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To hope is to dream. Of what might or will be. Of the possible and the mere possible hope against hope. To hope is to strive for the best. To build on glimmers of new beginnings. To hope is to never give up. To remain expectant, against hopes dashed, disappointments, falsities. To hope is to believe there is a way.

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A man in a wheelchair - click to view larger image
Jacob Baldwin on the road with the Ability Trek

Jacob Baldwin — hope to inspire

Jacob Baldwin (1951–2010) is the only person to have driven around Australia in a motorised wheelchair. Between 1992 and 1996 he travelled about 16,500 kilometres on the 'Ability Trek', with the hope to inspire others with the enormous abilities possessed by those with classified disabilities.

Confined to a wheelchair by cerebral palsy, Jacob only had the use of one hand. His condition meant that he spent much of his childhood in care, first at Strathallan Hospital, Turramurra and then at The Spastic Centre (now the Cerebral Palsy Alliance) at Mosman, both in New South Wales.

As a young adult, he strove to be free from institutional care, and attended Cumberland College (now part of Sydney University) where he obtained a diploma in rehabilitation counselling. Throughout his life, Jacob worked in counselling and advocacy roles on a range of issues affecting people with disabilities.

The Ability Trek left Sydney in January 1992. Over the next four and a half years, Jacob and a five-person support crew would travel at eight kilometres per hour around many of the coastal roads of mainland Australia and Tasmania.

There was a high turnover among the support crew. They encountered difficulties that delayed them for months at a time, such as while they tried to obtain fundraising permits in Perth, and during the breakdown of their bus in Port Hedland.

Businesses and individuals around Australia met much of the team's needs by donating food, accommodation, vehicle supplies and money. Jacob spoke to schools, community groups and local media throughout the Trek, bringing to thousands of people his message that having a disability does not mean not having potential.

Jacob's hat and one of the wheelchairs he used on the Ability Trek were on display.

Jacob Baldwin collection highlight

The Ability Trek Documentary 3:19

Jacob's support crew filmed the Ability Trek. This documentary was produced from their footage by Guinness Entertainment in 1998. Kevin and Veronica Baldwin. Guinness Entertainment

Benita Collings — hope for children's learning

Most children who grew up in Australia in the 1970s to the 1990s will recognise Benita Collings. Benita presented 401 episodes of Play School on ABC Television and was one of Australia's most popular and prolific television personalities.

Benita read stories, taught children to tell the time and got creative with paper and pipe cleaners. An energetic presenter on Play School, Benita trained regularly at the gym so that she could jump like a kangaroo or run like an emu over several filming takes.

Play School presenters talk intimately to children and involve them in every activity. They encourage children to create, think and hope. Play School has been running since 1966 and is watched by over a million children each day. In Benita's words: 'Children learn through play and this gives me hope'.

The Arched window from Play School was on display.

Play School collection highlight

Play School material in our collection

Ferruccio (Tommy) Tomasi — hope for a new life in a new country

Ferruccio (Tommy) Tomasi was born in Italy in 1926 and came to Australia with high hopes for his future. While he was working in Western Australia, Tommy saw an image of the snow on Mt Kosciuszko which reminded him of his homeland. He set off to Cooma to apply for work on the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

The Scheme offered Tommy the chance to fulfil his hopes for the future in a part of Australia that reminded him of home.

A model of the Snowy Mountains Scheme was on display.

Snowy Scheme collection highlight

In our collection

Commemorative bronze topographic model of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme, presented to Ben Chifley at the scheme's...The model was presented to Prime Minister J.B.Chifley upon the inauguration of the Scheme on 17 October 1949 at the commencement of Adaminaby (later Eucumbene) Dam. The model is a form of presentation trophy or plaque. It depicts the topography of the Snowy Mountains and shows some of the main features of the hydro scheme, wit...
On display

Patricia Chalcraft

A child of the Depression (1930s)

Ben Chifley

Former prime minister who introduced social welfare reforms and instigated much postwar reconstruction

Ben Chifley in Prime Ministers of Australia

Betty Cuthbert

As a teenager won three gold medals at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics

Frida Dakiz

Designs and sews fashionable dresses for women that would meet the Muslim dress-code (contemporary)

Nita Gilvear

Recovered from polio and strove to be known for something other than her disability (1930s–1940s)

In our collection

Auto-harp with plectrumAn auto-harp made from wood and metal with a painted exterior. The wooden sound box is designed in a stylised shape with a circular sound hole in the centre. There is a series of 60 strings fixed to the top of the sound box. There is a painterly decoration featuring peacocks, floral designs and a musical score, in gold, brown, g...

Mary Hamm

Hopes for a family and hope her children who all grew up knowing they were Aboriginal and adopted

Tan Le

Hope for Australia's future and the hope of new immigrants (contemporary)

Captain Arthur Phillip

Collected clay in new colony after arriving in 1788 and sent it to Benland, where it was made into a Wedgwood medallion

In our collection

Wedgwood medallion made from dark grey clay from Sydney Cove, 1789This medallion commemorating the landing of the First Fleet was made by Josiah Wedgwood in 1789, from Sydney Cove clay collected by Governor Arthur Phillip. On 16 November 1788 Governor Arthur Phillip sent a sample of clay, possibly taken from the Government House site, to the President of the Royal Society of London, Sir Jose...

Joan Winch

Hoped for better Aboriginal health and founded a college in Perth to train Indigenous community members in basic health care

More on Joan Winch

Peter Wood

Hope for a Utopian world (1890s–1960s)

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