MV Blog


Taking nature to the nation

by Nicole K
Publish date
1 May 2014
Comments (2)

In 2011 Museum Victoria produced our first Field Guide app: the MV Field Guide to Victorian Fauna.

The app has since been downloaded by over 85,000 people and gets great reviews. But there has been a repeated request – a request from people who don't live in Victoria.

Where are the apps for the other Australian states and territories?

This wasn't something we could address on our own. To make apps for the other states and territories, we needed the shared expertise of natural history museums around the country.

In 2012, Museum Victoria was successful in applying for an Inspiring Australia Unlocking Australia's Potential Grant to produce seven new Field Guide apps in collaboration with:

  • Australian Museum
  • Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
  • Queensland Museum
  • South Australian Museum
  • Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
  • Western Australian Museum

For the past two years, scientists around Australia have been writing species descriptions, sourcing images and we have been tweaking the code. We have also worked with colleagues from the Atlas of Living Australia to source taxonomic names, conservation status and recorded observations of each species.

We are very excited to announce that the products of this nation-wide collaborative project are now available.

Field Guide to ACT Fauna app (iPhone & iPad) Field Guide to ACT Fauna app (iPhone & iPad)
Source: Museum Victoria

There are now eight apps – Field Guides to the Fauna of New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and the ACT – as well as a new version of the original Field Guide to Victorian Fauna.

Collectively the apps contain 2105 species, 7281 images and 270 audio files.

They are available for both Apple and Android devices. And are all absolutely FREE.

We hope you enjoy them!

Links to the App Store and Google Play can be found via our National Field Guide Apps webpage.

Field Guide to Victorian Fauna (Android) Field Guide to Victorian Fauna (Android)
Source: Museum Victoria


by Kate C
Publish date
11 October 2013
Comments (0)

Excellent news for urban stickybeaks – we've just released the first three walking tours for the new MV TOURS app. If you’re the kind of person who likes to look up at the older bits of Melbourne, download these free, self-guided tours to your smartphone or device: Spotswood Industrial Heritage, Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, and Melbourne's Golden Mile. Think of the app as having a curator in your pocket, telling you stories on demand.

MV TOURS app This chap is on the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens walking tour, and learning about the Hochgurtel Fountain. This was a top spot for promenading in true 1880s society fashion.
Source: Museum Victoria

I had a chat to one of those pocket curators, Dr Charlotte Smith, about her favourite parts of each route. She led the curatorial team developing the three tours and she's proof that there is always more to learn about the city, even if you’re already an expert historian. She’s particularly smitten with the strange corrugated iron annex hung from the side of the Gothic Rialto Building in Flinders Lane – urinals from the 1890s. "They’re just beautiful! I had no idea they were there," says Charlotte. "In those times they didn't have internal plumbing, but an office building still needed to provide a place for men to relieve themselves."

Melbourne's Golden Mile tour app Screenshot from Melbourne's Golden Mile app showing the Rialto Building urinals.
Source: Museum Victoria

This urinals are a stop on the Melbourne's Golden Mile walking tour, which is based on Professor Graeme Davison's original booklet guide to accompany the path of circular metal disks embedded in city pavements. "We've neatened it a bit, but we follow the Golden Mile disks except where footpaths have been resurfaced and the disks are gone." This tour traces the boom era of Melbourne when the young city was flush with gold money and eager migrants.

Charlotte describes the Spotswood Industrial Heritage walking tour as "fabulous. I’ve really fallen in love with Spotswood." Among stories of manufacturing – fuses, agricultural equipment, glass bottles and more – is the sense of a place that evolved a distinctive character.

Says Charlotte, "we’ve tried to tell the story of it as a suburb with an old soul. There are stories about migration and changing manufacturing needs. The reason why the suburb is so important is its location – it is slightly lower than Melbourne, the river flows past it, and the first train line passed through Spotswood  to the main port at Williamstown." The walking tour also features items of notoriety produced in Spotswood: the glassworks made the suburb the 'Home of the Stubbie', while bushranger Ned Kelly's armour was fashioned from ploughs made by local firm Lennon and Company.

Stubbie Stubbie
Image: Laurie Richards
Source: Museum Victoria

All three tours are richly illustrated with hundreds of photographs and images drawn from MV's collections and other important sources, such as Wolfgang Sievers' photographs of industry and Mark Strizic’s beautiful photos of Melbourne in the 1950s. Charlotte particularly loves "a photograph we found for the Fuse Factory on Hall Street, of women working with their heads covered in scarves to protect themselves from flying bits and pieces." These and other images show how places have changed over the years, and in many cases, places that no longer exist.

While Charlotte expects that the Spotswood tour will be most used by local residents, international visitors are a big audience for the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Garden tour, requiring certain concessions for those unfamiliar with the damage that possums can do. Those strange rings of metal around trunks of trees? Possum guards. (That grey furry mound in a tree hollow? Possum.)

The REB tour also includes exquisite drawings by builder David Mitchell of the Exhibition Building. "They’re at the University of Melbourne archive and not often seen. It's fascinating to look at one of the historical drawings then look up at the building and see how it has been realised." 

These three tours are the first instalment in what we hope will be a library of tours of Melbourne and regional places. Download one or all of the tours to your device through either the App Store or Google Play, and let us know what you think! 


Walk through History support page

View all Museum Victoria apps

Immigration Museum: Melbourne's Golden Mile

MV Blog: A golden morning

Time Lens app for holiday visits

by Mirah Lambert
Publish date
8 July 2013
Comments (0)

Mirah is the Online Learning Manager.

We’ve been a bit app happy of late, from the recent release of Museum Victoria's Field Guide to Victorian Fauna for Android to new apps based on its code mentioned in the previous blog post.

Just in time for the start of the winter school holidays we've released another free app, Time Lens, designed for kids and their families to enhance a visit to Melbourne Museum.

The curious curator with the Time Lens The curious curator with the Time Lens.
Image: Stray Puppet
Source: Museum Victoria

Time Lens Episode 1: Treasures and Gems is a scavenger hunt around the museum, where you solve puzzles to assist our curious curator in finding 15 objects and uncovering their fascinating stories. When found, each of the objects comes to life on your screen and tells you about its past.

Screenshot of Time Lens app Screenshot of the Time Lens app.
Source: Museum Victoria

As you play you also achieve badges and gain recognition as a History Harvester, Science Sleuth, Treasure Hunter and, if you find them all, as Museum Master. You can even trade in your virtual badges for real ones as part of the launch of the app at Melbourne Museum these holidays.

The app is available for Apple and Android devices and is about 85-90 MB. This means it is too big to download over 3G, but can be downloaded over a wireless network. If you’re keen to play we encourage you to download it before you come. Otherwise, it is possible to connect to the museum's public wifi network and download it when you arrive at Melbourne Museum.

Using Time Lens app in Forest Gallery Young visitors earning the Time Lens Forest Frolicker badge.
Source:  Museum Victoria

Families have been seen eagerly hunting around the museum, discovering treasures and hidden gems. If you want to find out more, we are activating the Time Lens twice daily as part of the school holiday programs, with an introduction to the app and support with downloading at 10:30am and 12:30pm each day. 


Melbourne Museum winter school holiday program

MV's mobile apps

MV’s Field Guide app - now on Android!

by Nicole K
Publish date
6 May 2013
Comments (7)
Since the launch of MV's Field Guide app for Apple mobile devices, we've received hundreds of requests for an Android version, my favourite being:

All I want for Christmas is an update on the Android field guide!

Well – drumroll – it's here!

Last Friday, we were very proud that Senator The Hon Don Farrell, Minister for Science and Research and Minister Assisting for Tourism, was able to join us at Melbourne Museum to celebrate this significant milestone. 

  Field Guide apps team pose with Minister Farrell: Simon Sherrin, Jo Taylor, Ely Wallis, Ajay Ranipeta, Minister Farrell, Blair Patullo (absent: Nicole Kearney, Michael Mason). Field Guide apps team pose with Minister Farrell: Simon Sherrin, Jo Taylor, Ely Wallis, Ajay Ranipeta, Minister Farrell, Blair Patullo (absent: Nicole Kearney, Michael Mason).
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria

Development of the Android version is part of a wider project, funded by the Australian Government under the Inspiring Australia, Unlocking Australia's Potential scheme, where we are working with museums around the country to deliver field guide apps for all States and Territories.

The MV Field Guide app is now available through Google Play for Android devices – including tablets, phablets and phones. And it's free.

The MV Field Guide home screen (shown here on a Nexus 7) The MV Field Guide home screen (shown here on a Nexus 7)
Image: Museum Victoria
Source: Museum Victoria

The app contains over 730 Victorian animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs, fishes and marine and freshwater invertebrates. Each detailed description includes stunning images, distribution maps, endangered status and animal sounds (for birds, frogs and other noisy critters).

The Helmeted Honeyeater is Victoria's bird emblem (shown here on a Nexus 7) The Helmeted Honeyeater is Victoria's bird emblem (shown here on a Nexus 7)
Image: Museum Victoria
Source: Museum Victoria

Apple device users will be able to download an updated iOS version in the coming weeks. The new version represents a significant upgrade to the existing iOS app.

Additions to the new Android app (and coming soon for Apple devices) include:

  • Over 30 new species (many added as a result of user requests), including the Great White Shark, the Giant Gippsland Earthworm and Victoria's bird emblem, the Helmeted Honeyeater
  • New marine mammals: seals, dolphins, whales
  • 75 new bird calls, including the Powerful Owl, the Little Penguin, the Tawny Frogmouth, the Sacred Kingfisher and the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo
  • The complete set of frog calls
  • The updated Victorian Endangered Status for all vertebrate species (bringing the app in line with the DSE's 2013 Advisory List for Threatened Vertebrate Fauna)

Marine app out now

by Blair
Publish date
16 November 2012
Comments (1)

There’s something new and blue in the app stores called the Bunurong Marine National Park Field Guide. Jointly produced by Parks Victoria and the museum, the app is released to coincide with celebrations of the tenth anniversary of marine national parks in Victoria. Nearly 12% of the state’s waters are protected in parks, sanctuaries and reserves that are managed by Parks Victoria, including Bunurong Marine National Park, which  is located between Phillip Island and Wilsons Promontory.

Two fish swimming Meuschenia flavolineata, Yellowstripe Leatherjacket, Shack Bay, Bunurong Marine National Park.
Image: Mark Norman
Source: Museum Victoria

The Bunurong Marine National Park Field Guide is free to download and contains information on over 300 species of marine and coastal animals and plants, including stunning images, many of which were taken by Museum Victoria scientists whilst diving in the park. It also includes park information and activities that may interest visitors. Maps and a gallery of the location, marine life and habitats are provided.

Rocks and coastal ocean Eagles Nest intertidal rock platform, Bunurong Marine National Park.
Image: Mark Norman
Source: Museum Victoria

Bunurong Marine National Park covers more than 2,000 hectares and extends along six kilometres of coastline. Above the water magnificent rock formations form the shore, while below, seaweed reefs are so dense that the experience is like swimming over the top of a rainforest canopy. The park is popular for rock pooling, while its extensive underwater rocky reefs, seaweed beds and seagrass meadows are excellent for diving and snorkelling. People exploring the nearby coastline will also benefit from the app. Many of the species occur at places like San Remo, Cape Paterson, Andersons Inlet, Waratah Bay and Wilsons Promontory.

Seaweed growing on rock Seaweed Habitat At Eagle's Nest, Bunurong Marine National Park.
Image: Mark Norman
Source: Museum Victoria

If you’re lucky, your park experience may be as surprising as mine during the making of the app. Off Shack Bay I was head-butted by a Bluethroat Wrasse. Surely only in a marine park could a fish be so cheeky as if to say "nick off, this is my turf!"

a fish Notolabrus tetricus, Bluethroat Wrasse, Cape Paterson, Bunurong Marine National Park.
Image: Julian Finn
Source: Museum Victoria

We've reached another milestone with this app as it available for both iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad mini, iPad) and for Android devices (phones and tablets). For those who have been waiting on Museum Victoria’s Field Guide to Victorian Fauna app to be released for Android – that’s our next project, so watch this space. And enjoy the Bunurong app in the meantime!

Bunurong Marine National Park Field Guide is built on Museum Victoria’s open source Genera code for producing field guides. The app can be downloaded free from the iTunes App Store for iDevices and Google PlayTM Store for Android.

Bunurong Field guide

Bunurong Field guide


MV Bunurong app support page 

Parks Victoria: Bunurong Marine National Park 

Field guide app out now

by Blair
Publish date
10 March 2011
Comments (77)

There are no angry birds in Field Guide to Victorian Fauna, the museum’s new free app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Instead, crazy-coloured snakes, critically endangered species, state faunal emblems, stinging jellies and a Baggy Pants Frog are among the animals included in the first release.

Museum Victoria’s Field Guide to Victorian Fauna A screenshot from MV's Field Guide to Victorian Fauna.
Source: Museum Victoria

The app lets you explore useful and interesting information about each species including: identification, biology, distribution, diet, habitat, scientific classification and endangered status. Wherever you are – a forest, a desert, a rocky shore, at Ararat or Apollo Bay – you’ll be able to find information on more than 700 animals at the swipe of your finger.

And, in a first for the museum, the code for the app is being released as open source. This means that museums and organisations worldwide can take their own data and build their own local field guide, too.

Developer Simon Sherrin and designer Simon O’Shea have built the app based on the Biodiversity Snapshots field guide, which was created for schools by museum sciences staff. In doing so, they’ve made this excellent resource available to anyone with an iDevice, not just school students. And this is just the beginning. We’re preparing more animals every day so that the app will span more of Victoria’s rich biodiversity.

Simon & Simon with the Field Guide app Simon and Simon. These guys are developers, so we can't show their faces on the web.
Image: Nicole Alley
Source: Museum Victoria

Field Guide to Victorian Fauna can be downloaded free from the iTunes App Store. Simon Sherrin will also present the app at several conferences and meetings in the USA in coming weeks. It’s the second in the museum’s developing portfolio of apps which began in 2010 with Please touch the exhibit.

Is your favorite Victorian animal included in the app? If not, let us know what it is in the comments, and why it should be included in a future update of the field guide.

UPDATE: The Android version is now available from Google Play. Hooray!


Field Guide to Victorian Fauna support page

Please touch the exhibit

About this blog

Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.