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Robbie the Rat brings history to life for kids

5 JANUARY 2005

A giant Cockney rat who scarpered from a convict ship to bring Australia's history to life is running free tours and storytelling at the National Museum of Australia from today.

Robbie the Rat will regale young visitors with stories of life on the ship before leading a tour taking in some of his favourite objects in the National Museum collection.

An aspiring actor rat who is fast-talking and funny, Robbie will involve young visitors in acting out life on board the ship. He will introduce his friends in the museum, including Bar Bar Ra, the sheep who claims Australia's success was made from the wool off her back.

"Lucky for the kids I been watchin' 'istory unfold since I told Captin Arfur Fillip 'ow to get 'ere," Cockney Robbie says. "I reckon the kids will love hearin' 'bout 'ow I 'elped start the gold rush, lost me whiskers in a bushfire and got me passport to become Astrayan."

Robbie is played by Sydney performer Nigel Sutton, who last visited the National Museum as Oliver, the roving storyteller in the exhibition, Outlawed!

Highlights of the National Museum's January school holidays program include:

  • Robbie the Rat storytelling and tours. Daily until 26 January. Storytelling 12-12.30pm, Gallery tours 1.30-2pm.
  • Long Hot Summer desert film festival. 9, 15, 16, 23 January. Watch the sun beat down in air-conditioned comfort during our Extremes desert film festival. Features include Aladdin, Dune and The Prince of Egypt. 2pm.
  • Tim the Yowie Man's Mystery tours. 18 January. Explore mysteries including the disappearance of the Tassie tiger and make your own mystery animal print. 10am-12pm, 1.30-3.30pm. Bookings: 02 6208 5021.
  • Tim the Yowie Man's Grossed Out! tours. 19 January. See specimens in jars and all things gross and gory, then discover why it's good to have them. 10am-12pm and 1.30-3.30pm. Bookings: 02 6208 5021.
  • Extremes craft. 13 and 20 January. Create coloured desert sands and rock art, linked to the new exhibition, Extremes. 11am-2pm.
  • Storytelling. Daily until 30 January. Stories from across Australia and the globe with puppetry and dance. 11am-12pm.

For more details visit

For interviews with Robbie or images please contact Leanda Coleman at the National Museum on 0438 620 710.