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March April May 2011 Number 94

March to May 2011 Number 94

Sail with us as HMB Endeavour makes its first-ever circumnavigation of Australia.


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2 Renewing Endeavour’s standing rigging A complicated refit prepares the replica of Cook’s famous ship for its Australian circumnavigation

12 Tayenebe – Tasmanian women’s fibre work Tasmanian Aboriginal women and girls have revitalised the weaving skills of their ancestors – a visiting temporary exhibition

14 Bridging troubled waters


A little-known unit, the 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train, wrote its own chapter of ANZAC history

22 Love, loss and lighthouses Our 2010–11 MMAPSS maritime heritage grants support projects around the country

Thursday Island Darwin

27 What’s on for Members and visitors

Cairns Townsville

Broome Exmouth

The autumn calendar of tours, talks, seminars, activities afloat, exhibitions, school-term and holiday programs







Geraldton Fremantle Bunbury

Port Lincoln Albany

Adelaide Melbourne


Sydney Eden


From April 2011 to May 2012 the magnificent replica of James Cook’s HM Bark Endeavour will follow in the wake of our earliest European explorers, visiting major and regional ports right around Australia. Applications are now open for voyage crew and supernumerary berths – numbers are strictly limited – book your place now!

cover: What is it, and where would you find one? The answer is in our feature article, starting on page 2, that first unravels and then ties up all the mysteries of traditional standing rigging on ships like the museum’s replica of James Cook’s HM Bark Endeavour – now undergoing extensive rerigging prior to her 2011–12 circumnavigation of Australia. For those who can’t wait to find out: it’s called a mouse, it's located on the upper end of a stay and is built up by layers of servings, then pointed over with decorative weaving. Its job is to position the spindle eye in the end of the stay. If that’s still unclear, the article reveals it all. Photographer Anthony Longhurst/ANMM

38 New frontier in learning A new digital curriculum resource based on our collection, developed by the museum’s education unit

40 Youthful perspectives Young visitors armed with digital cameras take a fresh look at our maritime heritage precinct

42 The floating world of Cambodia


Sharing a unique maritime tour with Members

48 Australian Register of Historic Vessels New additions to this important national database

52 Tales from the Welcome Wall The upwardly mobile First Fleet convict Esther Abrahams

54 Collections – Nautilus II A very early, very significant Australian powerboat

Bookings & information Telephone 02 9298 3859 Freecall 1800 720 577

Signals magazine is printed in Australia on Impress Satin 250 gsm (Cover) and 128 gsm (Text) using vegetable-based inks on paper produced from environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable forestry sources.

56 Readings William Dampier, a buccaneer of literary merit

57 Currents Bill Lane Fellowship; Allied losses; AMSA sponsorship

60 Bearings Cert no. SGS-COC-006189

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5/8/10 12:44:43 PM


From the director

Renewing Endeavour’s standing rigging

In preparation for a 15-month circumnavigation of Australia, the Endeavour replica’s standing rigging is being completely renewed for the first time since the ship was launched in 1993. Anthony Longhurst, ANMM leading hand shipwright and rigger, reveals the intricacies of traditional rigging techniques – beginning with his visit to the 17th-century ropewalk at England’s Chatham Dockyard, to watch the ship’s new ropes being manufactured.

above right: Hawser-laid rope of coir (coconuthusk fibre) at left, with a cable-laid rope of manila (right). All photographs of ropemaking and rig construction by Anthony Longhurst/ANMM unless otherwise specified. opposite: The main items of standing rigging visible in this view of the ship’s fore and main masts are the shrouds (with their ratlines or rope ladders) giving the masts lateral support, and various stays running diagonally downwards from the masts.


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The replica of James Cook’s HMB Endeavour has sailed twice around the world since her commissioning in 1994. She has logged many additional sea miles under the Australian National Maritime Museum’s management since 2005. Her rigging has been exposed to dust from a Sahara sandstorm blown out to sea, snow in Europe, hot and humid conditions in the tropics, storm-force winds and the strains of breasting huge seas. From the beginning the rig has undergone methodical maintenance, and judicious replacement of parts of it, but now the time has come to replace Endeavour’s entire standing rigging. For definitions see the glossary on page 11. The original Endeavour carried standing rigging constructed of hemp. Hemp was widely used throughout England and Europe in the 18th century; the best came from the southern steppes of Russia. For the Endeavour replica’s standing rigging, built and installed in the early 1990s, manila was chosen instead of hemp. Manila fibre was more readily available than hemp and was cheaper. It also has a higher natural resistance to mildew: unlike hemp, the fibres do not easily absorb and hold moisture. A synthetic rig had initially been considered, but the tendency for synthetic rope to continue stretching and thus to give inadequate support to the masts ruled it out. Our replica’s standing rigging comprises a variety of rope sizes ranging from three millimetres in diameter for small seizings, up to 104 mm diameter for the anchor cable. Endeavour uses ropes of three different constructions. First there is hawser-laid rope, the basic three-strand

rope that is twisted right-handed, and is generally found in your hardware store or chandlery. Second there is cable-laid rope, in which three hawser-laid ropes are twisted together in a left-handed direction. Lastly, we have shroud-laid rope, a righthand laid rope built up of four strands around a central, hawser-laid core. A rope holds its form and gains its strength by applying opposing twists during the different stages of construction. First, the rope’s constituent fibre is spun clockwise or right-handed into a yarn. The yarns are then spun in the opposite direction – anticlockwise or left-handed – to form a strand. In hawser-laid rope, the diameter of the strand is half of the finished rope’s diameter, and so the quantity of yarns used in a strand varies accordingly. Three strands are then twisted together clockwise or right-handed to close the hawser-laid rope. If you then take three hawser-laid ropes and twist them together anticlockwise or left-handed, you will have a cable-laid rope. Signals 94 March to May 2011


The historic Chatham Dockyard to the east of London is the only such facility to have survived since the age of sail. Its ropewalk, quarter of a mile long, dates back to 1618

clockwise from above: The rope works at Chatham Dockyard, home of the ropewalk where the Endeavour replica’s new manila rigging was manufactured. Manila yarn is led from spools to forming dies where it is spun into the strands that will be twisted up into finished rope. Manila fibres enter the Number 2 spreader in the ropewalk at Chatham Dockyard before being spun into yarn.

Ropes of natural fibres used to be laid up in establishments called ropewalks. In James Cook’s time there were numerous Royal Navy ropewalks. The Portsmouth ropewalk was blitzed during World War II and others have closed down due to the diminishing need for large supplies of traditional rope, as synthetics and different types of manufacture, such as braid, took over. There are now few ropewalks left in the world that produce natural-fibre rope spun using the traditional methods. In February 2010 I was given the opportunity to work with the rope makers in the historic dockyard at Chatham, to the east of London – the only dockyard to have survived since the age of sail. Located within Chatham Dockyard is the ropewalk, quarter of a mile long. Rope making on the site dates back to 1618. The ropewalk is now operated by Master Rope Makers Limited, who have constructed some of the rope that is being used to build Endeavour’s new standing rigging.

Making our manila rope Manila fibre is obtained from the leaves of a species of banana native to the Philippines locally known as abacá. Once the plant reaches maturity (18 months to two years), it is cut down and the long fibres are taken from the overlapping sections of the leaves where they form a false trunk. The fibres are exceptionally strong and durable and are generally 1.5–3.5 metres long. Once the fibre has been extracted from the sheaths of the leaves, it is left to dry and then 4

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packaged into 125-kg compressed bales before being shipped. At the ropewalk, the fibre is separated and cut to lengths of no more than 1.5 metres. Any longer and the fibres would tangle and be torn during the initial combing process, while if the fibres are too short they weaken the finished rope. After being sorted, the fibre is sent though the first of six combing (hatchelling) machines. Here, the fibre is progressively combed and knit together as it is passed through progressively smaller combs. An emulsion of mineral oil, natural waxes, fatty acids and water – called batching oil – is added to help the fibre comb out easier, and as a waterproofing agent. Originally, whale oil was used. Before the introduction of hatchelling and spinning machines, the fibre was hatchelled by hand. It was drawn though steel spikes that were set into boards known as hatchelling boards. These came in a series of grades, the pins of which became progressively finer and set closer together. This ensured the fibre was straight and evenly fine before being sent to the spinner. The spinners were regarded as the most skilled tradesmen employed in the ropewalk. The quality of their work governed the strength of the finished rope. The spinner would gather a ‘streak’ (a 60-pound [27.25 kg] bundle) of fibre around his waist with the ends at his back. A small loop was drawn out and attached to a hook on a spinning wheel that was operated by a young boy. The spinner walked backwards down the length of the walk uniformly feeding in the combed fibre as the yarn was spun by the revolving hook. To keep the yarn off the floor, it was placed onto stakes every 10 metres or so. An experienced spinner was capable of spinning 1,000 feet (305 metres) in 12 minutes. Today the spinning is performed by a machine. The spinning machine used for Endeavour’s yarn is able to spin the yarn onto 24 spools, each containing a little over 900 metres of yarn. Each cycle takes approximately 20 minutes to produce over 20 kilometres of spun yarn. At the ropewalk the spools of spun yarn are arranged onto a frame (bank) that enables the yarn to feed freely when being drawn out to form the strands. The required number of yarns are led from the banks, through a register plate that keeps the yarns separated and directs them into the die (a tight tube). The die controls the forming of the strands as the yarns are drawn through it and twisted by the strand-forming machine as it travels

down the length of the walk. Up to three strands can be spun at once and they are drawn to a length of approximately 250 metres. The forming machine that was used for Endeavour’s rope is known as Maud, and dates from 1811. It is the oldest machine employed in the ropewalk. Once the strands have been formed, they are cut and secured under tension to posts at either end of the ropewalk and left to rest for 24 hours. This allows the tension in the fibres to release and relax before the strands are twisted again and closed into rope. For this final process, the strands are transferred to rotating hooks on machines called the ‘jack’ and the ‘sledge’. The jack is stationary, while the sledge moves along rails. This is because the length of the strands shortens while they are being twisted for closing, thus requiring the sledge to move. The sledge has weights attached, to act as a drag and keep tension on the length of rope to prevent it from kinking. The strands are attached to a single rotating hook on the sledge and to separate rotating hooks on the jack. A top (a conical-shaped piece of timber with grooves) is placed between the strands near the sledge. As the strands are twisted together the top moves along allowing the strands to close into rope behind it. The completed rope is coiled and weighed. A short length is cut from every batch and sent to be break-tested, to ensure that it meets the required standards.

Making Endeavour’s standing rigging Of the 17 kilometres of rope ordered for the replacement of the Endeavour replica’s standing rigging, only four and a half kilometres are made of manila. The rest is polyester. The manila makes up the main components of the standing rigging: shrouds, stays and backstays. These are the components that transfer all of the stresses and forces imposed by the sails and movement of the ship down to the hull. We use the polyester only for the seizings, servings and worming. These are components that require strength and are applied very tight, so there is very little concern about them stretching. Endeavour’s standing rigging comprises all the types of rope mentioned earlier – hawser-laid, cable-laid and shroud-laid – although not necessarily in the way you might expect from the terminology! Endeavour’s fore and main lower shrouds are cable-laid. All lower and topmast stays are shroud-laid. All other standing rigging is hawser-laid.

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left top: As the strands are twisted together a piece of timber called a top is drawn along, allowing the strands to close into rope behind it. left bottom: Cable-laid shroud, wormed and parcelled. above: Cable-laid shroud, wormed and tarred. right top: Author of this article, Anthony Longhurst, putting an eye splice into a main shroud at Sydney’s Garden Island dockyard where the museum stretched, tarred and constructed Endeavour’s new rigging. Photographer Amy Spets/ANMM right: Ross Pearce (left) and Ben Willoughby (right) demonstrate the use of a serving mallet.


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Once our new manila rope was delivered from England, the coils of rope were opened, the required lengths were cut and the rope ends were whipped. Before construction of the rigging could commence, however, there were a number of preliminary steps of utmost importance. These steps are the foundation of the rigging’s stability and survival in the years to come. The lengths of rope were pre-stretched for a minimum of 24 hours by attaching a weight equivalent to their working-load limit, to let the fibre reach its maximum stretch and then relax and settle. Once manila has been pre-stretched, it has similar stretch characteristics to wire. Depending upon the rope’s construction and how hard it has originally been laid, you can expect the stretch to be anything from 8% with hawser-laid rope to almost 15% for shroud-laid rope. Shroud-laid ropes need a different treatment during stretching. As noted above, they are built up of four strands twisted around a core of hawser-laid rope. The core adds no strength, acting only as packing to keep the strands from falling into the void that would otherwise occur at the centre. The core stretches less than the strands around it. For shroud-laid rope to be properly stretched, the inner core needs to be broken in several places. This removes any loading from the core and lets the strands take it instead. If the core were unbroken, the strands would become loose and not sit properly after stretching, thus weakening the rope. If the standing rigging is not sufficiently pre-stretched, it will continue stretching in operation and provide insufficient support for the masts. The stays and shrouds will need regular re-seizing around the deadeyes at their lower ends. As the rope stretches there is also a reduction in its diameter. If the rope continues to stretch on the ship, servings and seizings (integral to the strength of the rigging) will loosen. Proper pre-stretching before construction makes it easier to set up the finished rigging and ensures that all of the rigging shares the stresses equally. The next step in the preparation is to preserve the manila rope. This is done by soaking it in raw and natural Stockholm tar, a residue left after distilling a gum that is extracted from pine and fir trees. It has been used for many centuries to preserve rigging and timber on sailing vessels. Soaking in Stockholm tar takes a minimum of 24 hours depending upon the size of the rope and the viscosity of the tar. If the weather is cold, the tar may 8

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The rigging has been exposed to dust from Sahara sandstorms, snow in Europe, hot and humid conditions in the tropics, stormforce winds and the strains of breasting huge seas

require thinning to penetrate into the middle of the ropes. While the tar is not absorbed by the manila fibres, it coats the fibres and fills any voids between them, sealing out any moisture. Once these preparatory measures have been completed, we can start turning the ropes into ship’s rigging. All the ropes that are to become standing rigging are stretched out firmly, but not tight, between strong posts. The centres of the eyes that sit over the mastheads are marked along with the areas that are to be served; these areas are then wormed. The lower shrouds are wormed over their full length, including portions that will not be served. This adds extra strength, but is a technique that has been subject to debate in square-rig circles due to the possibility of the worming trapping water. The Endeavour replica’s first set of standing rigging survived with no problems in this respect; the concern probably originates from the problems encountered when using the more rotprone hemp rigging. After worming the rope is stretched out tight again, under loads similar to those that the rigging will encounter upon the ship. This allows us to accurately place all the required seizings at the lower ends. We have load-measuring equipment so we can apply uniform weight to the ropes throughout the construction. The worming, already installed, pulls uniformly tight with the rope. The rope then acquires another coat of tar before a layer of parcelling is wound spirally with the lay of the rope, from the lower end up toward the eye that will fit over the masthead. The overlapping of the parcelling acts like shingles on a roof. If water were to penetrate through the

serving it would run down and be shed away from the underlying rope. If the parcelling were applied the opposite way, the water would be directed into the rope and become trapped, leading to permanent dampness that will ultimately rot the rope. The parcelling then receives another coating of tar prior to the serving being applied. The serving is then applied against the lay of the rope and in the opposite direction to the parcelling. Hence the age-old sailor’s expression, ‘Worm and parcel with the lay, turn and serve the other way’. Serving is applied using a serving mallet, and is wound on as tight as possible. Once the ropes are served, the eyes are either seized or spliced into the ropes where they sit over the mastheads. Endeavour’s lower masts have seven shrouds on each side. Six of them are made as pairs, that is, one length of rope making two shrouds, with an eye seized in the middle to go over the masthead. The odd shroud needs to have an eye spliced in its upper end to sit over the masthead. The spliced eye is made oversize, well tarred, parcelled and served, and is then also seized to close the top of the splice. Seized eyes are preferable to splices due to the difficulties of sealing water out of the splices. clockwise from above: Main lower shroud with a fitting called a cable stocking that allows a weight to be attached for pre-stretching. Rigger Amy Spets seizing the turn for a deadeye in the end of a stay. The spindle eye at the upper end of a stay, parcelled ready for serving. Lower ends of shrouds turned and seized ready for the placement of the deadeyes.

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One of the reasons for building a replica is to learn about the problems that the original ship faced. Another is to keep skills from being lost to history.

Next, the lower ends of stays and shrouds are marked and are turned and seized ready for the placement of the deadeyes. In the standing rigging alone, there are almost 500 seizings and approximately 400 metres of serving. If we then add the seizings of ratlines and all the other components such as futtock staves, futtock shrouds and catharpins, the number of seizings comes closer to 1,000. If all of the blocks and components employed in the running rigging are included, this figure can easily be doubled again. The eyes for the larger stays are constructed a little differently, so they can be replaced without housing or removing the topmasts and topgallant masts as is necessary for the replacement of the shrouds. The stays have a small eye, called a spindle eye, in the upper end. Once the eye is passed around the mast, the bitter end (tail) of the stay is passed through it and the loop is pulled up tight until the eye comes to rest on a rope bulge that is made on the stay, called a mouse. The eye is too small to accommodate a secure splice. It is made by firstly unlaying several feet of the rope right back to its individual yarns. A round piece of timber referred to as the spindle has two bulges raised upon it with spun yarn, to act as a cradle for the yarns when they are individually taken over it and halfknotted to one another. The yarns are then tapered down and laid back along 10

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the stay. The entire spindle eye, taper and a percentage of the stay is then well tarred, parcelled and served over. The mouse is then raised upon the stay with serving and shaped roughly like a pear. This is then pointed over (a form of weaving) with smaller rope. The lower ends of standing rigging are always seized around a deadeye or block rather than spliced. This allows adjustments to be made to the length of the rigging, if required over time, as well as maintaining the strength of the rope. A splice weakens the rope, whereas seizings do not. Where blocks or deadeyes are turned in, there is always a minimum of three seizings. They are the throat seizing (closest to the block or deadeye), middle seizing and end seizing. The end of the rope is whipped and cut off close to the end seizing, and then has a tarred canvas cap placed over it to prevent it from absorbing water. Once the rigging is completed and placed into service upon the ship, the focus changes to full-time preservation. The number-one enemy is chafe, held at bay by the addition of leather, rope mats and additional lengths of serving. The rig requires regular retensioning until it settles in, and tarring is constant. Add to this the oiling and upkeep of nearly 700 blocks, eight kilometres of running rigging, 30 spars (masts, yards and booms) and 10,000 square feet (930 m2) of canvas that make up Endeavour’s sails. It is little wonder that the original Endeavour carried a sailing crew of 60 seamen. You may wonder why we bother with all this detailed work that most people will never notice, when there are stronger, longer-lasting synthetic products that could be used instead. One of the reasons for building a replica vessel is to learn about the problems that the original ship faced in its construction and components. Another is to keep skills that modern technology has superseded from being lost to history. We gain insights into the evolution of the sailing vessel, and build an appreciation for the men who built and sailed these impressive ships.  Author Anthony Longhurst is a leading hand, shipwright and rigger with the museum’s Fleet team. His involvement with tall ships began in 1986 at age 13 and from 1995 until 2000 he sailed the world on the HM Bark Endeavour replica as a watch leader, shipwright, sailmaker and boatswain. Anthony’s involvement with Endeavour continued in 2005 when she came under ANMM management.


Topmast shrouds

Deadeyes Futtock plates

Futtock shrouds Mouse Spindle eye Stay

Stave Catharpins Lower shrouds

Standing rigging: Ropes that remain fixed, used to support the masts – shrouds, stays, backstays etc. Running rigging: The ropes leading through various blocks, and to different places of the masts, yards, sails, and shrouds, which are moved according to the various operations of navigation. Running rigging includes lifts, braces, sheets, tacks, halyards, clewlines, buntlines, leechlines, bowlines, spilling lines, brails, downhauls etc. Shrouds: A range of large ropes, extended from the mastheads to the port and starboard sides of the vessel, to support the masts laterally. Stays: Strong ropes to support the masts forward, extending from the masthead towards the fore part of the ship. The stays are named according to their respective masts: lower stays, topmast stays, topgallant stays. Backstays: These support the topmasts and topgallant masts from aft. They reach from the heads of the topmast and topgallant mast to the channel on each side of the ship, and assist the shrouds when strained by a press of sail. left: The mouse, located on the upper part of a stay to position the spindle-eye, has been pointed over with small rope. above: Futtock shrouds, staves and catharpins. Drawing after the illustration on page 230 of The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea.

Deadeyes: Round blocks with three holes, fitted at the ends of standing rigging. Lanyards threaded through the holes of a pair of deadeyes allow for adjusting and tensioning the rigging once it is on the ship.

Splicing: Joining one rope to another, by interweaving their ends, or uniting the end of a rope into another part of it. The eye splice forms an eye or circle at the end of a rope on itself, or round a block. The cunt splice or cut splice forms an eye in the middle of a rope. The long splice rejoins a rope or ropes intended to reeve through a block, without increasing the rope’s diameter. The short splice is made by untwisting the ends of a rope, or of two ropes, and placing the strands of one between those of the other. Other specialised splices exist. Seizing: The joining together of two ropes, or the two ends of one rope, by taking several close turns of small rope, line, or spun yarn round them. Serving: Encircling a rope with small rope, line or spun yarn, for all or part of its length, to preserve it from being chafed. Worming: Winding a rope close along the cuntings or contlines (the groove between the strands), to strengthen it, and make a fair surface for parcelling and serving (qv). Parcelling: Wrapping worn canvas around ropes, to prepare them for serving. Whipping: To encircle the end of a rope with multiple turns of thread, to prevent its unravelling. Adapted from Steel’s Elements and Practice of Rigging and Seamanship, 1794

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Tayenebe Tasmanian Aboriginal women’s fibre work

[Weaving] tells me a lot about our early people, about our mothers and their families and their movements in the seasons Audrey Frost, weaver

Tasmanian Aboriginal women and girls have revitalised the fibre skills of their ancestors, in an exhibition from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery that demonstrates unique connections with the land and sea. Andy Greenslade, curator at the Tasmanian museum’s partner organisation the National Museum of Australia, describes the cultural significance of these ancient practices.


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As I ease up the drive of one of the cottages at Larapuna, in the Mt William National Park in north-eastern Tasmania, there’s little sign that a big workshop is in progress here. The stiff breeze coming off Bass Strait has a bite to it, and despite the clear and sunny skies, the air is distinctly chilly. Inside the cottage, a group of women sits in a circle weaving, in easy conversation – the state of the fibres, the evenness of the weave, the latest stand of grasses to be collected. This is the last of seven workshops that make up tayenebe, a project to revive traditional weaving practices in the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. A collaboration between Arts Tasmania, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and the National Museum of Australia, the workshops have been held at different locations across Tasmania, with over 30 women and girls attending each group.

This 10-day workshop is the longest and most ambitious, yet it has a very high participation rate. Everyone is determined to continue their weaving after the workshop finishes, but from now on it will be within their circle of friends and families. There is a powerful atmosphere here. This is the last workshop and there is a desire to get the very best out of it. It is the only workshop held on traditional country for the majority of participants. It has been an emotionally charged time, because news arrived during the workshop of the passing of Auntie Muriel Maynard. An important and respected elder, Auntie Muriel’s interest, commitment and love of weaving were strong. She was a fine weaver. Although too unwell to participate fully in tayenebe, Auntie Muriel supported its aims. As a measure of their respect, the weavers

jointly created a basket, each completing two or three rows with their individual styles and skills. The purpose of tayenebe springs from pioneering work begun by Alan West in the early 1990s. Former curator and now research associate at the Museum of Victoria, West started researching the plants and weaving techniques of baskets made in the 1800s. Building on West’s work, Jennie Gorringe, an arts worker at the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, became involved in one of the first efforts to revive traditional fibre skills. Gorringe arranged events and camps for local women, inspiring them to become engaged in weaving practice. Then in 2005, Moonah Arts Centre held an important exhibition by three skilled weavers: Eva Richardson, Colleen Mundy and Lennah Newson. Sadly, Lennah Newson passed away before tayenebe began, but perhaps her passing gave it greater impetus. This groundwork was important in reviving the tradition, but expertise was still not widespread, and some traditional methods remained undiscovered. Tayenebe sought to address this. Based on a workshop format conceived by Arts Tasmania’s Lola Greeno, the project sought to revive many of the old ways across different locations and with a mix of participants. This approach led to a depth and variety in the reinvigoration of the tradition. For example, variations in plant stocks in the different locations influenced the weaving works – the use of sea plants as well as land plants resulted in a revival of the use of bull kelp for containers. ‘Tayenebe’ is a south-eastern Tasmanian Aboriginal word meaning ‘exchange’ – appropriately, since the success of the project depended on sharing and exchanging many sources of knowledge and experience. Although the historical baskets

in museum collections contained information vital to reproducing the exact style, they contained much more than technical data. The women who studied these precious objects saw them as a link to the Old People, a manifestation of the women who made them. Only 37 baskets and fibre works from the 1800s survive in collections today. Of these, only five are by known makers – two by Trucanini and three by Fanny Cochrane-Smith. The rest are likely to have been made by some of the 70 women resettled at Wybalenna on Flinders Island and later at Oyster Cove south of Hobart from 1835 to 1874, having been taken there by George Augustus Robinson. Unlike these earlier weavers, the women who took part in tayenebe will not be unnamed. Over 100 baskets were created during tayenebe, and 70 of these are on display in the exhibition. Some have a traditional purity of technique and material and sit eerily alongside the old baskets, the time between their making seemingly evaporating. Others are contemporary in style, the material often dictating the final form. Still others are experimental in their combination of materials or expression of ideas. Materials are used to illustrate connections to wider culture. For example, the addition of a strand of fibre in a twisting figure of eight by Vicki maikutena Matson-Green reflects the flight of the moonbird, or mutton bird, which was thought to fly to the moon before returning to its nesting ground the next season. The inclusion of a swirl of maireener shells on the inside of Patsy Cameron’s basket creates a vortex representing the Milky Way, the materials and design creating connections between the land, sea and sky. There are examples of unique Tasmanian Aboriginal kelp containers. These have the leather look of the dried sea plant, warm in tone and shiny,

above: Eva Richardson, Water carrier, 2005. Bull kelp (Durvillaea potatorum), tea tree (Melaleuca sp.), river reed (Schoenoplectus pungens). opposite: Tasmanian Aboriginal baskets of white flag iris (Diplarrena moraea). Left to right: by Vicki maikutena Matson-Green, Patsy Cameron (also second from right), Dulcie Greeno, Audrey Frost. Photographer Simon Cuthbert, TMAG

its curved forms belying the firm and brittle nature of the dried fronds. There is no known kelp container in Australian collections, so the shape of these containers was informed by prints from Baudin’s voyage of exploration (1800–1804), and an image of a container (about 1850) held in the British Museum. These records show differing versions of the form. A viewing of this subtle and elegant exhibition makes it clear that the works are not merely the product of weaving tutorials focusing on technique alone. Rather, they are suffused with ideas, speculations and connections. The weavers state their strengthened link to culture through the act of weaving, walking the country in search of fibres, and knowing that they are pursuing a process that was once an everyday part of life for their ancestors.  The author is indebted to curator Julie Gough for permission to draw freely on her 2009 exhibition catalogue. This Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery travelling exhibition appears in our North Gallery from 26 March to 8 May 2011. It is supported by Visions of Australia, an Australian Government program that assists the development and touring of cultural material across Australia. With thanks to the National Museum of Australia for permission to reprint this edited version of an article that appeared in Friends magazine (June 2010).

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Bridging troubled waters

far left: Douglas Ballantyne Fraser (seated on left) with two fellow RANR signalmen, 1914. All images gift from, and reproduced courtesy of, Mrs Helen Clift, née Fraser (unless otherwise credited) left: Detail of the cover of a 1st RANBT reunion held early in World War II, attended by Douglas Ballantyne Fraser.

As ANZAC Day once more focuses on the exploits of Australians at Gallipoli during World War I, a recent acquisition of personal memorabilia belonging to a veteran of Suvla Bay draws attention to a littleknown but much-decorated Australian naval unit. Inspired by the Douglas Ballantyne Fraser collection, curator Peter Gesner has researched the story of the 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train.


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Australia’s role in World War I has been thoroughly researched and extensively written about. The units that served at Anzac Cove, in the Middle East and on the Western Front have received close attention and admiration for their heroic deeds and sacrifice. Yet the achievements of one small naval engineering unit have been relatively unheralded. It was called the 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train, a specialist unit whose task was building piers and bridges in combat zones, and it was one of the most decorated Australian naval units of the war. Its commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Leighton Bracegirdle, was awarded a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and another 20 men were decorated for their service. Their skills and very effective work output contributed to the sound reputation for competence, bravery and doing an exceptional job, that they quickly came to enjoy among British and Commonwealth troops fighting at the Suvla Bay beachhead, some five miles (9 km) north of Anzac Cove. Yet, oddly, their presence there was generally unknown among the ANZAC troops. A recent acquisition of personal memorabilia has highlighted the service of a member of this much-decorated though little-known unit. Douglas Ballantyne Fraser (1895–1975) was a reservist in the Royal Australian Naval Brigade who was called up at the outbreak of war and subsequently volunteered for the 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train. He served overseas in Gallipoli (Suvla Bay), along the Suez Canal and in Palestine from June 1915 to May 1917. His daughter, Mrs Helen Clift

of Cremorne, NSW, has donated a collection to the museum including a personal war diary, medals and campaign ribbons, insignia, letters, papers, maps, photographs, news clippings and postcards that mainly reflect Douglas Fraser’s service at Suvla Bay and in Egypt. The collection also sheds light on aspects of his life and interests after the Great War, which he was fortunate enough to survive physically unscathed. The 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train (1st RANBT) was officially formed on 24 February 1915. Its members were naval reservists from the Royal Australian Naval Reserve and came from all over Australia. Almost to a man they were skilled in some technical aspect of the wide range of trades they represented. They included master mariners and engineers as well as stokers, boilermakers, carpenters and hard-hat divers. They set up training camp in the Domain Gardens in Melbourne and, partially supervised by Australian Army engineers, started their training in bridging operations there. Here they also received – loaded on horse-drawn carts and wagons – their first pontoons, built in Sydney at the Cockatoo Island naval dockyard. The designation of ‘bridging train’ in the title of Douglas Fraser’s unit refers to its origins as a mounted logistics unit, equipped with some 60 pontoons carried on horse-drawn wagons – in other words, a wagon train. The pontoons and the carts and wagons carrying them were based on designs and specifications that had been perfected by British Royal Engineers (RE) Corps officers in the late 1860s. Pontoon or bridging units had evolved

in the course of 19th-century warfare, but their origins can be found in even earlier conflicts. The RE Corps had been formed in 1716 from a unit called the Ordnance Train that had been with the British forces in Flanders, fielded against Louis XIV’s armies in the 1690s. During Britain’s 19th-century imperial wars – conflicts such as the 1st Sikh War (1846), the Zulu War (1879) and the Boer War (1899–1901) – bridging operations were mainly carried out by troops from the Royal Engineers’ Bridging Battalion. They frequently operated with additional support from naval brigade troops. These were naval officers and ratings called upon by the Army for their special skills, for instance, as signalmen and roperiggers and as auxiliary light infantry to operate, guard and protect bridges and ferries (so-called ‘ponts’) built by the Bridging Battalion. During the Zulu War, naval brigade contingents helped save the day for hard-pressed British army units struggling to contain thousands of spearwielding Zulu warriors defending their homeland in Natal province against British and Afrikaner colonisation. When the 1st RANBT was being formed in early 1915, RE Corps units – popularly referred to as ‘pontoon troops’ – were already operating with the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front. The intention was that the similarly modelled and resourced 1st RANBT would be seconded to the Royal Naval Division’s battalions fighting on the Western Front, to perform comparable services to those being carried out by the RE’s pontoon troops. Their engineering skills were much sought-after, especially as the military Signals 94 March to May 2011


Incoming Turkish artillery fire was a daily occurrence but, miraculously, only two men were killed by it … however, 60 men were wounded

top: Douglas Ballantyne Fraser in RANBT uniform, 1915 – an Army uniform with naval insignia. Probably Melbourne, two days before the RANBT shipped out. bottom: Douglas Ballantyne Fraser (left) poses for the classic World-War-I souvenir photograph – servicemen on camels at Giza outside Cairo, Egypt. right: Diagram drawn by Douglas Ballantyne Fraser showing a barge pontoon bridge erected across the Suez Canal by the 1st RANBT, with a swinging centre span to allow shipping to pass.


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campaigns were increasingly becoming bogged down in the mud of Flanders and north-western France. Douglas Ballantyne Fraser joined the Royal Australian Naval Brigade (RANB) as a 16-year-old in 1911. Upon the outbreak of war, being in the Naval Reserve – the RANR, as the RANB had by then come to be designated – Fraser was called up to serve as a signalman on the Sydney Harbour pilot vessel Captain Cook III. His job on board included signalling to the Army’s gun battery on South Head to direct fire if necessary on ‘any suspect vessel leaving Sydney failing to heed directions to stop’ and board them for ‘examination’, as he related many years later in an article published in Navy News. In the first week or so of war two of our own coasters were smartly stopped by shots across the bows for ignoring our signals and one German tramp was arrested by a boarding party delivered by us between the Heads, they being quite unaware there was a war on… It must be remembered that very few vessels carried wireless in those days! (Douglas Fraser, Navy News, 27 October 1961) Six months later Fraser – by then promoted to Leading Seaman – volunteered for overseas service by joining the 1st RANBT. After several months spent training in Melbourne, the unit departed on 3 June 1915 in the transport SS Port Macquarie. The men would soon distinguish themselves as members of a highly effective engineering and logistics unit. Although initially bound for the Western Front via England, the unit was diverted en route and directed to Lemnos, a Greek island in the Northern Aegean, with revised orders to support the imminent Allied landings at Suvla Bay on Gallipoli. In his diary on 18 July 1915 Fraser noted that he was ‘disappointed’ they would no longer be going to England. After arriving in Lemnos, Fraser and his companions received five days of intensive training in pontoon-bridge

and pier construction on nearby Imbros Island. On 6 August 1915 they boarded SS Itria which took them to Suvla Bay where, 24 hours later, following the British assault troops that had gone ashore before them, they landed under heavy fire. Suvla Bay was nearly five miles to the north of the Australian and New Zealand battalions fighting at Anzac Cove. The RANBT’s talent for pontoon-bridge and pier building was evident from the moment they landed. Having been ordered to ‘Old A’ beach to install a pontoon pier, they quickly secured it and, within 20 minutes, British wounded were being evacuated from the pier to hospital ships offshore. Based at a campsite called Kangaroo Beach, 1st RANBT continued its operations in Suvla Bay until midDecember 1915. During this time it was responsible for a variety of logistics tasks that included building and maintaining wharves and piers, unloading stores from lighters and delivering and controlling a drinkable water supply. Incoming Turkish artillery fire was a daily occurrence at Suvla Bay but, miraculously, only two men were killed by it. However, 60 men were wounded and several others died from illness or accident. The Gallipoli beaches from 6 Aug 1915 to 19 Dec 1915 were not exactly ideal pleasure resorts but some of us had occasional diversion sneaking out at night in a 10 foot pontoon section to one of the battleships or cruisers in Suvla Bay and invariably getting a great welcome, much rum and tobacco, and welcomed tinned food from the canteens. (Douglas Fraser, Navy News, 27 October 1961) Eventually the decision was made to evacuate all of the Allied forces from Gallipoli, including the troops at Suvla Bay. Evacuation of the RANBT started on 17 December and most men had left by the evening of 18 December 1915. Fraser mentions destroying pontoons and buoys with a party of men before embarking on a steamer with ‘about a thousand Tommies’ and ‘we lay in heaps on the decks where movement was impossible, and those between midships and the scuppers were made painfully aware of the inexorable law of gravity’. (Douglas Fraser, Navy News, 27 October 1961) His party was not the last to leave. A 50-man squad from the 1st RANBT had been sent to Lala Baba Beach to guard the wharf from which the British rearguard would be leaving the beachhead. The men, under Sub-Lieutenant Hicks, guarded the wharf until the rearguard’s

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departure and, after wrecking its pontoons and setting fire to stores and equipment abandoned on the beach, they also left. It was 4.30 am on 20 December 1915. They were therefore the last Australians to leave the Gallipoli Peninsula, 20 minutes after the last Light Horse troops left Anzac Cove. Fraser mentioned seeing a ‘big fire at Anzac’ as they steamed for Lemnos. Following the evacuation from Gallipoli, the RANBT was deployed to Egypt in February 1916 to guard, operate and maintain pontoon bridges across the Suez Canal. Before their posting to the Suez Canal, however, the RANBT had a month’s rest on Lemnos, which Fraser noted on 20 December 1915 as being ‘under canvas’ and ‘almost like civilization – nurses, football, cricket, canteens and Australians’. According to Fraser’s reminiscences more than 40 years later, Lemnos was also where they ‘made first contact with the 1st and 2nd Australian Divisions from ANZAC, which occasioned a reunion with brothers, relatives and Australian cobbers in those two Divisions’ (Navy News, 27 October 1961). Fraser’s elder brother was serving in an AIF battalion at Anzac Cove. On Lemnos the unit’s initiative was demonstrated again when they acquired ‘by means which cannot be related… a perfectly good 16-foot clinker-built bumboat’ that army bolts of canvas turned into a sailing craft, ‘available to visit daily any of the hundreds of vessels in the magnificent landlocked harbour of Mudros’ for the purposes of obtaining hospitality. This craft would accompany them to the Suez Canal, to be used for similar enterprises (Navy News, 27 October 1961). During the RANBT’s service at Suvla Bay, Fraser had served as ‘confidential writer’ and signalman for the CO Lieutenant Commander Leighton Bracegirdle, and so was also a member of Bracegirdle’s command staff. After the actions in Gallipoli and along the Suez Canal, he was promoted to Petty Officer and joined a 1st RANBT detachment sent to assist the landing at El Arish on the Mediterranean coast of the Sinai Peninsula in December 1916, in support of the subsequent Allied campaign into Palestine in 1917. The detachment performed well at El Arish, and it was decided to withdraw the rest of the RANBT from its duties along the Suez Canal and make them available to support the Allied advance into Palestine. They were to be based at El Arish. Before they could all be fully 18

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redeployed, however, they were withdrawn from the Middle East. The withdrawal was the result of earlier complaints made by some of the men about carrying out menial, non-combatant work, and feeling their skills were being under-utilised along the Suez Canal. There had also been reports about mutinous behaviour in Lemnos, when 189 men had failed to fall in at morning parade after not receiving pay for almost six weeks – an action for which they were subsequently absolved by the naval Commander-in-Chief in the Eastern Mediterranean. Politicians in Australia had investigated the matters and the result was a decision by Federal Parliament to disband the RANBT and allow its members to choose re-enlistment as soldiers in the AIF, to serve in the Royal Navy or to return to Australia. On 27 March 1917 the 1st RANBT was officially disbanded. Seventy-six men from the unit elected to transfer to the AIF (most went to artillery units, following another 80 men who had been allowed to transfer in February); 43 men elected to serve with the Royal Navy; while 187 men, including Fraser, opted to return to Australia to consider their future. On 29 May 1917 they embarked at Suez on HMAT Bulla, bound for home. The unit arrived in Melbourne on 10 July 1917 and was dispersed. Upon demobilisation, Fraser joined the NSW Registrar General’s Department (opposite St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney) and also read Law at Sydney University. He was awarded a Bachelor of Laws in 1924 and then qualified as a solicitor, a profession he practised until retirement in the late 1950s. He kept in touch with fellow RANBT veterans and was an active member of the 1st RANBT Association; his efforts in this respect were apparently much appreciated by his peers as he was twice awarded the association’s Distinguished Service Cross. In 1965, on the 50th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign, Fraser returned to Mudros and Gallipoli with a group of veterans of both wars, on an extensive tour that included the World-War-II battlegrounds Tobruk and Alamein. Fraser’s postwar interests included a love of tall ships and he was also active in amateur theatre. These civilian-life interests are reflected by some of the material in this collection. There is a large album of newspaper clippings recording arrivals and departures of the last of the windjammers. The collection also contains a paperback copy of R G Sherriff’s play Journey’s End (1929), which

This may well have contributed towards the characterisation of the typical Australian digger as effective, practical, big-hearted, easy-going, unpretentious and irreverent

above: Suvla Bay at Gallipoli. The annotated newspaper clipping has RANBT landing places penned in by Douglas Ballantyne Fraser. above left: Sketch map drawn by Douglas Ballantyne Fraser showing the pier built on the beach at El Arish, December 1916 left: Imperial origins of the bridging train lay in Britain’s colonial wars. The Zulu War: Colonel Pearson’s column crossing the Tugela, Illustrated London News, 1879, Saturday 8 March. Reproduced courtesy of Powerhouse Museum

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Fraser most probably used when learning lines to play the part of 2nd Lieutenant Raleigh in a 1933 production of this play, a best-selling and award-winning, antiwar work. Like Fraser, the rest of the actors were also former servicemen. The production was staged as a fundraiser at the Empire Theatre in Goulburn by the Goulburn Diggers amateur theatre group, in aid of the Graythwaite Home for convalescent World-War-I servicemen in North Sydney. An ongoing interest in the logistics involved in seaborne military assaults is also apparent: in the collection are three booklets from the French series Les Grandes Heures de 1939–1945. The booklets describe the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II and include pictures and descriptions of the beachhead docking facilities, including the prefabricated pontoons that made up Mulberry Harbour. These were put in place by Allied naval engineers to land the huge numbers of Allied troops and the millions of tonnes of equipment, fuel, ammunition, vehicles and supplies needed to defeat the German Army during the ensuing Battle of Normandy. Fraser may have been in awe – and perhaps even a little envious – of the nighunlimited resources apparently made available to the World-War-II Allied beach-masters and the engineering and logistics units in Normandy. It must also have given him considerable satisfaction to see that the tactical lessons of the Gallipoli campaign – the folly of carrying out poorly equipped and inadequately resourced and supported seaborne assaults on well-defended coasts – had apparently been learned by World War II’s Allied military planners. With similar logistical support the ultimate objective of the Gallipoli campaign – the capture of Constantinople – may well have been achieved. Among the newspaper clippings of the Fraser collection is one describing the exploits of two men in the 1st RANBT, which was described as ‘as queer a unit as was ever devised’ by its author George Blaikie. In this unattributed and undated clipping headlined ‘Sailors all at Sea’, Blaikie relates a story of two RANBT ratings who were absent without leave from their camp one afternoon. Unbeknown to their officers, they had gone off to engage in some ‘sport’, in other words stalking and shooting Turkish soldiers in retribution, so they argued, for being incessantly shelled by Turkish artillery. During this episode on the front line they saved the life of 20

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new series coming soon a wounded English stretcher bearer serving with the British Army’s 32nd Field Ambulance, based near the RANBT’s camp. They had found the wounded man pinned down by Turkish snipers in No-Man’s Land and, having dealt with the snipers, they rescued the wounded man and returned him to a casualty station in his camp. The RANBT men requested that their heroic deed remain anonymous because they were keen to avoid sparking off an enquiry into how they had come to find the wounded man in the first place, to preempt the disciplinary measures they knew would be taken against them for being AWOL. This story is corroborated in the Suvla Bay reminiscences of a British sergeant in the 32nd Field Ambulance called John Hargrave – later a controversial anti-militarist – whose 1916 published description of this event appear in his memoirs called At Suvla. Reports of an incident such as this may well have contributed towards the British characterisation of the typical Australian digger as effective, practical, big-hearted, easy-going, unpretentious and irreverent. 

One German tramp steamer was arrested by a boarding party delivered by us between the Heads, they being quite unaware there was a war on

top: A certificate from Douglas Ballantyne Fraser’s employer, the NSW Registrar General’s Department, welcoming him home from war. bottom: In 1965 these Gallipoli veterans including Douglas Ballantyne Fraser spent 21 days on a Turkish steamer visiting war sites including Anzac Cove, on the 50th anniversary of the landing.

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Love, loss and lighthouses MMAPSS 2010–11

opposite: Lyndon O’Grady, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s senior technical officer responsible for heritage aspects of lighthouses and artefacts for 388 sites Australia-wide. Photograph courtesy of AMSA

The story of a lost 19th-century lighthouse lens, a former intern’s detective skills and a unique wedding emerged from the 2010–11 Maritime Museums of Australia Project Support Scheme – MMAPSS for short! MMAPSS coordinator Clare Power relates another success story from the museum’s long-running grants program.


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The Cape Wickham Lighthouse was built in 1861 at Currie, King Island. Standing 48 metres high, it is Australia’s, and the southern hemisphere’s, tallest lighthouse. John Ibbotson’s Lighthouses of Australia (2001) notes that King Island was often the first land that a ship encountered after departing England several months, and some 20,000 kilometres, earlier. The lighthouse was established as a response to the many shipwrecks that occurred along the King Island coast, including the catastrophic sinking of the Cataraqui in 1845, with 406 lives lost. In 1946 the original fixed lens was removed from the lighthouse to convert Cape Wickham into a rotating light. The lens was placed in storage for four years, and was then installed in the Point Quobba Lighthouse in Western Australia. This was unusual, as a lens of this size is not often reused. The lens remained at Point Quobba until the site underwent an upgrade in 1988 and was converted to low-voltage solar operation. Again, the lens was removed and placed in storage, where it remained for more than two decades. Today the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) provides maritime and navigation services that can be traced back to the establishment of the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service (CLS) in July 1915, after the proclamation of the Lighthouses Act 1911. The CLS eventually came to assume responsibility for all the lighthouses in Australia. Today, the Navigation Safety section of AMSA is all that remains of the old CLS. Lyndon O’Grady, the section’s senior technical officer, is responsible for heritage aspects of lighthouses and artefacts for 388 sites Australia-wide. The AMSA heritage artefacts collection dates from the 1850s and includes over 1,000 individual objects.


The Australian National Maritime Museum offers grants of up to $10,000 to non-profit regional museums and organisations to help them preserve Australia's rich maritime heritage. The grants fund projects in the following categories: • Managing a collection (including registration, storage and research) • Conservation (for example, documenting and caring for collections, developing methodology) • Presentation (exhibition design, interpretation) Our grants program, the Maritime Museums of Australia Project Support Scheme, is jointly funded by the museum and the Australian Government. Since 1995, the scheme has given more than $850,000 to organisations in Queensland, New South Wales (including Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands), Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. All non-profit maritime museums and historical organisations are encouraged to apply. We also welcome joint applications from two or more eligible institutions. The grant funding may be used to supplement other funding, including sponsorship. Applications for the 2011–12 round of grants will open in 19 August 2011. For information contact the museum or visit http://

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Not only is the Cape Wickham Lighthouse our tallest, it also has the first lighthouse lantern room in Australia in which a marriage ceremony has taken place


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below: A component of the original Cape Wickham Lighthouse lens discovered in storage. Photographer Lyndon O’Grady bottom: Memorable moment for Lyndon and Stephanie, Tess, Ella and and Rohan at Cape Wickham Lighthouse, King Island. Photograph courtesy of Lyndon O’Grady

In 2008, Lyndon received one of this museum’s MMAPSS professional development internships. During his stay he worked with our fleet, conservation and registration sections, enhancing his skills in the packaging of artefacts for transportation, conservation principles and cataloguing methodology. Along with practical skills, Lyndon has developed close working relationships with many staff members of the Australian National Maritime Museum. On his return to AMSA Lyndon applied his new-found knowledge to undertaking a large-scale collection management project that included cataloguing the AMSA heritage collection, a tagging program, photographing every artefact and ensuring the correct display and labelling of all objects. To examine them, Lyndon had to visit each site where AMSA artefacts are on loan. This means Lyndon has visited nearly every maritime museum in Australia! In 2009 Lyndon completed an audit of 40 pallets of artefacts on loan to the Western Australian Maritime Museum, located in their vast offsite storage facility. This audit raised many questions, as most of these AMSA objects were without recorded provenance. One item that stood out, due to its sheer size, was a large lighthouse lens with its many component pieces packed on 22 pallets. When he inspected the boxes and their contents, marked as ‘Lens Point Quobba’, something didn’t seem quite right. The Point Quobba light was first lit in 1950 and the lens he was inspecting was of a much earlier type. Lyndon noted that by 1950 ‘no one was making the beautiful large glass lenses anymore’. Also unusual was the lens’s manufacturer, H Wilkins & Co, which supplied very few lenses to the Australian market. Curious, Lyndon contacted his friend Garry Searle from the heritage organisation Lighthouses of Australia, who set about researching the matter. Their investigative efforts narrowed the lens down to a small number of possible sites of origin. These were then cross-checked against the AMSA register of over 10,000 technical drawings of lighthouses. The lenses in the pallets in Western Australia and the drawings of Cape Wickham Lighthouse were an exact match. As the lens had been built specifically for the Cape Wickham lighthouse, no other lens of this type existed; it is unique in all of Australia. The lens appears to be in good condition and it was decided that it should be returned to Cape Wickham,

entrusted to the care of the King Island Historical Society. AMSA offered to meet the expenses of transporting the prisms to Melbourne, provided that the complete lens was suitably displayed in time for the 150th anniversary of the inauguration of the light. A lighthouse’s birthday is celebrated on the day the light was first lit. For Cape Wickham that day is 1 November 2011. MMAPSS awarded the King Island Historical Society $6,589 to refurbish a display room to house the lens, alongside the lighthouse. The society has set about planning celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the light. AMSA will open the lighthouse for public access for four days to mark this special occasion, including special tours for school children. It has also had a commemorative brochure and takehome model made. In a lovely footnote to this tale, there is another record Cape Wickham Lighthouse holds. Not only is it our tallest lighthouse, it also has the first lighthouse lantern room in Australia in which a marriage ceremony has taken place! On 17 December 2010, Lyndon and his partner Stephanie married, with their three children (Rohan, 7, Tess, 5, and Ella, 2) and Stephanie’s parents, Patricia and Brian, present. Lyndon had to seek permission from the CEO of AMSA and the responsible Minister to conduct the ceremony there, and this is believed to be the first time in the history of the Commonwealth that such permission has been granted. The lighthouse-loving family chose Cape Wickham because it is the tallest lighthouse, because of the beauty of the rugged King Island coastline, and because of the hospitality they have always received from the King Island residents. In recognition of Lyndon’s work managing and preserving Australia’s lighthouse heritage he was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award in AMSA’s 2011 Australia Day Awards. ‘In performing this role, Lyndon has consistently gone above and beyond what would be expected of someone performing these duties,’ AMSA CEO Graham Peachey said. ‘His heritagerelated work is fitted in around his dayto-day aids to navigation maintenance contract tasks, and this award recognises Lyndon’s sustained efforts not just throughout 2010, but over a number of years.’  With thanks to Lyndon O’Grady for his help with this article.

2010 MMAPSS awards

Do you work with community maritime heritage, in a local history association or museum? Look at the projects that gained MMAPSS awards this year, and ask yourself if your project could be listed here next year. For information visit Krawarree Project Inc, Mudgeeraba QLD $8,500 For a conservation assessment of the historic army hospital vessel Krawarree AH1733. Albury City Council, Albury NSW $6,000 For The Murray River Experience research and heritage interpretation project. Lady Denman Heritage Complex, Huskisson NSW $8,000 For the restoration of the forward saloon of the historic ferry Lady Denman. Museum of the Riverina, Wagga Wagga NSW $5,225 To conserve the lifesaving reel and men’s one-piece Speedo swimsuit from the Wagga Wagga Surf Life Saving Club collection. Narooma Lighthouse Museum, Narooma NSW $8,000 For the Narooma Lighthouse Museum upgrade. Norah Head Lighthouse Reserve Trust, Toukley NSW $8,000 For the restoration and conservation of semaphore flags including archival storage. Norfolk Island Museum, Norfolk Island NSW $6,400 For the high-priority conservation of objects from First Fleet flagship HMS Sirius. Port Stephens Historical Society, Nelson Bay NSW $1,700 To remount and reframe photographs for the Inner Light Museum Make-over project. Shoalhaven Historical Society, Nowra NSW $957 To conserve a pocket compass. Echuca Historical Society Inc, Echuca VIC $5,390 For a preservation-needs assessment and preservation/disaster planning workshops.

Port Albert Maritime Museum Inc Gippsland Regional Maritime Museum, Port Albert VIC $2,231 To digitise and copy two significant books. Queenscliffe Maritime Museum, Queenscliff VIC $4,871 For a significance assessment of the museum’s collection to aid participation in the Museum Accreditation Program. The Maritime Trust of Australia, Castlemaine VIC $8,000 For the restoration of the 27-foot Montague whaler wooden pulling boat. King Island Historical Society, Currie TAS $6,589 To transport the Cape Wickham Lighthouse lens from Melbourne to King Island, and towards the refurbishment of the lens’ display room (see article on pages 22–25). Maritime Museum of Tasmania, Hobart TAS $8,000 Towards the restoration of the doghouse and companionway of the historic yacht Westward. Wooden Boat Guild of Tasmania Inc, Battery Point TAS $6,400 For the project Tasmanian Piners Punts – History, Design and Heritage. Spring Bay Maritime and Discovery Centre, Triabunna TAS $2,500 For conservation treatment of convict boat pieces. National Trust SA Willunga Branch, Willunga SA $2,565 To upgrade the exhibition of relics from the Star of Greece shipwreck. South Australian Maritime Museum, Port Adelaide SA $6,000 For an oral historian to identify interviewees linked to the Nelcebee’s history, compile a list of relevant questions in consultation with curators at SAMM and conduct and record 15 interviews. Carnarvon Heritage Group Inc, Carnarvon WA $9,740 For a shelter structure to aid the preservation of the historic vessel Little Dirk.

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Members News Grey skies on Boxing Day didn’t dampen the excitement of the Sydney–Hobart yacht race start for Members who enjoyed the buzz on the harbour. Photographer: Member Brian Rule

F R I D A Y, 2 1 O C T O B E R 2 0 1 1 N AT I O N A L M U S E U M O F A U S T R A L I A , C A N B E R R A

W W W. A M S A . G O V. A U / 2 1 Y E A R S

Members enjoyed the colour and fun of Australia Day harbour festivities on two vessels, luxury cruiser MV Bennelong and heritage ferry MV Radar (Radar appears at the centre of the photograph, below right). Our guests got stirred up in the wash of the famous Ferrython, the spectator fleet, the tall ships and enjoyed Navy and Air Force flyovers as well. Photographer: Member Bronwyn Gault

A special welcome to all new Members who joined up over the summer months. Another lively year of activities and events is unfolding here and you can be assured of stimulation, entertainment and fun... as the following pages of autumn events reveal. In shipping news, our replica of HMB Endeavour is closed to visitors as she readies for her circumnavigation of Australia beginning in April this year. The first port of call will be Brisbane, followed by Gladstone, Townsville, Cairns and Darwin. There are still berths available on some of the legs of this voyage. We are also on the lookout for volunteer guides and overnight shipkeepers for some ports of call. If you would like to be involved please contact the volunteers office or visit our website to register your interest. Don’t miss our Endeavour farewell cruise on Saturday 16 April – see page 30 for details. The good news is that as one magnificent replica leaves, another arrives! As I write we’re getting ready to welcome the replica of Duyfken (‘Little Dove’), the 17th-century Dutch scout ship or jacht that made the first recorded landing on the Australian continent in 1606 under her master Willem Janszoon. He made the earliest known chart of Australian coastline and this was the first European encounter with Aboriginal Australians. Members will be able to visit her free of charge. Stand by for

related programs and activities – including a chance to sail on her. Our summer attraction Planet Shark – Predator or Prey, The Exhibition, which is closing as Signals goes to print, was an exciting success. Still proving popular is the exhibition On their own – Britain’s child migrants, which continues until mid May, and as a farewell to it we’re hosting highprofile author David Hill – details are on page 31. Then see page 34 for more about the fascinating exhibitions coming in autumn. The next big visiting exhibition will be coming our way in June from the Natural History Museum in London and Canterbury Museum and Antarctic Heritage Trust in New Zealand in June. Scott’s Last Expedition brings the story of Captain Robert Falcon Scott who led two expeditions to the Antarctic. During his ill-fated second venture in 1912, Scott was beaten to the South Pole by Norwegian Roald Amundsen; on the return Scott and his four comrades all perished from exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold. I look forward to welcoming you on your visits to the museum and at our events and activities through the rest of 2011. And please remember, we love receiving feedback and ideas from Members on how we can serve you better, so I encourage you to contact me or any of the Members team if you have any thoughts or suggestions. Adrian Adam, Members manager


More than six million people have crossed the world to settle in Australia. Was your family among them?

Tall ships come and go

To honour our unique heritage, the National Maritime Museum has created the Welcome Wall to record your name in bronze and your stories for future generations. The Welcome Wall honours our immigrants, however they travelled, wherever they landed and wherever they live today. An ideal tribute to loved ones that will last forever. Call 02 9298 3777 or visit to register your name today.


Signals 94 March to May 2011

Signals 94 March to May 2011


March Sunday 13

Seminar: A history of Sydney sea pilots

Thursday 17

Illustrated talk: The floating world of Cambodia

Friday 25

Tour: Wharf 7 collection behind-the-scenes

April Sunday 3

Day tour: National Museum & Australian War Memorial

Tuesday 12

For kids: Fishing 4 Kids

Wednesday 13

Curator talk and tour: Eora & Tayenebe

Saturday 16

Special: HMB Endeavour farewell cruise

Special seminar A history of Sydney sea pilots

Thursday 21

For kids: Ghosts, pizza & pyjama night!

1.30–5 pm Sunday 13 March at the museum

Thursday 28

Tour: Garden Island Naval Heritage tour

Early pilotage at Sydney heads

May Sunday 1

Talk: HMAS Toowoomba, a year in deployment

Sunday 8

Talk: A brief history of cruising

Sunday 15

On the water: Autumn leaves annual garden cruise

Sunday 21

Double bill: Forgotten Children and Gold with David Hill

Sunday 29

On the water: Vintage model skiff race

Watsons Bay has long been associated with Sydney sea pilots and their watermen. The first official pilot is named as Robert Watson (appointed harbour pilot in 1811), but pilotage existed before 1805 and some say as early as 1792. The early pilots were commercial operators, but after the tragic loss of the Dunbar near South Head in 1857, the authorities set about improving and regulating the port’s pilotage. Hear the history of the sea pilots and the important job they carry out around the ports of Australia from former pilots John Biffin, Ted Liley and Joe Crumlin, and current serving sea pilot captain Rowan Brownette. Harry Hignett from the UK will provide a European perspective. Members $20, guests $30. Includes afternoon tea and evening reception

How to book

Booked out?

It’s easy to book for these Members events… have your credit card details handy:

We always try to repeat the event.

• book online at membersevents • phone (02) 9298 3644 (business hours) or email Bookings strictly in order of receipt • if paying by mail after making a reservation, please include a completed booking form (on reverse of your Signals mail-out address sheet) with a cheque made out to the Australian National Maritime Museum • if payment is not received 7 days before the event your booking may be cancelled


Signals 94 March to May 2011

Cancellations If you can’t attend a booked event, please notify us at least five days before the function for a refund. Otherwise, we regret a refund cannot be made. Events and dates are correct at the time of printing but these may change…if so, we’ll be sure to inform you. Parking Wilson Parking offers Members discount parking at Harbourside Carpark, Murray Street, Darling Harbour. You must have your ticket validated at the museum ticket desk.

EMAIL BULLETINS Have you subscribed to our email bulletins yet? Email your address to to ensure that you’ll always be advised of activities that have been organised at short notice in response to special opportunities.

right: Photographer J Mellefont/ANMM far right; Maker unknown c 1845, collecting bag by Audrey Frost 2008, photographer Simon Cuthbert TMAG

Calendar Autumn 2011

left: Detail of HMSS Himalaya, Frederick Garling, c 1859, ANMM Collection

Members events

Cambodia’s floating world

Fishing at our wharves

Tasmanian baskets old and new

Illustrated talk The floating world of Cambodia

Day tour National Museum of Australia and Australian War Memorial

Curator talk and tour Eora & Tayenebe: ancient arts and Indigenous collections

7 am–7 pm Sunday 3 April Canberra

6–7.30 pm Wednesday 13 April at the museum

A new exhibition opening soon at the National Museum of Australia – Not just Ned: A true history of the Irish in Australia – explores the Irish presence and their extraordinary influence in Australia since the arrival of a small number of Irish convicts, marines and officials with the First Fleet in January 1788. Enjoy a curator-led tour of the exhibition and marvel at the armour of the four Kelly gang members, fragments of the Eureka flag, and the Rajah quilt. Then visit the Australian War Memorial for a tour of the remarkable Anzac Hall Gallery.

A group of Tasmanian Aboriginal women have undertaken a determined process of cultural retrieval to reconnect with the ancient crafts of their Ancestors. Tayenebe: Tasmanian Aboriginal women's fibre work showcases handwoven articles made by women in a series of community workshops across Tasmania. Join Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery curator Julie Gough for an introduction and tour of the exhibition. Then examine our own Indigenous collection in the Eora gallery with ANMM curator Lindsey Shaw. ‘Eora’ means 'first people' in the language of the Darug and the exhibition takes us on a journey from Tasmania to Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait, exploring the deep connection of Indigenous cultures with the land and sea.

6–7.30 pm Thursday 17 March at the museum In November last year 15 museum members enjoyed a 17-day tour of Cambodia, exploring the country through the fascinating perspective of its maritime history and continuing maritime traditions. Join tour leader Jeffrey Mellefont for an illustrated talk and hear about the group’s experiences on the rivers, lakes and coasts of this fascinating land. Members $10, guests $15. Includes refreshments

Tour Wharf 7 collection behind-the-scenes 11 am–1 pm Friday 25 March at Wharf 7 Go behind-the scenes in our special Wharf 7 storage areas not open to the public and see where many of the objects from the National Maritime Collection are housed. Hear the stories behind some of the amazing objects and artefacts stored there – many of which have never been displayed. Learn how our preservation lab operates with ANMM conservation manager Jonathan London, who will show objects being preserved and prepared for exhibition. Members only, $15. Includes light lunch after the tour. Limited numbers. Meet in Wharf 7 foyer

Members $85, general $99. Includes return luxury coach to Canberra, lunch at the museum and refreshments on board

For kids Fishing 4 Kids 10 am–12 noon OR 11 am–1 pm Tuesday 12 April at our wharves This workshop teaches children responsible fishing practices. Learn about conservation of fish habitats, sustainable fishing, knot-tying, line-rigging and baiting, casting techniques and handling fish. Find out about the fish that live in and around Darling Harbour – and what they eat. Each child receives a prize and fishing tackle to take home, plus a certificate of achievement. Members $25, general $30. Includes refreshments. Ages 5–12 years (children will be fully supervised by RFT education officers)

Members $15, guests $20. Includes refreshments

BOOKINGS AND ENQUIRIES Booking form on reverse of mailing address sheet: phone 02 9298 3644 fax 02 9298 3660 (unless otherwise indicated). All details are correct at time of publication but subject to change.

Signals 94 March to May 2011


Children on Vampire

Garden Island Naval Heritage Centre

Special HMB Endeavour farewell cruise

For kids Ghosts, pizza and pyjama night!

Tour Garden Island naval heritage tour

8–11 am Saturday 16 April on the harbour and alongside Endeavour

5.30–9 pm Thursday 21 April at the museum

10 am–1.30 pm Thursday 28 April at Garden Island

Join us for a special early morning champagne harbour cruise as we head out to see HMB Endeavour pull up anchor and depart from Sydney Harbour on her 15-month circumnavigation of Australia. Join us to say farewell and good luck to the ship and her stalwart company as we follow her to Sydney Heads. A speaker will be on board to provide an historical overview and talk about the voyage ahead, which proceeds up the east coast stopping at Brisbane, Gladstone, Townsville, Cairns and Thursday Island. A feature article starting on page 2 discusses some of the perparations that the ship has undergone for this ambitious voyage.

Parents and carers can take a well-earned break while our long-time caretaker Spanka Boom leads the kids on a tour of our ghostly ship HMAS Vampire. They’ll find out what really happens in the museum after dark! There’ll be ghost stories, lots of fun activities, and a pizza dinner. Then they can roll out a sleeping-bag, grab a pillow and lie back to watch the spooky movie The Addams Family (1991) on the big screen, complete with a choc-top and popcorn!

Don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy a behind-the-scenes guided tour of Garden Island heritage precinct with representatives of The Naval Historical Society of Australia. The tour will visit areas within the secure precinct including the Kuttabul Memorial to the naval personnel lost during the Japanese midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour in 1942; the chapel with its fine stained galss windows commemorating RAN ships and actions; and heritage buildings including the original boatshed and the top of the Captain Cook Dock. You will then have an opportunity to take a self-guided tour of the RAN Heritage Centre, with its rich array of naval artefacts, arms, instruments, small craft – and, one of its centrepieces, the centre section of one of the Japanese midget submarines that were destroyed in the attack on Sydney Harbour.

Members $40, guests $50. Includes cruise and refreshments, light champagne breakfast on board. Meet next to HMAS Vampire

Member child $25, general $35. Includes pizza, refreshments, craft activities and movie. Bring a torch, pillow and sleepingbag. Children will be fully supervised (parents/carers not required to stay). Ages 5–12

Members $25 general $30. Includes guided tour, entry to RAN Heritage Centre, morning tea. Requires some walking and climbing stairs. Catch the 10.10 am Watsons Bay ferry from Circular Quay to Garden Island (ferry ticket not included)

EMAIL BULLETINS Have you subscribed to our email bulletins yet? Email your address to to ensure that you’ll always be advised of activities that have been organised at short notice in response to special opportunities.


Signals 94 March to May 2011

right: RAN photograph centre: Reproduced courtesy Molong Historical Society far right: Photographer J Mellefont/ANMM

Endeavour replica is setting sail

far left: Photographer Steve Wenban left: Photographer J Mellefont/ANMM

Members events

HMAS Toowoomba

First party to Fairbridge Farm School, 1938.

Two-foot model skiff

Talk HMAS Toowoomba, a year in deployment

On the water Autumn leaves annual garden cruise

On the water Vintage model skiff race

3–5 pm Sunday 1 May at the museum

10 am–1 pm Sunday 15 May on Lane Cove Rive and the harbour

HMAS Toowoomba – an ANZAC-Class guided-missile frigate displacing 3,600 tonnes, with a complement of 174 – was launched on 16 May 2003. During 2009, the ship disrupted Somali pirates off the Horn of Africa during international counterpiracy operations in the region. Toowoomba also made an important contribution to maritime security and counter-terrorist operations in the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea, the subject of a subsequent National Geographic documentary Australian Pirate Patrol. Join the ship’s commanding officer Ivan Ingham RAN for an inside look at life on board the ship during its eventful 12-month deployment to the Middle East.

Riverside autumn gardens holds many delights, and what better way to view them than from the decks of historic ferry Lithgow. Adam Woodhams, award-winning gardener, photographer and assistant gardening editor of Better Homes and Garden, provides expert commentary on this leisurely cruise up the Lane Cove River. Enjoy these glorious gardens at this mellow time of year and pick up some great gardening tips!

Members $15, guests $20 Includes refreshments on board HMAS Vampire

Talk Australian cruising history 2–4.30 pm Sunday 8 May at the museum All your questions and many more will be answered by Peter Plowman in this illustrated talk about the history – and the future – of cruising. Hear how cruising started, slowly developed, came to a complete stop during two World Wars, was revived, and over the last 40 years has become one of the most widely enjoyed holiday experiences in the world. With a cavalcade of images of classic cruise ships from Peter’s personal collection, this is a must for cruise lovers! Members $20, guests $30. Includes afternoon tea and reception

Members $55, guests $65. Includes morning tea and light lunch on board. Meet at museum next to HMAS Vampire.

Double bill The Forgotten Children and Gold with David Hill 2–4.30 pm Sunday 21 May at the museum To mark the closing of On their own – Britain’s child migrants, former chairman and managing director of the ABC David Hill will speak about his somewhat controversial book, Forgotten Children, in which he exposes Fairbridge Farm Schools’ betrayal of child migrants to Australia. He will then speak about his latest book Gold, the fever that forever changed Australia, on the gold rushes that occurred from the mid-to-late 1800s, resulting in a sharp rise in migration and forever changing the face of Australia. Members $20, guests $25. Includes refreshments

10 am–1 pm Sunday 29 May off Rodd Island Balmain Bugs – racing model skiffs – are a unique part of Sydney’s harbour heritage. Their origins can be traced all the way back to the 1860s and the water sports of the boatmen of Balmain’s working waterfront. Men who in summer raced the full-sized 12-, 14-, 16- and 19-foot skiffs turned in winter to sailing models that, like the skiffs, carried enormous rigs that dwarfed their hulls. Competition was fierce in popular races conducted regularly on the harbour until the 1950s. Board a ferry at the museum to watch Dennis and Harry McGoogan, lifelong Sydney Harbour sailors and passionate model-skiff builders, and their friends pit their 2-footers against each other in a race off picturesque Rodd Island in Sydney’s Iron Cove. Members $50, guests $60. Includes light lunch and refreshments on the ferry. Meet next to HMAS Vampire

BOOKINGS AND ENQUIRIES Booking form on reverse of mailing address sheet: phone 02 9298 3644 fax 02 9298 3660 (unless otherwise indicated). All details are correct at time of publication but subject to change.

Signals 94 March to May 2011


What’s on autumn 2011 Events far left and centre: photographer Jeffrey Mellefont/ANMM

Kids events

Pyrmont walking tour

Garden Island Heritage Centre

Kids on Deck

Cargo Circus Show

Kids on Deck – Sharkzone

Mini Mariners

Seniors Week On their own – Britain’s child migrants

The Pyrmont Peninsula – a walking tour

Kids events

Free school holiday activities!

Youth workshops Illustration fixation

Free family movie

10 am–12 noon Monday 21 March From the 1860s onwards more than 100,000 British children were sent to Commonwealth countries through child migration schemes. Their lives changed dramatically and fortunes varied. Join curator Daina Fletcher to view this moving exhibition. FREE. Includes morning tea. Bookings essential 9298 3655 or email

Heritage Week 2011 Tayenebe – an ancient art reinvigorated 10.30–11.30 am Wednesday 13 April Traditional Aboriginal weaving techniques are revisited in our new exhibition Tayenebe: Tasmanian Aboriginal women’s fibre work. View the exhibition with curator Julie Gough and observe the weavers at work. See other examples of Indigenous weaving in Eora, our core gallery, with senior curator Lindsey Shaw, and handle artefacts from the museum’s education collection. FREE. Includes morning tea. Bookings essential 9298 3655 or email

Program times and venues are correct at time of going to press. To check programs before your museum visit call 02 9298 3777.


Signals 94 March to May 2011

10 am–1 pm Thursday 5 May Pyrmont has been a vital shipping port, rail interchange, industrial hub and residential area. Sydney Harbour Foreshore archaeologist Dr Wayne Johnson (author of A History of Sydney’s Darling Harbour) will give an illustrated talk on the area’s transformation from gritty industrial centre to elite residential and commercial suburb. $45. Bookings essential WEA 9264 2781

Garden Island cruise and Heritage Centre tour 10 am–2 pm Wednesday 11 May Hear an illustrated talk on the history of the RAN, then board a heritage ferry for a cruise to Garden Island and a tour of the RAN Heritage Centre. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the grounds, then return to the museum for a guided tour of our Navy Gallery. $65/Concession $59. Includes morning tea and lunch. Bookings essential WEA 9264 2781

Autumn school holidays 10–14 April 2011 Kids on Deck Re-imagine, re-use, re-cycle Ages 5–12 10 am–4 pm hourly sessions daily during holidays Explore the world of oceanic trade and marine ecology. Print your own reusable bag, use recycled materials to make woven turtles or underwater gardens. Investigate endangered marine environments and discover types of cargo traded across the world through interactive games. $7/child or FREE with any purchased ticket. Adults/Members FREE

Special group rate for school holiday activities For 10 or more children, $7/child for a fully organised program of activities including: • all museum exhibitions • all children’s daily activities • entry to destroyer HMAS Vampire and submarine HMAS Onslow • FREE entry for 2 adults/10 children • FREE bus parking Note $4 extra/child for Duyfken replica and 1874 tall ship James Craig Bookings essential. Book early to ensure your space! Ph 9298 3655 Fax 9298 3660 Email

Endeavour Recruits Ages 5–12 11 am, 12 pm & 1 pm 30-minute sessions Sunday 10–Thursday 14 April As HMB Endeavour departs on her circumnavigation of Australia, it’s time for Captain Cook to find some new recruits. Take up the challenge of managing the ship and performing the duties of an 18th-century sailor. Is the life of a sailor what you imagined?

Family weaving workshops Thursday 14 April 2 sessions morning & afternoon

Cargo Circus Show Ages 5–12 11 am, 12.30 pm & 2 pm 30-minute sessions Monday 18–Friday 22 April Be mesmerised by this aerial performance following a crew on a cargo boat with stopovers at exotic locations en route. Performers climb, wrap and twirl on a suspended corde lisse and perform the beautiful aerial lira. Then try your own circus skills with the performers in an afternoon workshop (see right).

Free family movie 2 pm daily during holidays See for full program

Ages 8–14 10 am–1 pm Thursday 14 or Friday 15 April

1.30 pm every Sunday during term See for full program

Mini Mariners

Create your own comics, cartoons and illustrations in this hands-on art workshop. Take inspiration from exhibitions on show at the museum. Learn to draw and collage in a range of mediums as you develop your own mini-publication to take home.

Ages 2–5 + carers 10–10.45 am and 11–11.45 am 2 sessions every Tuesday during term Note: not offered 22 March

$25/Members $20 (includes all materials). Bookings essential 9298 3655

5 April – Boats on the Harbour

Circus skills

$7/child. 1st adult/Members FREE. Booked playgroups welcome. Bookings essential 9298 3655 or email Please note this program is not offered during the school holidays and for safety reasons is held inside the museum.

Ages 8–14 2.45–3.30 pm Monday 18–Friday 22 April daily sessions Twirl, hula-hoop, juggle and clown! Join the crew from Cargo in one of our afternoon sessions for an expert lesson in the arts of circus performance. $15 per session/Members $12. Bookings essential 9298 3655

1, 8, 15, 29 March – Sail around the world 22 March – no Mini Mariners 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 May – Pirates Ahoy!

World’s Biggest Playgroup Day! 10 am–5 pm Wednesday 23 March

Kids on Deck Sharkzone

Be part of the most exciting event on the playgroup calendar! Featuring concerts for 0–5-year-olds (bookings essential), a ‘Sing & Grow’ music space, arts and crafts, a baby play area and lots of other playgroup activities.

Ages 5–12 11 am–3 pm hourly sessions every Sunday during term

Bookings for concerts on 1800 171 882. For information visit www.playgroupaustralia.

During school term Family fun Sundays!

Delve down deep into the world of sharks. Construct a shark model, make a shark headdress, find out about different kinds of sharks’ teeth, and design a postcard promoting shark conservation. $7/child or FREE with any purchased ticket. Adults/Members FREE

Signals 94 March to May 2011


Tayenebe – Tasmanian Aboriginal women’s fibre work

Surf and snapper – Photographs by Jeff Carter

On their own – Britain’s child migrants

Tayenebe – Tasmanian Aboriginal women’s fibre work

Surf and snapper – Photographs by Jeff Carter

On their own – Britain’s child migrants

26 March–8 May 2011 North Gallery

Until 19 June 2011 Tasman Gallery

Until 15 May 2011 South Gallery

A group of 35 Tasmanian Aboriginal women and girls aged from 8 to 77 years have revitalised the fibre skills of their ancestors. Tayenebe showcases the unique connections that Tasmanian Aboriginal people have with the land and sea, and provides an insight into the significance of traditional fibre skills and practices.

Seventeen evocative photographs show the Sicilian fishing community in Ulladulla (NSW), long-line fishing for snapper, alongside more iconic images of Australian beach culture – swimming, surfing and sunbaking.

From the 1860s onwards more than 100,000 British children were sent to Australia, Canada and other Commonwealth countries through child migration schemes. Few were orphans – the majority came from families who were unable to care for them – and most embarked on the long sea voyage alone. The lives of these children changed dramatically and fortunes varied. Some forged new futures, others suffered lonely, brutal childhoods. All experienced dislocation and separation from family and homeland.

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery travelling exhibition

David Moore – Portraits of a shipping company In the USA Gallery World-renowned Australian photographer David Moore was commissioned by Columbus Line to create photographic portraits of their shipping activities. The company began operations between North America and Australia/New Zealand in 1959 and was the first company to regularly schedule a containerised shipping service.


Signals 94 March to May 2011

A collaboration between the ANMM and National Museums Liverpool, UK

far right: Banksia serrata © Natural History Museum London below far right: Baru (Crocodile) 2005. Nancy Gaymala Yunupingu

Exhibitions above far left: Photographer Simon Cuthbert, TMAG below far left: Photographer Lucia Rossi above centre: Jeff Carter, Tribal gathering, Wanda Beach 1961 left: Stewart Lee, 1955. Reproduced courtesy Sydney Lee below left: Courtesy Hamburg Süd


Visiting vessel Duyfken replica

HM Bark Endeavour replica

Joseph Banks and Australian east coast flora

VOC jacht Duyfken

HMB Endeavour circumnavigation

Inspect the replica of Duyfken (Little Dove), the Dutch East India Company ship that made the first recorded European visit to the Australian continent, landing on the west coast of Cape York in April 1606. The little scout ship or jacht was commanded by Willem Janszoon who made the first chart of mainland Australia, and the first landing by Europeans. The replica was built in Western Australia, launched in 1999, and has re-enacted Janszoon’s voyage of discovery.

April 2011–May 2012

Sail Away program Joseph Banks and the flora of the Australian east coast

Duyfken replica tour included in the museum’s Big Ticket package (FREE to Members)

Barque James Craig (1874) Daily Wharf 7 (except when sailing) Sydney Heritage Fleet’s magnificent ironhulled barque is the result of an awardwinning 30-year restoration. Tour the ship with various museum ticket packages (discount for Members). The ship sails alternate Saturdays and Sundays.

From April 2011, the magnificent replica of James Cook’s HMB Endeavour will embark on a historic 15-month circumnavigation of Australia. See our ad opposite page 1 for more information on the voyage of a lifetime! Please note: In preparation for the voyage Endeavour will be closed from 26 January 2011–May 2012

ANMM travelling exhibitions Sail Away program Little Shipmates – seafaring pets Until 1 May 2011 Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum Warrnambool VIC Cats, dogs, monkeys and birds – these delightful images taken by Sydney photographer Sam Hood over 50 years show how much shipboard pets meant to seafarers on long voyages.

16 March–17 April 2011 Manning Regional Art Gallery Taree NSW It took more than two centuries to publish the exquisite botanical watercolours of artist Sydney Parkinson, engaged by Joseph Banks for James Cook’s first Pacific voyage (1768–1770). The museum’s copies of these wonderful coloured engravings from Banks’ Florilegium are now touring the country.

Sail Away program Freshwater Saltwater – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prints 11 March–1 May 2011 Maitland Regional Art Gallery NSW 6 May–7 August 2011 Tweed River Art Gallery NSW Vivid representations of marine life and environments celebrate Indigenous culture and the struggle of these communities for justice and land and sea rights.

Check for details

far left: Tayenebe weaving

left: 1874 tall ship James Craig, Sydney Heritage Fleet

left: David Moore – Portraits of a shipping company

right: Freshwater Saltwater – Indigenous prints

Signals 94 March to May 2011


Tayenebe – Tasmanian Aboriginal women’s fibrework

Museum archaeologists at work

New programs

Core programs

Maritime archaeology



Years 9–10 History, English

Years K–2 HSIE, Science

Designed for students learning about post-WWII immigration, this program is divided into three sections: an introduction to immigration history, the study of a particular migrant group, and 1970s boat people. Topics include child migration (relating to our temporary exhibition On their own: Britain’s child migrants), Japanese war brides, and Tu Do, a Vietnamese refugee boat that arrived in Darwin in 1977. The program is a hands-on experience with students rotating through all components in the museum and at our wharf (where Tu Do is moored).

Students tour the museum identifying various forms of transport connected with water – sailing ships, rowboats, ferries, tugs, a Navy destroyer, water traffic and even a helicopter! An optional cruise by heritage ferry takes in industrial, commercial and passenger transport systems on the harbour.

Workshop & tour (2–2½ hour program) $12 per student

Tayenebe – Tasmanian Aboriginal women’s fibrework Years 3–12 History, English Tayenebe is a south-eastern Tasmanian Aboriginal word meaning ‘exchange’. This exhibition celebrates the reinvigoration of traditional fibre and kelp work that is unique to Tasmania. Baskets and other objects – both old and new – tell stories across time about Tasmanian Aboriginal women and their special relationship with the land and the sea. An optional My special place workshop is also available (see website for details). Guided tour (Tayenebe exhibition and Eora – First People gallery) $6 per student Workshop & tour $8 per student

Guided tour $6 per student (cruise extra)

Navigators Years 3–10 HSIE The exhibition Navigators – defining Australia investigates early contact with the Australian continent. On this guided tour students encounter stories of non-European traders, examine traditional and scientific navigation techniques, and consider the influence of early European explorers. To complement this tour and gain an insight into pre-19th century life at sea, students can also board the restored 1874 trading vessel James Craig. Navigators tour $6 per student Navigators & James Craig $10 per student

Pyrmont walk Years 7–12 History, Geography Led by a teacher-guide, students explore this inner-city suburb from the perspective of changing demographics, construction, planning and development. This program is suitable as a site study for Stage 4 History and for Stages 5 & 6 Geography. A harbour cruise examining change and development along the waterfront is also available. Guided tour (cruise extra) $12 per student (Years 7–10) $15 (Years 11–12)


Signals 94 March to May 2011

Years 5–11 History, HSIE, Science Explore the nature and practice of underwater archaeology and research the past through shipwreck stories. Investigate the role of archaeologists, curators and conservators through a hands-on workshop and a tour of archaeological displays in the museum. Programs are available for primary and secondary students, and the Senior Maritime Archaeology program relates to the NSW Preliminary Course in Stage 6 Ancient History. Prices vary according to age group (please see website for details)

Shipwrecks, corrosion & conservation Years 11–12 Chemistry This program relates to the NSW Stage 6 Chemistry syllabus and includes a multimedia presentation on metals conservation, an experiment-based workshop and a tour of shipwreck-related material in the museum’s galleries. Students can also visit our Navy destroyer HMAS Vampire and submarine HMAS Onslow. Comprehensive notes are supplied. $20 per student (4 hours – minimum numbers apply) Over 30 programs are available across a range of syllabus areas for students K–12. Options include extension workshops, hands-on sessions, tours with museum teacher-guides and harbour cruises. Programs link to both core and temporary exhibitions. See the Schools link on our website ( for details of all programs. Bookings essential ph 02 9298 3655 fax 02 9298 3660 or email

On the Terrace at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour Bookings [02] 9211 5144

Photos: bottom Blumenthal Photography; centre and top Wyatt Song, Moments in Time

Tu Do at the museum’s wharf

far left: photographer A Frolows/ANMM centre (l-r): maker unknown, 1800s, Basket by Colleen Mundy, 2008, photographer Simon Cuthbert, TMAG left: ANMM 2009 Mermaid expedition, photographer Xanthe Rivett

For schools

Enjoy your wedding ceremony or reception at our unique waterfront setting. Located on the western shore of Darling Harbour, the venues have splendid city skyline and harbour views.

Bayleaf Catering – The Fine Food Company, renowned for their innovative cuisine, along with delivering service of the highest standard, are the venue’s exclusive caterers.

Enjoy pre-dinner drinks on the decks of the HMAS Vampire before moving into the glassed Terrace Room.

T +61 2 9298 3625

Signals 94 March to May 2011


A new frontier in learning

The digital curriculum resource initiative brings the museum to the leading edge of a new frontier in learning

An exciting new digital curriculum resource initiative for schools has recently been developed by the museum’s education unit in collaboration with The Learning Federation. Here our education officer Jeffrey Fletcher describes the challenges and the triumphs.

above: Poster by Gino Boccasile, 1937–39, advertising Lloyd Triestino Line services to Australia. The image of a ram promotes the vision of Australia as a land of rural prosperity (‘riding on the sheep’s back’).


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One of the most interesting aspects of working as a museum education officer is that sometimes we engage with a collaborative project where the stars seem to align significance with fascination. The digital curriculum resource initiative undertaken with The Learning Federation was such a venture – one which brings the museum to the leading edge of a new frontier in learning. The Learning Federation is an arm of the Curriculum Corporation (now Education Services Australia) and one of its key roles is to facilitate the development of digital resources linked to the emerging national curriculum for schools. The project brought together a number of key national cultural institutions to provide digitised access to objects in their collections that relate to specific content strands in the national curriculum documents for history, English, science and mathematics. These digital objects, together with specially written resource materials, are now available for teachers to download and use in the classroom through the expanding technology of interactive whiteboards. This internet-based facility has huge potential as an exciting vehicle for student-centred learning, whereby teachers can supply a range of materials and research options and students decide how to best use them to fulfil the requirements of a set task. It gives teachers access to an extraordinarily

diverse resource library with a vast array of curriculum-related content and multimedia options. The collaborative project required each institution to commit to supplying a minimum of 50 digitised objects. This process proved an intriguing one: while selecting 50 objects may not seem particularly daunting, the practicalities of researching our collection, object selection, curriculum matching, background research, fielding copyright, writing material and editing the finished product constituted a considerable task. We needed to ensure not only that our objects matched the relevant curriculum components, but also that we held copyright so they could be made available on the internet (albeit through online portals such as Scootle, which are only accessible to schools). In some cases we needed to track down the original owner of the material to arrange copyright permission. Once our list of objects was finalised, we set about creating an Education Value Statement for each object. This consisted of a title, date, description and contextual information relevant to one or more curriculum area(s). However, the statements were not prescriptive or loaded with pedagogical direction. The aim was to place the object within the curriculum framework in a way that would allow teachers to make choices. For us as educators this part of the process was particularly interesting. We found ourselves engaging with the depth of the museum’s collection more closely than we had previously. A tangible outcome was the discovery of many treasures relevant to our current programs, and relevant to new and emerging projects as well. In practice, when teachers search the new digital content for a particular subject area, a list of resources is harvested from all the participating institutions and displayed on the website. Each object has an accompanying image and description. If teachers choose to go further into that

object file, they can access the Education Value Statement and from there they can link to the institution’s website for any internal information that might be available. In our case, this leads to our eMuseum where curators’ notes and additional images can be found. The benefit of this is that teachers and students become aware not only of what is in our collection but also of the research facilities we offer to the public via our website. Since the museum’s education unit is a small team, this venture would not have been possible without funding. The Learning Federation provided us with financial support to employ staff for research and writing, while editing and project management was carried out by existing museum education staff. We also upgraded our web systems to make them compatible with the host systems, and the long-term advantages of this are substantial. Another real benefit was the dialogue with other cultural institutions such as the National Museum of Australia, National Library, National Film and Sound Archive and many more, to discuss progress, crossover links and different approaches. We were able to identify potential gaps in digital material for particular curriculum areas, link our objects to these, and also create packages of related material from different institutions. This project was a team effort and substantial thanks must go to our researcher who bravely undertook the task of co-writing with me, as well as researching copyright. Thanks also go to our stalwart registration section who organised the IT harvesting systems and provided training in how to access our collection effectively. Education staff, curators, web and publications staff were also generous in their contributions and advice. The digital age has well and truly arrived in today’s classroom and this represents a new front line in learning for students and teachers as well

top: Model of prison hulk York, formerly 74-gun third-rate ship of the line, cut away to reveal 120 figures of convicts, guards and soldiers illustrating life on board ship. Scale 1:64. E P Heriz-Smith, England, 1987 above: How soon they forget, etching, c. 2001, scene featuring Darlington Point Missions, Riverina, by Indigenous artist Roy Kennedy (Wiradjuri language group). Reproduced courtesy of the artist

as a new challenge for museums. Collaborative projects such as this help to keep us focused on the way ahead but also on where the students are right now. Technology in learning is an exciting (albeit nebulous) tool where the sky really is the limit – a new direction doubtless still in its infancy. Used in conjunction with established methods it can provide unique and challenging opportunities in information access, research skills and innovative teaching, which will be of immense benefit to students. As museum educators, the challenge is not only to keep up but to boldly go forward. 

Signals 94 March to May 2011


Youthful perspectives It’s all about framing. And aperture. Focus. Lighting. Composition. Twelve young visitors armed with digital SLRs and a keen eye for detail explored our beautiful harbourside environment during recent photographic workshops held at the museum, reports visitor programs officer Annalice Creighton.

above: One of our creative young participants with SLR camera, Rebecca McCloskey. Photograph by Merinda Campbell/ANMM Studies from our maritime museum precinct (clockwise from top of this page): HMAS Vampire anchor windlass by Rebecca; Harding lifeboat stern gear by Lachlan; HMAS Vampire moored by Isabel; stud-link anchor chain by Brooke; four-pounder cannon monogram by Chloe; monorail and sky in a portlight by Emily.


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Youth workshops for ages 8–14, organised by the public programs team at the museum, have ranged over the past year from printed T-shirts and temporary tattoos to kinetic sculpture and TV presenting. Designed to engage young visitors who have outgrown the Kids on Deck activity space, these workshops have attracted enthusiastic participants during every school vacation period, to enjoy creative learning activities, art, design and performance skills themed around the museum’s exhibitions and vessels. Recent spring and summer holiday workshops put a focus on the art of outdoor photography. Participants were inspired by the photojournalism of a famous Australian seaman and author appearing in our 2010 exhibition Sons of Sindbad – the photographs of Alan Villiers, and also by the splendour of our Daring class destroyer HMAS Vampire, Australia’s largest museum exhibit. The photography workshops are run by Janice Cameron and Amanda Hitchens from Spitting Image Photography. With backgrounds in teaching, design,

photography and full-time motherhood, Jan and Amanda founded Spitting Image with a vision to share their art with children and families in a way that is accessible and affordable. After being led through some technical tips and skills by the Spitting Image team, the budding young photographers take to the waterfront. However routine digital photography might seem with today’s ‘point and click’ technology, producing high-quality, detailed and beautiful images is something altogether more difficult. Our participants rose effortlessly to this challenge, producing striking shots of maritime-themed details: rusted anchors, seaweed-garlanded pylons, bobbing buoys, ships’ rigging, cannon and nautical knots. The images explore the often overlooked beauty of textures and forms of the harbour foreshore, and traces of maritime industry. A selection of images created by photography workshop participants was showcased in October and more will appear this autumn in a display outside the museum’s Peter Doyle Learning Centre.

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The floating world of Cambodia

A unique Members tour of our South-East Asian neighbour Cambodia reveals an extraordinary wealth of maritime history and heritage in a country best known for its jungle-covered ancient monuments. Story and photography by Signals editor and tour leader Jeffrey Mellefont.

Family houseboat on the Sanker River, Battambang Province.


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With one last, noisy burst of revs from the big diesel motor in the stern, our charter boat stalled in the leafy embrace of a great mat of floating morning glory. Spotted with violet blooms, it lay in dense patches as far as the eye could see. Half-drowned aquatic trees rose from the waters, scattered all the way to the horizon. White egrets nested among their foliage; swallows darted for insects above the treetops in the cool, early morning. A kite hovered high overhead. Down a narrow passage through the rafts of greenery came a fisherman, standing upright and pushing on the oars of his graceful little freshwater boat, mounds of nets at his feet. Our tattooed deckhand crouched at the stern, cranking a crude, wire-spool winch that slowly hauled the long, long propeller shaft up out of the water. It was completely choked by tough, floating plant stems. But with our nimble deckhand perched like a tightrope artist on the end of the prop shaft, it took just a few minutes to clear the mess and lower the long-shaft stern gear once again. Up in the bows, our driver clanked the home-made gear selector, fabricated from bicycle sprockets and chain, and we set off with another noisy burst of revs. This was day five of the Australian National Maritime Museum’s 2010 ‘Floating World of Cambodia’ tour. On board were 15 museum Members, our friendly young Cambodian guide Mr Mom Vannak and me, and we were crossing South-East Asia’s largest freshwater lake. The first days of our tour had been based in the town of Siem Reap, and had been spent exploring those unrivalled

treasures of monumental, world-heritage architecture, the Hindu and Buddhist temples of Angkor. Today’s journey by boat was taking us through the floating villages that are the distinctive feature of this vast waterway with its incomparably rich fisheries and bird sanctuaries. They are the result of the unique monsoon climate system that has established the rhythms of life – and supported thriving civilisations – in this part of tropical South-East Asia for thousands of years. Each year the region’s mightiest river, the Mekong, swells with the mid-year monsoon rains and floods into Tonle Sap, the lake that stretches some 100 kilometres from north to south across the heartland of the nation. The water level in the lake rises as much as 10 metres and it quadruples in area. Then in the dry season the lake drains back into the Mekong and down to the South China Sea. Even though traditional Cambodian village houses are raised on stilts, they would be inundated every year as the lake floods. Instead, in villages all over the lake, the houses and shops, schools, clinics and government offices all float on pontoons of bundled bamboo, rising and falling with the water level. Many families live in boats, spending their entire lives afloat. Everywhere, everyone and everything moves by boat. Fishermen ply them, and fish transports carry the catch to markets. Housewives go shopping by boat or the shopping comes to them in boats that are floating general stores. Buddhist monks do their daily rounds begging for food by boat. Children go to floating schools by boat, and learn to swim and paddle before they can walk. For the most part Signals 94 March to May 2011


Each year the region’s mightiest river, the Mekong, swells with the mid-year monsoon rains and floods into South-East Asia’s largest lake, the Tonle Sap

the boats are scaled-up or scaled-down versions of the same, traditional, graceful Cambodian design of freshwater boat called touk. Like the human population, the trees and plant life of this great lake system have adapted to the seasonal flooding, and the inundated forests and floating mats of aquatic plants create the most astonishingly fertile spawning grounds for one of Asia’s most productive fisheries. Thousands of species of freshwater fish, eels and crustacea provide a livelihood for over one million Cambodian fishermen, and protein for many, many more millions. Our slender wooden charter boat with its breezy, open-sided cabin was also welladapted to this waterway. Its propeller and rudder were mounted at the end of a long shaft to minimise the draft, and were easily cleared when fouled by water plants. It carried us across this fascinating floating world, on open waters or threading narrow navigation channels through dense thickets of brush. Then, leaving the lake behind, we sailed up the Sanker River as it looped through peaceful rural Cambodia to the provincial capital of Battambang. This pleasant riverside town with its charming French colonial-era architecture would be our base for several days as we explored the surrounding countryside for ancient temples, before returning to the river to see more of its life and to study the construction of traditional touk at riverside boatyards. Putting Cambodia into a maritime context may come as something of a surprise. Most people, after all, associate this country with jungle-covered 44

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ruins, 20th-century wars and landmines. ‘What’s maritime about Cambodia?’ some colleagues asked me as I detailed my plans for the tour. ‘It’s landlocked, isn’t it?’ asked someone else, mistaking Cambodia for its neighbour Laos which is tucked in between Vietnam and Cambodia in what was, from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries, French Indo-China. It’s now called the Kingdom of Cambodia, after a tumultuous halfcentury during which the nation has had many names, including the cruelly misnamed ‘Democratic Kampuchea’ under the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s. In many ways Cambodia is one of the least-known and least understood of our South-East Asian neighbours. That was certainly reason enough to put it on the agenda for one of the Australian National Maritime Museum’s overseas travel programs that have, over the years, explored unique maritime cultures in our wider region. Like its South-East Asian neighbours Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia, Cambodia’s historical and cultural identity has been shaped by its strategic position on an ancient maritime trade route. The key to this was the monsoon wind system that blows from East Asia to East Africa for part of the year – and then reverses and blows in the opposite direction. This great reciprocating climatic system propelled the ships and the traders that linked China with India, the Arabian Sea, the Middle East and– at its furthest end far to the west – with the Mediterranean world and Europe. For most of the time that this trade route has been plied by dhows and prahus and junks, Europeans had little idea of what lay at its eastern end, nor who produced the spices, silks, gemstones and tropical forest products that existed only as high-priced luxuries for the very wealthy. In time, of course, Europeans set sail themselves to seek the Indies … at first in the wrong direction, finding America instead! Eventually, however, they rounded Africa, found the monsoon sea routes and then with growing confidence and firepower came to dominate those ancient trades and sea lanes. The moated towers of Angkor Wat that our tour group had come so far to see – along with its thousands of reliefs of heavenly dancing nymphs, the famously beguiling apsaras – were built more than three centuries before the Portuguese caravels set sail for the east. Constructed in the mid-12th century by one of the Cambodians’ greatest kings, Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat was dedicated to the god

clockwise from top left: Tour members Bridget Sant and Margaret Smith crossing Lake Tonle Sap by charter boat. Cambodian tour guide Mom Vannak points out a 12th-century Khmer war galley at the Bayon temple, Angkor Thom

Museum tour group at Banteay Kdei Buddhist monastery, Angkor. Dragon boat racing on the Siem Reap River during the Cambodian water festival, November 2010. Tour member Morgan Sant inspects a racing dragon boat at Prektakov monastery, Kandal Province

overleaf: top: School children and teacher at Chong Neas village, Lake Tonle Sap. bottom: Fishmongers at Psar Kandal marketplace, Phnom Penh

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Vishnu, one of the deities of the Hindu faith. Hinduism, along with Buddhism, had arisen in India but had spread down the maritime routes with traders and merchants. This transformed the political structures and cultures of South-East Asia’s maritime trading states. Wherever these Indian religions took hold, they combined with local cultures and traditions to produce new civilizations and a flowering of arts such as architecture, sculpture, literature, music and dance. The founding legend of the Khmer people (the name for Cambodia’s predominant ethnic and language group) tells of the princess of a watery kingdom and an Indian Brahman, whose courtship is carried out by boat. The earliest recorded Khmer state, called Funan 46

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in Chinese annals of the early first millennium AD, was a loose collection of ports on the coast of what’s now Vietnam, on the trade route between China and India. From the 6th to the 8th centuries Khmer states known as Chenla had shifted further up the Mekong River and Lake Tonle Sap. The Khmer states that produced the extraordinary temple complexes inspected by our tour group were based at the north of Lake Tonle Sap from the 8th to the 15th centuries. The location was strategic. Kingdoms require large armies to defend them and to expand their territory. Monumental temples built to glorify the kings, and the courtly arts that accompany them, require specialist architects, stone masons and sculptors, priests, artists and musicians – and armies

of construction labourers. As well as providing limitless fisheries, the waters of central Cambodia were the basis of vast irrigation systems producing agricultural surpluses to feed the specialists and the armies. Khmer kings transformed the landscape with canals, moats and vast reservoirs surrounding the temple complexes. They weren’t just irrigation systems; they were also symbolic depictions of the primordial oceans of Hindu-Buddhist cosmology. Many of these huge works of labourintensive hydraulic engineering have long-since silted up, but others remain. Our group spent a pleasant sundown crossing one of the giant reservoirs by boat to visit a man-made island and its temple ruins. Water dominates contemporary Khmer life still. Our visit coincided with the annual water festival, a harvest celebration centred on rivers and lakes. We joined teeming riverbank crowds to cheer on temple-based dragon boats paddled by dozens of rowers – both male and female teams – in frenzied competition. Rivaling the Khmer were two other Indianised states, their empires expanding or contracting at each others’ expense. To the west and north were the Thais, while to the east the coast of Vietnam was dominated by the kingdom of Champa. The Chams of Champa were a vigorous maritime race more closely related to the Malays and Indonesians – people whose shared cultures and seafaring technologies are known to scholars as Austronesian. At times the Chams sailed boldly up the Mekong river and Lake Tonle Sap to sack the Khmer capital. One of Angkor’s greatest warrior kings, Jayavarman VII, turned the tables and crushed the Cham navy on the lake. This was a victory vividly illustrated for our tour group on friezes that run for 1.2 km around the base of the late-12th-century Buddhist temple built by the triumphant Jayavarman VII, and known as the Bayon. The detail of these friezes is fascinating. Oared galleys full of armed Khmer warriors are rowed by Cham prisoners of war. Other scenes record 12th-century life on the shores of the lake, showing ordinary people going about their business, working and playing, cooking, eating and drinking. What is extraordinary is the continuity with scenes of village life that our tour group witnessed in the Cambodian countryside: the same activities, the same stilt houses, the same bullock carts … and on one of the many temple racing boats that we inspected, lying in

Like its South-East Asian neighbours, Cambodia’s historical and cultural identity has been shaped by its strategic position on an ancient maritime trade route

boatsheds in Buddhist monasteries, exactly the same dragon figurehead that appears on a war galley in the 12th-century frieze at the Bayon. We encountered the Chams ourselves. In the 15th century the Champa kingdom based in Vietnam was defeated and dispersed by the Vietnamese. This was a time when the Islamic religion was making inroads into South-East Asia – carried east, once again, by seaborne merchants along that same ancient maritime trade route linking the Arabian and the China seas. The Chams adopted Islam, and are found as one of modern Cambodia’s ethnic minorities in small communities mostly on Lake Tonle Sap and on its riversides, with modest mosques marking their villages. The strongly maritime Cham are also found among the country’s floating communities of boat-dwellers. Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh is another site strategically located on water. It was built on a crossroads at the confluence of four rivers. This gave it access to the sea and foreign trade through the Mekong Delta, in today’s Vietnam, and control of trade coming down the Mekong from Laos and down the Tonle Sap river from the Cambodian hinterland. For our tour group the capital’s charms included its Frenchcolonial architectural ambience, the splendours of its royal palaces and temples, the antiquities of the national museum, and the enjoyment of river tours and the city’s markets. Wherever we travelled Cambodian cuisine – perhaps the least-known of Asia’s culinary cultures – was a delight for our tour group with its distinctive styles based on rice and noodles, aromatic herbs

Touk The freshwater boats of Cambodia, known generically as touk, all have the same basic hull design from child-size canoes to larger fishing boats, liveaboard houseboats, floating general stores, big fish transports (two are pictured above) and even the very long, narrow temple dragon boats for racing. They range in size from about four to 16 metres length. Their most notable features are massive stem and sternpost timbers, carved into a multifaceted geometric shape that might represent the tower of a temple. These stem and sternpost timbers are rabbetted to accept the planking (photo above). The keel is a plank that

and roots and echoes of Thai, Laotian and Vietnamese cooking. Fresh and saltwater fish were of course a big feature, along with a wonderful variety of tropical fruits. Highlights included the signature dish called amok: baked fish, coconut, lemon grass and chilli served in banana leaf or a coconut shell. The final leg of our journey took us to the country’s sea coast on the Gulf of Thailand. This included a saltwaterestuary boat excursion and a stay at the quaint, pleasantly run-down riverside town of Kampot, the French colonial administration’s one-time sea port. The region is famed for its pepper production. For many of us the tour’s most memorable meal was a seaside feast of fresh blue-swimmer crab in a spicy sauce garnished with crunchy sprigs

differs only a little in both thickness and width from the other strakes. The strakes are held together with iron staples or temporary wooden cleats as the hull takes shape, before the addition of alternating floors and partial ribs, bulkheads, thwarts or deck beams. The timber commonly used is a forest species koki msav (Hopea odorata), and traditional fastenings are wooden treenails – iron nails also used. The hull form is slack-bilged and the smallest touk, which have only three or four strakes per side, have distinct chines. There is some evidence that these boats are derived from a dugout tradition, and may represent Austronesian or Cham, rather than Khmer, technology.

of young Kampot pepper, not dried but picked straight from the pepper vine. Not too long ago travel in some parts of Cambodia could still be hazardous as the last remnants of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime – which devastated the country during its rule from 1975 to 1979 – held out in some areas until the late 1990s. Our tour encountered many reminders of this turbulent and tragic recent history. Today’s Cambodia is essentially secure and stable, although its fledgling democracy faces risks from corruption and abuses of power. The overwhelming impression of our ASEAN neighbour, however, was of a forward-looking, youthful nation with a welcoming and friendly culture. And a surprisingly rich and varied maritime history.  Signals 94 March to May 2011


Historic Australian Register of Historic Vessels This online national heritage project devised and coordinated by the Australian National Maritime Museum reaches across Australia to collate data about the nation’s extant historic vessels, their designers, builders and their stories. opposite: Historic paddle steamer Alexander Arbuthnot from the heyday of the Murray River steamer trade, still operational at the Port of Echuca. Photograph courtesy Campaspe Shire Council.

LOT 41 2007



Adventure Marine


Extreme expedition sea kayak

No less than 23 craft were approved for listing on the Australian Register of Historic Vessels when its council met in October 2010. Among the diverse selection are some of the smaller types of craft that are eligible for the register, says its curator David Payne.


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Dinghies and kayaks are prominent among this latest selection of significant water craft, highlighting the many smaller vessels that are also eligible to be recognised by the Australian Register of Historic Vessels (ARHV). Some of them are extremely basic and utilitarian but they all help to build up a profile of the way in which local needs, local materials and environments created a diverse array of water craft to meet community and individual requirements. Conrae II is in the Museum of the Riverina’s collection at Wagga Wagga. Made of household shelving, it’s a fascinating example of regional ingenuity. It comes with a great story, well documented by the family that owned it, relating its use for fishing and flood relief. Meanwhile the two metal flood boats from Milpara Station near

Wentworth on the Darling River tell another tale of inland boating and ‘vernacular’ boat construction using available materials. The sheet-metal version was made by the wonderfully titled boatbuilding concern known as the Plumbing Section of the Mildura Co-operative Packing Company (Dried Fruits). All three of these craft were pressed into service in the floods of 1956 that affected much of inland NSW and Victoria. Gordon is another boat with strong, specific river associations, one of the simple but robust piner’s punts from the rugged south-west of Tasmania. It is the second piner’s punt listed on the ARHV and again features clinker construction, while the rough lineout for its planking suggests that it was made quickly with whatever materials were available.

HV000417 Builder




Milpara Station sheet metal dinghy 1950s



Plumbing Section, Mildura Co-Operative Packing Company



Solo Trans-Tasman Kayak







Paul Hewitson/Mirage Sea Kayaks


Thomas Seath


Extreme expedition sea kayak


Steam tug and cargo vessel


All shapes and sizes

Milpara Station corrugated iron dinghy







Halvorsen family


Cockatoo Island Dockyard


Motor cruiser



Bunumbert Lake Indigenous bark canoe HV000412 Builder



Indigenous canoe


HMAS Castlemaine 1942



Melbourne Harbour Trust


Minesweeper and corvette

PS Alexander Arbuthnot






Paul Caffyn


Charles Felshaw


Expedition sea kayak


Paddle steamer

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Australian Register of Historic Vessels Three modern kayaks cover significant sea kayaking expeditions. Lalaguli documents the groundbreaking solo circumnavigation of Australia by expatriate Australian Paul Caffyn, begun late in 1981 and finished 12 months later at the end of 1982. His overnight passage in the Great Australian Bight was a highlight of this dangerous but wellplanned venture. Lalaguli is displayed at Queenscliffe Maritime Museum. Caffyn’s achievement influenced the quest by respected adventurer Andrew McAuley to paddle his sea kayak solo across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand in January 2007. He chose to modify a stock Mirage sea kayak, not much bigger than those used by enthusiasts every weekend. The anguish of the tragic outcome, when McAuley was washed from his kayak and lost within sight of New Zealand, is etched in the public’s memory. In the shadow of that journey two more Australians, James Castrission and Justin Jones, set out the following year and achieved the first crossing of the Tasman in their large, seaworthy, custombuilt kayak LOT 41. Both trans-Tasman kayaks have been acquired by the Australian National Maritime Museum. We know nothing at all of those individuals who paddled the Bunumbert Lake Indigenous canoe, found in an Oxley, NSW, lake bed and housed at Hay Gaol Museum. It is a rare surviving example of a type of bark canoe that was quite well documented on the Murray Darling River system, and that left widespread evidence of its manufacture in the form of large, distinctive scars on the trunks of ‘canoe trees’ in the district. Knowledge of these craft survives too in local Indigenous communities. PS Alexander Arbuthnot and PS Pevensey are two historic paddle steamers from the heyday of the Murray River as a transport route, and both are still operational at the Port of Echuca as excursion boats under the control of the local Campaspe Shire Council. Both were built as cargo paddler steamers, PS Alexander Arbuthnot working for the sawmills while PS Pevensey initially carried wool bales, and towed a barge as well. Steam was the original source of power for the tug Nelcebee, which remains intact but displayed out of the water with the South Australian Maritime Museum in 50

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Australian Register of Historic Vessels Adelaide. The story of how it was adapted with a sailing rig and motor and worked for a time among the South Australian cargo ketch fleet is a wonderful tale of a vessel evolving to remain in use over many decades. Parappa from Tasmania tells a related story of a vessel evolving to remain useful far beyond its original life expectancy. It started out in 1915 as a sail-powered fishing boat, then a wheelhouse was added, the deck was raised and the wheelhouse was improved again. Bigger engines progressively replaced the rig, which went from gaff to Bermudan and then decreased in size until it was no longer used. Westward, on the other hand, was planned and built in 1947 as a dualpurpose fishing boat and cruising yacht, but it evolved into a racing yacht. With builder Jock Muir in the crew, Westward won the Sydney–Hobart race in 1948 and again in 1949. What other Sydney–Hobart winners have been equipped with a fishing well? In contrast, the classic Alan Payne-designed Cherana won the same race in 1959, but it was a dedicated, optimised ocean-racing yacht that has now become an equally welladapted cruising yacht. The 1950 and 1951 Sydney–Hobart race line-honours winner Margaret Rintoul is another example of a yacht built specifically for the race, and shows how early the competitive nature of the event had begun to take hold. Weene from Hobart continues the Tasmanian connection. Launched as Spindrift, it was one of seven one-design yachts built to compete on the Derwent – the first one-design class in Australia, and one of the earliest in the world. Weene also adapted to changes in yachting and was lengthened to become more competitive in the 1930s. Weene turned 100 years old at our 2010 Classic & Wooden Boat Festival last October and a celebration was held, complete with cake and candles (Signals No 93, p. 46). All seven of the Tasmanian one-design yachts, Weene’s sister-ships, survive and four are listed on the ARHV. Also at the festival was Tooronga, one of the standard motor cruisers built by the Halvorsens for their hire fleet but since sold into private ownership. It is a wonderful example of robust Halvorsen construction and even has

a rare copy of the chart that was installed on the hire boats for navigating Pittwater. Wallagarugh is another motor craft with a long history of work and recreational boating on the Gippsland lakes; it now services a hire fleet of yachts. The opencockpit motor launch RAAF 011-29 saw wartime service on Sydney Harbour at Rose Bay attending the RAAF Catalina and Sunderland flying boats, and then worked with the big post-war flying boats operated by Qantas Empire Airways. War service was also undertaken by Alma Doepel, now rerigged as a threemasted schooner, which was its original configuration as a coastal trader. The shallow-draft vessel was designed to enter the rivers of New South Wales, and had two centreboards fitted to resist leeway. It made several Tasman crossings to New Zealand and was also part of the ‘jam fleet’ carrying timber and jam from Tasmania to Melbourne. Alma Doepel is being readied for sail training work and has seen over 100 years of service. The Tacoma surfboat is a clever adaptation by the three Haldane brothers at Port Fairy of the design of the 1930s double-ended Australian surf boat. It was used as a working fishing boat, netting salmon in the surf breaks close to shore up until 1986. In that time they estimate it helped catch about 12,000 tonnes of fish. Its namesake, the large Port Lincoln tuna fishing boat Tacoma built after WWII by the Haldane brothers, is also on the ARHV. HMAS Castlemaine served throughout Australia and the Pacific during WWII, and is the only surviving Bathurst-class minesweeper and corvette still afloat in Australia. It was built at Williamstown, saw action on many occasions but was then mothballed at Geelong until the 1950s when it was put to use as a training ship at Flinders in Westernport. It is now on display at Gem Pier in Williamstown. The other surviving Bathurst-class ship, HMAS Whyalla, is also on the ARHV. Queensland Maritime Museum’s exhibit CLS2-Carpentaria is one of two surviving Australian lightships designed by the famous Stevenson family in Scotland and built at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, while its sister lightship CLS4 is on display here at the ANMM. The Cape Bowling Green lighthouse on our North Wharf is another design by the Stevenson family. 

PS Pevensey

Margaret Rintoul






Peter Westergaard


Philip Rhodes


Paddle steamer


Ocean-racing yacht


Conrae II






J J Savage


Hughie Condon and Ernie Rae





Tacoma surf boat







Haldane Bros


Jock Muir


Fishing boat


Ocean-racing yacht

RAAF 011-29





Botterill & Frazer






Piner’s punt









Trevor Gowland


Charles Lucas


Ocean-racing yacht


Racing yacht

Parappa 1915

Alma Doepel HV000429




E A Jack


Frederick Doepel


Fishing boat


Coastal trader

All photographs are reproduced courtesy of the vessel owner

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Welcome Tales from the wall

The museum’s tribute to migrants, The Welcome Wall, encourages people to recall and record their stories of coming to live in Australia

Convict transport to colonial mansion

To celebrate Australia’s early Jewish history, the Sydney Jewish Museum registered the 13 Jewish convicts who arrived in the First Fleet on the Welcome Wall. One of them is the intriguing Esther Abrahams who flourished as consort and wife of the prominent officer George Johnston, writes our Welcome Wall coordinator Veronica Kooyman. First Fleet convict Esther Abrahams has gained notoriety and admiration as an intriguing character who rose to prominence with her controversial partner, the dashing officer of the New South Wales Corps, Major George Johnston. In later life came family disputes and allegations of mental illness… although much of her story is unclear, and the mystery contributes to our fascination with her. Although her Jewishness is not disputed, the records show Esther Abrahams was baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church in West Derby, Lancashire, on 3 February 1760, the daughter of Henry and Cicely Abrahams. Her exact age is unknown. In 1786 at the Old Bailey, Esther Abrahams of St James, Westminster, was indicted before Mr Justice Rose for 52

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feloniously stealing 24 yards of black silk lace, to the value of 50 shillings, from the shop of Joseph and Charles Harrop. The stolen lace was, according to a witness at the trial, concealed in her cloak and fell to the ground from beneath her clothing when she was threatened with being searched. Esther’s only words in her defence at the trial were: ‘I leave it to my counsel.’ Despite the efforts of this counsel, Mr Garrow, she was convicted of stealing and sentenced to transportation for seven years. She might have fared worse but for the good character witnesses called in her defence. Pregnant with her first child, Rosanna, Esther was imprisoned in Newgate Gaol, avoiding the unpleasant fate of a prison hulk. A man by the name of Julian may have been the father, since that surname was inconsistently used by Esther and her

daughter at various times throughout their lives. In early 1787 Esther and her newborn were first mustered aboard Prince of Wales, then transferred to the Lady Penrhyn in Portsmouth in May 1787 with around 100 other female convicts. It is thought Esther was aged between 17 and 20. Aboard the Lady Penrhyn was Marine First Lieutenant George Johnston, from an old and renowned Scottish family. He had a distinguished service record in the American War of Independence, and in the West Indies against the French, and was responsible for maintaining discipline and preventing disorder among the convicts. He was also reputedly the first British officer from the First Fleet to set foot ashore in Sydney Cove. The female convicts of the First Fleet followed him onto dry land on 6 February 1788.

Whether the relationship between George and Esther began aboard Lady Penrhyn is unknown, though there were many reports of liaisons and prostitution occurring between the officers and the female convicts during the voyage. Nevertheless, their partnership was to survive the many dramas of life in the new colony until Johnston’s death in 1823, and produced seven living children. Their first son, George, was baptised in March 1790, just before the family sailed to Norfolk Island to help establish desperately needed farmlands for the struggling colony. As well as Rosanna, Esther would bear three boys and five girls; one was stillborn and one daughter died at the age of two. Johnston joined the influential New South Wales Corps and began receiving the land grants that were to bring much wealth to the family. The first, near Parramatta Road, was named Annandale after Johnston’s birthplace in Scotland. Here they erected a convict-built colonialstyle mansion. By 1800 the estate included a slaughterhouse, butchery, bakery, smithy, stores and an orangerie, supplying fresh produce for the colony. The family name is perpetuated in places such as Johnston Street in Annandale and George’s Hall near Bankstown. Johnston’s career was as controversial as it was successful. A quarrel with Colonel Paterson, Commander of the NSW Corps, saw him arrested and sent to England for trial. It fell to Esther to manage their properties and raise their many children. The case was dropped, Johnston returned to Australia in 1802 and by March 1804 he was a hero of the colony for crushing an Irish convict rebellion at Rouse Hill near Parramatta. In 1808, as head of the NSW Corps and Magistrate of the County of Cumberland, he intervened in a quarrel between John Macarthur – a former Corps officer and fellow landowner – and Governor Bligh. Johnston led his troops in the infamous ‘Rum Rebellion’ that deposed Bligh, and assumed the title of Lieutenant Governor for six months. He was recalled to England for court martial in 1809, found guilty of mutiny and was cashiered. Esther once again ran the estate with assistance from assigned convicts, sold produce to the government, and under the name of Julian received a grant at Georges

Esther’s only words in her defence at the trial were: ‘I leave it to my counsel.’ She was convicted of stealing and sentenced to transportation for seven years

River to graze cattle. Johnston returned to Australia in 1813 and the following year the couple were married by the Reverend Samuel Marsden – probably encouraged by Governor Lachlan Macquarie who disapproved of the colony’s many unsanctioned unions. The marriage was witnessed by Esther’s first daughter Rosanna and husband Isaac Nichol. As the wife of a leading settler and officer, Esther had some standing in the colony. There’s evidence she attended a splendid ball held at Government House on 18 January 1819 to celebrate the birthday of Queen Charlotte, and other prominent occasions on the social calendar. Esther’s sons had been sent to England for their education; her second son, Robert, was the first Australian-born officer in the Royal Navy. In 1820 tragedy struck when their eldest son George Jnr was killed in a riding accident. Tensions arose with Robert who, after his father’s death in 1823, destroyed many of Johnston’s diaries. There are reports of quarrels and violence between Robert and Esther who, owning considerable property in her own right, gave notice of mortgaging them and returning to England. Robert instigated a writ of de lunatico inquirendo against his mother, to have her declared insane and incapable of administering her properties. The motivation and truth behind this move, and counter-charges of abuse of Esther by family members, even now remain matters of dispute. Witnesses were called to give testimony

to her excessive drinking and irrational behaviour. The court found that, while having lucid moments, she wasn’t capable of managing her affairs. It appointed her male heirs, the litigious Robert and another son, David, as trustees. Sometime after the verdict Esther moved to her son David's estate in George’s Hall, where she lived until her death in 1846. Esther has a prominent line of descendants and a reputation as an intelligent, industrious and very capable woman. 

opposite: Only known image of Esther Johnston, attributed to Richard Read Senior and painted in c.1824. Private collection, image courtesy of the Leichhardt Library Local History Collection above: Lt Col George Johnston by R Dighton, 1810, watercolour, ML 511. Reproduced courtesy of the Mitchell Library

The Welcome Wall It costs just $105 to register a name and honour your family’s arrival in this great country! We’d love to add your family’s name to The Welcome Wall, cast in bronze, and place your story on the online database at So please don’t hesitate to call our staff during business hours with any enquiries on 02 9298 3777.

Signals 94 March to May 2011



Nautilus II steps up Representing the origins of motorboat racing in Australia when the sport was the preserve of the very few, this important example of early powerboat technology is a significant addition to the museum’s diverse collection of powercraft. Article by David Payne, curator of the Australian Register of Historic Vessels.

Australia has a proud record of achievement in the sport of powerboat racing. When power-boating was introduced in the early 1900s, Australian enthusiasts closely followed developments in Europe and the USA, importing or building craft and engines of their own. Racing began around 1905, and by 1912 a small fleet of planing craft provided a popular spectacle when they raced each other at major events, reported in the press and witnessed by large crowds. Recently acquired from Victoria where it was built in 1912, the 7.6-metre-long, multi-stepped wooden hydroplane Nautilus II is a remarkable survivor from that period. It is likely to be the earliest example of this type remaining in Australia, and is probably the earliest surviving winner of the E C Griffith Cup at the Australasian Championship. This was the premier motor-boating

event in Australia and New Zealand, with one of the earliest motorboat trophies contested anywhere in the world. Both the Cup and Nautilus II will be 100 years old next year. Researching the background of this important craft has begun to tease out its design and construction secrets. What is not secret is the stunning-looking multi-stepped configuration, an example of the US-patented Fauber stepped-hull designs. The steps were designed to increase lift and reduce wetted surface drag, a popular concept being developed in Europe and the USA at the time. Nautilus II was designed and built for Fred and Percy Cornwall, who had a manufacturing business in Melbourne. The Sydney Morning Herald of 2 March 1914 reported: ‘According to the officials of the Victorian Motor Yacht Club, Nautilus II’s hull was designed by Mr H Maumill of Victoria.’ The same report notes that the boat was built at Jas Edwards & Son’s yard on the Yarra, while

another article notes that it was Maumill who built the craft at this yard. Evidence that Nautilus II was both designed and built in Australia is exciting. Its multi-step hull style was at the leading edge of international hydroplane evolution for the period, and Australians were already creating their own. An examination of the Nautilus II hull shows all the classic elements for the type: plumb stem, deep forefoot, straight keel, concave sections, the number, depth and rake of the steps that are ventilated by pipes toward the centreline, along with aft tumblehome and bevelled transom. All these features compare favourably with the famous Maple Leaf IV, the UK-built winner of the international Harmsworth Trophy in 1912–13. The stepped-hull shape was not easy to build, compared to a normal hull with its full run of bottom planking. The steps added weight and broke up the continuity of the planking, contributing to a loss of strength in some boats. The double-

above: Nautilus II competing for the Australasian championship and the E C Griffith Cup in 1914. Photograph from the Sydney Morning Herald left and below: Nautilus II just short of a century old, with the five steps in the hull clearly visible at the chine. Interior view looking aft shows clearly the well-thought-out construction details. Photographer D Payne/ANMM


Signals 94 March to May 2011

planked King Billy pine hull of Nautilus II was clearly robust, however, with clever diagonal and fore and aft planking at the steps, combined with significant-sized engine girders and stringers. The hull structure has retained most of its original integrity, and only the deck has been modified during its life. An interesting feature that has been lost is the mounting of its original 90 kW (120 hp) Napier, six-cylinder petrol engine. It used an early form of vee-drive at the forward end of the engine, coupled to the propeller shaft that ran back aft under the engine to the shaft log where it exited the hull. This allowed the engine to be located optimally for fore and aft trim, while reducing the shaft angle for better performance. How all this was developed in apparent isolation in Australia remains the mystery. Owner Percy Cornwall was the boat’s engineer or mechanic. Maumill is an enigma; of the few references found, one notes that he was working in Sydney in 1904 and had built an ‘oil launch’ or motorboat called Dawmea, designed by the innovative Australian naval architect Walter Reeks. Contemporary media articles indicate that considerable information was available from overseas, even if it came a few months late by sea mail. There are descriptions and images of the latest boats, articles on construction, and letters to editors debating the theories of high-speed design. Weighing up the evidence it seems quite plausible that a combination of the owners’ and builders’ skills and practical knowledge could produce this design in Australia, with excellent results. Stepped hulls had arrived on the racing scene around 1910, and Nautilus II’s main local rival was the single-step hydroplane Kangaroo/Meteor II, imported that year from Monaco by retail magnate Anthony

Weighing up the evidence it seems quite plausible that a combination of the owners’ and builders’ skills and practical knowledge could produce this design in Australia, with excellent results Hordern. Nautilus II was Victorian Champion in 1913, racing at 32 mph, but lost the title in 1914 to Meteor II from NSW. A month later it turned the tables on Meteor II and won the nationally contested E C Griffith Cup for the Australasian Championship over a 20-mile course, setting speeds around 34 mph. It won again in 1915, reaching 40 mph. A second engine, a Sturtevant aircraft motor, was fitted around 1919. Nautilus II remained in use until the 1980s, fitted with an outboard motor in its later years. In the 1990s it was noticed under covers in a shed at Williamstown and was given to the National Trust of Australia’s Victorian division. For many years it was on display at the Polly Woodside Museum but a change in the museum’s collection focus and resources made it available for acquisition by the Australian National Maritime Museum. It’s a very important and rare example of a multi-stepped hull from the early period of Australian and international power-boating that shows Australians successfully adopting the latest developments in motorboat design and construction of that era.  Signals 94 March to May 2011




A buccaneer of literary merit a world brimming with opportunity for those willing to set out on its seaways

Dampier’s Monkey – The South Seas voyages of William Dampier By Adrian Mitchell. Wakefield Press 2010, softcover, some illustrations, 545 pp, ISBN 978 1 86254 759 9. RRP $49.95

William Dampier (1651–1715) lived an extraordinary life! He inhabited a time when the world was a pristine and mysterious place, its geography and people half-known and half-imagined. It was a world brimming with opportunity for those willing to set out on its seaways and fortunate enough to survive mutiny, storm and shoals. Dampier was willing to take his chances. During 40 eventful years at sea he sailed as seaman, navigator, pirate and captain, three times around the world, seeking his fortune from the jungles of Central America to the islands of South-East Asia. He twice made landfalls in what is now Western Australia. In 1688, while navigator on the Cygnet, he spent six weeks at King Sound (near today’s Derby). In 1699, as captain of HMS Roebuck, he cruised from Shark Bay to Lagrange Bay (near Broome). An unfortunate legacy of these visits was Dampier’s infamous view of the Indigenous people he encountered, whom he described as ‘… the miserablest people in the world’. Dampier’s impressions of a land offering little mirrored the reports of Dutch mariners who, as ‘discoverers’, claimed the right to name the place New Holland but found no reason to colonise it. What immortalised William Dampier’s observations was a talent for writing that few could match, a talent that his publisher, James Knapton, carefully polished to produce the best-selling works New Voyage Round the World (1697), Voyages and Discoveries (1699) and Voyage to New Holland (Part 1, 1703; Part 2, 1709). They made Dampier a famous South Seas expert, opening doors to the Board of Trade, the Royal Society and the Admiralty, and gaining him access to John Locke, Samuel Pepys and Queen Anne. Despite its successes the trajectory of Dampier’s life was often chaotic,


Signals 94 March to May 2011

Ambassador Bill Lane USA Gallery Fellowship

and the picture that the modern world has inherited of him has remained naggingly unsatisfying – prompting this recent book by Adrian Mitchell. ‘Dampier’s Monkey is directed towards the written evidence that Dampier left behind,’ writes the author, ‘interpreting what he said and what he chose to leave unsaid, and looking at the undercurrents that weave through that record.’ The ‘monkey’ Mitchell identifies is a ghost sitting on Dampier’s shoulder, both a silent witness and an omen shadowing Dampier’s life. There are several recent biographies of Dampier but Mitchell’s work adds something new. It includes a transcript of Dampier’s journal of 1681–94, published in print for the first time, and annotated by Dampier himself. The journal provides a foil to Dampier’s published works, a compass needle reflecting deviations and anomalies in the course of Dampier’s words from journal to print. Mitchell brings to life Dampier’s adventures and the kaleidoscope of characters who shared his world. These included buccaneers such as Lionel Wafer and William Cowley with whom Dampier sailed in the pirated slave ship Bachelor’s Delight (so named by them because the cargo was female slaves). In his books, Dampier suppressed their piratical activities. Others, like Lieutenant George Fisher who served

under Dampier on HMS Roebuck, would not be suppressed! Fisher’s insolent references to his captain’s pirate sympathies earned him a caning and imprisonment by Dampier. Mitchell’s careful analysis provides intriguing insights into some of the tensions (and theatre) aboard Roebuck during its failed expedition to the east coast of Australia. What emerges through the interwoven layers of Dampier’s Monkey is a picture of Dampier as a man of restless inquiry who, having somehow acquired the skills to navigate the world’s oceans, discovered himself as a writer and was, for a short while, the darling of scientists, traders and his publisher. Dampier’s discourse on Trade-Winds, Breezes, Storms, Seasons of the Year, Tides and Currents of the Torrid Zone throughout the World rivalled the work of astronomer and mathematician Edmond Halley. For Dampier, however, success would not last. Reduced by the debacle of losing Roebuck and other failures of command, Dampier was hired as a pilot to Captain Woodes Rogers’ privateering cruise of 1708, which engaged and took the Manila galleon. Dampier’s share of this loot should have set him up in his old age, but by the time of his death in 1715 he had seen little of it. In Mitchell’s words: ‘Another man had appropriated his dream, and realised it; and Dampier was left an elderly navigator who did not always recognize his sea-marks and occasionally found himself out in his calculations, uncertain of his place and, perhaps, of his inner soundings.’ Exquisitely written and full of absorbing detail, Dampier’s Monkey is a tour de force that rewards close reading.  Dr Nigel Erskine, curator, exploration and European settlement

The US Ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Mr Jeffrey L Bleich, attended a special function at the museum on 16 February to launch the Ambassador Bill Lane USA Gallery Fellowship. The fellowship honours one of the museum’s earliest supporters, the Honorable L W ‘Bill’ Lane Jr ao (1919– 2010), the man behind the founding of the museum’s USA Gallery. The Ambassador Bill Lane USA Gallery Fellowship is open to scholars and museum professionals for work and study proposals that develop greater understanding of Australia and America’s shared maritime heritage. The objectives of the fellowship are to foster professional relations between the Australian National Maritime Museum and key American cultural institutions, and develop connections between their collections. The museum’s USA Gallery is the legacy of a generous endowment that was the United States of America’s Bicentennial gift to Australia in 1988. Its purpose is to showcase the many maritime links between the two culturally related nations on either side of the Pacific rim, and recognises the longstanding and close relations between

them. Although hemispheres apart and separated by the great expanse of the Pacific Ocean, the sea has been a link between us in the areas of maritime exploration, commerce, immigration, defence, culture, technology, sport and marine science. The USA Gallery thus occupies a unique place in the international museum world, as a gallery in a national museum that has been funded by another nation. The founding of the USA Gallery owes a great deal to the vision and the personal efforts of the US Ambassador to Australia from 1985 to 1989, the Honorable L W ‘Bill’ Lane Jr ao. Ambassador Lane was instrumental in having the US Congress under President Ronald Reagan vote the US$5 million endowment in 1988, when this country celebrated the bicentenary of British settlement. Bill Lane was awarded the Order of Australia in recognition of these efforts. Speaking at the launch of the fellowship, US Ambassador Bleich paid tribute to Bill Lane’s love of the sea, his love of Australia, his great love of the partnership between the two nations, and his commitment to preserving our

maritime history for future generations. ‘I met Bill shortly after I became the US Ambassador and, two decades after his tenure, he was still brimming with enthusiasm for the US-Australian relationship, and with very fond memories of this museum, and of old friends here,’ said Mr Bleich. ‘This scholarship is going to inspire the generations to love the ocean that connects us both. It’s a great patch of blue that holds us together.’ Former US Ambassador Bill Lane died last August in California at the age of 90. Proposals for the fellowship named after him will be assessed on their potential to reflect the common development of the two nations and their maritime connections. Fellowships can be used to develop special public programs relating to the USA Gallery or the theme of Australia–USA maritime relations including travelling exhibitions, temporary exhibitions, education programs, lectures, seminars and publications. They also provide for the ongoing evolution of the USA Gallery with research leading to further acquisitions, joint programs and evolving ties between the USA and Australia. 

The fellowship was launched by US Ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Mr Jeffrey L Bleich (2nd from right). He’s pictured in the USA Gallery with (L to R) senior curator of the USA Gallery, Paul Hundley, ANMM director Mary-Louise Williams and chairman Peter Dexter am. Photographer J Mellefont/ANMM

Signals 94 March to May 2011




Montevideo Maru: letter to editor

Last word from the child-migration message board

[Concerning the article ‘Tragedy – Rabaul and Montevideo Maru’, Signals No 93 December 2010] With great respect to the victims of this tragedy, it was only one of many occurring in this period of conflict in the region and was not the largest in terms of loss of life of Allied prisoners of war at 1053. I list a few more:

Arisan Maru Torpedoed 24 October 1944 by USS Shark or USS Snook 1,788 lives lost

Kachidoki Maru Torpedoed 12 September 1942 by the USS Pampanito 515 lives lost

Oryoku Maru Bombed 9 January 1945 1,060 lives lost

Tyofuku Maru Bombed 21 September 1942 907 lives lost

These are a few of what is almost an overlooked group. Many thanks for raising this issue.

Lisbon Maru Torpedoed 2 October 1942 by the USS Grouper 839 lives lost Nichi Mei Maru Bombed 15 January 1943 548 lives lost Suez Maru Torpedoed 29 September 1943 by USS Bonefish 548 lives lost Tamahoko Maru Torpedoed 24 June 1944 by USS Tang 560 lives lost Rakuyo Maru Torpedoed 12 September 1944 by USS Sealion 1,179 lives lost Shinyu Maru Torpedoed 17 September 1944 by USS Redfin 750 lives lost Unya Maru Torpedoed 18 September 1944 by USS Barb 1,477 lives lost above: Montevideo Maru was a Japanese merchant ship built in 1926 to carry emigrants from Japan to South America. It was torpedoed on 1 July 1942 by the US submarine Sturgeon while carrying over 1000 Australian prisoners of war to camps in Asia. Contemporary postcard reproduced courtesy of Maxwell R Hayes

James Rickards

Editor replies: Thank you for reminding us of the wider context of the Montevideo Maru disaster, when well over 1,000 Australian soldiers and civilians captured after the fall of Rabaul were lost as the Japanese transport carrying them to POW camps was torpedoed by a US submarine. The loss of Allied POWs in such incidents, after the fall of Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, was truly catastrophic. Part of the tragedy for bereaved loved ones has been the lack of certainty, since the records of personnel lost in these incidents were often incomplete or absent. The numbers lost can be imprecise, and in the case of Montevideo Maru recent research may slightly alter the total. It does seem, however, that this disaster claims the grim record of the largest single loss of Australian personnel in that war.

As our special exhibition On their own – Britain’s child migrants approaches the end of its display period at the museum, the message below is a touching example of its emotional impact on the many thousands of visitors who have seen it here. More than three years in development in partnership with National Museums Liverpool, UK, the exhibition opened at the museum on 10 November 2010. It relates the story of the child migration schemes that despatched nearly 110,000 children from Britain to Commonwealth countries including Australia from the late 1860s until 1967. Operated by charitable and religious organisations, the schemes supplied labour and boosted the populations in the colonies, offering the chance of improved lives to children whose families were unable to care for them or who were orphans. Certainly their lives changed dramatically, but their fortunes varied. Some succeeded in creating new futures; others suffered lonely, brutal childhoods. An online message board, at, was launched even earlier, in June 2010, to collect memories, photographs and comments about the legacy of the child migration schemes that were the exhibition’s subject. The accompanying message is one of many collated by exhibition curator Kim Tao. 

AMSA backs Endeavour voyage The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has come on board as a proud sponsor of the circumnavigation of the Australian continent by the museum’s replica of James Cook’s 18th-century ship of discovery, HM Bark Endeavour. From April 2011 to May 2012 the ship will visit 15 ports, allowing many thousands of people to experience the acclaimed replica. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is the national agency responsible for maritime safety, protection of the marine environment, and maritime and aviation search and rescue. Established in 1990, AMSA is celebrating its 21st anniversary in 2011. In this milestone year, the authority is proud to have the opportunity to support the Endeavour replica’s historic voyage while highlighting the organisation’s vital role in maritime safety and environmental protection. Australia’s economy and lifestyle is underpinned by the shipping industry. We also have one of the longest coastlines and some of the most sensitive marine areas in the world. AMSA works with industry and its regional counterparts to ensure that the correct balance between shipping movements and the environment is maintained. AMSA is Australia’s representative at the International Maritime

Museum sponsors Foundation sponsor

Austereo Blackmores Ltd Channel Nine Lloyd’s Register Asia Olbia Pty Ltd SBS


Akzo Nobel AMSA APN Outdoor Carnival Australia Coral Sea Wines Defence Maritime Services Pty Ltd ISAF/Perth 2011 Silentworld Foundation Sydney by Sail Thales

Signals 94 March to May 2011

Smokey Cape Lighthouse, South West Rocks, NSW; AMSA Dornier search and rescue aircraft. Photographs courtesy of AMSA

covers almost 53 million square kilometres. The authority manages Australia’s 406 MHz distress beacon database, which currently contains more than 180,000 registered distress beacons. This makes Australians the biggest users of distress beacons in the world based on population size – a testament to our love of boating and our maritime past.  For more on AMSA’s maritime heritage interests, see the story starting on page 22.

Corporate Members

Major sponsors

Project sponsors


Organization (IMO). As a founding member of the IMO Council, Australia is at the forefront of international action to maintain ship safety, marine environment protection, maritime security, aids to navigation and crew competency. Throughout its journey, HMB Endeavour will rely upon AMSA’s aids to navigation to ensure a safe passage. AMSA manages a network of more than 470 aids to navigation at over 380 sites around Australia’s coastline. The network includes traditional lighthouses, beacons, buoys, racons, Differential Global Positioning System and Automatic Identification System stations, broadcasting tide gauges and a current meter. Australia’s world-renowned maritime and aviation search and rescue service is provided by AMSA’s Rescue Coordination Centre Australia and

Founding patrons Alcatel Australia ANL Limited Ansett Airfreight Bovis Lend Lease BP Australia Bruce & Joy Reid Foundation Doyle’s Seafood Restaurant Howard Smith Limited James Hardie Industries National Australia Bank PG, TG & MG Kailis P&O Nedlloyd Ltd Telstra Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics Westpac Banking Corporation Zim Shipping Australasia

The program provides corporate Members privileged entry to the museum’s unique environment for corporate hospitality. Three membership levels each provide a range of benfits and services: Admiral three-year membership $10,000 one-year membership $4,000 Commodore three-year membership $5,000 one-year membership $1,850 Captain three-year membership $1,800 one-year membership $700

Captain Memberships Asiaworld Shipping Services Pty Ltd Australia Japan Cable Ltd Defence National Storage-RPA HMAS Creswell HMAS Kuttabul HMAS Newcastle HMAS Vampire Association Maritime Union of Australia (NSW Branch) Maritime Workers Credit Union Maruschka Loupis & Associates Penrith Returned Services League Portsd Corporation Regimental Trust Fund, Victoria Barracks Royal Caribbean & Celebrity Cruises Svitzer Australasia Sydney Pilot Service Pty Ltd

Signals 94 March to May 2011



shop online at

from the director, Mary-Louise Williams

Hundreds of books something for everyone from key rings to ship models and boating clothes friendly service mail order Members discounts! Open 9.30 am to 5 pm seven days a week Phone 02 9298 3698 or fax orders to 02 9298 3675 or email

Western Australian author Tim Winton opened our successful summer attraction Planet Shark – Predator or Prey – The Exhibition on 7 December last year. The award-winning author of Cloudstreet and many other works, surfer and patron of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, entertained our guests with his tales of Australian encounters with, and attitudes towards, sharks, while advocating for their understanding and protection. Photographer A Frolows/ANMM

Just before this issue of Signals went to press we held a function to launch the Ambassador Bill Lane USA Gallery Fellowship, our initiative to encourage research into Australian and American shared maritime heritage. The fellowship honours the memory of the late L W ‘Bill’ Lane Jr ao, the US Ambassador to Australia from 1985 to 1989, a great friend of the museum who was personally behind the establishment of the museum’s USA Gallery. There’s a more detailed report on page 57. The launch was a glittering event with many old friends of both Bill Lane and the museum in attendance, from political, diplomatic and cultural circles. One was Bob Hawke, Prime Minister during Bill’s ambassadorship and a key figure in this museum’s history… it was his government that made the commitment to a national maritime museum, and Bob officially opened the museum himself in 1991. What all of our guests shared was a fond memory of Bill Lane, a larger-than-life character in many of our lives, and a lifelong supporter of this museum. After returning to the USA Bill would telephone on a regular basis to talk and to see how the USA Gallery was progressing. His Australian experiences meant a great deal to Bill, and he was immensely proud to receive his Order of Australia in recognition of his achievements in having the USA Gallery funded by the US Government. 60

Signals 94 March to May 2011

Another Australia day has gone by, as busy as ever here with our usual army of generous volunteers helping to coordinate over 10,000 visitors; our patrol boat ex-HMAS Advance taking sponsors and supporters out for all the Harbour activities; historic vessels Kathleen Gillett and Tu Do starring in the evening celebrations in Cockle Bay; two Members cruises and an evening family picnic to watch the Darling Harbour fireworks. This year two notable sailors became Australians of the Year – philanthropist and sailing speed record-breaker Simon McKeon, and Jessica Watson, the plucky single-handed around-the-world yachtswoman – both appearing in previous issues of Signals for the sailing feats that made maritime history. But here at the museum one of our own very special staff members received an Australia Day honour, one that we all applaud. Jan McInnies, who has been the museum’s receptionist since 1989, was awarded the Public Service Medal. And what fantastic public service she has provided over all these years! Jan is at the very front line of the museum, the first museum staff member that countless thousands of official visitors or anonymous members of the public encounter when they arrive in person or make an enquiry by phone. Her unrivalled knowledge of the organisation means that every enquiry

is answered or referred to just the right person. In many ways Jan is the bestknown public face of the museum – but she’s also indispensable to staff too, known to all and all-knowing! And on a related note, one of the performers engaged to entertain our Australia Day crowds sent in a lovely, unsolicited note of tribute to our staff and volunteers. Here’s what accordion player Nigel Harris said: ‘I just wanted to pass on my appreciation to all the staff for being the nicest and most accommodating people I have worked for in recent memory, from the moment I turned up. It would be great if all my work was with such people… In a world where so often the personal details get forgotten on the little people like myself, it is nice to be a small part of an organisation that still understands what hospitality actually means.’ And finally, from me and all of us here, we wish the stalwart crew of our replica of James Cook’s HM Bark Endeavour a safe and successful voyage as they set off from our wharves in April for the ship’s exciting, challenging and ambitious 15-month circumnavigation of the Australian continent! There will be an opportunity to join our Members on the water to cheer the ship on its way as it sails through Sydney Heads to begin the voyage on Saturday 16 April – details can be found on page 30. 

Sydney Ferries cushions, five varieties Each $59.95 Members $53.95

Instant boat in bottle $26 Members $23.40 Why knot learn the ropes? $22.95 Members $20.66

Bronzed 30-minute hourglass Each $99.95 Members $89.95

Copper and brass bugle, blow your own reveille $49.95 Members $44.95

Gallipoli medallions and real Gallipoli beach sand Left to right $30, $60, $35 Members $27, $54, $31.50

HMAS Onslow mounted model to patrol your desk Approx 30 cm long $370 Members $333

Pocket Compass $60 Members $54 Trade winds compass $85 Members $76.50

HMAS Vampire model $25 each Members $22.50 HMAS Vampire mug $15 Members $13.50

Nautical cap to identify your role on board Each $22 Members $19.80

Signal flag coffee mug Each $26.95 Members $24.95

Mini sextant in handsome case height 12 cm $190 Members $171

Signal flag cushion Z for Zulu calls for a tug $79.95 Members $71.95

Australian National Maritime Museum Open daily except Christmas Day 9.30 am to 5 pm (6 pm in January) Darling Harbour Sydney NSW Australia Phone 02 9298 3777 Facsimile 02 9298 3780 ANMM council Chairman Mr Peter Dexter am Director Ms Mary-Louise Williams Councillors Rear Admiral Stephen Gilmore am csc ran Mr Peter Harvie Ms Robyn Holt Dr Julia Horne Ms Ann Sherry ao Mr Shane Simpson Mr Neville Stevens ao Signals ISSN 1033-4688 Editor Jeffrey Mellefont 02 9298 3647 Assistant editor Penny Crino Staff photographer Andrew Frolows Design and production Austen Kaupe Printed in Australia by Bluestar Print Advertising enquiries Jeffrey Mellefont 02 9298 3647 Deadline end of January, April, July, October for issues March, June, September, December Signals back issues Back issues $4 10 back issues $30 Extra copies of current issue $4.95 Call Matt Lee at The Store 02 9298 3698 Material from Signals may be reproduced only with the editor’s permission 02 9298 3647 The Australian National Maritime Museum is a statutory authority of the Australian Government Contact us at GPO Box 5131 Sydney NSW 2001 Australia

Signals, Issue 94  

The Australian National Maritime Museum's quarterly journal Signals.