Sunday 2 February 2014

Tasmania Trip - Day 9

Day 9 - 2/2/2014 - Boorowa to Canberra

Finally, a day where we get to do some touristy stuff instead of driving!  As it was a relatively short drive, (still a couple of hours), into Canberra so we had a bit of a slower start than the previous mornings.

Packed up and nearly ready to leave
After arriving at the van park and setting up we had a quick lunch and headed off to visit Black Mountain Tower. We had been past it a few times in the past, but never had the time to visit it.

Black Mountain Tower from the van park

Views from the outside observation deck
After the tower it was down to the National Library of Australia for two reasons, the first to quickly catch up with and old workmate and second to see the Mapping Our World exhibition.  When we arrived at the library we didn’t realise that we had to actually book to get into the exhibition even though it was free!  We had a bit of time to kill before our session so Clayton was good enough to rearrange his Sunday afternoon to come in and catch up with us.

National Library of Australia
As Clayton worked at the National Library, he was good enough to give us backstage tour of the inner workings of it.  First stop was the server room that he was in charge of. OMG!  The size and the sheer numbers that were getting dropped was unbelievable.  For home users 3 to maybe 4 terabytes of computer storage is a lot.  Here you are talking about 3 to 4 petabytes, that is 3,000 to 4,000 terabytes, and it is vastly more expandable.  And this is only a small site in comparison to other federal govt organisations as well!  The reason for the storage is due to the Trove database.  It is pretty much storing digitised versions of books, maps, photos, magazines etc etc, here are some of the stats of what they hold

Next stop was in one of the floors where they store all of the books.  Three copies of every book that is ever published in Australia.  The floors are all temperature and climate controlled and they even have dummy books in the shelves with sensors that are monitoring the environmental conditions.

The final stop was the basement to see the “Charlies”.  They are part of the robotic book retrieval system.  They are sort of like flat motorised remote controlled pallets that move the boxes of books around the building.  Unfortunately we didn't get to see any in operation :-(.

By the time we had finished the behind the scenes tour the coffee shop had closed and we missed out on catching up over a beer or two.  The tour was awesome and I definitely owe Clayton a +1 invite to a footy tipping function whenever he is in town next ;-).

We still had a bit more time to spare before our exhibition time so we wandered over to Questacon, the national science and technology centre.  Unfortunately we didn’t have time to explore it but we did come across some interesting sculptures outside of it.  Something for the todo list next time we are back in Canberra.

The shadow showing the approximate time
The main reason I wanted to see the Mapping our World exhibition was to see the Fra Mauro map. The map was created around 1450 and prior to this exhibition it has never left its home in the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice.  It was certainly a lot easier to get to Canberra to see the map than to Venice!  Although I think Jodie would have much rather have gone to Venice.  The map was so big that they also had to take out one of the big windows of the Library just to get it into the building.
An image of the map taken from the wiki link below
The detail in the map was amazing.  Here is the link to wiki for anyone who wants more info.

Some more Mapping our world links

For security reasons, no photos were allowed in the library, so no photos of behind the scenes of the library or the exhibition.

Camp site in the Canberra van park.  Well planned out, like the city!

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