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.

Designing the SIEV X memorial

29 Sep 2011

On 18 October 2001 a decrepit, overcrowded fishing boat embarked from Sumatra, Indonesia, carrying more than 400 asylum seekers who had fled Iraq and Afghanistan. It foundered the next day en route to the offshore Australian territory of Christmas Island, drowning 353 people – 146 children, 142 women and 65 men. The boat would come to be known as SIEV X (Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel Unknown).

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Object of the Week

28 Sep 2011

Sometime between 1839-1845 Frances (Fanny) Bligh, daughter of the renowned William Bligh, wrote this in a letter to a landholder in the colony of New South Wales named George Suttor. The ring Fanny was referring to was this intaglio bloodstone antique ring (00044369) which formerly belonged to her father.

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Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

19 Sep 2011

The immense wealth of the Spanish Empire was both attractive and vulnerable to pirates, as the great galleons sailed along well-defined tracks and at particular seasons towards the narrow passage separating central and south America.

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Object of the Week

15 Sep 2011

It is estimated that between 12,000 and 15,000 Australian women married American servicemen during World War II. Some of the women emigrated from Australia and made a new life for themselves in the United States, while others returned to their homelands in the years after the war – with or without their husbands.

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RelationShips: Pincushions, sweetheart brooches and love tokens

31 Aug 2011

Living in a world where loved ones are little more than just a phone call or email away, it’s hard to imagine the anguish of separation felt by those whose loved ones were oceans apart, with little or no contact. An evocative pincushion in the Australian National Maritime Museum’s collection (00006919) highlights the disconnection felt by many naval and merchant sailors in the 19th and 20th centuries from their loved ones. 

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What’s in a ship painting?

25 May 2010

Ship portraits can be rather tedious to some. They usually only convey something of interest to those who know particular details about the ship’s construction.

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John Louis

To sheath or not to sheath?

04 Mar 2010

In 1987 the Australian National Maritime Museum acquired a pearling lugger from Broome. The John Louis was built in 1957 and operated for 30 years in the pearling industry in north-western Australia. 

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A musket barrel made of copper?

08 Feb 2010

The Museum has several items from the 1629 wreck of the Batavia on display in the Navigators gallery. One is labelled as a musket barrel. However it is made of thin copper sheeting. Either the Dutch were very brave souls to fire such a thing, or there is more to this ‘musket barrel’ than meets the eye! 

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