After our underwhelming trip to the National Library of Australia,
Australia redeemed itself with the National Museum of Australia.
I so want this museum in my city.
Canberra, you can have the Brisbane Museum,
and we’ll take your Canberra Museum?
It’s such a great museum!
Oh, but first I have to tell you about our Virtual Reality experience at the museum!
We were walking up into the museum’s exhibition halls and saw this virtual reality show advertised.
We paused a second to read the show and the usher urged us to give it a try.
We thought, “Oh yeah, why not”.
It wasn’t too expensive and, hey, we were on holidays.
We were led into a room full of revolving chairs
and given virtual reality headsets and headphones.
After a little explanation of how to use the equipment
(how to adjust the focus and sound without pressing the wrong buttons and turning off the experience,
which I accidentally did),
the experience started.
IT WAS AMAZING!!!
I kid you not.
This was one of the very best things we did on our holidays.
It was WOW!!
Our experience had us out in space
and then in a descent module back to earth.
We could look all the way around us, spinning our chairs to see behind us
and feel like we were right there experiencing it for ourselves.
We could look down at ourselves and see ourselves in space suits.
It was so cool!!
If you EVER get the chance to experience virtual reality, jump at it.
In fact, we found out that there was another virtual reality showing at the museum
and adjusted our whole holiday schedule so that we could come back the next day to see the other movie.
(But more about that in the next post.)
After our virtual reality experience,
we headed into the exhibition halls.
There was sooo much to see
and what we loved were the volunteer guides that roamed the halls to talk and share with the guests.
We met some amazing guides that walked with us through whole sections pointing out cool exhibits.
I particularly liked MacKensie’s collection of marsupials.
There was some weird and interesting stuff in his collection.
Check out this baby wombat,
these kangaroo joeys,
and this puggle (that’s what you call a baby platypus).
Now for the weird.
(Oh and these are not marsupials).
A pig with two bodies
and a spider with nine legs.
Did you know that museums have issues keeping their specimens bug free?
I had never even thought about such a thing.
And meet Chris, the world’s wooliest sheep.
He was found carrying heavy fleece
and rescued by the RSPCA.
His fleeced weighed in at 41.1kg.
Yes, a Guinness world record.
And the museum has that fleece!
I also learned that wild sheep naturally lose their fleece
but modern domestic sheep are bred to retain it and hence rely on man to sheer it for them.
It’s estimated that Chris hadn’t been shorn for five years.
This is Chris the sheep once he’d lost his 41.1kg of fleece.
The exhibit we were most looking forward to seeing at the museum was Phar Lap’s heart.
(For non-Aussies, who have no idea who Phar Lap is, he was a very famous Australian race horse.
Watch the movie about him if you want to learn more and fall in love with him as we did.)
Phar Lap’s remains have been divided up all over the place.
His heart is in Canberra, his skin is in Melbourne and his skeleton is in New Zealand
so on this holiday we’d end up seeing about half of Phar Lap.
His heart was fascinating.
It was larger than the average horse heart,
which the museum tried to show with this colour overlay.
Then we wondered how it compared to the human heart
but we didn’t have to wonder as we discovered that the museum had anticipated our question
by adding a human heart overlay.
I know. We get really excited by strange things.
Oh and I found LOTS more king plates (also known as breast plates.)
The plaque said that king plates were often recalled with pride by the descendants of the recipients.
King John Cry was awarded his breastplate for being a trusted mediator during peace negotiations.
I really want to read more about the early relationship between Aboriginal people and British colonists.
I believe that we’ve been misled with what we’ve been taught at school.
(I’ve just finished reading “The Sydney Wars”
and the picture it paints is very different to what educators and the media are trying to tell us.)
For instance, this poster, which, at first sight, might appear to be a warning to the Aborigines to behave themselves
is actually telling the Aborigines that they are protected equally under British law.
Meaning that if a white man killed an Aborigine, he would have to face the same justice as if an Aborigine killed a white man,
and this was certainly the case according to primary sources that I read in “The Sydney Wars”.
I was also interested to learn that Governor Arthur Phillip valued religion very highly
and, as a result, all the convicts were issued with Bibles and prayer books
and required to attend Church.
This is one such Bible.
We also found more love tokens.
We hold a special place in our heart for love tokens.
Just think, these are the last expressions of love that the convicts were able to share with their families,
who’d be thousands of miles away from them, most likely for the rest of their lives.
Everything was poured out onto these tokens.
(This token reads, “Accept this dear Mother from your unfortunate son.”)
There were so many interesting exhibits at the museum
and so much Australian history to learn.
We are the kind of people who read everything and watch everything
so we spent ages at the museum.
And then went back the next day as well!!