The Australian Museum presents new podcast series Treasures that reveals the stories behind treasures of Australia and the world, featuring Charles Wooley.

20 February 2018, Sydney: The hidden stories of some of the world’s greatest wonders are revealed in the new podcast series Treasures, a behind-the-scenes tour of the objects and specimens that shaped the history of Australia and its people.

Channel Nine 60 Minutes reporter Charles Wooley joins Australian Museum Director Kim McKay AO in the Westpac Long Gallery to explore the iconic, astounding and curious objects that have changed the way we live, work and think about the world around us.

Treasures is an intimate, informative and irreverent tale of discovery, adventure and obsession. The weekly series, which will be released from Monday, 12 March, is a sweeping story of scientists, explorers and eccentric dancers. Setting the stage for this landmark podcast series is the 200 Treasures of the Australian Museum exhibition, in the newly-restored Westpac Long Gallery, which showcases the most important and intriguing items in the museum’s collection of more than 18 million objects.

Treasures reveals the stories of the people and passions behind some of the greatest objects in the history of Australia and the region, including:

  • The eccentric life of Australia’s greatest amateur crab collector, who was also a travelling acrobat, comedian and eccentric dancer.
  • How an expat Yorkshire farmer “blasted his way into history” by shooting the last remaining Tasmanian Tiger in the wild.
  • The journey of NSW’s last surviving large gold nugget – one of the purest in the world – from an abandoned mine shaft to its use as cricket stumps in a Treasury office corridor.
  • The tale of how the humble bird-shaped pestle became one of the world’s most important objects, laying the foundations for entire cities and civilisations.
  • The curious end to the career of museum curator Gerard Krefft, who was unceremoniously hauled out of the museum while still seated in his armchair, by a brace of prize fighters.

Bringing these stories to life in Treasures is veteran journalist and commentator Charles Wooley, starring in his first podcast series. Wooley’s long career in TV, radio and print has brought him up close and personal with some of Australia’s most important objects and specimens.

“I love touring museums and seeing things they don’t normally show,” he said. “It’s terrific that the Australian Museum has scoured its corridors and crypts and secret places to bring together its treasures, whether that’s Captain Cook’s cape or the Thylacine pup.

“The objects and specimens in the podcasts are the flesh of the historical narrative of Australia and the world. Talking about them is a bit like time travel.”

AM Director & CEO Kim McKay, whose friendship with Wooley goes back 30 years, said every object in the Westpac Long Gallery had helped shape the history and identity of Australia and the region.

“Every time you turn a corner in the gallery or come out from behind a column, something new is revealed to you. And it is the people’s stories behind the natural science specimens and cultural objects that are most intriguing.”

TREASURES – AUSTRALIAN MUSEUM PODCAST SERIES

Walking into the AM, the 5th oldest natural history museum in the world, is an adventure. Within every display case in the Westpac Long Gallery lies a discovery that helps inform our past, understand our present and shape our thinking about the future. Treasures is a lively tale of such discoveries, taking listeners behind some of the objects and specimens that tell the story of Australia and the world.

The $9 million restoration of the Westpac Long Gallery and the 200 Treasures exhibition were funded in equal partnership between Westpac, the NSW Government and the Australian Museum Foundation.

The initial eight-part Treasures series will be released from Monday, March 12, via the Australian Museum website, SoundCloud or as part of the Australian Museum AMplify podcast on iTunes. Each week, a new episode will explore iconic, astounding and curious objects from the 200 Treasures of the Australian Museum exhibition.

The stories featured in the initial eight-part series of Treasures:

  1. Walking into the Australian Museum is an adventure. Around every corner lies a discovery. Every case tells a story. A journey through the Westpac Long Gallery, the nation’s oldest gallery.
  2. Sydney was full of convicts, soldiers and social climbers. It was the kind of town where you might win and lose your fortune in a single day. Australia’s first bank note and the last surviving large gold nugget from the NSW gold rush – later used as cricket stumps in NSW Treasury offices.
  3. Working in a museum was a hazardous occupation. One custodian accidentally shot himself in the chest, while collecting a cockatoo. The demise of curator Gerard Krefft was more curious still.
  4. Australia’s greatest amateur crab collector was also a travelling acrobat, comedian and eccentric dancer. But something about the rock pools he explored as a child kept calling him.”
  5. “I heard the tiger sneaking up around the chook run, so I took my shot gun, snuck up around the back and gave him both barrels.” The man who shot the last Tasmanian Tiger in the wild and the complete body of a Tasmanian Tiger pup, so well-preserved that its stripes are still showing.
  6. One of the world’s most important objects is small, simple and made of stone. The story of a bird-shaped stone pestle and how it changed human history.
  7. Early British settlers were flummoxed by the platypus. British scientists were so astonished that they thought it an elaborate hoax, created by stitching a duck’s beak onto the body of a mole. The story behind a beautiful soft rug, brown and bronze-coloured, made from 75 Platypus pelts.
  8. “To be alone in the loneliest place on Earth gives you a feeling that Mawson must have had.” The story of Sir Douglas Mawson, one of Australia’s greatest explorers.

 

The eight initial episodes of Treasures will be released once a week from Monday, March 12. The podcasts are available at the Australian Museum website, SoundCloud and via the Australian Museum Amplify podcast on iTunes

AM media site containing images of Charles Wooley, Kim McKay and the items featured in the podcast can be accessed here.

About the Australian Museum (AM)

The AM, founded in 1827 is the nation’s first museum, and is an internationally recognised natural science and culture institution focused on Australia and the Pacific. As custodian of more than 18 million objects, the AM is uniquely positioned to provide a greater understanding of the region through its scientific research, exhibitions and public and education programs. Through the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI), the AM also has a leading role in conserving Australia’s biodiversity through understanding the environmental impacts of climate change, potential biosecurity threats and invasive species.

MEDIA CONTACT
Claire Vince | Media & Communications Advisor
claire.vince@austmus.gov.au | M 61 468 726 910