There are thousands of treasures to see in the Museums Discovery Centre, at Castle Hill. Vintage trains, buses, tram cars, tractors and Cobb & Co. coach etc. occupy the floor space. Lawnmowers and bicycles are mounted on walls and aeroplanes, dangle from the ceiling. Smaller artefacts are displayed in glass cases or drawers and there are rooms dedicated to architecture and natural history. Some items are curious, such as the Robocow, a battery operated robotic cow designed as an aid to train horses to work with cattle; the Miniature Tandem Monkey Bicycle ridden by monkeys in the Taronga Park Zoo in the 1930’s and Chinese ‘lotus shoes’, fashioned for bound feet. Plus, there are things to do. With clues in hand, youngsters can search for shy Royal Doulton Bunny figurines whilst the older children decipher a code to locate special objects. However, what you see in the centre, is not all you get. The most intriguing discoveries are made when visitors read the history of the exhibits.
For example, the ‘Homemade Racing Car’ built by E.A. ‘Wilbur’ Watson. While the self-taught auto motive engineer worked with Jack Brabham in the 1950’s, he was busy after hours fulfilling his own dream. In 1949 he began collecting and cobbling together, recycled parts from bicycles, wrecked cars and aircraft. Eight long years later, his homemade racing car was complete. Then with a loving hand, he painted it, blue.
Local Feature Also on display is the yellow ‘Ice Bird’, a 9.7 metre Sydney Harbour yacht. This steel, plastic and timber boat would be on the water today, had it not been purchased second-hand and modified for adventurer, Dr David Lewis. In 1972, the then fifty five year old fulfilled his history making dream. Dr Lewis became the first person to sail single-handed to Antarctica – and back. In a yacht not designed for Antarctic conditions, he took the helm of the Ice Bird. Together they endured freezing temperatures, gales, snow storms and mountainous seas. And they prevailed.
The Museums Discovery Centre is suitable for all ages, somewhere to while away the hours in air-conditioned comfort. Every item has earned its place, so look twice. There is more to ‘ordinary’ exhibits, than meets the eye.