Discover stories behind the latest exhibitions, fascinating explorations into maritime science and archaeology, and the surprising details of what happens inside (and outside) a modern working museum.


David Payne

David Payne is Curator of Historic Vessels at Australian National Maritime Museum, and through the Australian Register of Historic Vessels he works closely with heritage boat owners throughout Australia researching and advising on their craft and their social connections. David has also been a yacht designer and documented many of the museum’s vessels with extensive drawings. He has had a wide sailing experience, from Lasers and 12-foot skiffs through to long ocean passages. Since 2012 he has been able to work closely with Aboriginal communities on a number of Indigenous canoe building and watercraft projects.

A day in the life of a cruise ship

06 Dec 2012

Like nocturnal animals, they come home as dawn breaks, find their haven to sit out the heat of the day, and then head back out as the day cools into the evening. That’s one day’s pattern in the life of a cruise ship that comes to Sydney.

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The plywood yuki project - Gumleaf

17 Oct 2012

The traditional Indigenous watercraft for the Murray River and the Ngarrindjeri community in South Australia  is called a  yuki’. It is made from a single sheet of red gum, taken from the side of a tree so that it already has much of the canoe’s curved shape already in place. 

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Canoe building in Sydney

14 May 2012

Last Wednesday’s fine weather had everyone out enjoying it if they could. For me and 10 others, it was perfect for nawi construction. We were building more tied-bark canoes, probably the first ones to be built on the shores of Sydney Harbour in well over a century.

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Collecting bark for more canoes

04 May 2012

Monday, 30 April and I am on a mission to collect bark for more Indigenous canoe projects, this time it will be working with Tribal Warrior Association’s Youth Mentor Group. Getting bark is not a simple ‘go to the shop’ process – it needs permission, planning, and manpower.

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Building a nawi - continued

20 Oct 2011

Since my last post about building a NSW south coast, tied-bark canoe, I’m happy to say that I’ve launched the canoe! Read on to see how I went…

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Building a nawi

14 Oct 2011

Over the last couple of weekends, I have managed to make a full sized, NSW south coast, tied-bark canoe. They are known as nawi by the Indigenous communities based around Sydney Harbour.

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