The Box That Changed The World – The Cool Container Combo

By Michael Barker

Photos by Deanna Shanahan

Forgive our weak effort at alliterating to snatch your attention. But there is something you need to see!
There is a free outdoor exhibition running until April 2020 at the Maritime Museum, Fremantle. It really is worth getting along to discover how the humble shipping container has revolutionised the way we live!

You get to learn about shipping, ports, cargo, the impact of containerisation on the ocean, the origins of everyday objects and even container architecture.

We most of all liked the container showing architecture, how the container has been converted into liveable, usable – even attractive – human spaces.

The exhibition, developed by the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney, is housed in six colourful 20-foot shipping containers peppered along the port, from outside the Maritime Museum trailing down to E Shed Markets. It arrived at Fremantle Port on Saturday 2 November thanks to WA Maritime Museum, Fremantle Ports and Freight & Logistics Council.

The point is made that, whether it be the coffee from Brazil or a smoothie containing frozen fruit from China that you are drinking, or many of the clothes you wear, and most other things we import, the container brought it here.

The six containers are:

‘Ship’ – the history of the cargo industry before the invention of the container and the impact of its introduction.

‘Cargo’ – trade, customs, biosecurity and how perishable goods are transported around the world in the cold chain.

‘Port’ – the radical transformation of ports and port cities in Australia and around the world. It also gives visitors a peek behind the scenes at Port Botany, one of Australia’s busiest ports.

‘Ocean’ – the challenges mass shipping poses to our oceans, including lost shipping containers, cargo spills and acoustic pollution, and the current focus on sustainable shipping.

‘Build’ – the quirky and innovative ways containers are used beyond shipping, including ‘small homes’, food trucks, art installations and even swimming pools.

‘Things’ – a glass fronted container with a shop-front style window display demonstrating the origins of everyday objects in our homes.

The photographs accompanying this piece, taken by our super snapper, Deanna Shanahan, give you the flavour, but there’s no substitute for being there. You won’t be disappointed.

And have a snack at a Port cafe or in the Maritime Museum while you’re there.

And – finally – don’t forget to keep an eye on the ships coming and going! See if you can spot the one that features in our daily Shipping News, In Port, snap.