South Sea Islands Museum

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South Sea Islands Museum
The Entrance to the South Seas Islands Museum 01.jpg
A distant street view of the entrance on Avondale Rd to the South Seas Island Museum
Location27 Avondale Rd, Cooranbong
Coordinates33°04′27″S 151°27′46″E / 33.074093°S 151.462751°E / -33.074093; 151.462751
Nearest car parkOn site

In 1964 the South Sea Islands Museum was founded in Cooranbong, in New South Wales, Australia, to display artifacts collected by Seventh-day Adventist missionaries, who entered Australia in 1885[1] and expanded into New Zealand,[2] Papua New Guinea,[3] Solomon Islands,[4] Gilbert and Ellis Islands, Fiji,[5] Tonga, Kiribati,[6] Samoa,[7] Cook Islands,[8] Tahiti[9] and Pitcairn Islands.[10]

The museum displays headhunting gear, Pacific island weapons, carvings, idols, canoes and other artifacts in an 1896 building that was originally a house.[11]

The records of the missionaries' work in Australia and in the South Sea Island region dating from the 1880s are held in the Adventist Heritage Centre which is located within the Library of the Avondale College of Higher Education at Cooranbong.[12][13] According to the Australian Department of the Environment and Heritage, "these rich and diverse records of provenance add to the significance of items in the museum."[14]


As interest in the collection grew a decision was made to house the growing collection in a building of its own. This building located at 27 Avondale Road, Cooranbong opened in 1964.[15]


Solomon Islands war canoe on display at The South Sea Islands Museum (picture taken Feb 2106)

The general exhibits change regularly, and a large war canoe permanently dominates one half of the building which also includes various themed exhibitions throughout the year.[16]

The most visually arresting exhibit is a Solomon Islands war canoe.[17] Its arrival in Australia in 1968 was announced in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Giant War Canoe Arrives

"Once used for head-hunting raids in the Solomon Islands, this 52 foot war canoe arrived in Sydney ..., carefully "bandaged" in sacking as protection against souvenir hunters. The canoe was unloaded from the Burns Philip Freighter, Tulagi at Walsh Bay and will eventually be displayed at the Seventh Day Adventist Church's South Pacific Island Museum at Cooranbong, 80 miles north of Sydney". [18]

A Maori meeting house god with Paua shell eyes, donated to the museum by Col Gibson
Octopus carving, a gift from staff at Atoiti Adventist Hospital, Solomon Islands. Donated by Raymond Hobbs
Papua New Guinea Bilum, red, black, beige and yellow, single handle, part of Weslake collection


It is open Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday, 1400 to 1600, or by appointment.[19]

See also[]


  1. ^ Breward, Ian (1993). A history of the Australian Churches. Allan & Unwin, St. Leonards, NSW. p. 92. ISBN 1863734465.
  2. ^ Ballis, Peter H. (1985). In and out of the world : Seventh-day Adventists in New Zealand. Avondale College Library: Dunmore Press, Palmerston North, N.Z. pp. 1–5.
  3. ^ Garrett, John (1992). Footsteps in the Sea: christianity in Oceania to World War II. Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji. pp. 59–62. ISBN 9820200687.
  4. ^ Steley, Dennis (1989). Unfinished: the Seventh-day Adventist mission in the South Pacific, excluding Papua New Guinea, 1886-1986, Thesis (Ph.D.). University of Auckland, Auckland. pp. 1–10.
  5. ^ Douglas, Leonora Mosende (1986). World Christianity. MARC, California. pp. 32–33. ISBN 0912552484.
  6. ^ Ernst, Manifred (1994). Winds of Change: Rapidly growing groups in the Pacific Islands. Pacific Conferences of Churches, Suva, Fiji. pp. 49–52. ISBN 9822000677.
  7. ^ Hay, David. E (2005). Samoa 100 + years : the South Pacific, and beyond: Seventh-day Adventist churches in the Samoan Islands, NZ, USA & Australia. Avondale College Library: Hamlyn Terrace, NSW.
  8. ^ Gilson, Richard (1990). The Cook Islands 1820-1950. Victoria University Press, Wellington. p. 75. ISBN 0705507351.
  9. ^ Currie, Alex S. (1986). "Historical-contextual overview of Adventist theological education in South Pacific Islands, 1800 - 1918". Mission Studies, 3 No 1 1986, P 25-42. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  10. ^ Forman, Charles W. (1982). The Island Churches of the South Pacific. Orbis Books, New York. pp. 20–21. ISBN 0883442183.
  11. ^ Hudson, Kenneth (1985). The Directory of Museums & Living Displays. Springer. ISBN 1349070149.
  12. ^ South Sea Islands Museum. "South Sea Islands Museum - Home". Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  13. ^ Mike Scanlon, (21 January 2012), Past resurfaces with canoe, Newcastle Herald Retrieved 4 April 2016
  14. ^ Russell, Roslyn and Winkworth, Kylie (2010). "Provenance across the collections of an archive, library and museum". Significance 2.0: a guide to assessing the significance of collections. Australian Department of the Environment and Heritage. ISBN 9780977544363. Online version retrieved 3 April 2016.
  15. ^ Adventist Heritage Centre. "Adventist Heritage Centre - Home". Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  16. ^ South Sea Islands Museum. "South Sea Islands Museum - Home". Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  17. ^ Steley, Dennis (1979). Walkabout long canoe: an odyssey through the Western Solomon Islands, past and present. Pacific Press. p. 49.
  18. ^ "Giant War Canoe Arrives". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 August 1968.
  19. ^ South Sea Islands Museum. "South Sea Islands Museum - About Us". Retrieved 31 March 2016.

External links[]

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