At the far end of the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum’s history gallery, a mysterious looking hallway breaks off. Lined with cabinets of glistening brass instruments and pictures of stern looking men in glorious battle poses, you are guided down the hall to a single room - filled from top to bottom with all manner of curious objects.
The Jervis Bay Maritime Museum boasts one of the most significant collections of scientific instruments to be found anywhere in the southern hemisphere.
Started by surveyor and property developer Henry F. Halloran in 1890, and continued by his son Warren Halloran, the collection charts the story of Australia’s exploration and the development of the Jervis Bay area from colonial times until the present.
When Australia was first colonised by Europeans, exploration was still a dangerous undertaking. Though it was easy to find latitude using the stars, judging longitude was elusive and ship-wrecks were still a major hindrance to sea travel. Only with the development of the Harrison marine chronometer in 1772, allowing for accurate estimation of latitude at sea, was it safe for people to travel long distances by ship.
The objects in the Halloran collection illustrate how exploration was made possible using mathematics, measurement, technological advances, and an insatiable desire for adventure. The collection charts the chronological development of instruments that have shaped our world right up to the 21st century.
The collection also contains memorabilia connected with famous names such as Alexander Berry, Sir John Jervis, Lord Nelson, and famous battles of the Napoleonic wars, such as Trafalgar. There are navigational objects such as sextants and octants, objects from famous ships, sea chests, weapons, paintings and drawings, and other curiosities from a bygone age.
Both Halloran’s, father and son, assembled their collection with a sharp eye for historical significance and with a witty appreciation for the curious and the collectible.
There’s plenty for children and adults to enjoy in this unique example of a ‘gentleman’s collection’, on permanent display at the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum.
The Jervis Bay Maritime Museum is open every day (except Christmas). 10am – 4pm. Woollamia Rd, Huskisson. Entry $10 adults / $8 Concession / Children under 16 free.