Nationwide support for Maritime Heritage


– National Trust of Australia (Queensland) James Cook Museum

MMAPSS grants 2018-2019

The museum is very pleased to announce the 2018-2019 awards made of grants and internships through the Maritime Museums of Australia Project Support Scheme (MMAPSS), supporting not-for-profit organisations to care for Australia’s maritime heritage. MMAPSS has been offering support since 1995, awarding more than $1.7 million to support over 400 projects. Over 55 internships have been awarded since they were introduced to the scheme in 2000.

Australia’s maritime heritage is located all over the country and so the MMAPSS grants provide support to the regional and often remote organisations that are looking after and telling the stories of this heritage. The types of projects that MMAPSS focuses on are in the areas of collection management, conservation, presentation, education and museological training.

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Promoting maritime heritage: applications open – MMAPSS Funding 2018-19

Maritime Archaeology Association of Western Australia (MAAWA) Shannon Reid recording underwater MMAPSS 2016-17. Image: MAAWA.

Maritime Archaeology Association of Western Australia (MAAWA) Shannon Reid recording underwater MMAPSS 2016-17. MMAPSS is an annual outreach program of grants and internships, offering funding of up to $15,000 for projects and up to $3,000 for internships, for not for profit organisations that actively care for and display and promote Australia’s maritime heritage. Image: MAAWA.

Are you part of a not for profit organisation which helps preserve Australia’s rich maritime heritage? What are your organisation’s priorities for the year ahead?

Applications are now open for the 2018–2019 round of the Maritime Museums of Australia Project Support Scheme (MMAPSS). MMAPSS is an annual outreach program of grants and internships jointly funded by the Australian Government and the museum. Funding is available, up to $15,000 for projects and up to $3,000 for internships, for not for profit organisations that actively care for and display and promote Australia’s maritime heritage.

Whether you are planning to tackle Conservation, Collection Management or Presentation and Public Programs, support is available. Maybe, as in the case of Lake Macquarie City Council, you plan to collaborate with other heritage organisations in your area to implement an interpretation program to raise the profile and engagement of your region’s unique maritime heritage? Good news: Joint applications are welcome!

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Support for Maritime Heritage across Australia: MMAPSS grants 2017-2018

Sailing off Coal Point, c.1935. Photographer unknown. Image: Lake Macquarie Community Heritage Photography collection.

Sailing off Coal Point, c.1935. Photographer unknown. Image: Lake Macquarie Community Heritage Photography collection.

The museum is very pleased to announce the 2017-2018 awards made of grants and internships through the Maritime Museums of Australia Project Support Scheme (MMAPSS), supporting not-for-profit organisations to care for Australia’s maritime heritage. MMAPSS has been offering support since 1995, awarding over $1.6M to support over 395 projects. Internships have been awarded since 2000, with over 50 internships awarded since that time.

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Applications open – MMAPSS 2013-14

The 2013–2014 round of the Maritime Museums of Australia Project Support Scheme (or MMAPSS) annual grants program is now open to support eligible Australian organisations that care for and preserve Australia’s maritime heritage.

The applications closing date is 31 August 2013.

Grants of up to $10,000 each are available to support legally incorporated not-for-profit organisations that care for Australia’s maritime heritage and a variety of project types are eligible for funding in the areas of collection management, conservation, presentation, the development of relevant education or public programs which make significant collections more accessible to audiences and museological training.

The MMAPSS internships program offers an opportunity for staff and volunteers from regional and remote organisations to spend time at the Australian National Maritime Museum for up to two weeks with funding of up to $3,000 available for successful applicants.

The program last year supported four internships and the projects of 30 organisations including variety such as a research project into Mallacoota’s regional military maritime history from WWI, a digital film documentary on paddle steamer and barge building at Goolwa 1853-1913, data logging units to monitor collection storage conditions at Eden Killer Whale Museum, and the development of a Vessel Management Plan (VMP) for the P.S Canally.

On arrival at Morgan October 2011  (Photographer J.Seton)

P.S Canally on arrival at Morgan October 2011
(Photographer J.Seton) – P.S Canally Restoration Committee

If your organisation has an object or collection that contributes to an understanding of Australia, its people and developments which have influenced its maritime history you may be interested to visit the MMAPSS website for details about the application process, key dates, eligibility and a list of past grant recipients.

You can also make contact via the details on the website if you have any questions about the program or want to discuss your project.

– MMAPSS Coordinator

The Maritime Museums of Australia Project Support Scheme is funded by the Australian Government.

Musical Mallets – the sing song sounds of caulking tools

What on earth is caulking? This is just one of many ‘What the…?’ moments I had when I first delved into the world of shipwright’s tools as part of my internship experience at the Australian National Maritime Museum. I’m a student at The University of Sydney  working toward my Master of Museum Studies degree and with fellow intern Dimity Kasz – for our recent internship project at the museum we have registered the Lake collection of shipwright’s tools. This collection of several hundred tools were owned by father and son Alfred and Bernard Lake date from around 1890 to 1950.

Registering a collection involves researching the objects and their context, cataloguing them and recording details such as general description, dimensions, markings and interesting features and assigning each object with a unique identifying number and collection record. To our surprise, we found this to be a very interesting set of tools, many of which were hand-made, passed from father to son.

But what exactly is caulking? Continue reading

Dunbar: Dun and Dusted

Hi, it’s Oli again. This time I’m going to tell you about another one of my tasks as an intern at the museum in the curatorial department, which is writing about the infamous Dunbar wreck.

As one of the most significant wrecks in Sydney’s waters, it is important for the museum’s history of the wreck to be complete and accurate. To this end, I found myself reading Kieran Hosty’s book Dunbar 1857, Disaster on Our Doorstep, which paints a fascinating history of the wreck, according to the archaeological discoveries from the wreck site (just south of The Gap, near South Head, Sydney). I am tentative to admit the fact that I didn’t get much work done that day was on account of the book, which is complete with hundreds of images of various artefacts salvaged from the wreck, and provides a vivid insight into a tragic page of Sydney’s past.

Here are some highlights from the story of the Dunbar:

After a fast voyage from England to Australia, Dunbar approached Port Jackson on the night of 20 August 1857, in a rising gale and bad visibility. The Macquarie Light could be seen between squalls, however the night was very dark and the land almost invisible. Shortly before midnight the veteran Captain Green estimated the ship was six miles away from the harbour’s entrance and ordered the vessel on, keeping the Macquarie Light on the port bow.

Buckles removed from the Dunbar wreck, now preserved at the museum.

Shortly afterwards breakers were sighted ahead, and Captain Green, believing the vessel had sailed too far towards North Head, ordered the helm hard to port. Dunbar struck the cliffs just south of the Signal Station at South Head, and the ship immediately began to break up. All 63 passengers and 58 of the crew perished in the disaster.

The sole survivor was James Johnson, an able seaman on watch at the time of the wreck. He was hurled into the surging ocean, where he was thrust by the waves into the cliffs and onto a rocky ledge – he climbed as far up the cliff-face as he could, and managed to get out of the reach of the waves. Johnson would remain there for two days, before being hauled up by a rope lowered over the cliff-face.

Many Sydneysiders knew the people on the ship and large crowds were drawn to the scene of the wreck to watch the rescue of Johnson, the recovery of bodies, and the salvage of cargo – newspapers were filled with graphic descriptions of the wreck for weeks after.

A small selection of the vast number of coins removed from the Dunbar wreck, now preserved at the museum.

The victims of Dunbar were buried at St Stephens Church in Newtown, and an estimated 20,000 people attended. Banks and offices closed, every ship flew their ensigns at half-mast, and minute guns were fired as the procession went past. Later, there was an outpouring of letters demanding the upgrade of the lighthouses, and the issue was raised in Parliament and recommended by the jury of the Dunbar inquest. This recommendation was followed in 1858 when Hornby Lighthouse was constructed.

The museum has a fascinating collection relating to this disaster and my job has been to proof the entries in our collection management system to ensure all the information is correct.

NB. Many of the artefacts in the museum’s Dunbar collection were removed from the wreck by hobby divers during the 1960s and 1970s, before the advent of laws protecting significant historical maritime sites.

Divine Provenence

My name is Oliver O’Sullivan, and I am currently completing an internship at the museum, working in the curatorial department at Wharf 7. I started on 25 July, and on the first day Lindsey Shaw, my supervisor, assigned me a few tasks which I am now going to tell you about.

One of the main issues with working at a museum of this size is the number of artefacts which accumulate over time, and the difficulty resulting from the constant need to keep the information we have on the various items up to date. With this in mind, my first task was (and still is) to update the database in relation to eight of these artefacts, and attempt to establish their history and also their significance within the Australian context.

One of the items which I found quite interesting was a book that had been donated to the museum during the 1980s by Keith Wingrove. It was called A Narrative of the Loss of the Royal George at Spithead, August, 1782, by Admiral Sir C P H Durham, 1840, and whilst the actual contents of the book do not concern Australia particularly, the background of the book itself is fascinating. The story of the Royal George is of an enormous man-o-war which sank whilst undergoing routine maintenance in an English port, taking possibly upwards of 1000 lives with it to the bottom.

The front cover of the book features a piece of the orginal wood deck from the Royal George

The book in the collection is a relic of the wreck, as it has a section of the decking from the actual ship for its front cover (the back cover was probably replaced).What makes the book significant to Australian history, however, is the fact that the book was also one of the few personal possessions carried by John Stannage, who was a radio operator, and one of only three people on board the Southern Cross airplane when it completed the world’s first east/west trans-Atlantic flight in June 1930, under the pilotage of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith (1897-1935), the Australian aviation pioneer. The book was given by Stannage to a friend of his, who in turn passed it on to Norman Lindsay (1879-1969), one of Australia’s most famous and enduring artists. Lindsay retained the book for many years before passing it on to Keith Wingrove, his close personal friend.

Internal image of the book

A Narrative of the Loss of the Royal George at Spithead, August, 1782, by Admiral Sir C.P.H. Durham, 1840

Such interesting provenance is rare.

A treasure trove of shipwright’s tools: exploring the Higham collection

Greetings my name is Candice Witton and I am working with Roxi Truesdale as an Intern in the Registration department at the Australian National Maritime Museum. Roxi and I have been accessioning the Higham shipwright tool collection into the museum database. I will be profiling some of the fascinating tools we have uncovered.

Of the 180 or so objects in the Higham collection we have had great success (so far) identifying the many (at first) boggling variations of tools. We have had some amazing reference material from the Vaughan Evans Library which we are so grateful for. Without this, we may have been left referring to the many different varieties of caulking irons as ‘chisels’ and helical auger drill bits as ‘spiral drills with screws on top’. Thankfully we have now been exposed to the fascinating world of shipwrighting, and the process of caulking.

Caulking is simply the method of sealing joints or seams. Caulking irons are used in a similar manner to chisels, hammering a fibrous material into the joints between wooden planks. This is done to make the vessel watertight and leak free.

Caulking Irons

Sharp caulking irons

Here we have two caulking irons from the Higham collection. On the left is a significantly older model than the relatively newer iron on the right. Traditional caulking on wooden vessels uses fibres of cotton and oakum – usually a material such as hemp fibre soaked in pine tar. These specific irons are known as sharp or butt irons, and they are used for forcing the caulk into narrow areas.

Reefing Irons

Reefing irons

Here are two reefing or clearing irons from the Higham collection. The left iron is an older model than the one on the right. Reefing irons were used to scrape out old oakum, to clean the seams to make way for new caulking.

Helical auger drill bit
Helical auger drill bit

The Higham tool collection contains many variants on auger drill bits. Here is a standard bit, which features a rotating helical blade and a screw to pull it into the wood. This bit is to be used in a hand-brace, and is effective at moving wooden material out of the hole being drilled.

Cold Chisel

One object in the Higham tool kit remains a bit of a mystery. This object seems quite unusual, and after consultation with tool experts we were left stumped. It is most possibly a variation on a cold chisel, and after doing extensive online research this is what it most closely resembles. Regardless how I phrased my searches, I still returned numerous references to Jimmy Barnes!

Cold Chisel

What is also curious are the manufacturers logos “Plumb (Aust) PT” on one side, “Fern Tools” with fern frond on the other. I discovered W H Plumb Australia is of axe making fame, but beyond that we haven’t had a lot of luck!

So there you have a small sample of some of the many, many interesting tools of the Higham tool collection. You can read Roxi’s awesome blog detailing our first contact with the tool collection, and curator Stephen Gapp’s fascinating blog on the origins of the collection. Stay tuned for more intern blogs as we explore the time and place that these tools were used.


Registration Intern

A treasure trove of shipwright tools: putting the pieces together

Hi, my name is Roxi Truesdale and I am working together with Candice Witton on an internship project within the Registration department of the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Interns with shipwright tools

Interns Candice (left) and Roxi (right)

Our project involves registering a collection of shipwright tools that belonged to a father and son, Thomas and William Higham, which curator Stephen Gapps has previously written a wonderful post about.

When I first set eyes upon the collection I had no idea where to start. The extent of my knowledge of tools was being able to tell the difference between a flat head and Phillips head screwdriver. However, after a couple of weeks with the Higham collection I am now relatively convinced that I could build a boat. (It would probably sink once it got into the water but at least it would resemble a boat.)

It would be safe to say that Candice didn’t know much more than I did about tools and so this has been quite the learning experience for us both. While we have been educating ourselves on which tools do what, we have had to resort to coming up with a few nicknames in the meantime. So, at the risk of truly exposing my ignorance I will share them with you now.


A tube spanner

Tube spanner

This tool had us completely puzzled. We could not find it in any of our shipwright tool reference books. Before learning the name of this incredibly common tool thanks to some handy friends on Facebook we referred to it as a ‘flute’. This might have been in part inspired by the fondness for dancing and music that we had discovered in shipwright documentaries from the mid-20th century.


A spokeshave


While we were able to find this tool eventually within our reference books we did give it another name previously and it continues to be known fondly as the ‘space invader’.

A spoke shave that looks like a space invader

However, despite its otherworldly appearance this tool is not an alien from an 80’s videogame and was used by shipwrights to smooth out and shape pieces of wood.


A multi wrench


And finally there were the tools that we had a pretty good idea of what they were but couldn’t help letting our imagination get the better of us.

A multi-wrench with a triceratops drawn over the top

We knew that this tool was some type of wrench but until we found out its exact name it was the ‘triceratops’, despite it looking less prehistoric than some of the other tools in the collection.

But for now I must get back to working out what the rest of these shipwright tools are. Keep an eye out for more posts from myself and Candice over the coming weeks.

Registration Intern.

From Collections to Connections – Insights from a Curatorial/ Web Content Intern

Hi there, Mariko here. I had a week off from my internship last week, and am now back at work again with my Indigenous Communities collection research project on a select group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and their artworks.

I was very keen to get back to the museum – not just because I have heaps of work to do (which I really do…) – but also because I heard George Clooney was in town and hanging out at Pyrmont and Darling Harbour, tantalisingly close to the Wharf 7 building.

Unfortunately, George didn’t stick around long enough to fit in with this week’s internship schedule, however I managed to pull myself together and get on with the tasks at hand. This included continuing on with my object and artist record updating (for both the museum’s internal collections management system and for potential audience-facing material); kicking off the image reproduction approval process with emails; and working on a fun activity which will be the focus of this blog post today.

This activity marks the next stage of my project to combine object and artist biographical information in a geographical context, and plugging the research into the form of a Google map.

Since this is a prototype and still very much a work-in-progress, I haven’t included a visual of it here, but in case you’re not familiar with this great interweb tool – here’s a mock-up showing the museum’s (and George Clooney’s previous) location.

Google Map of Australian National Maritime Museum
View Australian National Maritime Museum in a larger map

We are hoping to use the finished product on the museum’s website to provide visitors with a way to connect the artworks with the actual physical locations they are related to – whether this may be the places they were made, or the places that inspired or featured in the artwork. The idea is to demonstrate that these objects have a life and presence beyond the museum and online space, and especially for many Indigenous Australians, showing the strong influence of country on life and culture. It is also something which could be easily replicated for other objects and collections.

Next week will be my last post for 2011, so I thought it would be fitting to do a re-cap of the Indigenous-related exhibitions the museum has been involved with this year.

Cheers, Mariko

PS – If you missed my last post, you can read it here.

From Collections to Connections: Insights from a Curatorial/ Web Content Intern

Hello, Mariko here again – this is my second week back at the museum and I’m already a quarter of the way through my internship (!).

So far, I’ve caught up with the lovely people here at Wharf 7 (where curatorial is based) and met new people in the main museum building (where web content development is located).  I also have been taking full advantage of the museum’s great harbourside location – having lunch outside in the sunshine on the Wharf 7 balcony, right next to the James Craig (being an intern sure is a tough gig).

Besides the dazzling social life and scenic views, things have been pretty busy here in curatorial, as well as for the museum generally. I’ve been “hot-desking” around the curatorial section, as we have a work experience student here this week working with the Australian naval history collection. Also, staff are gearing up for the opening of AQUA: A Journey into the World of Water this week, and I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek into this sensational and very thought-provoking exhibition.

After leaving AQUA, I made my way through the Eora First People gallery – this is a core gallery showing a small selection of the museum’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural material. It presents a broad and diverse range of the various Indigenous communities the museum works with from across the country. This is much like my internship project’s selection of Indigenous artists.

Eora First People gallery

Eora First People gallery (Andrew Frolows, ANMM photographer)

For instance, Lola Greeno and the Saltwater collection artists – who are part of my internship project and also have work on display in Eora First People – come from different parts of Australia, and express their connections to the local water environments in a variety of ways. Lola Greeno is a Tasmanian Aboriginal artist from the Bass Strait region, and her works include intricate shell necklaces and water carriers made with sea kelp. The Saltwater collection artists are Yolgnu people who create bark paintings, which form detailed maps of the saltwater country and related law in northern Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.

In preparation for updating the museum’s internal object and maker records, I have been carrying out in-depth research on the artists and their works. This involves learning more about the Indigenous experiences, histories and knowledges that the artists had carried through into their work. Through this project, I hope to incorporate these themes into the records, so the works are seen as more than merely artistic or ethnographic objects of study.

On that note, I must get back to the research. Next time you’ll hear from me will be in mid-December.


PS: If you missed my last post, you can read it here.

From Collections to Connections – Insights from a Curatorial/ Web Content Intern

Mariko Smith at her desk
Mariko Smith, Curatorial/Web Content Intern

Hi, I’m Mariko Smith, and I’ll be working at the Australian National Maritime Museum until late January 2012, as part of an internship course for a Master of Museum Studies at the University of Sydney.

This is actually my second internship at the museum – I completed my first one earlier this year in the curatorial department, working closely with the Indigenous Communities collection. This collection consists of various objects, mainly artworks, from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia. That internship involved reviewing and organising image reproduction approvals from various stakeholders, so the museum could use images of the objects in this collection on its online collections database resource, eMuseum.

This time around, I’m back in curatorial (even at my old desk), working with the Indigenous Communities collection, but with a new twist. To start off, I’ll be continuing my previous work on image reproduction approvals and updating internal object and maker records – this time for a specific selection of objects chosen by senior curator, Lindsey Shaw.

However, I will also be working with web content development officer, Carli Collins to share this interesting selection of traditional bark paintings and artefacts, contemporary artworks and shell jewellery with the public, through the museum’s website and social media streams, such as Facebook, Twitter and of course this blog!

Before I started here, I wasn’t really aware of how much the museum was involved with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and their cultural heritage. Now I have a greater appreciation of the rich and diverse connections many Indigenous Australians have with water and the sea.

I look forward to sharing my experiences throughout this internship with you.

Stay tuned!


Insights from a Registration Intern – Shipwrecks and artefacts


Tamara, Registration Intern

Over the past couple months I have assisted the registration department at the Australian National Maritime Museum as a student intern. The internship is a component of my master’s degree in museum studies from the University of Sydney.


Coin from the shipwreck Batavia

At the museum I am involved in the lengthy process of meticulously documenting and photographing new objects in the collection. The group of objects I am working with are from three Dutch shipwrecks off the coast of Western Australia – Batavia, Zeewijk and Vergulde Draeck. The ships sailed from the Netherlands to trade goods in faraway lands before their voyages were cut short, off the western coast of the Australia in 1629.

In the 1970s the objects were excavated from the shipwreck sites. Over 1500 of these objects are now part of the museum’s collection. They include silver coins, cannons, cannon balls, bottles, pipes and elephant tusks. From these objects we can learn more about the trading patterns from the period.

The remaining objects to be registered consist of hundreds of coins. Each coin will need to be carefully described, measured, weighed, photographed and given a museum number before it is ready to be packed for storage.

ANCODS Collection

Selection of objects from the ANCODS collection.

My work at the museum follows on from a number of other internship students who have diligently been working to register the collection. A selection of objects from this collection can currently be seen in the recent acquisitions showcase in the gallery.

Registration Intern

Insights from an Education Intern

Debbie ANMM Education Intern

Debbie, ANMM Education Intern

Hi, I’m Debbie Rogers, Education Officer at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall (NMMC). I’ve just completed a two week internship at ANMM where I have been shadowing the education department. It has been fascinating to compare and contrast the two museums. For example, a good week for ANMM is 1,500 children through the door, with the NMMC, that’s approx 450 more than we get in a month at our busiest time of year! We are a much smaller museum and simply cannot cater for that many students.

I have been kept busy by Jeff and Lauris (Education Officers) and Judithe (Endeavour Circumnavigation Project Officer). The tasks they have set me have been extremely interesting as I have tackled projects which I haven’t had experience in at the NMMC. For example, I have designed two interactive games for the Endeavour website for primary school age. I manage the Early Years programme at NMMC so this was a project I was very comfortable with and I will probably design something similar for the NMMC website on my return. I have also assisted Jeff with re-modelling the existing ‘Splash!’ workshop based on the ‘Under the Sea’ programme I run at home where I regularly dress up as a mischievous Seasprite called Oceana, dressed in a 1970’s sparkly frock and tactile ‘magic’ coat, with sea horses and turtles painted on my face. I spend a magical few hours with Kindergarten and Year 1 and I’m basically paid to play, a tough job but someone has to do it! Through an engaging mix of hands-on discovery, imagination, story-telling, puppets, music and role-play, the aim of these workshops is to empower children with the wonder, confidence and critical skills to begin a life-long love of learning in museums.

Another fun project for me has been researching some handling objects from the education collection for the new ‘touch trolley’ resource. The touch trolley enables the visitors to look more closely at this material, to have a sensory experience and a museum perspective. There are a number of themes the education department are planning to do with items relating to the exhibitions. One already exists on ‘Navigation’ and I have been working on the one for the ‘Passengers’ gallery. So, if you would like a wonderful insight into life on-board a cruise liner in the 1950’s and 60’s then be sure to find a touch trolley manned by one of the Museums’ informative ‘Kids on Deck’ staff or Teacher Guides and take a step back in time!