Category Archives: Science

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.


Platypus House…and Echidnas

Since we’d gone as far south as we could go,

we had to start the homeward bound trip.

We left our Hobart cabin and drove north.

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Since, the drive from one side of Tasmania to the other

doesn’t take long,

we made plans to stop at Platypus House

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and I’m so glad we did.

Platypus House isn’t a glamourous, big name attraction,

but, it was one of our favourite places.

And here is why….

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Isn’t he adorable?!

First, at Platypus House, we were led into a little room

to watch a quick introductory video.

Then, our guide took us to another room

to tell us more about monotremes

(that is, egg-laying mammals).

Did you know that there are only TWO monotremes?

The platypus and the echidna.

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What do you notice about this skeleton?

True, it’s a platypus skeleton,

but, look more closely at its legs

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or more specifically, its feet.

Yes, its rear feet (and legs actually)

face backwards.

It’s the same for the echidna.

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Oh, you should feel the pelt of a platypus.

It’s the softest thing I’ve EVER felt

…although its tail felt like a bristly stiff doormat.

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And, the echidna…

well he’s spiky of course,

but, no, he doesn’t shoot out quills.

(For the record, porcupines don’t ‘shoot out’ their quills either.

They have to touch their enemy with their quills

so they’ll detach and stab them.)

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Since Australia doesn’t have enough dangerous animals,

(okay, that was sarcasm)

you can add the cute little platypus to the dangerous animal list.

Male platypuses have venomous spurs on their hind feet.

Did you know that?

Our guide told us that the pain from a platypus sting is excruciating.

Apparently, you won’t die,

but, because of the extreme pain,

which continues for weeks on end,

you might wish that you had died.

To make matters worse, there’s no antivenom

and morphine won’t even touch the pain.

So, don’t get too close to them!

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Instead, go to Platypus House,

where you’ll not only get to pat the pelt of a platypus,

but, you’ll also get to see a live platypus up close.

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We also saw it being fed!

But, no, we’re still not at the highlight of our visit.

Now the platypuses were cute,

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but the echidnas were adorable!

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AND, we got to feed them!!!

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They crawled all over and around us.

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They were adorable little creatures.

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Look at their nice long tongue.


We just loved them

and couldn’t get enough of them.

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But, sadly, our session ended

and we had to leave.

Our final destination of the day

was our ferry back across the Bass Strait.

Cue the nausea. 😦

The chemist advised me to take four phenergen

and assured me that I would sleep right through the worst of the trip.

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We boarded the ferry,

and found our room,

which was much bigger and nicer than the first room we had.

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I took a quick squiz at the view

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and then slept through the rest of the trip

back to the mainland.


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Zoodoo Wildlife Park

After our visit to Richmond Gaol,

we headed over to Zoodoo Wildlife Park,

which is also in Richmond.

(I told you…for a little village, there’s stacks to do in Richmond.)

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Now, Zoodoo isn’t a huge zoo.

It’s a privately owned attraction

and it’s a little rough around the edges,

but it’s got a lot of character

which we quite enjoyed.

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Our favourite experience, by far, was the safari bus ride.

We got into an open-style bus,

armed with a cup of plant-based food,

and headed off for the back paddocks.

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…where we met the emus!!

It was rather wild and chaotic

but hilariously funny.

Next, we stopped and visited the zebras

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where we got to pat them.

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Have you ever patted a zebra?

We can say we have.

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Finally, we stopped and visited the camels.

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We got up close and personal

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with this camel.

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Like…REALLY close.

You don’t realise how big they are

until they’ve got their face in your face.

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This was such a cool experience!!

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Leaving the camels, zebras and emus,

we headed back.

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Isn’t the property just beautiful?!

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The things you see in your photos AFTER you take the photo.


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After the bus tour,

we were led to the lion enclosure

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to feed a lion.

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Yes, FEED a lion.

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Armed with tongs,

people could line up

and hand feed a lion.

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No, we weren’t lining up for that activity!!

We like our fingers.

Just being this close to a roaring hungry lion was enough to impress us.

There were plenty of other animals at Zoodoo

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but the main reason for our visit to Zoodoo

was to see the Tasmanian Devils.

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We love Tassie Devils.

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These little critters have so much character.

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How could you not love them.

Just look at this little face!!

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While we only spent a little while at Zoodoo,

it was a fun few hours

that perfectly wrapped up our day in Richmond.



Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

Given the icky weather predicted for our first day out in Hobart,

we tweaked our scheduled and found some indoor activities

to amuse ourselves.

Our first indoor activity was the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

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This gateway that you pass to enter the museum is called the Watergate.

It is called that because the Hobart Rivulet used to lap just metres from this gate.

Boats used to dock here to unload their goods.

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The museum used to be the Commissariat Building, where the supplies for the colony were stored.

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We loved that the Tasmanian Government had the forethought to protect these historic buildings and features.

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Admittedly, it doesn’t make for the most attractive courtyard to the museum,

but, with a bit of visualisation,

you can imagine people from the past rolling barrels of goods passed you as you enter the museum.

(The hideous coloured table and chairs need to go though!)

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The historic reminders continue inside.

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A 140 year old ‘spoon drain’ was uncovered during recent works

(a spoon drain channels water away from a building)

and the museum have made it a feature.

(It’s under the glass tiles on the ground).

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Okay, I have to mentioned my dislike of Modern Art again.

It’s ugly and devoid of meaning.

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And it’s totally out of place in an historic place museum like this one.

Okay, I just had to say it.

Moving on…

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This is the Central Gallery.

At first I was a bit perplexed,

wondering if it was more Modern Art,

and it does have that air about it,

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but then I discovered that it was an exhibition piece

reminding visitors of the old museum

(perhaps even the old country).

The 19th Century stairs were from the old museum

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and the exhibits ‘under the stairs’ are part of the museum’s international collection.

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I thought this was clever.

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But, we were at the museum

with one key goal in mind –

to see a Tasmania Tiger

…or what’s left of them.

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We were actually really lucky in that we found a knowledgeable, interesting museum docent

to guide us through the Tasmania Tiger room.

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If you didn’t know,

Tasmanian Tigers, or Thylacine as they are more accurately known,

are functionally extinct.

The last captive thylacine died in 1936

and, while researchers and the public have gone to extremes to find evidence that the species still exists,

they have not been successful.

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The thylacine isn’t actually a tiger,

if you hadn’t already guessed.

It looked more like a dog but it was actually a marsupial carnivore.

So, yes, this animal had a pouch, just like a kangaroo or koala.

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In 1888, the Tasmanian government placed a one pound bounty

on the head of each Thylacine

(however there were other bounties on them from as early as 1830)

because the commercial sheep farmers

claimed that the thylacines were vicious sheep killers.

Sadly, these bounties, and the hunters that claimed them,

led the species into a fast extinction.

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Nowadays, all that remains of the Thylacine,

(unless you believe there are still thylacines living deep in the forest somewhere

…which is possible)

are the pelts, skeletons and photographs

you can see in museums.

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Interestingly enough, the best taxidermied examples of the thylacines

aren’t to be found in Australia.

In the past,

Tasmania was shipping these critters off to zoos and museums all over the world

because of their rarity, hence value.

Nowadays, we’d happily give back some of the taxidermied critters we received in exchange,

like this porcupine and groundhog.

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Oh, totally un-Tasmanian Tiger related…

we learned something really interesting from our museum docent.

Have you ever heard of a Jack Jumper Ant?

You probably have if you live in Tasmania,

but we were clueless.

Our docent promised to show us the deadliest animal in Tasmania

so we followed…keen to see which snake or spider he might be about to show us.

But, instead, he took us to a tank of harmless looking ants.

Seemingly, the most deadly creature in Tassie is an ant.

But don’t be fooled.

This little ant kills (through anaphylaxis)

more people than sharks, snakes or spiders.

Hard to believe but that’s what the sign and docent said.

(And, with further research, I’ve discovered that they aren’t isolated to Tasmania

apparently they exist in parts of all the Eastern states.)

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Okay, onto cuter creatures.

Look at this playtpus and ecidna.

Aren’t they sweet.

Oh yeah, that playtpus has a poisonous spur

and you will wish you were dead if he stings you.

Yep, pretty much everything, cute or otherwise,

will kill you in Australia.


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Moving onto to a new topic…

While we were at the museum,

we visited the temporary exhibition,

“The Black War”.

In 1826, Governor Arthur gave the white settlers

permission to defend themselves,

in whatever way was necessary,

against the violent attacks by the Aboriginal people.

This was the beginning of what has been called “The Black War”.

Of course, it was a very one sided exhibition.

It did an excellent job of showing how the British took over the land and pushed the Aboriginal people out.

However, it didn’t document much of the massacres and violence against the white settlers

that led the Governor to such an extreme position.

There’s always two sides to a story and I wish exhibitions would tell both sides –

both sides were aggressors and both sides were victims.

It wasn’t pretty but one side won and the other side didn’t.

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There were some great artworks in the exhibition

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but the boys grew tired of them pretty fast.

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Me, I loved the journals.

I wish I could keep a journal;

sadly, I’m useless at it.

Nor do I have fascinating things to write in them,

so I’ll just continue to admire the journals of others.

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Hubby’s favourite exhibition was the Medals and Money exhibition.

He spent so long in there that we had to leave him

and find other things to look at.

I mean, it was interesting…for a while…but not an hour!

Have you ever heard of a ‘groat’?

There were a series of little rhymes

that includes mentions of currency

and a ‘groat’ is an old English coin

mentioned in a rhyme from one of Beatrix Potter’s books.

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The boys liked seeing the old Australian currency.

I think it’s much prettier than our current plastic notes.

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When we finally dragged hubby away from the money,

we headed to the Bond Store exhibition

This exhibition told the story of the first hundred years of colonisation in Tasmania.

It began on the top of three floors

with displays about contact between the British and Aborigines.

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The next floor demonstrated how the British shaped and changed life in Van Diemen’s Land.

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It included artifacts from convict times,

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including this box called ‘the black box’,

which was used to isolate troublesome female convicts on board transport ships.

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The piece I found the most interesting was this fire insurance plaque.

(I first learned about these in Philadelphia,

but I didn’t know that we had them in Australia as well).

In the past, when your house was burning down,

the fire insurance company were the people you ran for to put out the fires.

However, they would only come if you had paid for fire insurance.

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This second floor also included exhibits about the end of convict transportation

and the renaming of Van Dieman’s Land to Tasmania.

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The third and final floor was focused on the Australian land –

the plants, animals and minerals that the colonists had to utilise to make the new land their home.

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The best story on this last floor was that of the wombat.

A taxidermied wombat was sent back to England

mistakenly portrayed as an animal that walked on its hind legs.

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Here…read a little more about it.

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Imagine coming face to face with a wombat,

standing on its back legs.

Now imagine it running at you at 40kms an hour,

on its hind legs!

That’s how fast it can run.

Gosh, this is the stuff of nightmares.

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Anyway, that was our visit to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

It had lots of things to see and explore

and we quite enjoyed our time there,

but, we had to dash.

We had a date at the penitentiary

…and one must not to be late for the penitentiary.

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Posted by on December 22, 2018 in Australian Holiday, Field Trips, History, Science