Torres Strait to Antarctica.

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