Dave Rickard currently works as a volunteer at the Migration Museum, where he and his wife, Pauline, assist with the management of the Museum’s photographic collection. He also volunteers with the South Australian Maritime Museum, where he is a crew member on the historic ex-police launch, Archie Badenoch, which takes school groups on short tours of the Port River as part of excursions to the museum.
Pathway to History SA
Asked about his volunteer work Dave told us:
When we sold our business and retired in 2004, I was keen to stay involved in community pursuits and keep up a regular commitment each week with organisations that relied on their volunteers to help out with day to day operations. With a strong interest ever since school days in matters of historical interest, museums were an obvious choice. At the time, I found that the Migration Museum needed assistance with an audit of its collection and at the same time, the photographing of each object in its store. Pauline and I took up the task which took several years to complete and in addition, I came in on one other day to help accession items donated to the museum’s collection. On yet another occasion each week, I attended the Maritime Museum to assist the curators there in the management of objects held in the museum’s store.
Day to Day
Since 2006 when Dave and Pauline’s responsibilities were transferred to a different area at the Migration Museum, they have been working on the vast collection of images held at the museum which relate to migration since 1836 to South Australia and also the state’s social history. This involves scanning and accessioning photographs that come to the museum, with Dave researching the information associated with each image and Pauline looking after the input of the data and digital images to the museum’s computer file. Meanwhile, once a fortnight Dave ventures down to Port Adelaide where he and a volunteer coxswain provide half hour trips to school children, as part of the educational program organised for them at the Maritime Museum. During the cruise, Dave talks to them about the history and points of interest along the riverbanks and frequently, they also get to see some of the estuary’s friendly and unique dolphin population.
Dave and Pauline are always willing to help out on anything that is happening at the museums. No job is too big or too small
Working at the museums often provides a very diverse range of projects away from the ‘norm’ – ranging for instance, from the restoration of a kitchen sideboard for an exhibition display, to repairing an old windjammer model at Artlab, prior to its inclusion in an exhibition about Torrens Island’s WWI Internment Camp. A few examples that come to mind which I could call high-points would probably include the following:
During my first year at the Migration Museum I conducted a search of archives at the State Library, at the request of the Senior Curator at the time, Christine Finnemore. It related to one of the museum’s most important objects, Light’s plan of Adelaide, and the occasional debate over who actually selected and surveyed the site. Amongst a mass of papers I was trawling through, I came across a previously unpublished letter written by Colonel Light to George Palmer in London in 1838, the content of which was conclusive evidence that Light had the much sounder case over Deputy Surveyor General, George Kingston.
Dave wrote about this research on the Migration Museum Collection Blog A Few of Our Favourite Things.
In 2012, Pauline and I were fortunate to have our contribution as volunteers acknowledged with a Certificate of Recognition from the Government of SA.
Working at the Maritime Museum often leads to opportunities to be seconded to other interesting and unique one-off volunteering roles from time to time. It was exciting, and a great privilege, to be able to act as a volunteer guide on the HMB Endeavour replica early in 2016 during the vessel’s visit to Port Adelaide. Even better, it was a huge thrill to sleep on board and help carry out the duties of a ship keeper after all the visitors had departed, living in an environment similar to Cook’s sailors of a by-gone era.
Getting to know Dave
Dave’s affinity with the South Australian Maritime Museum is explained in part by his career history.
Right after leaving school, I spent twelve years in the Royal Australian Navy and then 30 years in the Fleet Reserve. Some people say I’ve never really left the outfit! What on earth are they talking about?
Away from the museums, I spend time writing about maritime and naval history for articles and for a few books I’ve written and self-published. More recently, I’ve begun writing brief battalion and warship histories for the RSL’s website. And for several years, my long-term project has been writing the story of my great grandfather, a Cornish copper miner and Hill End goldminer, who led a fascinating life.
Thank you Dave, our museums are all the richer for the contribution of volunteers like yourself that keep us running.