The story of the Titanic has always captured my imagination. My grandmother told me about it when I was young and I couldn't believe that such a grand ship had existed. I loved the James Cameron film and have poured over the book Ghosts of the Abyss and many of the newspaper articles from 1912 many times. You can imagine how thrilled I was when it was announced that Titanic, The Artefact Exhibition was coming to Melbourne.
To avoid the crowds, my husband and I went to a special evening viewing last night. It's hard to describe how moving it was. I was close to tears the entire time.. And I learnt so many things I didn't know about this beautiful ship, its passengers and crew. I walked through a recreated first class staterooms hallway and climbed a recreated grand staircase. I could see close up hairbrushes, perfume bottles and vials with the contents and scent still inside, unbroken china, clothing, postcards, even children's marbles. All recovered from more than 3, 800 metres beneath the surface where the Titanic now lies. It takes 2.5 hours to reach the Titanic and the water pressure is 420kg per square centimetre. These recovery efforts are so important as the Titanic is literally disintegrating and as I read last night "it will simply be gone" within two decades.
Upon entering the exhibit, we were each given a replica boarding pass with a real passengers name on it. At the end, in the Memorial Gallery, is a list of the survivors and those who perished. We were to find out if our passenger had survived. Mine was Mrs William R. Bucknell (Emma Eliza Ward), travelling in first class with her maid, Mrs. Albina Bazzani. We both survived. My husband had Mr William Gilbert, travelling in second class. He did not survive. After learning 'our' fates, we stood for a long time looking at the names. Sadly, many of the perished were in third class and too many were children. One line has stayed in my mind, a Scandinavian family consisting of Mr, Mrs, Master, Master, Miss and Miss. All gone. It's unbearable to think about. I cannot imagine being in a position where I could not save my children. Nothing could be worse.
If you are in Melbourne any time before October 17, I highly recommend a visit to the exhibit. To be so close to a part of history so magnificent and so tragic is an amazing experience. And for anyone that can't make it and has an interest in Titanic, I'm giving away an official program. It's full of lots of interesting information and images. Just leave me a comment..xx