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.

Frank Albert: Boomerangs, yachting and the colour green

23 May 2013

It was a clear and crisp autumn afternoon in 1925 when ‘one of Sydney’s show yachts’ sailed up to the Man-o’-war steps in Farm Cove, Sydney. Father and son, Frank and Alexis Albert, were about to host an afternoon with the Governor and his daughter on board their 54-foot cutter, Rawhiti.

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East of India: a soldier settler of the Central West

14 May 2013

The small village of Rockley, 35km south of Bathurst in NSW, has a heritage that echoes of both England and India. The three locations are linked by the adventurous life of one man; soldier settler Watson Augustus Steel, whose life I began to look into in the lead up to the museum’s East of India exhibition.

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Make your own penguin softie

08 May 2013

All wonky eyes, felted flippers and blanket stitched bellies, what better use for scrap fabrics than a cuddly, crafty, cute-as-a-button-eyed penguin softie? 

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Sometimes, being negative isn’t so bad...

30 Apr 2013

This is something I discovered recently during the process of registering part of the large collection of photographic negatives, taken by photographer Gervaise Purcell, and acquired by the Australian National Maritime Museum.

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Billy Barnett, Master Shipwright of Sydney Harbour

26 Apr 2013

It seems that some skills take more than a lifetime to gain – they have to be inherited, in the blood. This is certainly the case with many boat builders and none more so than Bill Barnett, one of Sydney Harbour’s finest wooden boat builders and the man who designed, built and raced his 18-footer Myra Too to glory in 1951.

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Exposed! The Gervaise Purcell Collection

19 Apr 2013

In 2008 while researching and developing the museum’s travelling exhibition Exposed! The story of Swimwear, I was contacted by Leigh Purcell, the son of respected Australian commercial photographer Gervaise Purcell (1919 – 1999).

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The Pittwater Regatta

12 Apr 2013

Australia is not short of beautiful waterways and in the 1920s, around Christmas time, scores of boats would begin heading north from Sydney Harbour to visit one such spectacular site and to take part in one of the most important events on the New South Wales yachting calendar – the Pittwater Regatta.

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History comes alive on Hall’s harbour

28 Mar 2013

A few Saturdays ago my colleague Penny Hyde and I packed our sunscreen and hats and set off for Sydney’s oldest sailing club, the Sydney Flying Squadron in Milsons Point. In our own attempt to recreate history, our aim was to walk in photographer William J Hall’s footsteps yet again and see the world the way he did.

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Return voyage: A short family history

27 Mar 2013

In the 1850s my great, great grandfather, Frederick Payne lived in Thames Street and he was a waterman rowing passengers in his wooden skiff across the Thames, a stone’s throw to my left from where I stand.

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