A hand holds an iPad showing an Augmented reality character in front of two large black boilers

FlushBack iPad Activity

Step back in time and save Melbourne from becoming ‘Smellbourne’!

General information
Recommended for all ages 8+.
General public$3 + museum entry ($0 to $15)
Museum Members$2 + museum entry ($0 to $15)Extra iPad $5
Children under 3 are free

FlushBackScienceworks’ new, award-winning AR adventurebrings to life the heritage-listed Spotswood Pumping Station. 

Built to deal with Melbourne’s growing (and very smelly) sewage problem, the Pumping Station is considered an extraordinary feat of 19th century engineering and holds a fascinating – and gross! – history. 

In FlushBack, you’ll travel back to 1942 and complete challenges based on real historical events. You must ensure the Pumping Station continues to operate so Melbourne doesn’t turn back into 'Smellbourne'!

You’ll be guided by actual workers from the past, brought to life on your device using augmented reality (AR). They will introduce you to each of the major components that enabled the Pumping Station to pump Melbourne’s sewage away from the city for treatment. 

Race the clock to shovel coal, stoke the boilers to the right pressure, generate steam to power the engines, and maybe even help an old man who is on a desperate search for his false teeth (just don’t think too hard about where they might have been – eewww!!)

Save the day in the past, then come back to the present and see the modern-day water cycle in action.

Only available at Scienceworks, this unique experience blends modern technology with fascinating stories in a truly immersive setting.

Note: Your experience includes one iPad to play FlushBack for every 3 people in your group (not including kids under 3). You can grab an extra iPad from the front desk for $5, subject to availability. You’ll need to leave a photo ID with our team while you have the iPads on loan.

Frequently asked questions

What is FlushBack? 

FlushBack is an innovative augmented reality game that can be played on site at Scienceworks. Players get to step back in time and explore the rich history and remarkable engineering of the heritage-listed Spotswood Pumping Station.

What is augmented reality (AR)? 

Augmented reality is a combination of a digital and real-world experience. It uses a device’s camera, and a digital image appears on the screen in front of whatever the camera is pointing at.

You may be familiar with the Pokémon Go app. That’s AR—it superimposes an image of a Pokémon on the physical environment seen on the screen.

In this game, you’ll see characters from the past—people who were real employees of the Pumping Station in the 1940s. As you explore, these characters will be overlaid on the device while you see the beautiful machinery and surrounds of the Pumping Station.

Who is this game suitable for? 

The game is designed for families to play together and is best suited for families with children 8+. Younger children may still enjoy the game but will need more assistance from parents or carers.

How long does it take? 

40 to 60 minutes, depending on how quickly players move through the game and how much you want to explore the Pumping Station along the way.  

Can I play the game remotely? 

Nope! The game is played on site at Scienceworks. You’ll be interacting with the physical space including the historic building and objects within it, as well as using a device.

Do I need to bring my own device (smart phone or tablet)? 

No – we’ll lend you an iPad that will allow you to access the FlushBack experience. You’ll need to provide a drivers licence or other ID when you borrow the iPad. It will be returned to you when you return the iPad after you’ve finished the game.

Can I borrow multiple devices?

Your booking includes 1 iPad for every 3 people in your group, and you can hire extra iPads for $5 each (subject to availability).

Is the experience wheelchair accessible? 

All parts of the Pumping Station included in the game are wheelchair accessible. Please note that ramps will be used to access the Pumping Station and lighting is low. Some areas may have rough surfaces.
Wheelchair users may struggle with one part of the game. It involves using a torch to peer down into a well. However, it is not essential to the game and all players will be able to complete the game.

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  • June 2024

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