Celebrating 20 years of Kids on Deck: More than paper boat makers and glitter shakers

Printmaking fun with the Kids on Deck programs for <em>Ships, Clocks and Stars, </em>2016. Image: Annalice Creighton/ANMM. 

Printmaking fun with the Kids on Deck programs for Ships, Clocks and Stars, 2016. Image: Annalice Creighton/ANMM.

Kids on Deck, our regular Sunday and School Holiday family program for primary school aged children and their carers, celebrates its 20th birthday this year.

Over the last 20 years, close to 500,000 visitors have participated in Kids on Deck activities, creating well over one million handcrafted souvenirs of their visit to the museum in paper, clay, string, glitter, plaster, beads, fabric, paint, sewn badges, worn temporary tattoos and much, much more… They have dressed up in costumes, enacted all manner of theatre of imaginary play, climbed on replica vessels, mastered the art of puppetry and lounged in inflated igloos. They have engaged in creative play and discovery learning, inspired by hundreds of different exhibitions on history, science, art, design and popular culture.

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Summer fun at the Museum

Dashing in and out of multicoloured foam forts, wielding water pistols, squealing and squelching as they dart between pencil fountains and the spray archway. It is yet another lively day in the Museum’s Wetworld aqua play program as kids keep cool in the two fun-filled zones.

Wetworld supersoaker forts

Having fun inside the forts in Wetworld

water cannons wetworld

Firing the water cannons in Wetworld

Devotees of the water pistol gallery enjoy getting soaked until they shiver, lining up again and again and again for another chance to play.

Wetworld and water pistol

Lining up for an other go at the water pistol gallery in Wetworld

And it’s not just Wetworld that is action-packed and well-loved so far this summer. Over in the museum our Kids on Deck activity space is abuzz.

Making Pirate Ships in Kids Deck

Making paper tall ships in Kids on Deck

Rumour has it the paper tall ship is the most desirable souvenir for a day out at the museum, or a close second to our pirate hat perhaps. This summer Kids on Deck is themed around Sailing with Swashbuckers, inspired by romantic ideas of fearless, fearsome and debonair pirates made famous through children’s literature. Kids can create their own version of a siren’s song or a pirate poem in the Mermaid’s cavern, take to the stage for pretend play with dress ups, invent a pirate’s super tool (a treasure detector, compass or magic spyglass perhaps) and make pirate flags and bandannas as well.

Circus Monoxide

Peter Pan , Hook and Tinkerbell in Circus Monoxide’s Pirate Ship Circus

And the Pirate theme doesn’t stop at the doors of Kids on Deck. For 5 days we have special performances of a thrilling Pirate Circus with the crew from Circus Monoxide. Inspired by the mischievous Peter Pan and a cast of familiar characters- Captain Hook and Tinkerbell (or Tinker-smell is it? ) they have captivated audiences with acrobatics and daring circus stunts.

Torchlighttour_Stormy Grey

Stormy Grey the Stowaway will unravel a mysterious message in a bottle to lead us to treasure at next Saturday night’s torchlight tour.

If this all wasn’t enough, today I am on another pirate-like mission, writing a secret message in a bottle that leads to hidden treasure for Stormy Grey the Stowaway to unravel at next Saturday night’s after dark torchlight tour for families. Stormy is very keen on writing rhyming couplets that lead to the different treasures and stories along our tour through the museum galleries and our special exhibition Wrecks and Reefs. I wonder what rhymes with anchor?….

Under 5s tours

“You put your left fin in!” Doing the fishey pokey in our silly sea creatures tour for early learners

Besides Stormy Grey we also have some extra special characters joining us on Tuesdays and Saturdays in tours for our early learners aged 2-5 years. Through three separate themes- Treasure hunting tots, Silly Sea Creatures and Drip Drop Splash!, the under 5s tours are a chance for the museum’s littlest visitors to experience museum displays and ideas through songs, stories and movement.  Polly Puddleboots and the Ice Princess are just rehearsing now for tomorrow’s Drip Drop Splash ! – a journey into the world of water and how we use it everyday. From puddle jumping games and musical storms, to tales of a little duck with a feather on his back and rhymes about a turtle known as Tiny Tim, it all looks to be a very exciting adventure.

With still 2 more action packed weeks of holidays to go, I suspect the fun has just begun!

Find out more about some of our holiday programs at www.anmm.gov.au/schoolholidays

Lions and Dragons and Lanterns oh my!

Swaying, slithering, jumping, bouncing.

A brilliant yellow dragon with a fiery fluorescent belly and menacing eyes turns the corner. Silver flecks along its side catch the sun. The waiting crowds applaud and raise their camera phones to capture the action.

Dragon dance outside the museum, presented by Dong Tam Association

Dragon dance outside the museum, presented by Dong Tam Association

a dragon dance troupe outside the museum

Dragon dance outside the museum, presented by Dong Tam Association

The first day of Spring school holiday programs started with a bang, or a thumping drum and clanging cymbals to be precise, as the first of our free outdoor performances took to the stage- a spectacular of dragon dance, lion dance and extreme martial arts presented by the Dong Tam Association.

This holidays we have been inspired by our beautiful dragnet fishing boat Tu Do ( Freedom) that carried refugees to safer shores in 1971 . When it pulled into Darwin carrying 31 passengers including Than Tan Lu and his young family, whose stories are a part of our permanent exhibition Passengers, Tu Do was just one of many passenger boats from Vietnam carrying people eager to find safe-haven in Australia. Today though, it is one of only three surviving vessels from this period in Australia’s history, and the only one that is still seaworthy and displayed on the water. Tu Do has recently been beautifully restored by a team of curators, conservators and fleet staff at the museum.

It just happens to be just the perfect time of year for celebrating Vietnamese culture as our program’s timing co-incides with the Mooncake or Mid-Autumn festival- a popular lunar harvest festival celebrated in China and Vietnam.  In line with this our family activities space Kids on Deck is themed – Dragon Dreams and Dragnets. Stepping inside Kids on Deck the sound of giggles and squeals fills the room as children try on fancy dress costumes and play with the dragon shadow puppets they have created in the puppet theatre. Others clutch at paint dabbers making delicate painted lotus flowers, or furiously colour bright paper sheets to cut into beautiful lanterns- a traditional activity associated with the mid-autumn festival.

cooking workshop participants

Participants at the Pho-tastic Family Cooking Workshops

This Spring we have also returned to the kitchen for more of our popular cooking workshops, this time for families to enjoy together. The first session of Pho-tastic cooking began last Wednesday with a family friendly tour on the story behind Tu Do. Participants shared their favourite foods and their cooking disaster stories and got to meet our friendly chef Tom who escorted them to the Yots café kitchen. Here they undertook culinary challenges and learned to create a delicious Vietnamese noodle dish, all while dressed to theme and cute as a button in striped aprons and paper chef hats.

lion dancers

Lion Dancers from Sydney Indochinese Youth Sport Association

Lion Dancers from Sydney Indochinese Youth Sport Association

Today the festivities continued as more Lion Dancers, this time from Sydney Indochinese Youth Sport Association provided a captivating finale to the cultural performances. Last week these also included some enchanting and adorable young dancers from Southwest Sydney as Canley Vale, Cabramatta and Lansvale Public School’s Vietnamese, Khmer and Chinese dance troupes performed. Waving scarves, tipping conical hats , tapping coconut shells and fanning chopsticks these young dancers won over the audiences with their beautiful renditions of traditional dance forms.

Kids on Deck: Dragons, Dreams and Dragnets continues every day in holidays and every Sunday in Term 4More information on school holiday programs can be found at www.anmm.gov.au/schoolholidays

Three tugs and a Jellicoe cat!

Deckstar the cat, our Kids on Deck mascot has been at my heels all week to get on the museum’s blog.

He’s racked with tail-curling excitement about Terrific tugs family day this Sunday.

Here, Deckstar gets the low-down on all our visiting vessels. …..

Guest blogger: our Kids Deck mascot Deckstar the cat

“It’s going to be purrfect and sunny…

Little Toot’s on the big screen, and three tugs in harbour, Kids Deck will be kicking and my buddy Captain Scuttlebutt is here to play games!

What more could a cool cat want?

This Sunday is Terrrrrific Tugs Family Fun day and I’m getting excited!

Today I’ve been keeping my paws busy finding out all there is to know about our visiting vessels.

And all there is to know about tugboats!

Did you know that the term “tug” originated in the early 1800s in Britain?  How it got to be called Tug is a bit of a no brainer, as of course this small but mighty vessel was used to “tug” larger ships, helping with docking and undocking in the harbour. Now there are all sorts of tugboats, from docking tugs to notch tugs, articulated tug barges, river tugs ( some would say pushboats or towboats) , harbour tugs, ocean tugs, integrated tug barges…the list goes on.

But back to a little “who’s who” of our visiting tugs.

Former Mini Mariners mascot Albert the tug

Our former Kids Deck and Mini Mariners mascot the little MV Albert will be putting around the basin this Sunday. Cute as a button in sunshine yellow and red trims, he is not quite as lovable ( or huggable) as our current mascot, uh hum, if I may say so myself, but was pretty famous in his time. Before landing in the museum’s collection Albert was a star at the Tasmanian Wooden Boat Festival. Built in 1990 this classic wooden tug was repainted and re-purposed as a publicity icon for the Maritime Museum and had some tail thumping fun times here. Since retiring from public life Albert has found a fond home with a lovely family. And those good looks continue to win Albert fame- featuring in a photo shoot for a recent edition of Delicious magazine. A gorgeous yellow tugboat is the perfect addition to a riverside picnic scene isn’t it?


Albert at the Classic and Wooden Boat Festival

Next in the line- up this weekend is metal tug Currawong, a stylish Sydney Heritage Fleet vessel that used to serve in the Royal Australian Navy. Currawong and sister tug Bronze Wing are both on lend to Sydney Heritage Fleet. Rumour has it both tugs were built in Sydney in the 1960s and 70s by Stannards Boatyard.

But by far I am meow! most excited to see our third tug Throsby and a certain foxy feline who lives on Throsby’s decks! Throsby grew up in Newcastle and was built in 1968 by Jack Lovett at Throsby Creek. It was also the last wooden tug built in Australia, and built to US Army design for 45s. Throsby is a working tug who still fills it’s days with pulling, dredging, putting down and pulling up moorings, maintaining pylons and more. What’s more this classic seagoing tug is home to a delectable ship’s cat named Splash! Purrr, What a beautiful name! She’s black and white ( a jellicoe cat! ) and is known for her unfortunate  habit of falling overboard as she chases seagulls. Meow!  I’m looking forward to meeting her!”

boats graphic

Terrific Tugs Family Day is on this Sunday 24th June 10am – 4pm at the Museum. Find out more about all the fun-filled activities at http://www.anmm.gov.au/terrifictugs

Terrific Tugs Family Day – Sunday 24 June

This Sunday at the museum we are celebrating all the things we love about tugboats! We have a great day of activities planned, so we hope you can come along and join us.

Our ever popular Kids on Deck program will be running, where children can make their own model tug, play lots of games, along with character led tours of our wharves and museum!

On the wharves we will host five visiting tugboats, including Albert, the cute mini tug who will be zipping around the basin. Visitors are invited to climb aboard a working tug to learn how they operate.

Book cover featuring Heroic with Queen Mary as a troopship during world War II, on Sydney Harbour. Photographer Samuel Hood. ANMM Collection

Author Randi Svensen will also be speaking about her new book, Heroic, Forceful and Fearless: Australia’s Tugboat Heritage, and recount the memorable characters and the brave little vessels of our tugboat industry, past and present. Bring along your copy or purchase at the museum store for signing!

To find out more about Terrific Tugs Family Day, head to our website.