Wednesday, July 18, 2012

HMS Sirius Re-housing Project

We received some very good and important news recently that our grant submission to fund the relocation of the HMS Sirius collection back into the Protestant Chapel has received funding from the Your Community Heritage (YCH) Program through the Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Water, Population and Communities. This is welcome news indeed as the collection has suffered since the 2004 move to the Pier Store which occurred as a result of an insurance issue with The Trial of the Fifteen. The unsealed walls and doors, high air salt content and temperature and humidity fluctuations that occur in the Pier Store all meant that the environment was simply too unstable for this precious collection. It was with great relief and thanks that we received notification of the success of our application.

The collection where it currently is in the Pier Store Museum
 The project will include an extension to the current kitchen area to allow for a small office where Janelle Blucher will carry out conservation work. A staircase will provide access to the existing balcony area. The replica hull from the old maritime museum will be replaced and the anchor will once again stand on its stock. The museum will be a dedicated space to HMS Sirius as the Bounty story will stay at the Pier Store, which will be entirely devoted to Pitcairn Norfolk stories. In essence this grant allows us to set up two new exhibitions with the expansion of displays at the Pier Store.

Of course the burning question is where will The Trial of the Fifteen move to? Negotiations are currently underway with a venue up-town which we hope to announce shortly.  This will be a major change for the play, but we hope will also present the opportunity to refresh and re-invigorate, make some needed changes and result in a fabulous new phase for this long running, successful play. We are sure that Peter Clarke would be pleased with our plans.
The Protestant Chapel - to be the new home for the HMS Sirius collection
 The move will result in a number of local businesses being used. Local builders, painters, floor sanders, cabinet makers and designers will all be part of this project. The work will unfold between now and the end of November and will keep us more than busy at the museum. 
 We would like to acknowledge and thanks the Commonwealth for fundingthis important project through the Your Community Heritage Program.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Maritime Week on Norfolk Island

Next March the Norfolk Island Museum will be partnering with The Travel Centre to present a week long event that celebrates our maritime heritage. Despite being such a little island we certainly hit above our weight when it comes to the quality of our maritime stories and it is wonderful to be able to share these with our visitors  in a ‘history soaked’ week of events! The Travel Centre has put together a fabulous package including airfares, accommodation and a range of activities for the week which will run from 15 to 24 March next year. Please help us tell others about this event by letting us know of individuals or groups who may like to receive information about the week and we’ll arrange for a package to be sent to them.

The title of the week: “From the Sirius to the Bounty” gives a clear indication of the substance of our maritime heritage. These two ‘big’ maritime stories bookend other perhaps lesser known but also fascinating parts of our maritime history. The story of the earliest Polynesian seafarers who lived here is important as this island is the only point of Polynesian settlement in Australia. Many islanders today have found artefacts such as stone adzes in their back garden or at the beach and of course we have a great array of artefacts from the archaeological digs behind Emily Bay. How the Polynesians came, why and when they left are just some of the questions surrounding this earliest part of the islands history.

Jumping forward in time an important part of our heritage today comes from our whaling history. One of the first industries to be started upon arrival by the Pitcairners, whaling brought vital cash into the economy. It was a dangerous activity as evidenced by the number of graves in our cemetery and an industry that stopped and started a number of times until finally finishing in 1962. The Resolution is another key local maritime story that goes to the heart of this island’s ultimately unsuccessful attempts to control shipping of fresh fruit and vegetables to mainland markets. Our modern day lighterage activity and the skill of our local men in unloading ships attracts visitors to every unloading. All these stories will be fully explored during the week.

Of course the wrecking of HMS Sirius on Norfolk Island in 1790 left us with Australia’s most important shipwreck site and material. On the 223rd anniversary of her wrecking at midday the 19th March, we will be looking out over the site where the devastating wrecking occurred. The importance of her artefacts cannot be understated – they are the most significant array of First Fleet cultural heritage held in Australia.

Last, but certainly not least is the most famous mutiny story ever told – the mutiny on the Bounty. We will try to separate Hollywood fiction from fact and fully explore all the circumstances of the mutiny; that most remarkable voyage of Bligh in the longboat and the voyage of the mutineers back through Tahiti and eventually on to Pitcairn Island.

It would be hard to think of a greater spread of substantial maritime stories that our own island has. We look forward to partnering with The Travel Centre for Maritime Week on Norfolk Island next March – and hope you’ll help spread the word to potential visitors