The helpful and knowledgeable staff of the Queensland Museum Network often assist members of the public with the identification of insect, animal, fossil and geological specimens. Our experts also answer questions about Queensland’s animals, rocks and fossils, people and history. In this new section, we share some of these questions and answers with our readers.
Is it true that scorpions glow in the dark?
Continue reading Ask an expert
Written by Judith Hickson , Social History Curator, Queensland Museum
Take a seat, Brisbane!
Last week, a small folding wooden chair winged its way across the Tasman Sea to its new home in the social history collection of the Queensland Museum. Made in Brisbane in 1904 the so-called ‘Wally’ chair caught the eye of Auckland-based curator and historian, John Webster, on one of his frequent visits last year to iconic bric-a-brac and second-hand store Junk & Disorderly in the Auckland suburb of Northcote.
Intrigued by a small metal plaque attached to the front of the chair which reads, ‘WALLY CHAIR COY/ 15 CENTRAL CHAMBERS/ BRISBANE/ REC 25 FEB 1904’; John’s curiosity was instantly aroused. After spending time with his own research, he eventually decided to contact the Queensland Museum for help in solving the chair’s mysterious origin. Working together with social history curator, Judith Hickson, the pair has drawn on their mutual passion for history and storytelling to piece together an account of the ‘Wally’ chair.
Continue reading The mystery of Wally, the chair
Written by Jennifer Wilson, Senior Curator, The Workshops Rail Museum
Today marks 90 years to the date that Bert Hinkler landed safely in Darwin, completing his attempt to fly solo from England to Australia. Hinkler had completed the flight of 11,250 miles (around 18,000 kilometres) in just 15 days, beating the previous record of 28 days set by Australians Ross and Keith Smith in 1919. He became a media sensation. Every city and town in Australia seemed to want to see and welcome the aviator. But who was Bert Hinkler and why on earth did he want to fly solo from England to Australia? Continue reading Hustling Hinkler
Written by Carl Tanner, compiled by Dr Madeline Fowler
The final part of a blog series written by undergraduate students at James Cook University, who undertook research on objects in the Museum of Tropical Queensland’s maritime archaeology collection as part of the 2017 topic AR3008 Boats and Beaches.
HMCS Mermaid was built at the Howrah Dry Docks on the Hooghly River in Calcutta, India, in 1816, by the shipwrights Thompson (Phipps 1840:108, 123). Built out of Indian teak, it was iron-fastened and clad in copper sheathing along the keel (Hosty 2009:17). Designed as a cutter, it was originally rigged as a one-masted ship, but was refitted later into an armed, two-masted schooner (Hosty 2009:17; ANSD 2017). The ship displaced 83-85 gross registered tons, was 17m in length, 5.48-5.6m in beam and had a draught of 2.7m (Hosty 2009:17; Phipps 1840:123; ANSD 2017).
Continue reading A compass gimbal from Mermaid
Written by Tia Eagleson, compiled by Dr Madeline Fowler
Part of a blog series written by undergraduate students at James Cook University, who undertook research on objects in the Museum of Tropical Queensland’s maritime archaeology collection as part of the 2017 topic AR3008 Boats and Beaches.
The site of the Gothenburg wreck is in Flinders Passage, North QLD (Latitude: -19.37 Longitude: 148.06). Gothenburg was built in the UK in 1854 by Mr. John Scott Russel. The vessel, a twin-screw steamer, has numerous features in view at the site of the wreck which are indicative of the build of the ship. These consist of two compound single screw engines each with 60 individual horsepower, two decks and three masts and a female figurehead with an elliptical shaped stern. The dimensions of the ship were 59.92m in length, 8.6m in width and 3.23m in depth. Overall, the vessel weighed approximately 737 tonnes. This shipwreck is identified as number 2563 (Australian National Shipwreck Database; Central Queensland Herald 1931:13).
Continue reading A porthole from Gothenburg
Written by Caroline Mercer, compiled by Dr Madeline Fowler
Part 3 of a blog series written by undergraduate students at James Cook University, who undertook research on objects in the Museum of Tropical Queensland’s maritime archaeology collection as part of the 2017 topic AR3008 Boats and Beaches.
Coolangatta was built by John Brinksell in 1843 in Shoalhaven, New South Wales (NSW) (Davidson 2014). It was commissioned and owned by Alexander Berry, who named the brigantine sailing vessel after his property in the area (Potts 2010). The boat’s life was largely spent transporting goods up and down the eastern coast of Australia, bringing materials such as coal to the north and most often returning to Sydney with a cargo of timber (Potts 2010). At the time of the wrecking of Coolangatta, it had recently delivered coal to Brisbane and was starting its return trip back to Sydney when it was wrecked. On 19 August 1846, Coolangatta was driven ashore during a gale as it attempted to enter the Tweed River (Davidson 2014). The ship was abandoned by the crew and Captain Steele, after it was stripped of any removable gear and rigging (Davidson 2014). A couple of months later there was an attempt to repair the vessel, with Brinksell being brought up from NSW to repair the damage on the port side (Davidson 2014). However, shortly after the wreck was lifted onto rollers, another gale forced it into a worse position and the keel broke, ending any hopes of repairing the ship (Potts 2010).
Continue reading Copper-alloy sheathing from Coolangatta
The Workshops Rail Museum has installed a new exhibit 12 years in the making: Hunslet locomotive 327.
In 2005 the Museum was donated a 2 foot gauge tank locomotive that had operated between the early 1920s and the mid-1960s at the North Eton Mill, in Mackay, Queensland, hauling sugar cane. However, the locomotive was originally built in England in 1916 for use on the Western Front during the First World War.
Continue reading The Restoration of Hunslet 327