Contemporary collecting: Recording history as it happens

This blog post is part of an ongoing series titled Connecting with Collections. The series offers readers a peek inside the collections at Museum of Tropical Queensland, highlighting objects and their stories. What springs to mind when you think of museums? How about words like old, ancient, artefact or taxidermy? That’s not surprising.  Museums have a long history of collecting and displaying ‘curiosities’ just like … Continue reading Contemporary collecting: Recording history as it happens

The convict who got Australia’s wheels turning

Australia’s first wheelwright* was Hugh Hughes, a convict with the First Fleet in 1788.

He was the only wheelwright in the First Fleet so Hugh would have been kept very busy. Wheelwrights had to have the eye, skill and accuracy of cabinetmakers, but it was also a very laborious trade requiring strength and endurance. Hugh Hughes would have soon discovered timbers in this strange land were much harder than any he encountered in England.

There was no powered machinery at the time to saw and dress the ironbark, blue gum and stringy bark. Every timber component Hugh made was split, sawn, chipped and shaved with wedges, pit saws, adzes, axes, draw-knives and spoke shaves. Even the lathe that turned the wheel hubs was hand powered. Hugh, like country wheelwrights in Britain, probably even felled the trees he needed.  Yet Hugh Hughes was not making the big wheels, carts and wagons we might expect.

Continue reading “The convict who got Australia’s wheels turning”

Are these nocturnal raiders infiltrating your garden?

By Dr Chris Burwell, Senior Curator of Insects at Queensland Museum Queensland Museum entomologist Dr Chris Burwell delves into the nocturnal raiders that are infiltrating gardens in south-east Queensland right now – fruit piercing moths. My fellow curator Patrick Couper recently photographed some nocturnal raiders feeding on his carambola fruit. They weren’t the usual fruit bats or possums. They were moths, fruit piercing moths. Most … Continue reading Are these nocturnal raiders infiltrating your garden?

A step in the right direction for Magnetic Island’s giant clams

This is the third installment of a blog monitoring a bleaching event currently occurring in reefs off Magnetic Island, 14kms from the coast of Townsville in North Queensland. Since February 2020, a team of local marine biologists have been monitoring 14 giant clams along the snorkel trails of Geoffrey Bay which were showing signs of severe bleaching. The team returned again in March and observed … Continue reading A step in the right direction for Magnetic Island’s giant clams

Season of Adversity – The 1942 Brisbane Rugby League Season

With the museum temporarily closed and with many of us now having to work from home, I decided to do some research on a large donation of old Queensland Railway Institute (QRI) sporting trophies that we received last year. The one that instantly caught my eye was a 1942 Victory Cup Reserve Grade Rugby League Premiers trophy. As I started looking into how the Brisbane … Continue reading Season of Adversity – The 1942 Brisbane Rugby League Season

Learning @ Home with Queensland Museum Network

by Jillian Roberts, Learning Manager – Queensland Museum This term has begun differently to any other before it as the majority of Queensland students transition to learning from home. Thank you to the teachers across the state who are doing an incredible job transitioning to online learning and providing amazing support to students and parents alike. Queensland Museum has a suite of resources that can … Continue reading Learning @ Home with Queensland Museum Network

Len and Gladys: They wouldn’t take the likes of you

by Judith Hickson, Curator – Queensland Stories, Queensland Museum He was Australia’s first and only Aboriginal fighter pilot during World War II. She was a driver for the United States Army in Townsville. Drawn together by fate, Len Waters and Gladys Saunders also found common ground in their shared cultural and wartime experiences. Their marriage, after a whirlwind courtship of two weeks, spanned 46 years … Continue reading Len and Gladys: They wouldn’t take the likes of you

5 Minutes with Dr Owen Seeman, Collection Manager: Arachnida at Queensland Museum

Today’s #CouchCurator is the Arachnids Collection Manager from Queensland Museum – Dr Owen Seeman  who is sharing some of his favourites from the collection. I get to work in one of Australia’s best mite collections, with the only employed acarologist in Australia (Jenny Beard), and other amazing people who know the animals of Queensland and Australia. It’s a collection of people and specimens found nowhere … Continue reading 5 Minutes with Dr Owen Seeman, Collection Manager: Arachnida at Queensland Museum

The Book of the Dead of Amenhotep

By Dr Brit Asmussen, A/Principal Curator, Cultures and Histories, Queensland Museum, Southbank  To celebrate World Book and Copyright Day on 23 April 2020, we’re shining the spotlight on the oldest ‘book’ we have in the Queensland Museum Collection. What is a ‘Book of the Dead’? Ancient Egyptian funerary texts are colloquially known as the ‘Book of the Dead’.  Although they are called books, these don’t … Continue reading The Book of the Dead of Amenhotep

How many different species of ants do you think live in your backyard?

By Dr Chris Burwell, Senior Curator of Insects at Queensland Museum Small yellow ones that raid your kitchen, bigger black ones that crawl over your plants, even bigger metallic green ones that sting when you go barefoot in the garden. Three species, five species, ten species? The answer will probably be more than you think, depending on where you call home. If you live in … Continue reading How many different species of ants do you think live in your backyard?

Dr William’s Pink Pills For Pale People

Feeling a little pale and anxious from days in social isolation? Looking for a treatment or miracle cure for the virus that has taken over our lives and world? Don’t worry … you aren’t alone! Around the world, news services are reporting that social media is ‘awash’ with misinformation and advertising for ‘quack cures’ and fake treatments for coronavirus. Most people are familiar with the … Continue reading Dr William’s Pink Pills For Pale People

What species of Geckos can you find around your home?

Steve from Queensland Museum’s Discovery Centre has been documenting the wildlife he finds around his home and garden during isolation. Here he shares the types of geckos he can find around his home and gives some tips for how you can spot them around your own home. We are all spending plenty of time at home at the moment, so it seems like a perfect … Continue reading What species of Geckos can you find around your home?

5 minutes with Rob Shiels, Collection Manager from The Workshops Rail Museum

Today’s #CouchCurator is the Collection Manager from The Workshops Rail Museum – Rob Shiels who is sharing some of the most interesting items from his collection, along with his favourites.  Rob Shiels, Collection Manager, The Workshops Rail Museum Railways are a fantastic area of research because they have had such a profound impact on the way the world has developed since the mid-19th Century. In … Continue reading 5 minutes with Rob Shiels, Collection Manager from The Workshops Rail Museum

Entomologist Dr Chris Burwell’s Musings on Butterflies

By Dr Chris Burwell, Senior Curator of Insects at Queensland Museum Have you noticed butterflies everywhere for the last couples of months? There has been a great variety of different species and well as exceptional numbers of a few species. Fast-flying, yellowish-green Lemon Migrants and more leisurely, black and pale-blue spotted Blue Tigers have been especially common. The recent weather has been ideal for butterfly … Continue reading Entomologist Dr Chris Burwell’s Musings on Butterflies

In Focus: The Ernie Grant Collection

This blog post is part of an ongoing series titled Connecting with Collections. The series offers readers a peek inside the collections at Museum of Tropical Queensland, highlighting objects and their stories. In 2016, the Queensland Museum purchased a collection of items from Jirrbal Elder, Dr Ernie Grant. The Ernie Grant Collection, now housed at Museum of Tropical Queensland, represents the cultural and social life … Continue reading In Focus: The Ernie Grant Collection