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Winging to Windorah and Charleville chats

Ewen and I are coming to the end of our MDO odyssey – while the jokes are getting worse, the welcomes we receive and the sights we are seeing make it all worth it. We departed Eromanga after a quick return to the Natural History Museum for Belinda and Corey’s excellent coffees and hit the road to Windorah. Along the way we stopped at my very first outback sand dune, where I marvelled at the colour and thought I found a wild watermelon. Turns out it’s an invasive species which was very disappointing.

Not a watermelon, in fact Cucumis myriocarpus/paddy melon. DARN.

Windorah was abuzz with preparations for the opening of their new display hangar, showcasing one of Windorah’s most beloved families – the Kidds. After having the opportunity to purchase back Sandy Kidd’s Cessna 172 from its most recent owners, Cath and Ross, the Windorah community acquired funding to buy the plane, store it safely while a new display hangar was built, and then move it down the road from the airstrip to the hangar to its final home. The stories the plane can tell are truly amazing – Sandy pioneered aerial mustering in Australia, as well as used this little plane to provide emergency support and transport during flooding events in Windorah and surrounds. The hangar also displays a buggy, the bones of which were found on a local station and then carefully restored by a team of local enthusiasts.

Almost ready for opening!

Prior to the official opening ceremony and event on the Saturday, we made a pilgrimage to Sando’s Sandhill, a spectacular series of red sandhills named after Sandy Kidd, where we watched the sunset over this glorious outback landscape. We also befriended the dogs from the local pub and managed not to embarrass ourselves too terribly playing pool!

Everyone making the most of the sunshine.
Another gorgeous sunset, another overexcited Kiwi MDO.
CAN YOU BLAME ME THOUGH.

As the opening event grew nearer we made ourselves useful by giving the Cessna and the buggy a careful clean, which was a real privilege. Jo Wills and I have had the pleasure of putting together the interpretation for both the plane and the buggy, and it was a really lovely experience to be up close and personal with a plane that has so many stories and local memories associated with it, and which shows its history through bumps and marks, dents and bends. We also were able to talk to the plane’s most recent owners, Cath and Ross, who told us of their adventures flying it across Australia with Cath as the pilot. The enormous spider which had taken up residence in the wing was deeply unimpressed as we evicted her and her cobwebs.

Adding Spider Whisperer to my CV.
Ewen definitely secretly wants to be a pilot when he grows up.

The event itself was such a pleasure to attend and we both feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to meet the community who have worked so hard to make this space a reality. Lovely speeches and memories of Sandy and his family were shared, including by Bill who taught Sandy and other locals how to fly! The hospitality was incredible and we were very impressed by the local lads and ladies showing off some amazing dance moves. The MDOs will not be taking questions at this time about their dancing skills.

The interpretation panels are soon to be mounted on hand-made plinths from the Roma Men’s Shed!

Many thanks to Amanda, Peta, Matt, the whole Simpson family and the Windorah community for making us so welcome and putting together a wonderful celebration.

From Windorah we started the journey back east, watching the landscape gradually change as we passed through Quilpie. We met with the team at the Charleville Historic House where we were treated to fresh scones with jam and cream on a very, very cold morning! It was lovely to catch up with the team and find out what they have been doing, and were able to provide some thoughts on collection management nitty gritty like loan forms and other important collection tasks. The ABC has also opened a Western Queensland office in Charleville, and along with Gabrielle Wheeler, the Historic House’s Treasurer, we shared our thoughts about museums and heritage in the West. Emus were mentioned, and I’m not sorry.

With ABC reporter Melanie Groves, discussing lizard chutes and Charleville legends.

And now we are in Roma, finishing up what has been a true adventure. We have:

  • Covered almost 3,000km
  • Eaten 16 sachets of microwave porridge between us
  • Visited around 25 museums, heritage places or groups
  • Seen at least 40 actual live emus and a real live echidna
  • Met some of the most interesting, welcoming and passionate people in the West
  • Purchased 8 epic souvenir magnets (Elspeth) and 3 souvenir caps (Ewen)
  • Developed opinions on Country Life motel soap
  • and…have fallen even more in love with objects, histories and stories.

Many thanks to the communities, volunteers, council members and museum teams who welcomed us in and showed us their places, objects and stories. We are so privileged to do the work we do and the communities we work with make it all possible.

Next stop, Toowoomba and Townsville, where Ewen might finally defrost and I might need to buy a new fridge to put my magnets…

A special treat for readers who’ve made it to the very end.

Ancient adventures in quirky Quilpie Shire

With the weather now well and truly glorious, Ewen and I departed Thargomindah for Quilpie, a two hour drive through scenic country, unusually green after so much rain. I was unreasonably excited by many emu sightings including a family group poking about by the side of the road – simple joys for this city slicker.

Look at them! So imposing!

For our first night in Quilpie we stayed at the Shearer’s Quarters at The Lake, a cattle and goat property. The owners recognised the need to diversify during long-running droughts and set up some truly lovely accommodation, including a top-notch MDO office on the verandah. A little bit chilly in the early mornings but the view was well worth it.

Ewen remains unacclimatised.

Louise, the owner of the property, and James her son kindly allowed us to feed the orphaned kids and lamb, much to the embarrassing excitement of the aforementioned city MDO. Marilyn the pig was the grateful recipient of our apple and pear cores.

Not pictured: Marilyn’s truly beautiful eyelashes!

From The Lake we headed into Quilpie proper, where we met with Karen and Jess at the Quilpie Visitor Information Centre. The Quilpie Council manages a number of sites around the Quilpie Shire, including the Railway Museum and Quilpie Museum in town, and the Adavale heritage precinct. They also assist with the Eromanga Living History Museum which we will get to later! Ewen was blown away by the work Jess had done in the Quilpie Museum after he and Mel visited a number of years ago. The space is now arranged by theme, with amazing photographs framed in a way that allows easy changeover, and objects which help to share the local stories from the Shire. While on site we worked with Karen and Jess to move the Railway Museum’s original station bell and lantern into a display case and talked through some options for other projects in the area.

The railway museum in Quilpie. Note the original bell on the desk which is now safely in a display case.

The next day we headed an hour up the road to Adavale. Once a bustling regional town, the extension of the railway to Quilpie rather than Adavale meant the population drastically reduced. On the drive we were treated to sensational views, with deep blue skies making an impressive contrast against the red roads.

Brute eating up the dirt roads.

Along the way Quilpie Council had developed a star gazing platform with an amazing view – sadly too much sun around to make the best use of it!

Only one big yellow star to be seen.

In Adavale we explored the Shire Hall and the information panels about the town, and assessed the old police cell with the view to providing some recommendations for preservation and interpretation to Quilpie Shire Council. There are extensive records of the police service in Adavale available with some great quirky stories, as well as some more modern tales as well – Adavale still has its own police officer.

Adavale’s police cell, along with someone guilty of the serious crime of poor puns.

We also assessed the meat safe, the only remaining structure where Adavale town used to stand. The building was likely a part of the Green Gates Hotel which stood next door. Quilpie Council plan to stabilise the building and tell some more stories about both the meat safe specifically, as well as about Adavale’s history more generally, a project I’ll be looking forward to assisting with! We also suggested that the two flood boats displayed outside the meat safe were moved back to shelter at the Shire Hall for their long-term protection. Small plaques illustrate where the town buildings used to stand, including banks, pubs and general stores.

Meat safe and flood boats.

Rather unexpectedly, Adavale is home to a patisserie, the Elegant Emu (does anyone sense a theme?). We enjoyed a very luxurious morning tea on the verandah.

A well fed MDO is a happy MDO.

After a restful night in Quilpie, we headed off to Eromanga, home of Australia’s largest recorded dinosaur – Cooper, Australotitan cooperensis, thought to have been 30 metres long! The Eromanga Natural History Museum has been a project a long time in the making, since 14 year old Sandy Mackenzie discovered an unusual rock just outside the town of Eromanga in 2004. The ‘rock’ turned out to be part of a fossilised dinosaur, and since then the team have unearthed many internationally significant dinosaur remains, as well as creating a stunning museum experience for visitors and an incredible laboratory set up for fossil preparation and research work. We were very lucky to hear about the museum’s journey of development from Robyn, Corey and Jo, and loved meeting more of the team as part of the guided tour.

In the museum’s workshop with our excellent guide Lachlan.
Dwarfed by Cooper – 3D printed casts of his legbones.

Unfortunately due to ongoing flooding in the Diamantina Shire, our planned visit out to Birdsville wasn’t possible so we’ll have to come back when the waters recede! This did give us an extra day to enjoy the beautiful landscapes around Eromanga, as well as a good look at the Eromanga Living History Centre.

Situated on the main street, the centre explores some of the stories and objects relating to Eromanga’s social history. The object theatre display was a quirky look into some of the stories of people who call this place home, from Indigenous communities to opal miners to pastoralists and more.

Living History Centre, Eromanga

Next we will head to Windorah and Charleville – the final leg of this western trip is rapidly approaching! Unfortunately for Ewen my delight at emus appears not to be approaching any sort of finality.

London, Paris…Thargomindah

The rain had set in as we departed Cunnamulla for Thargomindah, with road closures and flooding causing havoc for tourists all over the Outback. Luckily for us the highway out was unaffected. It’s been amazing to see the landscape so green and lush – I gather I am seeing the Outback looking very different to the last few years!

Wet roads and lots of clouds.

After 45 minutes of careful driving we arrived in the little town of Eulo. Our first stop was to the large sculpture of Kenny, the local friendly diprotodon. The largest marsupial to have ever lived, in 2012 scientists including those from Queensland Museum found the fossilized skeletons of up to 40 diprotodons at a site in Eulo. The name means ‘two forward teeth’ and we were both very fond of Kenny’s wee grin.

Two happy faces in Eulo.

Eulo is also renowned for a very interesting local – the Eulo Queen, after whom the pub is named. Isabel Grey was a clever businesswoman and a mysterious individual, who may have been born in England but alternatively suggested she was from Mauritius. She was married three times, and her love for locally found opals meant she engaged in all manner of nefarious dealings to obtain these beautiful stones. After a tumultuous life, she died in poverty in Toowoomba, but is fondly remembered in Eulo. We also enjoyed discovering the site of the Eulo lizard races and a rather epic town sign. The local flood truck was also lovely to see – raised high on its axles, it ferried food, supplies, mail and passengers across the Paroo River in flooded conditions between 1990 and 2017.

Lizards and flood trucks make for a happy MDO.

From Eulo we continued westwards in the rain to Thargomindah, on the banks of the Bulloo River. This little town punches above its weight when it comes to exploring heritage, and we spent a wonderful day in the sunshine exploring the heritage buildings and trails. Thargomindah’s claim to fame was its adoption of hydroelectric power – it was the third place in the world to switch on lights powered by hydroelectricity, after London and Paris! The heritage sites in Thargo are accessed by a swipe card from the visitor’s centre, and connected by lovely walkways through town, making a 5km stroll. Each site – the old hospital, the jail and the hydroelectric plant – contain a mix of photographs, audiovisual content and actors telling quirky and moving stories of each place’s history. We particularly enjoyed some of the stories of the hospital where quick thinking and ingenuity was required to save lives, and of the town bore being used to cook corned beef!

Matron Freda Tait telling tales at Old Thargomindah Hospital.
Bore drains and windmills feeding into the old hydroelectric plant.
And then things began getting a little weird…

Our final stop was at Leahy House, the oldest house in Thargomindah. Made of local mud brick, the house is open to the public at all hours. After a great chat with the team at the Visitor Information Centre we’re hoping the MDO team will be able to assist with maintaining this iconic Thargo location. We also really enjoyed finding out all the ways the Council are working to make Thargo a wonderful place for locals and tourists alike to live and visit, including new housing, schooling options and lovely leisure activities.

Next up is Quilpie, where we discover a new appreciation for pigs and goats…

One of Thargomindah’s fabulous local murals.

Unique eggs and lizard chutes

Since heading out from Goondiwindi on Wednesday morning, the on-the-road MDOs have headed further west into cotton country, with the first stop Thallon. This little community boasts a supersized art presence, with the grain silos dominating the horizon painted with dazzling murals. William the northern hairy nosed wombat was also popular with one MDO in particular, although she’s still looking out for the real thing…

Brute appreciating the art in the afternoon
Wombats also appreciate a hug on a cold day

From Thallon we spent the night in St George, a relaxed town along the mighty Balonne River. The river is running especially high at the moment but as we discovered, that was nothing compared to floods the town has suffered through in earlier years.

The flood marker along the Balonne.

After a catch up with the friendly team at the Visitor Information Centre and finding out a bit more about some of the cotton growing that powers this region, we wandered to a St George icon – The Unique Egg. Run by Stavros (Steve) Margaritus and his daughter, The Unique Egg displays Stavros’ incredible emu egg carving skills, which he picked up after moving to St George from Greece in the 1950s. Now in his late 80s we enjoyed meeting the artist himself.

A personal favourite – turns out the emu came before the egg

From St George we headed west to Cunnamulla in the Paroo Shire, home to Slim Dusty’s Cunnamulla Fella. Ewen has perfected the layering technique required to stay warm despite the sunshine, sporting the combo of beanie plus sunglasses to fulfill both warmth and glare requirements.

Warm and sunsafe

On our way to Cunnamulla we stopped in the small community of Bollon, where we very unexpectedly had French crepes and eclairs for lunch, made by two French chefs living in the town! We also were able to visit the Bollon Heritage Centre and discover a bit more about this beautiful part of the world, in particular the importance of bush nurses to these rural communities.

Fundraising wheel for the Bollon Bush Nursing Association

We also marvelled at the increasingly spectacular landscape, including some picture postcard-level stock mustering happening along the highway!

Stock mustering along the highway – lots of water around at the moment

Once in Cunnamulla we headed to the Cunnamulla Fella Visitor Information Centre, where we met the lovely Carmel who showed us the features of their facility. The VIC also includes the town’s museum, which was a brilliant mix of thematic displays, local stories and audiovisual experiences. We loved some of the moving and quirky stories behind the collections, including the town band who came out and played at the railway station for every returning serviceperson in World War Two, and the stories of the local boxing gym and legendary coach Bill Johnstone, complete with miniature boxing ring. The museum also included an audiovisual experience exploring the artesian basin and opal mining, with associated audiovisual experiences looking at shearing and wool, and the largest cattle station in Australia – Tinnenburra. The collection of king plates from local First Nations leaders were also special to see.

Checking out the AVs in the ‘Artesian Time Tunnel’
Boxing Club display

Of particular interest was the original starting gate for the Cunnamulla & Eulo Festival of Opals Lizard Race, complete with winner’s sash and medal. We will return to lizard racing once we get to Eulo as Elspeth may have discovered a new curatorial passion…

We had a really great meeting with the Paroo Shire Council team, looking at ways the MDO programme might be able to assist with new heritage developments and with managing this amazing Cunnamulla collection. From there it was time for a wander around the centre of town, a couple of Cunnamulla Fella photos, and a camel burger for the road.

Saying Cunnamulla Fella this often has really been a test of Elspeth’s Kiwi accent

Next stop Eulo and on to Thargomindah – tune in next time for more giant animal sculptures, reptilian tales and why the tagline for Thargo is London, Paris, Thargomindah…

Brute is THRILLED

Maritime Museum of Townsville

A new permanent exhibition has opened at the Maritime Museum of TownsvilleRise of the Port City.

The exhibition showcases the Port’s contribution to the development of North Queensland through a series of interpretive panels detailing events by using a timeline approach.

timeline panels

There are also a series of virtual reality experiences that were developed especially for the exhibition that tell the story of how the Port operates.

Egg chairs for virtual reality experience
virtual reality headsets

The exhibition also has a large touch and play table, a ship simulator that allows users to navigate ships around the world, a live vessel tracker providing information about ships arriving at the port, videos and model ships, artefacts, and objects.

The MDO for North Queensland, Ewen McPhee, worked with the Museum and the Port of Townsville to plan, develop and install the new exhibition. The Seafarer Gallery was repainted by volunteers and the original exhibition was moved to other galleries and exhibition furniture put into storage.

The Maritime Museum has had record visitation last financial year and continues to break all records in the second half of 2021. The Museum has a strong link to local schools and the exhibition has been popular with both primary and secondary schools.

Port diver Barry Goldsworthy collection
Port diver Barry Goldsworthy collection
Model ships
ship simulators

Island Artists

I recently came across an object when working with Proserpine Historical Museum that made me think of a project that I was involved in seventeen years ago for the Queensland Museum. It was entitled “Old salts, alternative life-stylers and beach bums”. The goal of this Queensland wide project was to record people who had a long association with the sea and/or maritime practices, individuals who had chosen a lifestyle that was perceived to be alternative, and individuals who had chosen to drop out of society and live on islands or the coastal fringes of Queensland.

The object in question is the crown from the Great Barrier Reef Coral Festival that was presented to the Coral Queen. This crown was won by Thora Nicolson, formerly of Linderman Island and donated to the Museum. The fascinating full story of the festival and its transition can be found here, here and here through the Museum Facebook page.

Great Barrier Reef Coral Festival – Coral Queen crown. Image Ewen McPhee

Additional research has identified similar festival material culture such as crowns, gowns, sashes, photographs, movies and stories in museum collections throughout Queensland. It would be interesting to look at how these festivals originated, changed and their eventual demise.

My interest however was sparked by the makers of the crown – Leena and Bill Wallace from Coral Art on Dent Island. It is worthwhile to watch this short YouTube clip found here.

Leena and Bill lived on Dent Island and carved out a niche market for themselves selling painted coral arrangements. Bill, formally in the US Navy, was the collector, and Leena the artist. They lived on Dent Island for over 10 years and were some of the early pioneers in tourism in the Whitsunday region. They shipped their painted coral around the world and it was used to promote the Great Barrier Reef through the Queensland Tourist Bureau.

As the area opened up to cruising yachtsman in the 1960s, passing sailors, such as John Gunn, documented them in his 1966 book Barrier Reef by Trimaran

“A married couple live in an idyllic setting on a cleared area of land behind the beach on this northern tip. With tremendous enterprise they have pioneered a business for themselves. The husband dives for coral pieces, and the wife applies delicate shades of colour to them, to make them look like the living corals…One may not be enthralled by this kind of tourist art, but it is popular. And the life that the two have carved out for themselves on their own island is one that many of us would love to have…”

Other painted coral business also sprang up in the Whitsundays such as Mandalay Gardens at Mandalay Point across from Airlie Beach and collections of painted corals can be seen at the Bowen Museum and Historical Society.

Leena and Bill fit into the category of alternate life-stylers and it would have been great to record their story in full. Please contact the Proserpine Historical Museum if you know more about Leena and Bill.

K26064
 Bill and Leena with coral, Dent Island, Barrier Reef (National Archives of Australia
11925533)
L92296
Coral art business on Dent Island, Barrier Reef. 1970. National Archives of Australia, 11464802)
L92298
Coral art business on Dent Island, Barrier Reef. 1970. National Archives of Australia, 11464804)
K26066
Mr Wallace with coral, Dent Island, Barrier Reef, 1970. National Archives of Australia 11925560)
L92300
Coral art business on Dent Island, Barrier Reef. 1970. National Archives of Australia, 11464806)

Dent Island coral display, Whitsunday, Great Barrier Reef. Beris Gaal, Queensland Places.
Karen Rasmus, 1960 Coral Queen, arranging a display of Barrier Reef Coral at the Queensland Tourist Bureau, Brisbane, 1960 – Note the boxes of Coral Art from Dent Island in the background. Queensland State Archives ID 3089

Still Engaging

The Museum Development Officers (MDOs) are currently engaging with their communities while working at home. This unfortunately means no workshops, display installation, oral histories, conservation, community meetings or any work that does not allow for adequate and safe social distancing. The MDOs will continue to assist by phone, email and depending on resources, video calls.

Although Melanie (Mackay) and Jo (Cairns) are used to working alone, Lydia (Toowoomba), Josh (Ipswich) and Ewen (Townsville) are all based in the Queensland Museum campuses which have now closed their doors to the public and encouraged staff to work from home.

Self and community isolation may be new to many people but the MDOs have all worked with remote communities who are used to isolation either by distance or by natural disasters such as flood. The MDOs have documented School of the Air radios, cleaned Flying Doctor objects, researched stories about Afghan traders servicing isolated pastoral stations, documented rural and remote health practices, researched quarantine stations on islands, and recorded the events of returning First World War soldiers and the Spanish Flu.

These objects and stories show resilience, innovation, adaptation and community spirit. They are in these museums because they are valued by the community and underscore their shared values and their desire to document what to them is often everyday life.

The MDO blog has recently added a new page with links to “how to videos”. Although these are designed as a basic introduction to a topic they may be useful if you need to undertake some work while your museum is closed or you have time at home. Please contact your local MDO if you need further information.

Royal Flying Doctor Service medical chest as used by remote pastoral stations.
Image: John Flynn Place, Cloncurry.
Traeger transceiver type 59SA. These were used specifically by School of the Air pupils.
Source: John Flynn Place, Cloncurry.

Bowen’s rich maritime history

Connected Culture

North Queensland Museum Development Officer, Ewen McPhee, has continued to work with the Norfolk Island Museum on a project detailing the material culture from Pitcairn Island.

With the permanent population on Pitcairn Island decreasing, the Norfolk Island Museum decided to start documenting the material culture that is held in the Pitcairn Island communities on Norfolk Island and in New Zealand (Auckland and Wellington).  The Norfolk Island Museum was also interested in looking at collections that were held in other museums to ensure their own collection policy, research and interpretation planning  was well informed and appropriate.

Janelle Blucher,Team Leader of Heritage Management, at the Norfolk Island Museum applied to the Pacific Development and Conservation Trust for funding to undertake this project.  This funding was successful and in February 2016, Ewen joined Janelle on Norfolk Island to start the project.

Initially the aim was to try and identify objects that arrived on Norfolk Island in 1856 when the entire population of Pitcairn Island moved to Norfolk Island.  This trip was undertaken on the vessel Morayshire and has been well documented in historical accounts.  Janelle and Ewen were particularly interested to find out which objects  the Pitcairn Islanders deemed important enough to bring with them on this initial voyage from Pitcairn Island.

Community recording days were held at the Norfolk Island Museum where people were encouraged to bring in their objects and retell their family histories and stories.  Janelle and Ewen developed a standard recording sheet that in time will inform a database of community collections that will be maintained by the museum.

Jeanine photos (1)

Jeanine Snell with her collection of Pitcairn Island objects (Norfolk Island)

hair comb turtle shell two (2)

Turtle shell hair comb, from Pitcairn Island, belonging to Jeanine Snell

The response on Norfolk Island was very positive with Pitcairn Island descendants and other members of the community, including collectors, bringing in their objects to the Museum.  Janelle and Ewen were able to photograph, record and document information about the families and the objects over a number of days.  They were also invited into private homes where they viewed many larger items such as Boston whalers rocking chairs, photograph albums, paintings and souvenirs.  Objects that Norfolk Island community members brought into the museum included yollo stones, baskets, hats, wooden carvings, a signed cricket bat, painted Hatti leaves, photographs, letters, bibles, turtle shell hair combs, and dolls.

Ewen and Janelle then traveled to New Zealand to the cities of Auckland and Wellington where they continued the community recording.  In Auckland they were shown contemporary weaving of baskets, hats and mobile phone covers, along with tapa and print making items.  More yollo stones appeared, along with a whalebone picker used to thatch house roofs with, wooden souvenir boxes, Hattie leaves, painted coconuts, woven fans, baskets and a top hat.  Ewen and Janelle also visited the Auckland Museum where they were shown the collection of over 11000 stone tools that were acquired by the Museum.  All of these items, held in the archaeology collection, pre date the arrival of the HMS Bounty on Pitcairn Island but nevertheless add to the body of knowledge surrounding the occupation of Pitcairn Island.  In Wellington, Janelle and Ewen made contact with Pitcairn Islanders and their descendants as well as visiting the Alexander Turnbull Library and Te Papa Museum to view their Pitcairn Island collections.

Possibly one of the most prized objects brought out from Pitcairn since 1856 is made from stone, a vesicular or aerated basalt stone, fashioned into a functional Polynesian style domestic item known as a ‘yollo’ stone or a food grater. Measuring approximately thirty by twenty centimetres this rectangular shaped stone is scored across its surface and used to grate or ‘yollo’ breadfruit, banana and yams.  This food preparation tool made from Pitcairn Island’s basalt is still used by some, and is highly valued by island families on Norfolk and also by Pitcairn families now living in New Zealand.

 

Yolla stone top view

Yolla Stone belonging to Jane Rutledge (Norfolk Island)

The  Te Papa collection revealed an exquisite whalebone tapa beater, a wooden candle holder with an inscription of the Bounty story, painted clam shells, a wooden magic box, contemporary tapa, and other souvenir trade items.

Te Papa (139).JPG

Ewen McPhee at Te Papa

Also in Wellington, Janelle and Ewen met with the donor of a collection of glass plate negatives taken in 1928 and now in the Alexander Turnbull library.  These photographs clearly show what life was like on Pitcairn Island in 1928 and are an important snapshot in time for further family history and documentary work.  The Library also contained an 1814 account by Royal Navy Lieutenant Willis on approaching Pitcairn Island complete with a narrative and paintings.  Other objects included newspaper cuttings, photographs, and souvenirs.

IMG_7575

Janelle Blucher with the Willis account

 

Janelle and her team at the Norfolk Island Museum are continuing to collect information and developing the database. The Norfolk Island Museum facebook page has been used to connect with the Pitcairn community and shows more photographs from the project.

 

Cyclone Season and Preparation

With the first low developing in the Coral Sea it is a good time to enact your cyclone preparedness plans.

Usually this should involve:

  • checking that all volunteers and local council staff are aware and have read the cyclone preparedness plan, and understand what need to be done if a cyclone watch is declared;
  • checking your disaster response bin and ensuring that it is up to date with the list enclosed in the bin (see below for list);
  • ensuring a recent backup of all computer files has been carried out, or check that routine automatic backup systems are working and up to date;
  • ensuring the museum curator and office holders have updated personal contact details for each other stored in their personal mobile phones;
  • checking the list of phone contacts for volunteers, local council contacts and emergency services;
  • checking local council cyclone plans;
  • checking that any procedures dealing with post disaster event are located in a safe place and that volunteers and staff  are aware of these;
  • locating all keys to display cabinets, testing that all locks work and access is available to remove objects. Storing the keys in the key safe and ensuring volunteers and staff know how to access;
  • ensuring collection items and display images have been updated and that volunteers and staff are aware;
  • ensuring any loaned objects are assessed and that they are returned if practical. Contacting lenders and make them aware that cyclone season is approaching;
  • cleaning all gutters, down pipes and removing overhead branches

Your disaster bin should be located in an area that is readily accessible and should have a list, kept with the bin, stating what the contents are.  It is important to replace things like batteries and review its contents on a regular basis.

THIS DISASTER BIN SHOULD CONTAIN:

  • 1 torch
  • 1 head torch
  • 1 spare battery
  • 10 metres plastic sheeting
  • 2 rolls waterproof tape
  • 1 pair scissors
  • 1 stanley knife
  • 4 packets paper towelling
  • 40 Chucks wipes
  • 1 sponge mop
  • 1 spare mop sponge
  • 1 hand sponge
  • 1 plastic bucket
  • 1 brush & pan
  • 8 garbage bags
  • 2 boxes nitrile gloves
  • 1 large & 1 medium rubber gloves
  • 2 dust masks
  • 2 waterproof pens
  • 30 tyvek labels & ties
  • 1 roll cotton tape
  • 1 notebook
  • 2 pens
  • 30 ziplock bags

 

Example of disaster supply bin - cable tie shut and cut when needed.  This will mean that supplies aren't used for general cleaning purposes

Example of disaster supply bin – cable tie shut and cut when needed. This will mean that supplies aren’t used for general cleaning purposes

 

For more information about cyclone and disasters preparation, visit some of the Museum Development Officer previous blog posts or contact us.