Saturday, March 29, 2014

Surprising Finds in Sydney

By the time we reached Sydney were a traveled out. We hadn't done any planning and left it to the city to expose itself, and as we walked this walkable city we enjoyed the unexpected.

If you are reading this before 15 June 2014 head to the New South Wales Museum to see Afghanistan Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul. The small exhibit encouraged visitors to spend time and appreciate the ancient artistry. In one room each of six cases contained the surviving gold ornaments from the graves of a chieftain and five young women. They were buried around 100 BCE.

A  crown from one of the graves

As I recall the glasses pictured below dated from the 1st - 2nd century CE were found in a store room.

My image of early Swiss hunters

From Begram 1st century CE

At the museum website you will see more pictures of the items and the Journey of the Treasures with its text and videos about protecting the collection. Our $10AUS was well spent, and the Internet has allowed us to continue to revisit the exhibit and its origins. Next stop for the exhibit is Perth in July.

What brought us to the museum was the Biennele of Sydney that ends on 9 June. After viewing the Afghanistan exhibit we called an end to our touring. We had been two Biennele sites which were okay, but not memorable. The non-memorable is not exactly true on Cockatoo Island there was an exhibit of gym equipment that used the equipment to move various objects made from found items. (Here is a 13 second video of Doug using the rowing machine.)  Another exhibit was a recreation of a Danish Village; its houses had human features. The Cockatoo Island exhibit included many videos - not of interest to us.

All those days at the gym paying off

The reward to using an elliptical trainer was a dancing skeleton

I have no idea when a cockatoo was last on Cockatoo Island. In 1839 it was established as a penal colony. A decade later a dry dock was built, ship building started in 1870, and the ship yard closed in 1992. After the prison was vacated a girl's reform school was opened. Later neglected boys were on a ship school on the island. Similar to what we learned in Tasmania, the girls were largely neglected and trained for domestic service; the boys received schooling and were trained for various professions.  The island has two trails: the convict trail and the maritime trail. Even without an art festival the island is worth a visit. (The above link is more informative than many.)

A chance to experience large machines face-to-face

As we left the Sydney tourist office we saw a sign for the Discovery Museum. I assumed that it had some sort of geological exhibit. Since it was free even seeing rocks wouldn't be so bad. Instead we learned the history of an area of Sydney, the Rocks, including an aboriginal community, the Cadigal, that lived in Sydney. It was the first time on our trip that we saw more than a few words that aboriginal people had lived in a given area. We told the receptionist how much we liked the museum and she told us about efforts to document some of the 200 plus aboriginal languages before they totally disappear. The museum provides insights into an important piece of Australia's history, which seems more hidden than its history as a penal colony.

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