Australia boasts of an enigmatic past which the present generation can learn from. Its historical past has molded the country to its present multicultural diversity. From the landing of the first fleet of Captain James Cook in 1788, it started an era of Western culture admixed with the indigenous Australian traditions and customs. Since then, Australia is shaped to its present form – a country of harmonious diversity.
What better way to learn and understand this diversity, is through the Australian National Maritime Museum, a museum that houses valuable artifacts and relics of the past, as well as modern day objects and articles. Although focused on nautical collections, ANMM is vast with significant assortments that provide a glimpse of the massive Australian maritime history.
The focal point of the ANMM collection would definitely be the arrival of the first fleet, as represented by the replica of Captain Cook’s His Majesty’s Bark (HMB) Endeavour, which is afloat in Darling Harbour. A guided-tour to its inner decks presents an overview of what the famous ship looked like in the past. It also recaps how the men of the first fleet lived their daily lives while aboard the ship.
In contrast to the mostly wooden structure of Endeavour, two modern naval vessels, the HMAS Vampire (The Destroyer) and the HMAS Onslow(The Submarine) are dock side by side to it, providing comparative understanding of the past and present maritime goals. Endeavour was meant for geographical discovery to enable future settlement, whereas HMAS Vampire and HMAS Onslow are meant for security and defense. This stark difference in nautical goal shifted from increasing topographical custody to protecting sovereignty. Although different in their aims, the Endeavour and the modern day vessels were both politically motivated.
The Main Gallery
The main gallery consists of scaled-down replicas of maritime vessels used in the past decades. This includes the Blackmores First Lady yacht that was used by Kay Cottee to circle both global hemispheres and the fastest boat, The Spirit of Australia, by Ken Warby. Besides these, other notable exhibits are those of the maritime flags, a boat made from beer cans, various naval uniforms and numerous handcrafted mementos.
Most appealing to visitors is the interactive exhibits aptly entitled Ships & the Sea, where one can have hands-on control of miniature vessels as well as ship simulations.
The Australian National Maritime Museum is located at 2 Murray Street in Darling Harbour. It is open daily from 9:30 am until 5:00 pm. Further details on getting there and ticket pricing are available on their website.
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