The Navy section of the museum satisfied the requirement quite well, with plenty of fancy hats, shiny buttons, and braid-embellished coats as well as the more ordinary sailor shirts and bell-bottom pants. There were ship models galore, both of the beautiful sailing ships and the utilitarian steamers and more modern ones. Plus a giant figurehead of Admiral Nelson. T. pointed out that he had both eyes despite having only one arm; he (T.R., not Nelson) deplored this lack of perfection in representation.
Apparently the U.S. and Australia have strong naval ties. Who knew? President T. Roosevelt brought a whole mess of ships around the world to show off our naval might (he was the one obsessed with the Big Stick, right?). The Australians, duly impressed, pestered the British for their own Navy and got it. Earlier, the CSA bought a ship from Australia during the Civil War. In more recent times, Australian naval forces joined American ones in Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War.
I have a love/hate relationship with the explorers. The voyages themselves amaze me. The energy and endurance of the men who went off to find out what was there are admirable. The resulting subjugation and/or decimation of native peoples, on the other hand, turns my stomach. So as I looked at the intricate riggings of the ships and the careful notes and drawings, I found myself alternately rooting for and against the explorers (and on some level, as a descendent of occupiers, for and against myself). My love of the Eora artwork intensifies this feeling. Their aesthetic lifts my heart every time I see their work.
The boys got impatient with me in the gallery devoted to swimming and surfing because they do not share my amusement about vintage swimwear. I am happy to have been born long after ladies’ bathing costumes involved, to paraphrase a woman involved in changing them, more clothing than fits in a normal closet. Apparently I missed a recent exhibition on the entire history of swimwear, much to T.’s and Brent’s relief.
By the time we finished up the indoor portion of the museum, a miracle occurred! The sun came out! The world was created anew and there was great rejoicing! And lunch. Rejuvenated, we went to explore the actual ships outside. Here is T. in a gun turret on the HMAS Vampire:
We also toured the HMAS Onslow, which is a submarine. I never ever want to go anywhere in a submarine. I am not usually claustrophobic, but the idea of being packed into such a small space with so many people for more than ten minutes gives me the absolute heebie-jeebies. To distract myself, I took pictures of things, like this stalk of “flowers:”
I found another flower on the Vampire:
Of course, our adventure of the day concluded with a ride on yet another boat, the ferry that returned us to our own wharf.