Category Archives: transport

The Story of Australia’s First Airmail-part 2

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Maurice Guillaux flying his Blériot monoplane over Victoria Racecourse. Gift of S. Dyson, 1982. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

Maurice Guillaux flying his Blériot monoplane over Victoria Racecourse. Gift of S. Dyson, 1982. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

Flying in Cloudland! Looping the Loop! The World’s Most Daring Aviator! Aviation Extraordinary! Not long after his arrival in Sydney on April 8, Maurice Guillaux began to make headlines, as his promoters and newspaper reporters searched for superlatives to express the excitement of Guillaux’ aerial performances.
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The Story of Australia’s first Airmail-part 1

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A view from Level 1 in the Boiler House looking up at Maurice Guillaux’s Bleriot XI soaring above the Transport exhibition with other historic aircraft. L611. Image: Powerhouse Museum

A view from Level 1 in the Boiler House looking up at Maurice Guillaux’s Bleriot XI soaring above the Transport exhibition with other historic aircraft. L611. Image: Powerhouse Museum

Soaring above the Transport exhibition is one of the Powerhouse Museum’s treasures, a tiny Blériot XI monoplane. With fewer than 30 aircraft made before World War 1 still preserved around the world, this aircraft would be significant for its rarity alone. But this Blériot, together its French pilot, Maurice Guillaux, also holds an important place in Australian aviation history, pioneering civil aviation in this country by carrying the first airmail from Melbourne to Sydney in July 1914.

To celebrate the centenary of the first Australian airmail, I will be contributing a series of posts on this blog over the coming months, charting the story of Maurice Guillaux, his aircraft and their important contributions to early aviation in Australia.
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Cockatoo Island: From industry to art

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Cockatoo Island', Kerry and Co, Sydney, Australia, c. 1884-1917. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

Looking across to Cockatoo Island’, Kerry and Co, Sydney, Australia, c. 1884-1917. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

This image from the Museum’s Kerry and Co collection shows Cockatoo Island in the late 1800s. Now one of the venues for the Sydney Biennale, the island has had a diverse past, as a home to convicts, ship builders and now artists.
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The undies that almost stopped an Antarctic expedition

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Underpants  worn by James Castrission and Justin Jones during the Crossing the Ice Antarctic expedition. Image courtesy of James Castrission and Justin Jones.

Underpants worn by James Castrission and Justin Jones during the Crossing the Ice Antarctic expedition. Image courtesy of James Castrission and Justin Jones.

These two pairs of undies are part of a large collection of equipment and personal items used by Antarctic adventurers James Castrission (Cas) and Justin Jones (Jonsey) on their ‘Crossing the Ice’ Antarctic expedition to the South Pole, 2011-2012.

You may rightly notice that the pair on the left does not look like your average pair of underpants and it would not be remiss of you to ask what the unusual thing attached to them could possibly be…
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Taronga Park Zoo monkey bike

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Tandem monkey bicycle with toy monkeys. The bike was made by the Edworthy Cycle and Motor Works of Sydney from metal tubing and re-spoked pram wheels. Powerhouse Museum collection 2008/197/2. Gift of Kenneth Edworthy, 2008.

Tandem monkey bicycle with toy monkeys. The bike was made by the Edworthy Cycle and Motor Works of Sydney from metal tubing and re-spoked pram wheels. Powerhouse Museum collection 2008/197/2. Gift of Kenneth Edworthy, 2008.

Do you remember the monkeys riding tiny bicycles at Sydney’s Taronga Park Zoo? This miniature tandem bicycle was made for the Zoo’s monkey circus and used between 1936 and 1940. It’s one of the most unusual bicycles produced by the Sydney firm, Edworthy Cycle & Motor Works.

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The Nota Fang – an Australian-made sports car

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Nota Type IV 'Fang' sports racing car, chassis No. 224/71, made by Chris Buckingham, Nota Engineering, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia, 1971. Powerhouse Museum collection 90/557.

Nota Type IV ‘Fang’ sports racing car, chassis No. 224/71, made by Chris Buckingham, Nota Engineering, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia, 1971. Powerhouse Museum collection 90/557.

This Australian-designed and built sports racing car is the prototype for the Nota Type IV ‘Fang’ in the RT (Road Track) Series. It was manufactured in 1971 by a small Sydney-based automobile manufacturer, Nota Engineering, of 40 Smith Street, Parramatta, probably the oldest specialist manufacturer of sports cars in Australia.
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Regional Intern – Tom Harwood, Curator of the Qantas Founders Museum.

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Regional Services intern Tom Harwood -Curator at the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach in Queensland, Image: Michael Myers, Powerhouse Museum

Regional Services inter n Tom Harwood -Curator at the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach in Queensland, Image: Michael Myers.

Recently, I spent a week as a guest at the Powerhouse Museum as part of a mentorship through Museum and Gallery Services Queensland. I was asked to write about an item I discovered while I was there but it’s been a difficult choice.

Being an older bloke who remembers some of what was said about the Leyland P-76 when it was new, I was stunned to find that anybody (Castle Hill Discovery Centre) actually put one on a pedestal!

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Navy ships in Sydney Harbour, 1940s

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007/77/8 Photograph, Sydney Harbour, paper, photograph by James Hancock, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, owned by Joyce White, Perth, Western Australia, 1939-1945

2007/77/8 Photograph, Sydney Harbour, paper, photograph by James Hancock, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, owned by Joyce White, Perth, Western Australia, 1939-1945. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

In recent years the sight of Sydney Harbour filled with navy ships is not a very common sight, particularly war ships.
On Friday 4th October, 2013 the harbour will again be filled with war ships, this time from 20 nations to mark the centenary of the arrival of Australia’s first fleet of seven warships in 1913.

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Propeller from Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s Southern Cross

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Sir Charles Kingsford Smith standing in the front of the 'Southern Cross'. Powerhouse Museum collection, P2753, gift of Austin Byrne, 1965.

Sir Charles Kingsford Smith standing in the front of the ‘Southern Cross’. Powerhouse Museum collection, P2753, gift of Austin Byrne, 1965. 

I must have walked past the mounted row of wooden propellers in our large transport store dozens and dozens of times without registering what I was seeing. They are all mostly of beautiful polished timber but it’s the broken one that’s should have caught my eye. It’s from Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s famous Fokker Tri-motor, ‘Southern Cross’. But what’s its story?

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Paddle steamers – one of Australia’s inland pioneering transport systems

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Model of the paddle steamer Wallaby made by Trevor Watson in 1975. Powerhouse Museum collection. B2248.

Model of the paddle steamer Wallaby made by Trevor Watson in 1975. Powerhouse Museum collection. B2248.

Have you been down to Echuca in Victoria on the Murray River (the NSW and Victorian border) and been for a ride on a paddle steamer? The story of the paddle steamers is one of Australia’s amazing inland pioneering transport systems on a par with the camel trains, bullock drays and Cobb and Co coaches.

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