All posts by qldmuseum

Anniversary of when QANTAS took flight

The Queensland Museum is calling on the public to become involved in preserving the stories within the State Collection. Through the Become a Part of Queensland’s DNA Campaign, people have the opportunity to link their name to an item from the Collection and in essence preserve that story. Queensland Museum, Senior Curator, Mark Clayton has written about his favourite item, an Airmail Bag.

The notion of a regular public airline service would have seemed fanciful in the nineteenth century. For Scottish-born Alexander Kennedy however, born in 1837 – just a few months after Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne – this notion was to be become much more than just a reality.

It was ninety-two years ago – this week -that Kennedy (then aged eighty-four) became the first passenger on Queensland’s first scheduled airline service – from Longreach to Cloncurry.

Kennedy’s enthusiasm for a local air service had been fuelled two years earlier following a chance meeting in Cloncurry with one of the fledgling airline’s founding Directors. A successful grazier, farmer, councillor, mine owner and company director, Kennedy had agreed to also become a provisional Director and guarantor, in consideration for a seat on the inaugural service.

Both pilot and plane were ex-military, the latter being particularly unsuited for the purpose. Attracted both by the occasion’s novelty and potential momentousness, a small crowd of Longreach’s citizens and dignitaries had gathered in the pre-dawn gloom that Thursday, 2nd November 1922 to bear witness as pilot, mechanic and passenger filled all available seats aboard the hulking Armstrong Whitworth AW8. As they readied for take-off, Kennedy in cap and goggles with wind tossing his beard is alleged to have shouted…”be damned to the doubters”.1

After an uneventful 498km flight with enroute stops for fuel (McKinley) and morning tea (Winton), Queensland’s first airliner landed at 11.30 that same morning, greeted by an equally enthusiastic gathering of Cloncurry citizenry. Kennedy’s first journey there, fifty-three years beforehand, had taken eight months to complete.

That airline is still operating, albeit, better known these days for its international services and by its acronym, QANTAS.

This mail bag was used by QANTAS to transport mail on the very first airmail service between Australia and England in 1931.
This mail bag was used by QANTAS to transport mail on the very first airmail service between Australia and England in 1931.

The airmail bag shown here relates to the following decade, a time when Q.A.N.T.A.S. (Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Pty Ltd), as it was then known, was manoeuvring – desperately – to become something more than just a local air service. All the world’s airlines were dependent then on government mail subsidies, and the Q.A.N.T.A.S. Board was quick to recognise the strategic, financial and prestige advantage of extending its network to include Brisbane and Darwin. The former was the conduit to Sydney and Melbourne, while the latter was the gateway linking Australia with the rest of the world.

The Queensland-airline’s opportunity for metamorphosis came on April Fool’s Day 1932 when the British Post Office announced that it would be undertaking an experimental round-trip airmail service from London to Sydney, as an extension of Imperial Airways’ existing London to Delhi service. Although at that time Q.A.N.T.A.S.’s fleet of single-engined aircraft were incapable of providing over-water international services, the company was engaged to fly the trans-continental return sector from Brisbane to Darwin. This is one of the mail bags carried aboard the DH61 Apollo on that successful north-bound proving flight, pilot Russell Tapp’s four-day return flight covering 6,437kms.

It was this experiment which led – in part – to the formation two years later of a new international carrier known as Qantas Empire Airways Ltd.

This item part of the Queensland DNA campaign and is available for you to take care of. To take care of this part of Queensland’s DNA click here.

  1. Hudson Fysh, Qantas Rising (1965), p.92.

Meet the Museum Teams of Tomorrow – Everyday Einstein student challenge

By Maryanne Venables

On Saturday 23 August, National Science Week may have been winding down, but here at Queensland Museum, we were cranking up!

Twenty one students from years 7-9 participated in a workshop called the Make your Museum student challenge. This (mutual) learning experience was generated in partnership with Queensland Academies as part of their Young Scholars program.
Continue reading Meet the Museum Teams of Tomorrow – Everyday Einstein student challenge

Dr Robert Raven tells the story of two great spider discoveries in Tasmania

The paruwi spider is a new genus, discovered & named by 13 year old Robert Beeton in north-west Tasmania. Photo courtesy of Bush Blitz

Queensland Museum arachnologist Dr Robert Raven travelled to the Central Highlands of Tasmania in February surveying spiders as part of a Bush Blitz survey. And it was during this survey that uncovered two new species of spiders in one night! Dr Raven tells the story of these great discoveries.

Continue reading Dr Robert Raven tells the story of two great spider discoveries in Tasmania

When is a bug not a bug?

By Dr Christine Lambkin

Did you know that during 2012-13, the Queensland Museum had nearly 13,000 enquiries through the Discovery Centre alone, that’s not including the number of people who contact staff directly. Of these enquiries, the highest numbers were for insects with nearly 3000. The next were reptiles with over 2000 enquiries. Based on this enormous number, the Queensland Museum decided to offer an Animal ID day as part of National Science Week Celebrations with a focus on these two groups.
Continue reading When is a bug not a bug?

The ‘bric-a-brac’ of war

Australia recently celebrated National Archaeology Week. During this time, Queensland Museum Curator of Archaeology, Dr Brit Asmussen participated in some Meet the Curator sessions with a focus on discovering the stories of authentic and faux archaeological artefacts collected by servicemen stationed in Egypt in the First World War.

Continue reading The ‘bric-a-brac’ of war

Out of the Box Festival : We chat to the jellyfish from Songs of the Sonar

The Out of the Box Festival is returning to Brisbane tomorrow and bringing along 8 days of fun workshops, musical performances & lively concerts for children 8 years and under. This year’s festival is all about the many relationships children have with living creatures, both real and imaginary – an absolute must for your child’s calendar.

The Queensland Museum is thrilled to have hybrid human jellyfish, and mystical sea songstress Deepstaria Enigmatica, join us for 10 days of under the sea activities that feed on mystery, music and fun! She took time out of her busy sea-schedule to invite us into her cavernous underwater realm to discuss Songs of the Sonar, learn about her deep ocean friends and chat about the discovery of her musical talent.
Continue reading Out of the Box Festival : We chat to the jellyfish from Songs of the Sonar

Museum for teens: Deep Oceans

Written by: Tim Janetzki is a student at Ferny Grove State High School who has taken it upon himself to discover the Queensland Museum and the amazing things within it. Over the coming months Tim will blog about his personal experiences and views on the Museum. His next assignment was discovering Deep Oceans.

Don't worry this Anglerfish is just a replica
Don’t worry this Anglerfish is just a replica

The unknown is a terrifying thing, to not know what lives in the depths of something that covers 71% of our planet’s surface, is a mystifying and uneasy feeling. Novelists have written about it, Film makers have pictured it, and scientists have corrected it, but still, we are still imagining monsters of the deep. They can’t be real, can they?

Queensland Museum’s newest exhibition is Deep Oceans sheds light on the undisturbed and inky black darkness of the seas, revealing some of the most exquisite and interesting marine life ever seen. Only 10% of the deep oceans have been explored and just from that small amount of exploration, marine biologists, scientists and explorers have just recently punctured the black veil of the ocean, allowing them to peek inside the abyssal darkness.

Get up close to the Giant Squid
Get up close to the Giant Squid

Now the Queensland Museum has put on show the rarities found within the deep ocean fissures and plains, displaying a wide range of bioluminescent fish, huge squid, Black Smoker sea vents, turbidity at different levels and air pressure. The crown jewel of the exhibition is the Giant Squid, submerged in glycerol has been preserved perfectly since its discovery in 2004, now is on display, along with the Queensland Museums own collection of diving helmets.

The many interactive displays provide easier ways of understanding the depths such as the legendary Bathysphere, a small sphere shaped submarine that was lowered down to the deep with people inside, observing the sea below with powerful lights.

One of the diving helmets from the Langley Collection
One of the diving helmets from the Langley Collection

Queensland Museum’s Deep Oceans transports you to a fabled world that has to be seen to be believed, with collections of Diving Helmets, Whale Bone carvings and stories of colossal monsters of the deep, but no one’s actually seen a monster, have they?

Deep Oceans, until 6 October 2014. Tickets cost $12.

For more information click here.