Living in Port provides a window to the industries that once clung to the shoreline —towering flour mills, pungent sugar refineries, sprawling timberyards, wool stores, boat builders and bond stores. The exhibition explores the slog of lumping cargo, the violent strikes that pitted neighbour against neighbour, and the entertainments and sporting clubs that welded the community together. It probes the tension between pulpit and pub as churches committed to drawing sailors from the more salacious temptations of the Port, and reveals the fate of passengers held in isolation at Torrens Island Quarantine Station.
Artefacts from archaeological digs help piece together the story of life behind closed doors. Home could be a grain hulk on the river or a humble cottage. Many objects on display, including a matchstick dredge, sail-maker’s bench and shipwright’s model yacht recall the pride of craftsmen. Others, including a grave marker from Torrens Island, are chilling reminders of a darker past.
A dynamic interactive map allows visitors to navigate the Port’s history through place, time and artefacts. Living Portraits—an interactive projection of interviews and images—explores Aboriginal stories of living in Port, from camps along the shoreline, to the experience of sailing ketches, lumping cargo and working in the flour mills. These are inspiring often surprising stories that highlight the continuity and strength of our Aboriginal community.