Guest posts are written by a variety of people from Museum Victoria and beyond.

Farewell Stella

by Priscilla Gaff
Publish date
9 December 2014
Comments (12)

Priscilla is a Program Coordinator for Life Sciences and works on education programs at Melbourne Museum.

Stella Young and I both started working at the museum in the same week, back in 2007. I’d come from a small team of five to the large beast that is ‘the museum’, and I was thrilled to make a new best buddy in week one.

Stella Young Stella in the museum office, showcasing her stylish new glasses, 2009.
Image: Murphy Peoples
Source: Murphy Peoples

We instantly knew we were one anothers' people. We bonded over our excitement to be working at the museum, and over our love of working with the children, families, and schools who visited. We’d both studied education at uni, and loved debriefing and deconstructing our interactions with the students – and in particular about the funny things the children would say. But my story of friendship with Stella isn’t unique; it wasn’t long before everyone in the museum knew her too. Her charm, her wit, her style, her intelligence and her warmth, not to mention her ‘naughty knits’ for sale at the Christmas Staff Market, drew us all into her. And we all loved working with her.

Stella Young at craft stall Stella Young with her naughty knits hidden behind the red curtain, museum staff Christmas craft market, 2009.
Image: Murphy Peoples
Source: Murphy Peoples

Stella – you were a dear friend to us all. You challenged us, changed us, you left the museum a better place. We missed you when you left us for the ABC, but you stayed in touch, and we knew that your new job gave you an amazing platform for your passion and talents.

Three performers Museum Comedy tour guides Ben MacKenzie, Kate McLennnan and Stella Young, 2011.
Source: Museum Victoria

We never stopped thinking of you as one of us, and we shall miss you terribly.

Before joining the ABC, Stella was based at Melbourne Museum where she was a Programs Officer for over three years. During her time at the museum Stella was a fantastic communicator, terrific work colleague, passionate educator and a great friend to many current and former staff members. We send our profound condolences to her family and friends.

Dinosaur diorama

by Adrienne Leith
Publish date
18 November 2014
Comments (1)

Adrienne creates and presents public programs at Melbourne Museum.

Imagine a Victorian Cretaceous rift valley complete with river bed, trees and a suite of prehistoric animals. Now imagine it recreated in miniature in a classic museum diorama: the DINORAMA!

Displayed in front of the Forest Gallery, the Dinorama will be the feature activity of our summer school holidays at Melbourne Museum. We're inviting visitors to make thousands of Cretaceous animals to fill the little landscape with life.

model of dinosaur Serendipaceratops arthurcclarkei was a horned dinosaur, fossils of which were found at Kilcunda. Kim Haines made this tiny version.
Source: Museum Victoria

In consultation with our palaeontologists, our preparators made miniatures of three animals—Koolasuchus cleelandi, Serendipaceratops arthurcclarkei and Qantassaurus intrepidus—that lived in Victoria approximately 120 million years ago. From the models, the preparators make moulds…. and from the moulds, summer visitors can create thousands of little beasts from modelling clay.

model of dinosaur Michael Pennell's model of Koolasuchus cleelandi, a three-metre-long predator that lived in and around fast-flowing cold streams. Fossils of Koolasuchus were were found on the coast of Victoria just east of Phillip Island.
Source: Museum Victoria

Every couple of days we'll bring out a new colour of clay until we have a Dinorama filled with multi-coloured ancient animals. Our school holiday activities start on 26 December, so keep an eye on the Melbourne Museum foyer after then.

modelling a dinosaur Inverloch was the discovery site of Qantassurus intrepidus, a small herbivorous hypsilophodontid with large eyes for foraging in long polar winters. Brendon Taylor created this model. You can see an animatronic Qantassaurus in the 600 Million Years exhibition.
Source: Museum Victoria

Victorian Collections hits 50,000 objects

by Cameron
Publish date
13 November 2014
Comments (0)

Cameron is Project Co-Manager of Victorian Collections. He's often found in regional RSLs discussing collection management over tea and scones. 

Victorian Collections, a gateway to the cultural treasures held by Victoria’s museums, galleries and other collections, has just broken the 50,000 object mark. We reached this milestone when the Tatura Irrigation and Wartime Camps Museum moved their catalogue of over 3,000 records across to Victorian Collections.

The Tatura collection is a fascinating part of Victoria’s history. Many of the objects were made by German, Italian and Japanese prisoners of war or civilians interned during the 1940s, many of whom settled in Victoria after the war. Having the collection online gives Victorians unprecedented access to their lives through photos, letters and many other objects. You can also view them on Trove.

The fascinating objects from Tatura include this Christmas tree, given by the Red Cross to internees of the camps during the Second World War.

Small Christmas tree on table Artificial Christmas tree on wooden stand decorated with bells, stars and candles.
Source:  Tatura Irrigation & Wartime Camps Museum

Community collecting organisations from across the State have been using Victorian Collections to catalogue and publish the records of collections to the web since it was developed by Museums Australia (Vic) and Museum Victoria in 2009. This year has seen close to a doubling of the number of objects on the site.  

Many of the Tatura internees were German POWs capture in North Africa. This photograph is from Kurt Straszewski’s POW album, and shows soldiers arriving in Australia before being shipped to Tatura.

Two men in military uniform A photograph from the album of the Kurt Straszewski Collection, titled '1941 Ankunft in Australien' (1941 arrival in Australia)
Source: Tatura Irrigation and Wartime Camps Museum

Some of Tatura’s internees came from the British Mandate in Palestine. The Weid family, of German descent, were sent from Palestine to Tatura when the war started. Like most internees they brought few possessions with them. This butterfly brooch is just one of the handmade domestic items fashioned in the camp from scrap materials to give home comforts in the initially barren surroundings of the camps, particularly to those interned with families and young children. 
The camps were used after the war to house British child migrants brought out to Australia by the Presbyterian Church. This photo shows a 2001 reunion of the boys at the Dhurringile Training Farm at Dhurringile Mansion in Tatura. 

Group of elderly men Reunion in 2001 of boys brought out to Australia from the U.K. in the 1950s by the Presbyterian Church, to the Dhurringile Training Farm at Dhurringile Mansion.
Source: Tatura Irrigation & Wartime Camps Museum

WWI honour boards - can you help?

by Deb Tout-Smith
Publish date
10 November 2014
Comments (3)

Deb is a senior curator in MV's Humanities department. She was the lead curator of WWI: Love & Sorrow.

In the wake of the tragic experience of World War I, thousands of honour boards, memorials and cenotaphs were made to remember those who served and died. They were commissioned by many organisations including community groups, schools, employers, government departments and agencies. Those which survive today are increasingly significant as testaments to community experience and the need to create lasting memorials in the face of nationwide grief and loss.

Honour board inscribed with soldier names Honour Board - Kildonan Presbyterian Homes for Children, World War I, circa 1920 (SH 901000)
Source: Museum Victoria

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), in collaboration with Museum Victoria, is seeking information on World War I honour boards commemorating the military service of members of the Victorian public sector. The CPSU hopes to compile information about surviving public sector honour boards and support the preservation of these boards for future generations. If you know of any, perhaps in your own workplace, please contact the CPSU on

Another significant honour board is currently on display at Melbourne Museum’s moving new exhibition WWI: Love & Sorrow.

Timber honour board inscribed with soldier names Honour Board - Associated Stock & Station Agents of Melbourne, circa 1920 (HT 33129)
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria

This board was made around 1920 to commemorate the service of workers at the Associated Stock and Station Agents of Melbourne, which was closely linked to the Newmarket Saleyards. It was donated to Museum Victoria by the Yarra Glen Returned Services League (RSL) Sub Branch.

If you can provide any information about the people named on the board, please contact our  Discovery Centre.

Scots Wha Hae

by Sadie
Publish date
7 November 2014
Comments (1)

Sadie works on exhibitions at Museum Victoria.

Question: What do the following Victorian place names have in common:

Armadale, Arthurs Seat, Bairnsdale, Ben Cruachan, Boisdale, Campbellfield, Clunes, Clydesdale, Coldstream, Drysdale, Ensay, Glenaladale, Glenelg River, Hepburn Springs, The Grampians, Lauriston, Lismore, Loch Sport, Mt Stewart, Orbost, Queensferry, Rutherglen, St Andrews, Stonehaven?

Scenery of mountains Lake Wartook, Grampians National Park
Image: Ken Harris
Source: Ken Harris

Answer: All these place names come from a place in Scotland or from a Scottish name.

The Scots are one of Australia’s oldest migrant groups. 2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the first formal migration from Scotland to Victoria. During the 19th century many Scottish people settled in Victoria’s Western, Wimmera and Gippsland districts.

Women in Scottish dress Caledonian Society, Bendigo, Victoria, circa 1905
Source: Museum Victoria

Scots were represented among professions that bestowed place names—including governors and surveyors—hence many Victorian towns have Scottish names today. Thus, Campbellfield and Mt Stewart reference significant Scottish clans while Arthurs Seat and the Grampians hark back to fondly remembered locations in Scotland.

Girl in Scottish dress outside school building Garvoc, Victoria, circa 1935
Source: Museum Victoria

Our latest community exhibition, Scots Wha Hae, reveals the influence of the Scottish in Victoria from the 19th century to the continuing influx of young Scots today. You'll encounter stories of Dame Nellie Melba, Macpherson Robertson, AC/DC and the textile designer who developed the Victorian tartan.

Children in Scottish dress with woman playing bagpipes Highland Dancers, 1950s
Source: Bill Schrank

The patriotic song Scots Wha Hae (‘Scots who have’) was written in Scots by Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1793. The unofficial national anthem of Scotland for centuries, it was chosen as the exhibition title by the Scots of Victoria to evoke a sense of Scottish pride while acknowledging the opportunities offered by life in Australia.

One boy and 10 girls in Scottish dress Highland dancers
Image: Kara Lorgelly
Source: Kara Lorgelly

The exhibition Scots Wha Hae: 200 years of Scottish influence opens at the Immigration Museum on 15 November 2014. Come help us celebrate at the Scottish Fling Festival on 16 November with Scottish food, dancing, whisky-tasting and more.

Spawning sea anenomes

by Michela Mitchell
Publish date
5 November 2014
Comments (1)

Michela is the first resident taxonomist of Actiniaria (sea anemones) in Australia. This title doesn't come with a ceremonial sash, but it should.

The Field Naturalists Marine Research Group members Joan Hales and Janet Davies sent me this gorgeous photo of the Victorian sea anemone, Oulactis sp., spawning last week.

Spawing sea anemone Female Oulactis sp. spawning with tiny pink eggs on the oral disc.
Image: Joan Hales
Source: Joan Hales

Sea anemones are closely related to corals and so, like corals, they spawn under the right conditions and environmental cues, usually in spring and summer. This can be associated with cycles of the moon. This particular anemone reproduces by broadcast spawning; females and males release eggs and sperm into the water column, where the tides and currents brings spermatoza into contact with the eggs for fertilisation.

This method is not for all species of anemones, however. Some have cunningly evolved various methods of reproduction (sexual and asexual) so they can stick around as long as they need to. Some species can even change the way they reproduce: they can clone themselves, they can split in half (fission), or leave a small fragment of their pedal disc (laceration) behind and a whole new anemone can grow. They can even be male and female together (hermaphroditic). They leave nothing to chance ensuring their survival on Earth – so far 600 million years and counting!

About this blog

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