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Queensland Maritime Museum: From Pink to Pirates

Queensland Maritime Museum: From Pink to Pirates

The Queensland Maritime Museum at Southbank in Brisbane has planned an exciting year of events for 2020. The year is a significant one for commemorations, being ten years since a shy 16-year-old girl from the Sunshine Coast became the youngest person to sail around the world alone. In August, it is 75 years since the guns of WW2 were silenced, Japan surrendered, and peace was declared as VP Day (Victory Pacific).


The QMM will be celebrating the achievements of women in the maritime world with a salute to Jessica Watson, the young woman who deservedly has become a positive role model for girls and teenagers. Jessica Watson Day will be declared Friday 15 May, launching a series of events in her honour.

The day will dawn with Women in the Maritime World Breakfast at the museum inviting women (and men too if they want to come!) in all fields of the maritime world: navy, merchant marine, cruise, port and of course recreational sailing, to be held in the repurposed Marine Workshop function centre.

Jessica will speak about her experiences, and where she is now. Jessica will then cut the pink ribbon on a new exhibition on women and the sea, in which we hope to feature more of her story, with some artefacts from her journey. Pink Lady will be restored along with the replica ‘bouncing’ cabin that imitates the roll of the ocean. Clips from the documentary on her voyage will be shown on a flat screen in the cabin.

The afternoon will feature the Jessica Watson Sailing Masterclass, a mentoring session for girls who sail, or those who would like to sail, from sailing clubs and schools who run sailing programs.

Jessica will be joined by Melanie Piddock who works at the Queensland museum, and is planning to sail around the world singly.

That evening, a pink cocktail party will launch the new permanent exhibition in the gallery to the public. The pink theme will be carried through here with the appropriately named “pink gin” we are hoping to launch, made into cocktails shaken on the spot.


On Saturday 16 May, the QMM Siren Series Talk features Jessica at one of our regular talks for members, volunteers and the general public, held at the museum. Her talk will be followed by questions and morning tea, and guests are welcome to inspect the Pink Lady and museum display.

The talks series are held every month on a Saturday, covering a wide range of topics that pertain to the marine world. The first half of 2020 will include talks on Queensland’s historic Clifton Cannons, the first ANZAC convoy in WW1, a book launch about the famous immigrant ship Conway, and session on Houtman, one of the amazing Dutch explorers of the sixteenth century. The talks all include a delicious morning tea and full use of the museum for the day.


The school holidays will be a busy time for the museum, with special programs in January, Easter and July. January has a chilly theme: Antarctica: Kids Kool Klub. Activities include making your own snow, an origami sculpture or mobile of arctic animals, dress an explorer paper dolls, decorate cupcakes as snowmen or penguins, a photo booth selfie on a real Antarctic sled and a ‘touch trolley’ of real polar artefacts. Children will also have a chance to draw real penguins and a husky with the help of an animal artist. No promises, but free snow cones may be on the menu!

RRRRRR!!!! Pirate Week is back by popular demand for Easter! A pirate jumping castle, Work the Big Guns, Rowing a Boat [on dry land], Throw a Lifeline, Flags, Sails and Cannons, Build a Toy Pirate Boat, and Ships and Pirate Dry Tack decorating. For littlies – Walk the plank, Scrub and Swab a Deck, Scavenger Hunt, Try the Ship’s Blocks and Tackle, and Build a Toy Pirate Boat to take home.


For July, it is “Pink10”. The museum will have a sailing simulator and instructor. Children can learn to rig a sail, test their speed on a rope grinder, and try on life preservers through the ages with Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ). For the creative, our marine artists in residence will help children to paint their own Pink Lady picture or make their own bunting – pink, of course.


The last Friday of every month is Jazz by the River, a free music event where guests are treated to the best Brisbane sunset on the river. The icy drinks and hot fish and chips are for sale, but the cool jazz is free for drink o’clock.


The museum hosts South Brisbane Historic Guided Walks in May and June with expert volunteer members, many of whom are retired navy or merchant navy members. The hour-long walk takes guests on a journey through the rich maritime history of the area including the WW2 coal wharves, South Brisbane Town Hall, South Brisbane Mechanics Institute, WW1 Memorial Park and Jack Tar statue, the Ship Inn and Expo 88.

Guests enjoy morning tea, then a leisurely day in the museum taking in the temporary exhibitions. 2020 will see a maritime art exhibition as well as shows on tugs and pearling. Then there are all the artefacts and stories found in Australia’s largest maritime museum collection!


By Jayne Keogh



Published in the Jan-Mar 2020 edition.



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