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

Week 13

09 Dec 2008

Things have been a little slow this week as I have had a bad head cold (and no, I will not make any sneezing/rigging jokes), but I have managed to make progress with the rigging.

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HMAS Advance, our Patrol Boat

05 Dec 2008

This topic came up on our first date, over a decade ago, and I think I thoroughly disappointed him when I confessed I knew of Skippy (though never watched it) but had certainly never heard of the other two programs.  He lamented that since arriving in Australia he hadn’t seen them either – odd when you think about it.

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Week 12

02 Dec 2008

This week I have made and completed the main masts and bowsprit.

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Frame restoration for the portrait of Sir John Franklin: part 1

27 Nov 2008

The frame came to the lab completely covered with an unsightly layer of bronze paint. The finish is dull and matt and does not complement the portrait. This finish would have been added as a quick fix to an aged frame- the bane of every frame conservator today.  In my opinion the portrait’s frame should be returned to its original surface finish, gilded and gorgeous!  After several tests and examinations, it was discovered that the object retained some of its original gilded (gold leaf) surface.

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Australian National Maritime Museum

War and Love

25 Nov 2008

This new exhibit tells the story of two Japanese women – Teruko Blair and Sadako Morris – who met and fell in love with Australian soldiers during the Allied Occupation of Japan. They made Australian immigration history, being the first significant group of non-Europeans permitted to migrate to Australia in the early 1950s while the White Australia Policy was still in place.

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Week 11

25 Nov 2008

Apart from a few bits and pieces, I have completed the hull and all the components.

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What Alice Saw

24 Nov 2008

Being in a sunless space, bereft of fresh air for last three years, does strange thing to people.
After picking up the entry permit from the project office our thoroughly serious and professional marine hull surveyor, Warwick Thomson, is intently checking that the tank has been gas freed correctly; he sorts out the essentials, gas monitor… check, camera, torch… check, chipping hammer… check, note pad and pen… check check. Clothed in his fresh, white disposable overalls, Warwick could be mistaken for a slightly dumpy cottontail but afflicted with the difficulties of Alice in negotiating the entry down the rabbit hole of No.3 fuel oil tank. In its shape, the fuel reservoir is a crescent moon prism, its inboard surface being the regular cylinder of the pressure hull, its outer more complex curve, being the thinner plated skin visible from the exterior of the sub. Internally, the space is complicated by a lattice of supports radiating from the inner to the outer lateral face.

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Week 10

17 Nov 2008

This week the focus has been on the deck of the model, with work on canons, anchors, and small boats.

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They Came They Saw… They Painted

14 Nov 2008

In the early morning and aft of the clock watchers end, the dock floor is moist and cool. At mid day dining time, again she’s placid, humidified by the latent pools and the gentle cascade edging by the outer caisson. The sheer thermal mass of a structure, that when completed, at the eve of peace in the 1944, could house any vessel afloat, ensures a mild clime, while Onslow’s constant shadow gives respite at midday to our more freckled fellows. At these times there is only the interval led, discordant pop of the compressed air relief valves, not too far removed from a croak, to disturb the air. But these are only moments among many and the sudden vision of a soul, accompanied by paramedics, being hauled aloft in a yellow cage through the vacant blue, reminds you that when you’re down and out at the bottom of the dock there’s only one way out; forty five feet up straight up. He’ll be okay, the pain killing shots have subdued him and after a couple of weeks of physio he’ll be back but for the rest of the day you’re left hypersensitive to the need to know, to be sure of every placing of the three points of contact, to follow the rules, to know that some one else knows where you’re at, for on the irregular floor of the dock, strung out with hoses possessing their own dynamism, with multiple bobcats and remotely driven cherry pickers all  beeping out a warning that builds  to a Doppler cacophony, then splits into asymmetric chaos of sound, to be heard, to be seen, to be safe, is never guaranteed.

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