Using Twitter to Explore Our Museum

Tour the museum via tweets. Images: ANMM.

Tour the museum via tweets. Images: ANMM.

The Australian National Maritime Museum site on the waterfront here at Darling Harbour is not your usual museum. We have exhibition galleries inside the museum as well as historic vessels which you can come aboard such as the HMB Endeavour Replica, navy destroyer HMAS Vampire and submarine HMAS Onslow.

There is a lot to explore, especially if you are a teacher visiting with a busload of school students. To help teachers become familiar with our site and prepare for school excursions we created an Orientation Tour For Visiting Teachers.

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New Action Stations experience coming to Darling Harbour

Artist's impression of the ANMM's new Warship's Pavilion

Have you noticed the construction work outside the Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour? Work is well underway on our new Action Stations experience – an amazing visitor facility on the museum’s wharf between our ex-Navy submarine and destroyer, opening in November 2015.

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Warships, storyworlds and the story so far

I’ve walked through our Oberon-class submarine many times. Before the visitors arrive, it’s quiet. You can hear the creaking of the ropes that secure the sub to the wharf, and sometimes the far away voices of people in Darling Harbour. Remnants of life onboard remain – the boardgames in the mess, the roster on the wall and the ingredients in the kitchen – settled and silent. I’ve also been onboard the patrol boat Advance and climbed up and down from the bridge to the kitchen, avoiding its sharp corners and examining the menacing-looking Bofors guns on deck. I’ve walked onboard our destroyer HMAS Vampire many times before too. It smells like the 70s. There’s linoleum throughout, a faint scent of oil and what might be the remaining tendrils of thousands of cooked dinners served in the mess. There’s a sense of chasing someone else’s long-forgotten memories down the lengthy corridors and through the maze of tunnels and ladders.

In the past nine months, in the course of researching these three vessels, I’ve also spent many hours speaking with naval personnel about their time serving on HMAS Onslow, Advance and Vampire. Through their stories, photographs and records, I got glimpses of three very alive, very dangerous and very exciting worlds. One submariner described to me the sounds that the ocean makes when it wakes in the morning, how you can hear the animals stir and react to the sun the same way that birds do at dawn. Another described the feeling, through your feet, of the submarine dashing away from the surface and diving beneath the waves. It sounded to me like the feeling of taking off in a small airplane – just going in the other direction. One ex-submarine commander talked sparingly of his involvement in covert operations onboard Oberon submarines, responding to our questions with silence and a smile.

HMAS VAMPIRE at sea, image courtesy of the Sea Power Centre Australia

HMAS VAMPIRE at sea, image courtesy of the Sea Power Centre Australia

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Submarine ONSLOW sets sail

Today was not just another day at the office. As senior curator of the Australian naval history collection here at the museum I was very lucky indeed to have the opportunity to leave the desk and computer behind and enjoy Sydney’s autumnal weather! Our Oberon class submarine, the former HMAS Onslow is due for her four-yearly check and major maintenance at Thales Garden Island.

Boarding the submarine at 7.45 am we were soon in the capable hands of Navy’s Master Attendant Commander Glenn Thompson, who was ably assisted by Lieutenant Peter Dargan, most recently navigator on HMAS Parramatta. Three tugs masterly manoeuvred us away from the museum and we gently and gracefully headed to Garden Island – with a short interlude waiting for a large tanker to pass by.

ONSLOW is carefully pulled away from her mooring beside HMAS VAMPIRE

The view from the conning tower is nothing short of magnificent.

We head into the Captain Cook Graving Dock; HMAS PARRAMATTA is already there undergoing a refit.

ONSLOW is safely in the dock, joined by our lightship CLS4, waiting for the dock to be drained and the work to commence.

Thanks Glenn for our safe delivery to Thales.

Thanks Peter!

Lindsey Shaw, senior curator

Work experience with the fleet team

My name is Joel and I’m a 16 year old from Picnic Point High School. Over the past week I have been doing some work experience at the Australian National Maritime Museum as a way to learn more about my hopeful career in the Navy. For the past week I have been observing and helping, where I can, the fleet crew and numerous volunteers. The people have been so helpful, welcoming and willing to share their vast knowledge with me.

Joel onboard Advance

Joel onboard patrol vessel Advance

I spent my first day working on a World War II raider ship cleaning, learning different knots and rope techniques, as well as getting to know everyone there. There’s a really interesting history to the ship and the guys were very welcoming and a lot of fun.

The next day I spent most of my time on HMAS Onslow submarine and HMAS Vampire destroyer with the guys that keep it running and the volunteers that run the tours and share their knowledge with visitors and me, as some of them are themselves ex-Navy.

Joel helping place the gangway to RV Whale Song

Joel helping place the gangway to RV Whale Song

I have spent some time learning the unique and interesting history behind the vessels I have been working on. I have experienced how dockyards work when observing the mast of Thistle, a ship from the 1900’s, being unstepped and craned up to the docks for further restoration. Later that day the fleet manager Phil took me around the harbour on a RHIB (rigid-hulled inflatable boat) to see some of the Naval ports and stations. As this was one of my first real maritime experience, it was a lot of fun. I will also be accompanying an old Navy patrol vessel across the harbour, which will be a memorable experience.

I also got to have a look around the museum and the other Navy patrol boats learning all the maritime rules and little techniques from the shipwrights and workers. It has been a great and rewarding experience and I would like to say thank you to everyone that helped me: Phillip McKendrick, Jim, Jeff, Michael, Peter, Lee, Ben, Joe, Warrick, all the volunteers, and Gemma who made it possible for me to spend time here.

Joel.

20 years of the Australian National Maritime Museum

Today the museum celebrates its 20th anniversary!

We’d like to thank you all for your support over the years.

Here’s to the next 20!

Hope you enjoy the video…