Karen and I set out on a very warm summer’s Saturday to the Queensland Maritime Museum (QMM).
The QMM was set up in 1971 at an old dry dock.
I remember going to it around the time of Expo ’88 as a kid. The showpiece of the museum was an old anti-submarine warfare frigate named HMAS Diamantina. You can imagine how exciting it was for an eight year old to walk across the planks, the bottom of the dry dock metres below. Climb down step ladders and walk along railings in the guts of an actual naval warship.
HMAS Diamantina had not long been retired at that point having served decades before coming the martime musem in the early 1980s.
Years later as a young university student studying a journalist subject across the river at QUT I went across and looked for someone to interview.
I found a volunteer who had served in World War II with Z Special Force and had previously been a coal stoker on corvettes in the navy.
He had lied about his age to join, he had also been working in a munitions factory before his service.
He was in his early 80s then, having spent his life working many jobs and beating cancer, with the sprightly energy of a toddler he danced on his feet.
His life and stories were fascinating but he never talked about the combat he may have seen.
If I can find the old assignment I will post it here with his name. For now of him I took back in 2003.
There was another R.A.N. veteran who volunteered at QMM at that time who had served in the Korean War. He told me of a stop over at Okinawa during their voyage north. He told me how the trees had still not grown to a proper height years after the battles on that island.
These were the kind of people who kept the Queensland Maritime Museum running and still do.
In 1974 Brisbane was flooded and so was the museum situated on the banks of our river.
In 2011 Brisbane was flooded again, volunteers came down and repositioned the ropes to ensure that is the water in the dry dock rose HMAS Diamantina was not damaged by crashing into its own dock.
Expo ’88 came and went replaced by Southbank. The city and the area changed but HMAS Diamantina and its museum remained.
After 16 year old Jessica Watson sailed around the globe, her 10 metre long ship became part of the collection at QMM.
Floods, recessions and the Global FInancial Crisis all came and went but when COVID hit all of sudden the huge workforce of volunteer of over 60s could not do their work and attendance was also affected.
The financial situation of the museum radically changed and quickly.
They closed their doors.
But they were not out for the count yet.
A petition was raised to secure the future of the museum which you can click on here and put your name to Petition · Secure the future of Queensland Maritime Museum · Change.org
You could also donate money to helping them keep open which I did and when they opened their doors in late January I went to buy tickets but they were sold out.
So um I bought them the following weekend and we went.
The museum was a little different then I remembered with some new interesting stuff and slightly younger volunteers. We could walk the deck but to COVID restrictions we could not go below decks on HMAS Diamantina. I also got to see Ella’s Pink Lady up close.
I wrote a review of it which you can read here at Weekend Notes Queensland Maritime Museum – Brisbane (weekendnotes.com)
I took a lot of photos and put a lot of thought of where they were placed in the narrative of the review. The review was featured on the Facebook site of the Queensland Maritime Museum.
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I wish the Queensland Maritime Museum all the best, it is a wonderful Museum that should be ensured for generations to enjoy.