About the light show

The Australian National Maritime Museum’s iconic roofline, evoking sails and waves, becomes the canvas this summer for a dynamic new light show exploring migration to Australia.

  • Watch the Waves of Migration animation on Youtube

    Watch the light show

    View the Waves of migration animation on Youtube.

  • Man in canoe

    Scene 1

    An Indigenous fisherman in a nawi (Sydney region bark canoe).

  • Endeavour tall ship and transit of venus

    Scene 2

    1768: Lieutenant James Cook leads an expedition from Plymouth on Endeavour to view the 1769 transit of Venus and search for the legendary Great South Land.

  • Eight tall ships sailing

    Scene 3

    1787: the First Fleet, including Charlotte, one of six convict transports, sets sail from Portsmouth to establish the penal colony of New South Wales.

  • People cramped behind bars on convict ship

    Scene 4

    1787: the cramped interior of a convict transport ship.

  • Chinese migrants wave farewell to family from a clipper ship headed for the Australian goldfields

    Scene 5

    1857: a father farewells his family from the clipper ship Young America in Hong Kong, bound for the goldfields of Australia.

  • Steam ship surrounded by paperwork and photos of people

    Scene 6

    1901: the steamship Changsha struggles to land non-European migrants in Australia during the period of the White Australia policy.

  • A Jewish woman recalls locking the front door to her home in Austria

    Scene 7

    1939: a Jewish woman recalls locking the front door to her home in Austria for the last time before escaping to Australia prior to the outbreak of World War 2.

  • A woman departs war-torn Europe after World War 2

    Scene 8

    1947: the deck of Castel Felice fills with migrants headed for a new life away from war-torn Europe in the years after World War 2.

  • A Yugoslav refugee remembers the precious things she has left behind.

    Scene 9

    1957: A Yugoslav refugee remembers the precious things she has left behind – her family, her village and all her possessions.

  • Stacked suitcases

    Scene 10

    Suitcases and trunks – evocative symbols of the migrant journey – represent Australia’s post-war migration agreements with countries including Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Malta, Greece, Yugoslavia and Turkey.

  • People on passenger liner

    Scene 11

    1961: Ten Pound Poms enjoy the sunshine on the deck of Canberra.

  • South Vietnamese family on their fishing boat Tu Do

    Scene 12

    1977: a South Vietnamese family uses a simple compass and map to navigate thousands of kilometres to Darwin on their fishing boat Tu Do.

  • Afghan asylum seekers huddle together on board Indonesian fishing boat

    Scene 13

    2009: Afghan asylum seekers huddle together as their Indonesian fishing boat deteriorates and their hopes of reaching Australia fade.

  • A boy stands at the bow of the boat with the memory of his mother appearing

    Scene 14

    A boy stands at the bow of the boat with his mother’s wedding ring in his hand. The sky fills with the boy’s memories of his escape from Afghanistan.

  • Boat on water with group of people on board

    Scene 15

    The asylum seeker boat slows down and moves out of frame.

  • Endeavour replica arrives in Sydney Harbour

    Scene 16

    2013: the museum’s Endeavour replica arrives in Sydney Harbour.

  • Final scene 17 2014 illustration

    Scene 17

    Watercraft from the museum’s collection, including Endeavour, nawi and Tu Do, are revealed in a vivid night-time scene of Sydney Harbour.