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Monday, April 25, 2011

Bmag April 26th 2011 - Discovering Brisbane's past

The Howsons are off to Washington soon and my wife Nikki has been reading just about everything ever published on visiting the US capital. Recently Nikki was reeling off all the museums in DC.

There’s the Spy Museum, the Air and Space Museum, the Museum of African Art, the Jewish Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Women in the Arts, the Museum of Crime and Punishment...and the list goes on. Heck, apparently the gift shop alone at the American Building Museum is one not to miss.

But all this talk of museums in Washington reminded me of all the ones we have right here in Brisbane. No doubt you know the Queensland Museum and the Museum of Brisbane (currently at 157 Ann Street) but what about some of the others?

For example, you don’t have to go to Melbourne to ride a tram. On a Sunday afternoon, take the family to the Brisbane Tramway Museum at Ferny Grove. The Workshops Rail Museum at Ipswich runs semi-regular steam train trips from Brisbane.

Underneath the Goodwill Bridge is the Maritime Museum with its centrepiece, the Queensland-built frigate Diamantina, on which Japanese garrisons on Nauru Island and Ocean Island signed surrender documents at the end of World War Two. The Maritime Museum’s latest acquisition is Jessica Watson’s round-the-world yacht Pink Lady. Become a member ($40 for a family) and you get exclusive access to one of the best vantage points for Riverfire.

The Queensland Telecommunications Museum at Clayfield introduces you to the world of pre-electric and electronic forms of communication. If you can successfully send your full name in Morse Code to one of the museum’s qualified telegraphists, you can purchase (for a dollar!) a certificate celebrating your achievement. One of Brisbane’s newest museums is the MacArthur Museum on Queen Street, from where General Douglas MacArthur commanded Allied Forces between 1942 and 1944. Sit at the same table where MacArthur developed strategies when thousands of American troops were based here, filling our shops, cafes and pubs and entertaining our women!

At the Queensland Military Memorial Museum in Fortitude Valley, there are pre-federation Queensland military uniforms, medals, weapons, trench art and other memorabilia. The Queensland Police Museum at Police Headquarters shows you the history of policing from 1864. You can test your detective skills using clues from a simulated murder scene. The Queensland Racing Museum at Eagle Farm is one of only eight in the world dedicated to thoroughbred racing. The Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying houses the artefacts used to determine the state border.

QUT Gardens Point has an Art Museum. And at the University of Queensland, St Lucia campus, there are no fewer than six separate museums, including the Anthropology Museum, the Antiquities Celebrating the past Museum, the Museum of Medical History and the Physics Museum.

For a day-trip, there’s the Redcliffe Museum, the Queensland Ambulance Museum at Wynnum, the Redland Museum in Cleveland, the North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum, the Samford Museum and the Yugambeh Language and Heritage Museum in Beenleigh. And I haven’t even started on the historic buildings like Newstead House, the Commissariat Store and Miegunyah.

It is sometimes said that we don’t appreciate our heritage in Brisbane and it’s true we’ve lost plenty of beautiful old buildings along the way. But, at the same time, we have no shortage of places celebrating our past. And I reckon I might have just about matched the number of museums on Nikki’s Washington to-do list!

In the last issue of bmag I explained the benefits of converting to digital radio. Here are some of the comments from people who have tuned in. Jono Perry described the column as “absolutely fantastic” and added, “I have three digital radios and couldn’t live without them.” Ken Jones wrote: “I have put up with the tragic AM band but now help has arrived. To me, it is not quite FM but it leaves AM for dead.” And Katie Clift tweeted me: “There’s an SBS Eurovision channel?! All my Christmases have come at once!”

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