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Published August 16th 2015
Discover History through Fun Interactive Exhibits
After the infamous Mutiny on the Bounty the HMS Pandora was sent to find the Bounty mutineers and return them to England for trial but she sank on the Great Barrier Reef in 1791. There have been a number of dives recovering items from the wreck and the Pandora Gallery is the main exhibition at the Museum of Tropical Queensland.
A cutaway replica of the HMS Pandora which sunk in 1791.
A life size replica of the Pandora looms high above us as we enter the Great Hall. It is a half cutaway to illustrate the positioning of the decks. We watch a re-enactment of arming and firing of the ship's cannons on a simulated ship's deck that is rigged to sway as if on the swell of the sea. Volunteers from the audience form part of the crew. Museums can be fun.
In the Pandora Gallery we watch a short movie about the Pandora's mission and its untimely demise. A life size diorama of prisoners trapped in the shipwreck depicts the horror of their situation. Relics from the wreck are displayed in glass cabinets. The captain's china is in remarkably good condition. There are tools, pottery, mathematical instruments, and so much more. This is a fascinating insight into maritime life in the 1700s. One exhibit shows us how x-rays are used to find a cannonball now encrusted in marine growth.
A line of historic diving helmets, all polished to an impressive shine, are The Heritage of Helmets Display. The helmets are mounted on blocks and the display is mirror backed. It looks a treat. An information board presents a detailed diagram of how the diving helmets work; an interesting read.
A Room for Wild Animals showcases 20 taxidermy specimens from the Queensland Museum's collection, a bit macabre in this day and age. The museum had these in storage but have displayed them now to raise public awareness of the need to respect wildlife and to maintain it alive and in its natural habitat. There is a lion, which even on all fours stands above our shoulders. We are dwarfed by a buffalo, a polar bear, a brown bear, a moose and more. This exhibition runs until January 2016.
In the Ancient Queensland Exhibit are fossils and models of ancient sea animals. There is even a 110 million year old fossilised tree stump. A newspaper article features Dr. Tim Holland, a paleontologist working in Richmond, in outback Queensland. We were fortunate to recently attend a fossil hunting tour conducted by Dr. Holland.
In the Colour – Secret Language of the Reef Exhibit we take a simulated submarine dive down a reef shelf. An audio calls the depth as we descend the different levels of the reef shown on screens presented as portholes. Another display allows us to view the reef as the Mantis Shrimp does. The shrimp is able to see more colours of light than we people. We wander about looking at examples of other reef creatures, some of them quite peculiar.
The Coral Explorer in the Colour- The Secret Language of the Reef exhibition. (Image from www.mtq.qm.qld.gov.au)
The Enchanted Rainforest Exhibit is a children's wonderland. In a simulated rainforest we look for animals in the trees and on the ground. Some are well hidden. At the top of a rainforest boardwalk is a slide, a great way down for the children. We adults retrace our steps. There are aboriginal artefacts and stories about the aborigine's traditional interaction with the rain forest.
In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum has temporary displays. To see what else is on show now go to the Events and Exhibitions page on their website.
The very modern Museum of Tropical Queensland with its many interactive exhibits is a fun place to be. You will find it at 70-102 Flinders Street, Townsville next door to Reef HQ Aquarium, the IMAX cinema and the Cultural Centre. Details on how to get there can be found on the website
There are public and disabled toilets on site. The museum is wheelchair accessible and a wheelchair is available for use. There is a parent's room. All levels are serviced by a lift. Souvenirs and gifts are available from the museum shop.
They can be contacted on (07) 4726 0600, by email firstname.lastname@example.org or via their website.
Opening hours are 9:30am to 5:00pm daily, from 1pm on Anzac Day, 25 April. The museum is closed Christmas Day and Good Friday.
Prices (at August 2015) are Adult $15.00, Child 3-15 years $8.80, Concession $11.00, Family $38.00. Wider area locals half price, check the website for details.