Did you know that Australia’s coast is the final resting place for over 11,000 shipwrecks? That’s roughly one wreck for every three kilometres of coastline.
The Geelong Library & Heritage Centre is proud to host two special maritime exhibitions this summer exploring Australia's, and Geelong’s, fascinating maritime history: Submerged: Stories of Australia's Shipwrecks and Ahoy Geelong! An exhibition celebrating Geelong's Maritime History.Ahoy Geelong! is on display at the Heritage Centre throughout summer and features fascinating objects, images and stories celebrating Geelong’s rich maritime history. The exhibition highlights include the original clock, bell and life buoy from the SS Edina, one of most remembered vessels that steamed across Corio & Port Phillip Bays between Geelong, Portarlington and Melbourne for more than 50 years.
The SS Edina holds a unique record in maritime history as the longest serving screw steam vessel anywhere in the world! The SS Edina plied the Melbourne-Geelong route as a passenger- cargo vessel for over 40 years until 1938, completing 20,000 Melbourne-Geelong trips and carrying over two million people on this service.
An incredibly durable vessel, the SS Edina was built in Glasgow, saw service in the Crimean War in 1855 before being sold to local interests. Nicknamed ‘Lucky Dinah’, she carried distinguished passengers to Port Phillip Heads and escorted H.R.H The Duke of Edinburgh in 1867, collided with at least six other vessels including the SS Excelsior (which sank) without suffering any major structural damage, and was even involved in a dramatic rescue or two throughout her service.
So loved by the Geelong community was she, that thousands of locals were present to farewell ‘Dinah’ who was given a rock-star type farewell on her last voyage from Geelong on 21st Jun 1938. From the foremast floated an 84 foot (25 metre) white silk streamer, the longest signing-off pennant ever flown in Australian waters, representing one foot for every year of service.
Throughout the school holidays the Heritage Centre will host a number of fun, maritime and shipwreck themes activities for children of all ages – a Maritime History Quiz, a Seafaring colouring activity and the chance to put yourself in in an historical photo with the Green Screen.
Also running over summer is Submerged; a travelling exhibition featuring 14 of Australia’s most compelling shipwreck stories. The panel style exhibition tells wreck tales including the City of Rayville, said to be the first American ship sunk during World War II. It was carrying a cargo of lead to Port Pirie in 1940 to New York when it was said to have struck a sea-mine off Cape Otway. All but one of the 38 crew members escaped.
This exhibition is presented by the Australian National Maritime Museum and the Australian Maritime Museums Council. The shipwreck stories will be featured on a series of panels that will be displayed across various levels of the Geelong Library & Heritage Centre.Ahoy Geelong! An exhibition celebrating Geelong's Maritime History is on display from 4 December - 22 February.
Submerged: Stories of Australia’s Shipwrecks is on display from 4 December – 31 January.
Entry to both exhibitions is free. Please consult the specific opening hours for the library and the Heritage Centre when planning your visit.
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