Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Action Stations

Indigenous historian Gary Oakley served in the Australian navy as a young man during the 70s. His experience will feature at the Australian National Maritime Museum’s new high tech $12m attraction Action Stations. Source: News Corp Australia.

Gina Rushton, Australian Maritime Museum attraction features navy’s untold stories, The Australian, 10 November 2015

Indigenous historian and retired submariner Gary Oakley said there was no room for racism aboard the vessels on which he served for more than two decades.

“Colour didn’t mean anything because being underwater is so mentally challenging that you all just have to count on each other and it is important you all get along,” the 62-year-old said.

In 1969 he joined the navy as a 15-year-old in a bid to “get the hell out” of the Blue Mountains.

Mr Oakley’s ”untold story” features in Action Stations: a $12 million attraction which opened at the Australian Maritime Museum in Sydney on Sunday as part of the biggest public initiative taken by the museum since it opened in 1991.

The museum’s chief executive Kevin Sumption said the institution was redeveloping its “master narrative” of Australia’s maritime history to include the presence of indigenous servicemen.

“The presence of indigenous Australians is getting a much higher profile in the programming we do in the museum and is an important part of our new direction,” Mr Sumption said.

Action Stations is a “blended experience” of physical hands-on interactives and a tour of the navy vessels HMAS Vampire and HMAS Onslow which also feature in a large scale cinema experience transporting visitors back to 1973, he said.

“We got 60 serving naval serviceman and very meticulously recreated going to the action stations on the submarine which was very complex and choreographed with 1970s mainly analogue technology, for the film,” he said.

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