Inside the Collection

Steam

Australia and the Industrial Revolution – driving the first trains

February 13, 2015

Margaret Simpson
We've known for a long time that William Sixsmith drove the first train in New South Wales but we didn't know that much about him other than his important role during the construction, testing and operation of the first line from Sydney to Parramatta in 1855.

Mechanisation of road building – 1923 steam road-roller

November 10, 2014

Margaret Simpson
Were you one of the many Australian children who played on old steamrollers set up in municipal parks after they were no longer required by local councils? Steamrollers, more correctly called road-rollers, were the last type of steam vehicles used on roads.

Ice Bird – the unsinkable boat

October 27, 2014

Kate Chidlow
Restoration of the sailing boat that made the first single handed voyage to Antarctica Dr David Lewis was a courageous sailor, an extra-ordinary navigator and an adventurer with big dreams. He was the first navigator in modern times to cross the Pacific Ocean without using instruments, following a legendary Maori course from Tahiti to New Zealand.

Mechanisation of road building – 1920 steam tip wagon

October 6, 2014

Margaret Simpson
In the early decades of the twentieth century steam-powered vehicles including traction engines, steam wagons, road locomotives, road rollers and steam fire engines were a common sight on Australian roads.

World War One grenades: one with a lifesaving little lever

September 22, 2014

Damian McDonald
The weapon which would conjure up a - albeit highly visceral - image World War One trench warfare would be the rifle bayonet. So much grainy footage of young men charging across no-man’s-land with bayonets fixed gives us the impression that that was the main strategy of trench battle.

A steam powered car – 1922 Stanley steamer

June 30, 2014

Margaret Simpson
You've heard of steam trains, steam fire engines, steam trams and maybe even steam wagons but what about steam cars. Not many people realise it but up until 1908 there were more steam cars being produced than internal combustion engine cars.

Guns n Gold Rushes: arms in colonial New South Wales

June 25, 2014

Damian McDonald
Save for sparse and sporadic failed convict rebellions and escapees who stole arms and turned them on their British overlords, prisoners and Aborigines had been the foremost human recipients of firearm discharges prior to the Australian gold rush.

Mechanisation of agriculture – 1889 Fowler steam ploughing engine

June 23, 2014

Margaret Simpson
One of the most visually impressive objects in the Museum's collection is this fabulous steam ploughing engine. It's an example of the world's first successful method of powered cultivation, developed by John Fowler of Leeds, England, in 1863 and was part of the mechanisation and industrialisation of agriculture during the nineteenth century.

Carbon monoxide alert: take care when burning fuel

May 28, 2014

Debbie Rudder
Coal miners are very aware of the risks posed by fuels. Whenever they go underground they carry self-rescuers like this one, which turns toxic carbon monoxide into harmless carbon dioxide. News that a Sydney family was rushed to hospital recently suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning demonstrates that the rest of us should be just as aware of the dangers.

A Percy lookalike – 1911 saddle tank steam locomotive

May 26, 2014

Margaret Simpson
This little green steam locomotive, which looks remarkably like Percy from Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, is in the Museum's collection. Percy is the Small Engine and Thomas’ best friend. He's quite happy puffing around the yard with no particular desire "for adventure in the world outside".