Sydney National Museum ‘Container’ Exhibition Goes on Tour
Did you know that 99% of trade into and out of Australia comes by shipping container?
Celebrating this, the National Maritime Museum has sent its ‘Container’, shipping container exhibition on tour around the country after its initial spell at the Sydney National Maritime Museum.
People in Wollongong can now pay a visit to the six, 20ft containers that each have a theme. In February it moves to its next stop in Wagga Wagga, NSW between 2 February and 5 May.
Let’s have a blast around the different themes that the shipping container exhibition covers: Ship, Cargo, Port, Ocean, Build and Things…
Since the first shipping containers arrived in Australia in 1968 there’s been a complete revolution in the way cargo arrives by sea. The old ‘break bulk’ and ‘tramp steamers’ have all but disappeared from the world’s waterways and now are replaced with huge containerships that can carry up to (and sometimes over) 20,000 twenty-foot-equivalent-units (TEUs).
As we will see below, the very way that cargo is now handled has affected so much more than the type of ships.
In the past, a relatively small break bulk cargo ship may have taken days to unload due to the different sizes and shapes of the cargo aboard. Hundreds of men and women would have been involved, which added to the cost of transporting those goods.
Today it only requires cranes that have two to three settings to load and unload these ships in a matter of hours, thanks to the standardised size of the cargo that is loaded and unloaded – namely the humble shipping container.
Ports have changed almost out of recognition too. They used to have warehousing and all sorts of transit sheds, and be bustling with thousands of dockworkers. That is a thing of the past – many container ports are now ‘unmanned’ with robots doing the bulk of the work.
Shipping containers being weatherproof they no longer require warehousing so are stored during transit in vast parks.
As with so many things mankind gets up to, moving billions of tonnes of cargo around the world has its environmental impact. Containers are lost at sea. Oil and other spills occur. However, thanks in part due to economies of scale introduced in the larger ships, there is a general push to drive the environment to the core of container transport. This box ‘Ocean’ reflects that.
One of the inadvertent outcomes of containers touching nearly every point of civilisation around the world is that they are being put to use in a whole variety of novel ways. Don’t believe us? Have a look around the Gateway Gazette blog to see just how far out of the box people think when it comes to shipping containers; cargotecture is being used for apartments, to shopping malls, to alpine resorts and even more!
The idea of ‘food miles’ is often a selling point in eateries around the world today – just how local is my plate of food? In the Things exhibition the same idea is asked of a number of different objects you may take for granted. Your mobile phone’s components may well have travelled in excess of 116,822 kilometres in its journey! Even a pancake you eat for breakfast may have travelled more than 40,000km in its life from field to plate…
Shipping containers have made all this possible and have been one of those things that in simple design and concept have changed the world we live in forever. That’s why it’s worth paying a visit to the Wollongong Container exhibition now if you get the chance, or next month in Wagga Wagga. Here’s another excuse: it is completely free of charge to visit!
Need a secondhand shipping container or two?
Contemplating your own shipping container project? Need an extra 40 feet of storage or just want to send a shipment of goods overseas?