Cover. Episode 7. End of year festivities in Aus. Into the Silentworld, a podcast about the sea, humans and history.

Episode 7 End of Year Festivities in Aus Bonus

Tis the Season

Kate and Renee pop back in for a Yuletime look at some charming history of the end of year festivities in Australia, through a maritime lens.


By Episode Topics

Christmas bushes on open rowing boat

The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 – 1912) Sat 23 Dec 1882 Page 1125

Kate's Christmas Bush Tree

Kate’s Maginificent Christmas Bush/Tree

Wet wattle

Wet wattle

The season in the Aboriginal calendar – D’harawal Country

Christmas in the Colonies

Stapleton, Maisy. & McDonald, Patricia R. & Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales, 1981. Christmas in the colonies. David Ell Press in association with Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales Sydney

Barangaroo Boat Conservation Project

Barangaroo Boat

Christmas Fruits Sale Ad

New christmas fuits sale list from SMH 1856

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) Tue 23 Dec 1856 Page 6

Christmas Mince Pies

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954)  Tue 24 Dec 1850 Page 1

Christmas and its festivities at Sydney

The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 – 1893)  Tue 30 Dec 1856 Page 3

Christmas at Sea – by Robert Louis Stevenson

(first published in Scots Observer 1888)

The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;
The decks were like a slide, where a seaman scarce could stand;
The wind was a nor’wester, blowing squally off the sea;
And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.

They heard the surf a-roaring before the break of day;
But ’twas only with the peep of light we saw how ill we lay.
We tumbled every hand on deck instanter, with a shout,
And we gave her the maintops’l, and stood by to go about.

All day we tacked and tacked between the South Head and the North;
All day we hauled the frozen sheets, and got no further forth;
All day as cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread,
For very life and nature we tacked from head to head.

We gave the South a wider berth, for there the tide race roared;
But every tack we made we brought the North Head close aboard:
So’s we saw the cliffs and houses, and the breakers running high,
And the coastguard in his garden, with his glass against his eye.

The frost was on the village roofs as white as ocean foam;
The good red fires were burning bright in every ‘long-shore home;
The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys volleyed out;
And I vow we sniffed the victuals as the vessel went about.

The bells upon the church were rung with a mighty jovial cheer;
For it’s just that I should tell you how (of all days in the year)
This day of our adversity was blessèd Christmas morn,
And the house above the coastguard’s was the house where I was born.

O well I saw the pleasant room, the pleasant faces there,
My mother’s silver spectacles, my father’s silver hair;
And well I saw the firelight, like a flight of homely elves,
Go dancing round the china plates that stand upon the shelves.

And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me,
Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea;
And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way,
To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessèd Christmas Day.

They lit the high sea-light, and the dark began to fall.
‘All hands to loose top gallant sails,’ I heard the captain call.
‘By the Lord, she’ll never stand it,’ our first mate, Jackson, cried.
… ‘It’s the one way or the other, Mr. Jackson,’ he replied.

She staggered to her bearings, but the sails were new and good,
And the ship smelt up to windward just as though she understood.
As the winter’s day was ending, in the entry of the night,
We cleared the weary headland, and passed below the light.

And they heaved a mighty breath, every soul on board but me,
As they saw her nose again pointing handsome out to sea;
But all that I could think of, in the darkness and the cold,
Was just that I was leaving home and my folks were growing old.

Handy guide to some nautical terms of the poem

sheets = sails

nor’wester = northwestern

squally = gust of wind bringing rain

breakers = rocks in the sea, can refer to reefs too

a-lee = leeward side of a vessel, the opposite of the windward side

maintops’l = main top sail, the sail immediately above the lowermost sail on the main mast

go about = tack (see below)

tacked = a vessel changing its course by turning into the wind

glass = telescope

gallant sail = the sail immdediately above the topsail

light = lighthouse

Cover. Episode 6. Sea superstitions. Into the Silentworld, a podcast about the sea, humans and history.

Episode 6 Sea Superstitions

Very Superstitious

Cats, women, tomahawks and whistling. Superstitions around the seas and waterways are in no short supply no matter where upon the face of the Earth we find ourselves. In this episode we explore some of the more well known supestitions held by sailors through the ages, explore some of the beliefs held amongst our near neighbours in Melanesia and recall/recount some hair-raising moments we have come across during our archival research and fieldwork.


By Episode Topics

Melanesian Beliefs

The Cessnock Eagle and South Maitland Recorder (NSW : 1913 – 1954) Fri 10 Oct 1930 Page 8

Superstitions Abandoned

The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser (NSW : 1856 – 1861; 1863 – 1889; 1891 – 1954) Tue 12 Jun 1900 Page 3

Superstitions Between Land and Sea

Hole, C., 1967. Superstitions and Beliefs of the Sea. Folklore, 78(3), pp.184-189

Cover. Episode 5. Haunted lighthouses. Into the Silentworld, a podcast about the sea, humans and history.

Episode 5 Haunted Lighthouses

Haunted Lights

The job of a lighthouse is to keep ships safe. But what are the dangers of working at the lighthouse itself? This episode takes a closer look at some of the ghostly stories around these mysterious and lonely structures.


General history of Australian lighthouses

  • Kate’s favourite Round the Twist episode – Grandad’s Gifts | Round the Twist – Season 2 Episode 8

Lighthouses of the episode - in order mentioned

Maatsuyker Lighthouse

  • 1933 newsreel footage including a rare mail delivery to Maatsuyker Island

Cape Otway Lighthouse

The Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List (NSW : 1844 - 1860) Sat 28 Oct 1848 Page 257

Newspaper article quoted in episode describing the technical specs of the light – The Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List (NSW : 1844 – 1860) Sat 28 Oct 1848 Page 257

 Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872) View title info Thu 29 Sep 1870 Page 11

Early article about the lighthouse with a wonderful illustration – Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 – 1872) Thu 29 Sep 1870 Page 11

Split Point Lighthouse – aka the lighthouse on ‘Round the Twist’

Punch (Melbourne, Vic. : 1900 – 1918; 1925) Thu 30 Dec 1909 Page 13Article featuring a photograph of Split Point in 1909; lower left panel; lighthouse in the distance

South Solitary Island Lighthouse

Cape St George Lighthouse

Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse – Carnarvon Castle

Tevennec Lighthouse

Mercury and mad lighthouse keepers

Cover. Episode 4. Phantoms of the Sea. Into the Silentworld, a podcast about the sea, humans and history.

Episode 4 Phantoms of the Sea

Ghostly Ships

Apparitions of ships known to have been lost and real ships sailing without a visible crew. Join Kate and Renee on this chilling episode exploring some of the ghost ship legends of the southern hemisphere and having a look at some of the natural ocean processes at play that give rise to some of these stories.


By Ship

Mary Celeste

General information

The Science of Ghost Ships

Cover. Episode 3. A brief and bonus look at the persistence of sea monsters as reported in local Australian newspapers of the 1800s and 1900s.

Episode 3 Modern Sea Monsters

Monsters of the 1800s and 1900s

A brief and bonus look at the persistence of sea monsters as reported in local Australian newspapers of the 1800s and 1900s. Six hand-picked articles from Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, ranging from the 1870s to the 1930s, demonstrate the depth of human imagination as it relates to the maritime realm.


Articles - in episode order



In many pieces and with much gumption - musing of a 3D scanning novice

You can walk a bit faster. Point the scanner at the object. You are too close. You are too far away.

A few phrases of guidance gently spoken over my shoulder and patiently repeated by Thomas as he was teaching me how to use a structured light scanner. He was a long way from home – Belgium sleepy as he toiled in a warehouse at the height of the Australian summer to train a scruffy bunch of archaeologists the new methods in shipwreck timber recording.

A new, fantastic point of view

When we began looking at the design of the recording and conservation project for the Barangaroo Boat and drawing in the experience and expertise of our network of colleagues actively involved in shipwreck recording and conservation, I got in touch with Dr Toby Jones from the Newport Medieval Ship conservation project in Wales, UK.

I had met him several years ago when I lived in the UK while I completed my Master in maritime archaeology at Bournemouth Uni. Dr Jones (I must ask him if he hates snakes) had undertaken the recording of the Newport ship timbers with a FaroArm/Rhino combo, and I was seeking his insight and advice. Surprisingly, he suggested another method. A new method. And so I met Thomas van Damme.

Thomas was part of the team that developed the Annotated Scans method for recording shipwreck timbers – a much more rapid, yet still highly accurate way of capturing incredibly detailed data – using a Structured Light Scanner/Rhino combo. This work has been published and is available to read open source. Another perk of this method – it is easier to teach.

And that is how we all came to be at the Sydney Metro conservation facility in the summer of 2019, sweating while the music was blaring and bouncing off the walls and the strobe of the scanner pulsed frantically, capturing the remains of one of the oldest known colonial Australian built craft to be excavated, raised and conserved.

Flying solo

“It is easier if you hold the laptop like this. Remember to unclip the battery pack from your hip before you walk away! Give it more geometry.”

I eventually started to get a bit of a handle on it. I remember the first time Thomas walked away and left me to do the scan myself. It’s that mixture of “I’ve got this. I can do it!” and “Please come back – I have no idea what I’m doing!”.

But the real challenge came when Thomas completed his work and set off for home, back to Belgium. Notes, training videos and the phone/email where all there to assist in case of “panic mode” activation.

In order to ensure consistency in the recording of the timbers and use Thomas’ time efficiently, a small team of four archaeologists and one conservator were trained in various aspects of the recording process. However, I had spent the most time learning from Thomas (yeh, ok, that is mostly because I am pretty much part of the furniture) – a protégé, gaining instruction in more functions and techniques of the process. Therefore, upon his departure, undertaking the day to day recording work fell to me.

Bit by bit, mistake by mistake, I developed my style and got into the groove, managing to scan and process more and more timbers per day. As an additional perk, scanning with the Artec scanner, Eva, requires the operator to carry both the scanner and the laptop to which it is connected, giving the biceps, pectoral, back and core muscles a good workout! *flex*

But, it’s not all physical. Once the laps and loops around the object with the scanner have been completed, the raw scans need to be processed. Some software magic turns individual noisy scans into a clean digital representation of the object. Said magic can be tricky business, especially for a novice. Armed with my notes, guiding documents, a fan (one to keep me cool in the summer heat, rather than one to cheer for me), perseverance and a bottomless cup of green tea I managed to tackle the task.

Solving the little issues that would crop up was a great learning experience – for the really confusing ones, I’d reach across the globe and seek the sage counsel of my mentor.

Lessons (learnt the hard way) for Eva scanner newbs

In addition to the technical aspects of learning how to undertake the 3D work on the boat timbers, I picked up on a few more things that made the scanning/processing life easier:

  • Keep your belt done up nice and tight – the scanner battery pack that clips to it is not light…
  • Have a clean, dry cloth close by to wipe your hands – archaeological timbers are generally mucky and the scanner is white
  • Long hair? Tie it back but not in a top bun/knot – the rig for suspending and scanning planks bounces around if bumped…typically, to capture a scan of an object, it must be still – no swinging, no bouncing.
  • Do not process scans straight after lunch – the dynamic duo, Pete and Anthony, at Frateli Food are the unsung heroes of the entire project. Their hearty, flavoursome meals were the fuel that kept the cogs turning BUT, after lunch “food coma” is not conducive to good 3D scan processing. Upon occasion I would come-to from a half sleep state to discover I had been processing a scan the entire time! Had to check my work to make sure I had carried out the correct steps. Surprisingly, the answer was yes – looks like I got to the point where I could process ‘in my sleep’.
  • Be prepared to do yoga – getting all angles of an object scanned does sometimes mean you have to get into some weird angles

In the end, the team had gained the necessary skills to undertake the rapid capture of objects to the highest acceptable professional standard but the most rewarding part, is knowing that the boat is armed with the best object record for the next stage and for the rest of its life.

My sincerest thanks to Thomas van Damme – it has been a privilege to work with you and I look forward to future collaboration. In addition, we acknowledge the work of Sydney Metro and its staff, without whose support this project and all that it enables, would have never come to be.


Barangaroo Boat excavation. Image: Renee Malliaros/Silentworld Foundation for Sydney Metro, 2018.

Finding the Barangaroo Boat

Like a boat on land – musings of a maritime archaeologist on the Barangaroo Boat (terrestrial) dig

‘Want to come along and check out this boat they found at Barangaroo?’
Little did I know where my answer would eventually lead!

Visting Barangaroo

A clear sunny morning in October 2019, promising a sweaty sort of day, saw us meeting up with our colleagues at the Australian National Maritime Musem (ANMM) for a saunter around Darling Harbour to Barangaroo.

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The Battle of Rhode Island


After the British intentionally sunk some of their ships in order to keep the French naval force at bay, the French Admiral Comte d'Estaing, brought his entire fleet into the harbour and landed his troops on the close by Conanicut Island. However, the British were expecting reinforcements by sea and, upon learning this, d'Estaing re-boarded his troops and headed out to meet the British fleet at sea lest he be cornered by a combined, and hence larger, British force. The two fleets met at sea but the battle was plagued by bad weather and seas causing both sides much damage and scattering their respective fleets.

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A work of fact by: Irini (Renee) Malliaros and Dr James Hunter (ANMM)

This past January, a collaborative research team comprising maritime archaeologists from the Silentworld Foundation and Australian National Maritime Museum conducted a shipwreck survey at Kenn Reefs in Australia’s Coral Sea Territory. The team relocated a number of historic shipwrecks documented by the Queensland Museum in the 1980s as well as four new wreck sites. The Kenn Reefs complex is a seamount system located within the ‘Outer Route’, a seaway used by nineteenth-century mariners in an effort to avoid the Great Barrier Reef when travelling to and from Australia’s east coast. The discovery of multiple shipwreck sites of nineteenth-century vintage at Kenn Reefs demonstrates the hazards faced by mariners as they transited through waters that were insufficiently charted. Field investigations included reef-top inspections, metal detector and magnetometer surveys and diver-based ground-truthing of observed features and buried anomalies.Read more