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DISPLAYING POSTS FROM: Jan 2013 (7)

There Once Was An Irish Kids Fest…

Author
by Siobhan
Publish date
30 January 2013
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There Once Was An Irish Kids Fest…

On Sunday 18 January we hosted 1,952 people here at Immigration Museum for the Irish Kids Fest, and what a fabulous day it was!  So much of the dialogue around the Irish diaspora at the moment is focused on the harsh economic conditions that make a life away from home more viable, but this was a day to revel in what we love about being Irish and to share the fun of Irish culture and arts.

Céili and set dancing workshop Céili and set dancing workshop
Image: Justine Philip
Source: Museum Victoria
 

In the courtyard, dancers of all ages from the Christine Ayres School of Irish Dancing displayed their intricate footwork and helped children find their feet during céili and set dancing workshops.

Learning céili dance moves Learning céili dance moves
Image: Justine Philip
Source: Museum Victoria
   

Throughout the day, children and families heard Irish tales from storyteller Oisín McKenna, found the lost treasure of Ireland during interactive theatre performances with Jack and Molly (Vince and Margie Brophy) and also had fun playing our Federation handbells, making Claddagh crowns and illuminated bookmarks.

Irish storytelling session Irish storytelling session
Image: Justine Philip
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Here at the Discovery Centre, Simon and I helped people to get started on their family history journeys, using the resources available through the National Archives of Australia and the Public Records Office of Victoria.  But best of all, we hosted a limerick writing competition, with a sweet or sticker for every entry, and hourly main prizes for the best ones.  There were LOTS of amazing entries, and it was really hard to choose between them!  We displayed the rest of our favourites on our board for the rest of the week for people to enjoy.

  One of the fantastic limerick competition winners One of the fantastic limerick competition winners
Image: Phil Morrissey
Source: Museum Victoria
 

I’m sure it will come as no surprise that we had a few limerick entries from grownups – they certainly made us laugh, but I’m afraid I can’t share them here.  My favourite was about a young sailor and his predilection for dancing. I’ll leave the rest of that one as an exercise for the reader! 

  Learning to play the bodhrán (Irish drum) Learning to play the bodhrán (Irish drum)
Image: Justine Philip
Source: Museum Victoria
 

A busy day full of great craic – can’t wait to see you all again at the next Kids Fest!

Old Customs House revisited

Author
by Kate B
Publish date
21 January 2013
Comments
Comments (4)

I loved the post on the restoration of Old Customs House – do you have any earlier images of the Old Customs House?

Stepping further back in time this post will look at images of Old Customs House from 1957-1969. Customs officers moved out of Old Customs House in 1965. The building was then used as the Melbourne offices for the Commonwealth Parliament and its local members. 

The following images sourced from the National Archives of Australia show the Old Customs House during this period.

Eastern View, Long Room 1957 Eastern View, Long Room 1957
Image: National Archives of Australia
Source: National Archives of Australia
 

The chandeliers, clock and parquetry flooring are no longer a feature of the Long Room today. The restoration of the Long Room included researching the original flooring, and sourcing and laying a near exact copy of the original tiling.

Eastern View, Long Room 1965  Old Customs House, Eastern View, Long Room 1965
Image: National Archives of Australia
Source: National Archives of Australia
 

Desks and partitions were installed to create a workspace for office staff.

Western View, Ground Floor 1969 Old Customs House, Western View, Ground Floor 1969
Image: National Archives of Australia
Source: National ARchives Australia
 

In this image the lifts are directly opposite the grand staircase on the western side of the building.  The lift today is still on the western side but moved about three meters to the left. 

  South East View, Ground Floor Foyer 1969 South East View, Ground Floor Foyer 1969
Image: National Archives of Australia
Source: National Archives Australia
 

One of the main differences here is the glass wall creating a vestibule from the street entrance. Other differences include the central desk and carpeted floor. 

  First or Second Floor Corridor, 1965 Old Customs House, First or Second Floor Corridor, 1965
Image: National Archives of Australia
Source: National Archives of Australia
 

Cupboards, shelving and seating line the walls of the corridor and linoleum covers the original marbled flooring.

  South View, Rear Courtyard Old Customs House 1969 South View, Rear Courtyard Old Customs House 1969
Image: National Archives of Australia
Source: National Archives Australia
 

The rear courtyard area now features the Immigration Museum’s Tribute Garden. There is now also a glass atrium attached to the rear entrance of the building.

The Immigration Museum opened in the Old Customs House in 1998 and houses a number of exciting exhibitions exploring the history of immigration to Victoria, contemporary issues exploring identity, international and local community exhibitions and the history of The Old Customs House.

Immigration Museum is open daily from 10am - 5pm

Got a question? Ask us!

Siding Spring Observatory

Author
by Tanya
Publish date
14 January 2013
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Comments (2)

Like other Australian astronomers last night, I was glued to the computer watching as a fire raged across the Warrumbungle National Park in NSW, home to Australia's world-class optical and infrared telescopes at Sliding Spring Observatory. I think the hardest thing was knowing that it's almost 10 years ago to the day, that fires destroyed the Mt Stromlo Observatory in Canberra. Could this really be happening again?

Fire around telescope A truly frightening image, as Australia's largest optical telescope, the Australian Astronomical Telescope (AAT), is engulfed in smoke.
Source: Rural Fire Services
 

Fires around telescope Fires blaze around cottages in front of the AAT. To the top right of the image are the flames that engulfed the lodge.
Source: FTS webcam
 

Fire at astronomer's lodge The glow as the astronomer's lodge is destroyed. Temperatures at the AAT were measured to be over 100 degrees.
Source: FTS webcam
 

Thankfully, lessons were learnt from that event and there is much hope that measures put into place may have saved the dozen or so telescopes on the mountain. We'll have to wait and see as the damage is assessed over the next few days.

The good news is that all 18 staff were evacuated safely. Many telescope domes are still standing, as new images come through this morning. The building which has been destroyed was the lodge which provided accommodation for astronomers during their observing runs. 

Fire around telescope Electronics were not meant to survive such temperatures.
Source: HATSouth webcam
 

Telescope dome after fire The picture I wanted to see today. The AAT dome still stands, but there will be a wait to access how the telescope fared inside.
Source: LCOGT webcam
 

Our thoughts are with the community of Coonabarabran and those who have been affected by the fires, and our thanks go out to fire services for their great efforts. 

If the telescopes had been destroyed it would have been devastating for Australian astronomical research, all but ending our ability to do continue doing optical astronomy here. Hundreds of researchers and students rely on those telescopes. And it would also have affected the Coonabarabran community, many of whom rely on the telescopes for their livelihoods too.

Images of the event, many taken from the webcams that are normally used by astronomers to check sky conditions during their nightly observations, tell the story.

burnt astronomer's lodge building The burnt out remains of the astronomers lodge. I have fond memories of Margaret's delicious chocolate pudding, which I would devour there, before heading up to the telescope for the night's observing run!
Source: Rural Fire Services

Telescope dome after fire The square "dome" on the left houses the ANU's 2.3 metre telescope which stayed a comfortable 20 degrees throughout the fire. The dome to the top right is the new SkyMapper telescope, led by Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt and built to continue the work of the Great Melbourne Telescope after it was destroyed in the Mt Stromlo fires. Temperatures there peaked at 65 °C.
Source: Rural Fire Services
 

UPDATE: 

The Warrumbungle Shire Council has set up a Warrumbungle Shire Mayor’s Bushfire Appeal with donations being used solely to assist residents affected by the fire. The NSW Rural Fire Service are reporting that some 40 properties and over 110 out-buildings have been confirmed lost as well as a large number of livestock and farm machinery.

 

Links:

Siding Spring after the fires of January 2013 via Observations Blog, Sydney Observatory

Report from The Australian

Astropixie liveblogging the fire: Sunday night and Monday morning

Waa and the Seven Sisters

Author
by John Patten
Publish date
11 January 2013
Comments
Comments (3)

John Patten is a Bundjalung / Yorta Yorta man on his father's side, and a descendant of First Fleet convicts via his mother. An educator and artist, he takes great joy in sharing knowledge with visitors to Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre.

This summer Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum presents a follow-up to our successful Tiddalik the Thirsty Frog theatre show, with a local Kulin creation story – Waa and the Seven Sisters.

  woman in wig Nikki Ashby performing as the Seventh Sister.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The story tells how the Kulin peoples (the traditional owners of Melbourne and surrounding areas) were given the secret of fire by their creator, Bunjil, who often takes the form of an eagle. The story focuses on how the gift of fire was given to seven old women, who instead of sharing with the rest of the Kulin decided to keep fire for themselves. Thus, the Kulin's protector Waa (the Crow) conjured a plan to ensure the secret of fire is shared with everyone.

Woman in bird costume Uraine Mastrosavas performing as Waa the Crow.
Source: Museum Victoria

The show's cast this year are Uraine Mastrosavas, who we are very pleased to have back with us, after having been part of last year's Tiddalik the Thirsty Frog shows, and Nikki Ashby, an actor, dancer and choreographer. The show is directed by Michael Camilleri.

Theatre set with purple lights A dramatic moment on the set of Waa and the Seven Sisters.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Audiences are a major part of the show, making up part of the cast and interacting with the performers both on and off stage. There is plenty of music, singing, laughing and dancing.

boy in bird mask A young member of the audience performing as Jert-Jert.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre also has a free summer activity running in the Birrarung gallery where children and their families can make and colour in their own Bunjil the Wedge-tailed Eagle glider, decorated with traditional Victorian Koorie art motifs, to take home.

Waa and the Seven Sisters runs until 28 January at 11:00 AM, noon and 1:00pm, every day except Saturdays. Adults $10, children $5, MV Members receive discount admission.

Links:

What's On: Waa and the Seven Sisters 

Melbourne Museum School Holiday Program

Coins and medals

Author
by Jo
Publish date
6 January 2013
Comments
Comments (1)

Your question: Where can I find out more about the coins and medals I have?

We often in the Discovery Centre receive enquiries about coins and medals. Our Collections Online website provides information about many of the coins, medals and trade tokens in the collection. We currently have approximately 7500 coins online, 2800 medals online and 2800 trade tokens online!

Coin, Holey Dollar, New South Wales, 1813 The obverse of the host coin and featured a laureate bust of Charles III (mostly removed with the central dump) facing right. At the bottom of the overstrike is a spray of olive leaves with the artist's initial H at its centre.
Image: Naomi Andrzejeski
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Melbourne Museum Discovery Centre

You can come into the Discovery Centre and make use of the library resources from 10am until 4.30pm, Tuesday to Saturday. You can also come in and look at the coins and medals we have on display in our reference drawers, featuring medals from the International Exhibitions held at the Royal Exhibition Building in 1880 and 1888.

Florin, 1947 Silver coin - Florin (Two shillings), 1947
Image: Unknown photographer
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Australian Coins and Medals

The Numismatics Association of Australia provides links to many relevant websites, and has also published online the past issues of its Journal, which has many articles of interest on the history of Australian coins and medals. See also the website of the Numismatics Association of Victoria for its activities and journal.

The National Museum of Australia features convict tokens and agricultural medals on their website.

Reserve Bank of Australia’s Museum of Australian Currency Notes provides a timeline of Australian paper money and educational resources.

The ANZ Banking Museum also provides information about Australian currency, the museum tells the story of Australia's banking heritage through displays of items such as banknotes and coins, moneyboxes, office machines, firearms, gold-mining equipment and uniforms.

Australian Penny, 1920 Penny coin from Australia 1920 (Kookaburra side)
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Useful publications include:

Leslie Carlisle Australian historical medals, 1788-1988 (2008) available in the Melbourne Museum Discovery Centre.

World Coins and Medals

The British Museum’s Department of Coins and Medals provides a guide to books, web resources and associations. The site covers not just British coins and medals, but Roman, Greek, Oriental and modern coins, tokens, medals and paper money.

The Royal Numismatics Society (UK) has a web page of links to relevant web resources.

1930 Penny, proof coin 1930 Penny, proof coin
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Useful publications include:

Standard Catalog of World Coins, published by Krause Publications. There are separate volumes now published for each century from the seventeenth century to the present.

And see the detailed book list at http://www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/departments/coins_and_medals/reading_list.asp

Got a question? Ask us!

Bug of the Month - Emperor Gum Moth

Author
by Patrick
Publish date
4 January 2013
Comments
Comments (9)

The apparent decline of the Emperor Gum Moth (EGM), Opodiphthera eucalypti, around Victoria has been a hot topic of debate amongst entomologists and other EGM fans in the last few years.

Emperor Gum Moth A newly-emerged male Emperor Gum Moth.
Image: Patrick Honan
Source: Patrick Honan
 

The decline is anecdotal and as yet there is no hard evidence, but theories abound. Many people contact us noting that they don’t see EGM caterpillars anymore, as they did when climbing trees as a kid. Which prompts a question in return: "When did you last climb a tree?"

Emperor Gum Moth Male Emperor Gum Moths have enormous feathery antennae used to detect the presence of females.
Image: Patrick Honan
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Another possibility is the demise of the introduced Peppercorn Tree (Schinus molle) in Victoria. Originally from the Peruvian Andes, Peppercorns were planted in every Victorian primary school and many parks from the 1880s to the early 1900s. EGM caterpillars, although feeding naturally on eucalypts, will also consume Silver Birch (Betula pendula) and Liquidambar (Liquidambar styraciflua), as well as Peppercorns. Victorians who went to primary school up until the 1970s would be very familiar with EGM caterpillars feeding on Peppercorns, but the trees have gradually died out or been removed until now there are very few left. Peppercorns are now considered an environmental weed.

Children planting trees State school children planting peppercorn trees in Carlton Gardens, just outside the now Melbourne Museum, on Arbor day, 1905.
Source: Reproduced from Carlton in DPCD report by Lovell Chen
 

Emperor Gum Moth The colour of adult Emperor Gum Moths varies considerably throughout their range.
Image: Patrick Honan
Source: Patrick Honan
 

Another strong possibility is the intrinsic variation in insect populations. Many species undergo booms and busts, appearing in vast numbers one year then apparently disappearing for several years afterwards, sometimes for a decade or more. These fluctuations are usually climate related, with each species requiring an exact combination of factors (such as a mild winter and a wet summer) in a particular order to afford them a boom year. Perhaps the last couple of decades have not produced the right combination for EGMs, and they’re just waiting for their number to come up.

European Wasp The dreaded European Wasp. Workers tear EGM caterpillars off trees and cut them into small pieces before transporting them back to the nest.
Image: Patrick Honan
Source: Patrick Honan
 

One of the most popular theories is attack by European Wasps (Vespula germanica) on EGM caterpillars. Caterpillars are a favoured prey of European Wasps, and they can do enormous damage when present in large numbers. However, somewhat ironically, after reaching plague proportions in the 1980s and 90s, wasp populations have dropped dramatically in the last 15 years or so, again for no discernible reason other than a possible combination of environmental factors.

Emperor Gum Moth caterpillar feeding An Emperor Gum Moth caterpillar feeding on Eucalyptus species.
Image: Patrick Honan
Source: Patrick Honan
 

In the end, any decline of EGMs probably comes down to habitat loss. The number of host gum trees has steadily reduced in urban areas in particular, but also in suburban areas and even rural towns. If fewer trees are available, there will naturally be fewer caterpillars. So if you’re missing these iconic caterpillars, the best strategy is to plant a gum tree.

Young caterpillars Young EGM caterpillars look very different to older caterpillars, but their presence is a possible sign of a healthy local environment.
Image: Patrick Honan
Source: Patrick Honan
 

But these theories are, at this stage, pure speculation. EGMs are still around, if you know where to look. A Museum Victoria Bioscan at Wilson’s Promontory in 2011 attracted hundreds of EGM adults (as well as the closely related Helena Gum Moth, Opodiphthera helena) to light traps at night. And just last month, a dozen EGM caterpillars were on display in the Forest Gallery at Melbourne Museum. Plans are underway to assess the extent of the EGM decline in Victoria, so stay tuned for further developments.

Further reading:

Coupar, P. & Coupar, M., 1992, Flying Colours – Common Caterpillars, Butterflies and Moths of South-Eastern Australia, NSW University Press, 119pp.

Common, I.F.B., 1990, Moths of Australia, Melbourne University Press, 535pp.

Zborowski, P. & Edwards, T., 2007, A Guide to Australian Moths, CSIRO Publishing, 214pp.

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

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