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NT Museum: New display at Defence of Darwin Experience


New display at Defence of Darwin Experience and launch of additional historic wartime sites on app.

The Defence of Darwin Experience has opened a new display telling the story of a World War II blockade runner.

SUNK: the story of the Don Isidro opened on Saturday 17 February.

Don Isidro was a medium-sized ship, 321 feet (97.8 metres) long with a registered gross tonnage of 3,200 tons (3,251 tonnes). Built in 1939 in Kiel, Germany, for the De La Rama Steamship Company, the vessel was chartered by the United States Army as a ‘blockade-runner’ to carry food and supplies to General Douglas MacArthur’s men who had retreated from the Japanese forces to the Bataan Peninsula and the island fortress of Corregidor in Manila Bay.

On 12 February 1942, Don Isidro sailed from Jakarta and headed east along the top of northern Australia, hoping to remain undetected. On 18 February, she was spotted by a Japanese plane and attacked.

Heading for the relative safety of Darwin Harbour, the vessel was bombed and sunk on the 19 February 1942 off the Tiwi Islands by the Japanese strike force sent to bomb Darwin.

Today, the remains of Don Isidro lie in shallow water off Rinamatta Beach, half way between Cape Fourcroy and Cape Helvetius, on the Western side of Bathurst Island.

Marcus Schutenko, Director of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory said “The Don Isidro story is one of the lesser known stories of World War II in Darwin and deserves recognition. The display features original items from MAGNT’s collection recovered from the wreck of the Don Isidro before making it protected under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976, making it illegal to disturb the site or remove material. Sunk: the story of the Don Isidro provides a rare opportunity for the public to see the objects.”

Coinciding with the opening of Sunk: the story of the Don Isidro, MAGNT is launching an enhanced Defence of Darwin Experience app.

The Northern Territory, and Darwin in particular, played a significant role in Australia’s defensive and offensive activities during World War II. There are a number of heritage sites within Darwin and along the Stuart Highway, all accessible by car, providing an informative and compelling self-guided tour of 16 historic wartime sites.

The Defence of Darwin Experience app provides interpretive information, photos and stories of these significant sites.The Defence of Darwin Experience app was first launched in 2012, with the initial sites primarily around Darwin; the enhanced app has seven new historic sites that includes the Adelaide River and Bathurst Island.

More information:



Images from Shrine of Remembrance Light Horse exhibition

Commemorating 100 years since the Battle of Beersheba, The Light Horse: Australians in the Middle East explores the myths and realities of the legendary Australian light horsemen.

Exhibition Dates: 20 October 2017 to 20 October 2018

Where: Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne

Shrine of Remembrance exhibition honours Light Horse in Middle East


New exhibition opening at the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne

Exhibition Dates: 20 October 2017 to 20 October 2018

Further information:

Commemorating 100 years since the Battle of Beersheba, The Light Horse: Australians in the Middle East explores the myths and realities of the legendary Australian light horsemen. Their dramatic campaign against the Ottomans in the desert wastes of Sinai, Palestine and Syria was an operation that captured the nation’s imagination.

Official historian, Henry Gullett, described the light horsemen as, ‘…the very flower of their race … the most restless, adventurous, and virile individuals of that stock.’ This bold spirit provided inspiration for many well-known artistic luminaries of the day and beyond. Work from artists such as George Lambert, Sidney Nolan and current day Bendigo-based painterSusan McMinn, are featured. Each piece tells its own story of the campaign: the triumph, the hardship and the special bonds forged between the men who served and their horses.

Featuring memorabilia belonging to the family of Lieutenant-General Harry Chauvel, and other now legendary light horsemen, the exhibition presents the contrast between the idealised perceptions of the emu-plumed warriors and the stories of the privations the soldiers endured. The Light Horse draws associations between place, time and sentiment providing modern audiences with some insight into what it must of have been like for those who served 100 years ago and whose young lives were shaped by their experiences.


Exhibition: Nerves and Steel: The Royal Australian Navy in the Pacific 1941-45


The Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, is pleased to announce the opening of Nerves and Steel: The Royal Australian Navy in the Pacific 1941- 45. This special exhibition will be launched on Friday 21 July, 3pm by Rear Admiral Guy Griffiths AO DSO DSC. It will be located in South Gallery within the Galleries of Remembrance and will open to the public at 10am on Saturday 22 July, 2017.

The exhibition explores the role played by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in the ultimate Allied victory of the Second World War (1939-45). Specifically, it celebrates the achievements of RAN sailors between December 1941 and September 1945.

The war in the Pacific was essentially a naval struggle. Allied war aims hinged on the destruction of Japan’s powerful navy and the severing of sea communications between Japan and its far-flung Asian and Pacific conquests. The major actors in history’s greatest naval conflict were the immense fleets of Japan and the United States but the RAN played a significant and active role.

Features of the exhibition include

  • paintings on loan from the Australian War Memorial,
  • original memorabilia from the Shrine collection;
  • the RAN Heritage Collection; and
  • living Second World War veterans—HMAS Perthsurvivor, David Manning, and former corvette gunnery officer James Paizis. Both veterans will be attending the launch of the exhibition.

The Shrine of Remembrance will also be holding a panel discussion Words from Our Navy Veterans on Wednesday 9 August, 12pm where the last surviving Second World War navy veterans Jim Paizis, David Manning, Norm Tame, Hiram Ristrom, Ray Leonard and Pamela Nicholls of the WRANS recount tales from their service.

The Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience


I wanted to alert readers of my blog to this travelling exhibition, which you may or may not have heard about.

The Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience is a travelling exhibition that tells the story of Australia’s involvement in the First World War, and the ensuing Century of Service of Australia’s armed forces in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations in which Australia has been involved.

It has already visited some cities but quite a few opportunities remain on the schedule to see it:

Adelaide Mar 2016
Tamworth Apr – May 2016
Toowoomba May 2016
Brisbane Jun 2016
Mackay Jul 2016
Cairns Aug 2016
Townsville Sep 2016
Darwin Oct 2016
Port Augusta Nov 2016
Perth Nov – Dec 2016
Bunbury Jan 2017
Kalgoorlie Jan – Feb 2017
Geelong Feb 2017
Orange Mar 2017
Newcastle Mar 2017
Sydney Apr 2017

The Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience follows a chronological timeline spanning the period from pre-First World War Australia to the present day, using a mix of visuals, artefacts, audio and film to engage visitors.

An important feature of the experience will be the curated ‘local stories’ zone. These zones will be created with the local communities and will contribute a legacy for each region. The Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience is the flagship community event of the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary national programme.

Find out more about the Anzac Centenary national programme at this link.

Fancy a trip to WA? If you are interested in war memorabilia, the destination just went top of your list!

I was absolutely stunned when I came across this story on the ABC website this morning. Take a look at this collection. The owners John and Kathryn Shapland have amassed an unexpected treasure trove of military artefacts in their Recollections of War private museum, which is located up an unsealed country road on their family farm between Albany and Denmark in Western Australia.

This collection is vast


The collection includes over 3,500 books

There are some really good photos of the collection with the story on the ABC site.

John Shapland began collecting WWII and aviation memorabilia after attending an airshow in his childhood home of Sussex. Visitors find them through word of mouth mostly so I imagine that their visitation numbers are going to rise after this.

Here is the link to the story on the ABC site: pass it along to your like-minded Western Australian friends. I’m sure they’ll be interested.

National Archives exhibition: Life Interrupted: Gallipoli moments


I thought this was worth blogging about – an exhibition at the National Archives in Canberra:
Stories of our soldiers at Gallipoli – in their own words

Embark on a journey with our soldiers at Gallipoli. Through original diaries, photos and letters, this exhibition offers a glimpse of the Gallipoli campaign through the eyes, and in the words, of those who were there.

Personal letters, diaries and photographs from the State Library of NSW reveal captivating personal experiences of servicemen and nurses. Service records from the National Archives remind us that everyone was a volunteer, and they came from all walks of life to serve their country.

31 July to 15 November 2015
National Archives of Australia
Queen Victoria Terrace
Parkes ACT 2600

Link here for details of the exhibition.

From Imperial War Museum: Melbourne Museum hosts The WW1 Centenary Exhibition


What: The WW1 Centenary Exhibition

Where: Melbourne Museum, Victoria

When: until 4 October 2015

My neighbours across the road from where I live in Brisbane have just returned from Melbourne. Included in their trip was a visit to the Imperial War Museum’s World War 1 travelling exhibition at the Melbourne Museum.

The exhibition includes over 350 of the most significant historical artefacts from the acclaimed WW1 collections of Imperial War Museums in London.

The WW1 Centenary Exhibition includes a new, innovative and interactive experience with original artefacts, film, rare artworks, sounds and images.

My neighbours were very impressed so I thought it was worth telling everyone about, especially as it still has some time to run.


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