The rise of the humble box


Officially opened this week by Roads, Maritime and Freight Minister Melinda Pavey, Container; the box that changed the world explores the impact of one of the 20th century’s most important innovations.

Six colourful 20-foot metal boxes scattered like giant Lego pieces around Darling Harbour form the centrepiece of the Australian National Maritime Museum’s first-ever outdoor exhibition.

Each box reveals the secrets of how the humble shipping container has shaped the modern world.

A converted World War II oil tanker renamed the Ideal X transported the world’s first shipping containers from New Jersey to Texas in 1956, launching a global revolution which now sees a staggering 35 million unassuming boxes on our oceans.

Economists say they have done more for global trade than every trade agreement signed over the past 50 years.

In NSW, Port Botany is Australia’s second largest container port, handling 99.5 per cent of the State’s approximately 2.5 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) containers per year.

Other NSW ports that handle shipping containers include the major industrial centres of Newcastle and Port Kembla (Wollongong).

Shipping containers now transport televisions, computers, white goods and furniture safely and efficiently from overseas to our ports.

Our exporters benefit as meat, cotton and grains are transported cost effectively from regional locations to ports in shipping containers destined for overseas markets.

In the 2016-17 financial year around 20 per cent of these containers were transported by rail rather than trucks helping to ease congestion on the states roads.

The movement of freight in containers contributes around $3.2 billion to our Gross State Product, providing more than 21,000 direct and indirect jobs in the ports, transport and related industries.

This exhibition puts into perspective the enormous contribution containers have on our everyday lives, changing the way we produce, shop, eat, work and live.

Container, the box that changed the world opened this week in Darling Harbour and will run until October 2018.

The exhibition is being supported by Transport for NSW alongside industry partners NSW Ports, ACFS Port Logistics, DP World Australia, Maritime Container Services, Smit Lamnaico and Shipping Australia.

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