Category Archives: Field Trips

Back to Canberra to Visit Rome

When planning our holiday,

we noticed that the National Museum of Australia in Canberra

was hosting an exhibition about Rome – “Rome: City and Empire”.

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However, it was starting AFTER we’d visited Canberra.  😦

But, never fear.

We made a way to make it happen.

On our way back home,

we simply stopped in Canberra.

Although we skipped the dodgy motel

that we stayed in last time,

and, instead, stayed in another differently dodgy motel.

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(They only had internet in the foyer

– who wants to sit in the foyer to use the internet! –

and they only had a handful of carparks for the WHOLE motel!)

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However, the exhibition was well worth returning for.

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And we were delighted to discover that they had an audio tour.

We love tours!

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The exhibition space was huge

(compared to what we are used to in Brisbane)

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and the exhibits were amazing.

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I loved all the quotes around the walls.

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Did you know that only men with full Roman citizenship wore the toga?

(The head of this statue does not belong with the body of this statue.

Even the Romans recycled!)

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Before the age of facelifts and Botox,

the emperors had to make sure

that at least their statues and busts looked good.

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Their images also acted as propaganda.

This head depicts Emperor Commodus.

His head looks ‘ageless and wise’,

(well that’s what the plaque said;

I thought the eyes made him look creepy)

yet Commodus was cruel and horrible.

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All of Augustus’ portraits

depicted him at 30 years of age,

even though he lived to be 77.

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I enjoyed checking out the different hairdos

on the female heads.

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There were stacks of gods and goddesses

depicted at the exhibition.

This is Fortuna.

You kept her happy if you wanted a desirable fate and a huge fortune.

To have this goddess abandon you,

would be disastrous.

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People also had figures of these pagan deities

in their homes.

Keeping all of these ‘gods’ happy,

must have been quite a challenge.

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If you wanted to test out your Latin skills,

there were plenty of opportunities at the exhibition.

Here’s a little something to get your started.

It’s a diploma of citizenship

that was given to a retiring soldier.

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Yes, there were a few exhibits about gladiators

but not a huge amount,

which was nice.

Too often, that’s all people know about the Roman empire.

This relief shows two female gladiators,

which were not rare,

but still a bit of a novelty.

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I liked looking at all the day to day items,

like this skin scraper and oil flask.

When people went to the Roman baths,

they would exercise and then go to the heated baths.

There they would be rubbed with oil

and scraped down to remove both the oil and the dirt.

Afterwards, they took a cold bath

to close their pores.

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Check out the decorations on the scraper.

Would we, in the modern world,

bother with ‘mere decoration’

for a simple tool that scraped gunk off us?

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And, this is a theatre ticket!!

One of these isn’t going to fit well into your purse or wallet.

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This is a ‘bulla’,

an amulet worn by children until their sixteen birthday.

It supposedly protected the child from evil spirits.

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There were a couple of lovely mosaics.

Imagine your floors covered with these mosaics.

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Okay, probably not what I would want on my floors either,

but, I still appreciate the work that went into creating them.

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I prefer this mosaic though-

cupids riding dolphins.

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I particularly appreciated the exhibits

that depicted Christian symbols and images.

This plaque contains the Chi-Rho symbol,

which symbolises the first two letters of Christ’s name.

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These spoons also contain Christian symbols and messages.

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This one says, “Vivas in Deo”,

which means, “May you live in God”.

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Have you ever heard of denarii?

It’s a form of Roman currency

that you might have read in the Bible.

This is what denarii looked like…

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Did you know that the Roman statues

weren’t white like the statues we see today?

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They were actually brightly coloured.

Hopefully not as brightly coloured as the statue

that the boys coloured.

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There were so many fascinating exhibits to explore.

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In fact, if this exhibition ever travels to Brisbane,

we”ll probably visit it again.

We liked it that much.

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The Murray River and a Submarine

Whenever we had a whole day of driving ahead of us,

I always made sure to find a few little interesting places to visit

…merely so we had an excuse to get out of the car and walk around.

So, when we crossed the Murray River,

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I declared that we HAD to walk along the Murray River.

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I claimed that it was an important river

(and it is),

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and that we should mark the occasion of crossing the river

with a little walk and visit.

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My family thought I was mad,

but, at the same time,

it was nice to be out of the car.

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Our next little stop was in Holbrook,

 where we found a submarine

…although the town is nowhere near the sea or ocean.

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The submarine was in the middle of their town park.

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There was a great story to this submarine,

and we’d know the story

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if we hadn’t found this note on the museum door!

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Okay, well, despite being frustrated,

we did track down the story.

This little town used to be called, “Germanton”,

but, during WW1, this wasn’t a popular name.

The townspeople wanted a name change,

so they adopted the more patriotic name of Holbrook

after Lieutenant Holbrook,

who was the first submariner

to receive a Victorian Cross.

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He and his crew,

after being shot at,

almost running out of power,

and staying under water longer than was safe,

had penetrated rows of sea mines in the Dardanelles,

to sink a Turkish battleship.

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Hence, the installation of the above water section

of a submarine, the HMAS Otway, in the town park.

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After we left Holbrook,

Google Maps took us on another little off-road excursion.

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Okay, well it was partly hubby’s fault too.

He wanted to take a scenic detour

and he took the turn off

before I could google how much longer

the ‘little’ detour would add to our drive.

Three hours turned out to be a detour

that no one wanted to take,

so Google Maps took us,

via whoop-whoop,

back to the highway.

This is what whoop-whoop looked like.

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Our road improved slightly

and then some cows were added to make things interesting.

Never a dull day of driving.

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But, we eventually arrived in Canberra

and our new-to-us accommodations.

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Old Melbourne Gaol

With my brother and sister-in-law,

we toured the Old Melbourne Gaol.

It was a lot better than we expected.

First, we were given a guided tour of the Court Room.

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(In case you were wondering,

the motto is the motto of the British Monarchy

and it means “God and my Right”.

No, it’s not Latin.

It’s actually French,

as are the other words on the emblem.

French was the language of the Royal Court,

hence, the French on their emblem.)

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Then, we were ‘escorted’ into the old watch house

…by our ‘arresting’ sergeant

and our ‘arrests’ were processed.


We were placed in lines and shouted at

and then led into our holding cells.

Then, the lights were turned off

and we were left at the mercy of our cellmates.

It sounds terrible, doesn’t it,

but, it was a lots of fun

(…except for the little kid

whose mother thought it would be a good idea to bring the child along).

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After we were ‘released’,

we were free to explore the watch house

and its cells.

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You’d have to be desperate

to use the toilet

in front of all of your cellmates.

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And, yes, they really do have padded cells.

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Back in the Old Gaol,

we took our seats for a play about Ned Kelly.

It was titled, “Such is Life”.

It was really good.

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After the play,

we explored the Old Melbourne Gaol itself.

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There was so much to see.

Firstly, Ned Kelly’s death mask.

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Ned was left hanging for thirty minutes

before being moved to the mortuary.

There, a ‘death mask’ was made of his head.

(I wonder why death masks were made in those days.

They had access to photography by then.)

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The gaol also contains the gun that Ned used in the Glenrowan siege.

He’d stolen it from a constable

during the Jerilderie robbery.

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You can also see where Ned was hung,

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along with 134 other people.

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There were lots of cells to explore

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and lots of stories to read.

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This is the death mask of Francis Knorr,

the first woman to be hanged in Victoria.

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The hangman, who was supposed to hang Francis,

committed suicide two days prior,

rather than hang a woman.

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We wandered up and down the gaol catwalks

inspecting the cells

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and reading about the history of the prison and its prisoners.

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It was a fascinating place

and I wished we had more time to spend there.

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However, we had to get on the road

and continue our drive north and homeward.


Scienceworks in Melbourne

In the morning, we got off the ferry in Melbourne

(those 4 phenergen worked!!!!),

we dined (quickly – because of the dodgy-looking clientele)

at the MacDonald’s in St Kilda,

and then sat in the car park of Scienceworks

until it opened

(because we hated driving in Melbourne

and it was peak hour).

Now, perhaps we were tired,

and simply keen to get home,

but, we didn’t think much of Scienceworks.

They definitely seemed to have a lot of money to play with

and their facilities were much better than Brisbane’s facilities,

but, we just felt that they had an agenda to push

and they pushed it hard.

We still enjoyed our time at Scienceworks,

but, I was definitely disappointed.

The boys loved all of the technology.

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There was some kind of futuristic exhibition on when we visited.

Can you imagine driving around in this little beauty?

But, where do you put the kids?

Or do they have their own separate pod car?

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What would the musicians think of this futuristic harp?

Playing it would be a challenge.

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Both of the boys enjoyed racing this robot.

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As expected, the robot beat both of them.

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My ‘computer-programmer’ loved checking out the old tech.

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Does it mean that you are really old if you recognise nearly all of these?

I hope not.

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No, my first computer did not look like this

…but, it did come with a tape deck.

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There were lots of hands-on exhibits,

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which can make anything look fun.

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Here, Ethan is ‘experiencing’ gravity

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on different planets.

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Here, the story of the three little pigs

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is being hijacked to teach an environmental agenda. (Grrrr!!)

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I did find one interesting piece of information

among all the propaganda.

Did you know that two laptops use as much energy as your air conditioner?

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At Scienceworks, we also booked a guided tour

of their old pumping station.

(This was an old sewage pumping station.)

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For a place that pumped poop,

isn’t the building beautiful?

Beauty was important in the past.

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Our guide was wonderful

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and walked us around the station

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explaining the process

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and the equipment they used.

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The smoothness of the engines they used

was amazing.

There were six 20 cent pieces balanced on their edges

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on this MOVING engine.

Oh and we got an extra special tour.

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When we toured the old pumping station,

it actually DID smell like sewerage!

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After our pumping station tour,

we lined up for the Lightning Show.

We’d seen a Lightning Show at the Boston Science Centre

so we believed we were in for a treat.

Well, sorry to say, the Melbourne experience

was a very poor second to the Boston experience.

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After a bit more play at Scienceworks,

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we headed for my brother’s house

where we would spend the night.