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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.

Benita Collings and her 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.

John Waters, Jemima and Benita Collings
John Waters, Jemima and Benita Collings, about 1978. Courtesy: ABC.
The Play School Flower Clock
The Play School Flower Clock.
Photo: George Serras.

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 is on display in the Eternity gallery.

Play School collection highlight

Play School in the Museum's Collection Explorer

Jacob Baldwin and the hope to inspire

A man in a wheelchair
Jacob Baldwin on the road with the Ability Trek, about 1994. Courtesy: Kevin and Veronica Baldwin.

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 are on display in Eternity.

Documentary video

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

Courtesy: Kevin and Veronica Baldwin and Guinness Entertainment.

Jacob Baldwin collection highlight

Tommy Tomasi's hope for a new life in a new country

Tommy Tomasi.
Tommy Tomasi, mid-1950s. Courtesy: Tommy Tomasi.

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:

I enjoyed this work very much, finding it extremely interesting and really felt that I was contributing to the Snowy Scheme.

A model of the Snowy Mountains Scheme is on display in the Eternity gallery.

Snowy Scheme collection highlight

Stories previously 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

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)

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

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

Peter Wood
Hope for a Utopian world (1890s-1960s)

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