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.
04 Nov 2008
Thales of Miletus lived over 2500 years ago, one of ancient Greece’s “Seven Sages”, he bequeathed to the world many ideas in the fields of politics, ethics and business, but from my desk here at Garden Island, his cosmological beliefs and his contribution to geometry are primary in my mind. The Thales Group, the company that now operates the docking facilities at GI has a world wide presence whose origins lie in electronics. With the company’s comparatively recent entry into shipbuilding came the adoption of the name Thales and seems no where more appropriate than right here. According to Aristotle, Thales believed that everything had water as its origin, an idea that perhaps resonates better in contemporary Australia than in ancient Greece, he is also recorded as measuring the height of Egypt’s pyramids by the length of their shadow. The meshing of ideas in the mind of one ancient polyglot is embedded in the actions all who labour under the banner of Thales. Through the application physics and maths we affect change on a maritime subject but perhaps it is only ideas that are beyond the reach of entropy and we work in vain to protect Onslow from the ravages of this temporal existence?Read more
31 Oct 2008
Lean on the rail that skirts the graving dock, the best place seems to be next to the sign saying “DO NOT LEAN ON RAIL”, and in a very short while someone will pop up at your shoulder and start to spin a tale. With equal measure of pride and an emotion very near disgust, they will talk of their time on “the rock” (Cockatoo Island) servicing the Oberons, the intermediate dockings here at Garden Island or their time as a submariner operating these immensely complex machines. Like an abstinent addict, one half of them cannot help but take pride in what the other half casts in shame. They were all younger men then and for their lack of a comparative perspective they achieved amazing things, things that the prospect of having to repeat today would produce a repulsive shudder.
“15 years I spent working on those damned things.” says one
“that’s my boat there….filthy bloody things they are” says another, and another “ two months they reckoned It’d take and eighteen months later I was still labelling those @#!*%$ pipes.”
27 Oct 2008
At around noon on Sunday the trusty crew of the museum’s much admired “couta boat” Thistle rowed off from the Balmain Sailing Club’s wharf. Although there was much to keep a sailor ashore, with the club house abuzz and an oasis of shaded park land offering a spectrum of activities, with a distinct lack of coffee and continuous offers of ale, it wiser to be out of temptations’ way. Thistle, built circa 1900 requires the full command of one’s brawn to rig and sail safely. Lacking much of the mechanical advantage of a modern pleasure yacht, “ winches are for cheats” could be heard called forth to passing vessels as our apprentice shipwright hauled in on the fore sail sheet.Read more
24 Oct 2008
Today is much like the last only lacking all the fanfare. Again, our Navy pilot boards and the DMS tugs come along side. Under the watchful eye of the jaunty dockmaster we’re eased into the Captain Cook Graving Dock, one of the true industrial cathedrals, but today it looks more like an over sized swimming pool. Secured well back in southern eastern corner of the dock, Onslow will stay in this position until the pump-out of the dock commences next Friday, being joined by the museums light ship CLS 4 (commonwealth light ship) and thales’ floating dock. There is not a lot happening for the rest of the day so I’m off back to museum to organise some supplies.Read more