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Perfume bottle top from the DUNBAR wreck site

Date: pre 1857
Overall: 40 x 22 mm, 9 g
Medium: Glass
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Ron and Valerie Taylor
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Perfume bottle top
Object No: 00049370
Related Place:Sydney,

User Terms

    A clear glass perfume bottle top recovered by divers Ron and Valerie Taylor during their diving expeditions of the DUNBAR wreck site near South Head, Sydney in the late 1960s.
    SignificanceThis perfume bottle top comes from the collection of Ron and Valerie Taylor, who were household names in Australia in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and are honoured for their dramatic and beautiful underwater photography and film, and their dedication to marine conservation.
    HistoryThe DUNBAR was a passenger and cargo ship that ran the route between London and Sydney as a result of the Australian gold rushes. She was owned by Duncan Dunbar and was the pride of his growing fleet. After being requisitioned during the Crimean War she was returned to Dunbar and in 1856 she made her first journey to Sydney which was a success and she was proclaimed a "splendid ship".
    In 1857 she left England again bound for Sydney and was looking forward to repeating her success. On this journey she was laden with both expensive and important cargo and also a full contingent of passengers including some local Sydney dignitaries who had been visiting England. Her Captain, Green, was no stranger to the route and managed to sail her to Australia where she arrived off the coast of Sydney on 20 August 1857. However, there was a raging storm that night which made visibility particularly poor and the sea very rough.
    [ 39_The_wreck_of_the_Dunbar.pdf]
    Shortly before midnight Captain Green estimated the ship’s position off the entrance to the Heads and changed course to enter, keeping the Macquarie Light on the port bow. However, the estimation of where the ship was in relation to the heads was wrong and the DUNBAR, instead of entering the harbour through the heads was rammed against cliffs. The desolation in that weather was quick and savage. There were no survivors except one seaman, James Johnson, who had been thrown higher up the cliff face where he waited two days before being rescued.
    The shock the next morning was city wide and business came to a standstill as the populace tried to understand and process the disaster. Wreckage and bodies were widespread along the foreshores and there was a day of mourning and an estimated 20,000 people lined the streets on the day of the funeral procession. Many of who had relatives amongst the 121 people who had died.
    A memorial to the DUNBAR is located at South Head and the bodies of those victims located were buried together at Camperdown Cemetery.

    Both Ron Taylor and Valerie Taylor (née Heighes) were pioneers in Australian skindiving. Ron took up the sport in 1952 and Valerie in 1956; they met as members of St George Spearfishing Club in Sydney and were married in 1963. At this period there was little awareness of marine conservation and both Ron and Valerie excelled at the sport of competitive spearfishing. Valerie won the Ladies National Spearfishing Championships three years in a row in the early 1960s, and Ron took out the World Spearfishing Championships in Tahiti in 1965.

    The Taylors' underwater interests grew to encompass scuba diving and underwater photography. Ron built the first of many underwater housings to take land cameras beneath the sea in 1953. When television came to Australia in 1956 he saw the potential for making underwater news stories and with the help of a friend, who lent him a Bell & Howell 16 mm movie camera, Ron built an acrylic housing for the camera and started selling underwater footage to television and to the cinema newsreel producer Movietone News.

    As their reputation grew, other underwater filming opportunities presented themselves: Jaws (1974) for Universal Pictures; Sharks for Timelife Television (1975); Orca (1976) for Dino De Laurentis; Peter Weir's The Last Wave (1977); The Blue Lagoon (1979) for Columbia Pictures, featuring Brooke Shields. The titles proliferated: Gallipoli (1981), The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), In the Realm of the Shark (1988), Return to the Blue Lagoon (1990) and The Island of Dr Moreau (1995) among others.

    The Taylors were also engaged in underwater research into shark behaviour. This led to the development of stainless steel chain mail diving suits (Operation Shark Bite, 1982, in which Valerie is bitten on the hand), and electronic shark deterrent equipment that allowed the Taylors to become the first divers ever to film Great White sharks underwater without a cage (Blue Wilderness, 1992 and Shark Pod, 1996).

    Passionate and vocal defenders of sharks and the marine environment, the Taylors' have been recognised for their work all over the globe. Valerie received the NOGI award for Arts in 1981. In 1986 she was appointed Rider of the Order of the Golden Ark by his Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands for her work in marine conservation, and in 1997 Valerie won the prestigious American Nature Photographer of the Year award for a picture of a whale shark swimming with a boy in Ningaloo Marine Park. In 1998 Ron and Valerie's book Blue Wilderness won the Gold Palm Award at the World Festival of Underwater Pictures in France and in October 2000 Ron and Valerie were inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame on the Cayman Islands.

    In Australia, Ron and Valerie have received the Serventy Conservation Medal from the Australian Wildlife Preservation Society and the Lifetime of Conservation Medal from the Australian Geographic Society. In 2003 Ron became a Member of the Order of Australia, joined by Valerie in 2010 for their work in conserving marine animals and habitat.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Perfume bottle top from the DUNBAR wreck site

    Collection title: Ron and Valerie Taylor collection

    Assigned title: Perfume bottle top

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