Searching for junks and sampans

‘<a href="http://bishop.slq.qld.gov.au/view/action/singleViewer.do?dvs=1540263437073~326&amp;locale=en_AU&amp;metadata_object_ratio=14&amp;show_metadata=true&amp;VIEWER_URL=/view/action/singleViewer.do?&amp;DELIVERY_RULE_ID=10&amp;frameId=1&amp;usePid1=true&amp;usePid2=true" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Sailing from Goondi to Geraldton</a>’, circa 1902. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

Sailing from Goondi to Geraldton’, circa 1902. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

Volunteer researcher Aliza Chin shares her investigations of late 19th-century Chinese vessels built in Australia.

A research adventure

For the past two months, I have been a volunteer researcher at the Museum. I have become an explorer who conducts archival deep dives, a decipherer and editor of Trove auto-text, an appraiser of photographs stored away in digital collections, swinging between feelings of elation and frustration, in between clicks and scrolls. If you don’t know Trove, it is an Australian online library database aggregator; a free faceted-search engine hosted by the National Library of Australia,[1] in partnership with content providers including members of the National & State Libraries Australasia.[2] It is one of the most well-respected[3] and accessed GLAM services in Australia, with over 70,000 daily users.

To say that the experience has equipped me with new skills in my field would be an understatement, but this blog entry is not about me. Rather, it is about the issues and new sources encountered and uncovered in the little-studied area of Chinese shipbuilding; specifically, vessels that were made here in Australia between the 1870s and early 1900s. Dr Stephen Gapps has been researching sampans and junks for a while and invited me to help with this project.

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Operation diorama

One of two dioramas created by volunteers Geoff Barnes and Roger Scott to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Operation Jaywick and the restoration of Krait. Image: Geoff Barnes.  

One of two dioramas created by volunteers Geoff Barnes and Roger Scott to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Operation Jaywick and the restoration of Krait. Image: Geoff Barnes.

Volunteers Geoff Barnes and Roger Scott have once again used their impressive model making skills to create a unique diorama for the Museum, commemorating the 75th anniversary of Operation Jaywick and the restoration of Krait.

Building Operation Jaywick in miniature

As a volunteer guide at the Museum, I noticed that Krait would be absent from display for quite some time due it’s extensive restorations. Luckily, an Australian model ship company, Modellers Central, released a laser-cut wooden 1:35 scale model to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the raid. Roger Scott and I proposed an exhibit of Krait in miniature so the Museum could have a ‘Krait’ display in Action Stations even when the real ship was in slip.

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Misenum in miniature

Misenum in miniature. An up close look at the diorama created by Geoff Barnes and Roger Scott for <em>Escape from Pompeii</em>. Image: Andrew Frolows / ANMM.

Misenum in miniature. An up close look at the diorama created by Geoff Barnes and Roger Scott for Escape from Pompeii. Image: Andrew Frolows / ANMM.

In 79 AD Mount Vesuvius erupted, sealing nearby Pompeii and Herculaneum into time capsules that would not be reopened for many centuries, and which have been incredibly rich historical and romantic resources for today’s world.

The eruption was clearly visible from the Roman navy’s major port-city of Misenum, along the coast at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples. In response, the admiral of the fleet, Pliny the Elder, ordered his ships to go to the rescue. It is one of the first recorded attempted rescues of civilians by sea by a military force.

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The value of volunteers

Mature age volunteers are the ‘lifeblood’ of the museum. Their experience and passion are what our visitors enjoy. Image: ANMM.

Mature age volunteers are the ‘lifeblood’ of the museum. Their experience and passion are what our visitors enjoy. Image: ANMM.

Did you know that here at the museum we have over 1200 volunteers? Some 450 regularly volunteer onsite.

Volunteers are extremely important to our visitor experiences and a big part of our 4.5-star rating on TripAdvisor. Continue reading

Volunteer Week 2014!

Frank and Ross on HMB Endeavour gangway

Frank and Ross on HMB Endeavour replica gangway today
Photo: Renae Sarantis, ANMM

The Australian National Maritime Museum has one of the biggest volunteer programs in Australia with almost 500 volunteers and up to 35 each day! Our Volunteers do a wide range of jobs from guiding the public on the vessels HMAS Vampire, HMB Endeavour replica and submarine HMAS Onslow to helping our conservation team with objects, being in the members lounge and maintaining our historic fleet.

Ron greeting visitors at the Cape Bowling Green Light house

Ron greeting visitors at the Cape Bowling Green Lighthouse today
Photo: Renae Sarantis, ANMM

The volunteer program at the museum offers training, the chance to meet like-minded people and help connect not only with local community but the world has we have many overseas visitors that come to the museum. The museum’s volunteers enjoy many benefits with eligibility which include discount at the Store and Yots café, volunteer outings and attendance at the annual volunteer party.

We couldn’t run the museum without their help and we are so lucky to have a group of amazing and dedicated volunteers. We are currently seeking volunteers and more information can be found here.

Peter at the Quarter Masters Desk on HMAS Vampire

Peter at the Quarter Masters Desk on HMAS Vampire today
Photo: Renae Sarantis, ANMM

So to all the volunteers THANK YOU for all that you do and a happy Volunteers Week! 🙂

Renae Sarantis
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