On the waterfront

Waterfront attractions

On permanent display | Outside main building 

When you visit the Australian National Maritime Museum, be sure to wander along our attractive waterfront. 

Cape Bowling Green lighthouse 

Cape Bowling Green lighthouse

By 1874 many ships had run aground at Cape Bowling Green. This low sandy spit south of Townsville, Queensland, was in dire need of a lighthouse to help ships serving north Queensland ports. The lighthouse was built from local hardwood and clad with iron plates imported from Britain. Staffed by a keeper and three assistants, it was moved twice when threatened by the sea. When an automatic acetylene light was installed in 1920 (operated by a sun valve), the lighthouse was de-staffed. In 1987, it was replaced by a modern tower. It was transported to the museum in 1994, re-erected on our North Wharf and fitted with the type of clockwork and kerosene mechanism used in 1913.

Free guided tours operate daily - check times at the ticket desk in the museum foyer.

More information and specifications (PDF, 202kb)

Signal flags 

Signal mast

A signal mast is used for hoisting signal flags that send messages to vessels. This 20.7 m (68 ft) signal mast was erected in 1912 at the Royal Australian Navy's Garden Island Dockyard, Sydney. Pennants (flags) were flown from it with messages to naval vessels in the harbour. While it looms large now, the original signal mast was over 70 metres high! In World War II, the middle section was removed because it was a hazard to flying boats taking off from Rose Bay.

Every day museum staff hoist the Australian national flag, the museum flag and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags. As ANZ is a principal sponsor, their flag is also flown. If you visit the museum on 21 October (Trafalgar Day), you will see Admiral Lord Nelson's famous signal from the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar, reading, "England expects that every man will do his duty".

More information and specifications (PDF, 503kb)

Mooring anchors 

Vernon mooring anchors

The Vernon mooring anchors stand as a memorial to seafarers lost at sea in wartime and in peace. Each year, a commemoration service is held on World Maritime Day, organised by the Maritime Union of Australia. The 19th-century anchors are thought to have come from a wooden sailing ship, Vernon, off Cockatoo Island, Sydney. The former merchant ship became a nautical school or reformatory ship for boys learning trades under naval discipline. Long after Vernon was retired, the anchors were used for mooring ships off the island.

Next time you're at the museum, look closely at the anchors. Can you see the government broad arrow and the date of manufacture, 1839? Note the flukes - mooring anchors have one fluke bent back to avoid damage to the ship's hull.

The anchors were transferred to the museum with help from the Seamen's Union of Australia (later amalgamated with the Maritime Union of Australia) and sponsorship from BHP.

More information and specifications (PDF, 118kb)


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