Wednesday 30 December 2015

Cairns History Updated

After almost twenty years since first taking up his pen on this project, Dr Timothy Bottoms has finally had his study on the history of Cairns published.  The book entitled, 'Cairns; City of the South Pacific' was recently launched in the Cairns Botanic Gardens at an event hosted by the local Member for Cairns, Mr Rob Pyne.  The author stated that he wanted to provide a balanced coverage of the story of the people and events that built the town from the founding of the city in 1876 up to 1995 with a few little 'forays' into the future.  Dr Bottoms said that he had tried to give the reader as much information as they would ever likely need and he hoped that local tour guides would use his book to better inform visitors to the Far North.  I think this new volume will be a worthy successor to Dorothy Jones' splendid Trinity Phoenix and would make a great companion to that book.  Local history buffs should find this new study an easier read then the text-book like earlier volume and it will certainly find a place on my book shelves.

Myra Jones Story

The family of the late Mrs Myra Jones was pleased to be able to present a snapshot of Myra's life in this small booklet which was featured at this year's annual Pioneer Women's Day at Watsonville.  Entitled 'Myra Ruby Jones BEM', this story is a condensed collection of memories and the history of her life with many family members contributing to its content.  Myra was born towards the end of the First World War and served with distinction during the Second World War with the Australian Army Medical Women's Service which included time spent at the 2/2 Army General Hospital at Rocky Creek.  After the war, other than the decade that she and her husband spent at Malanda, Myra lived most of her long life about the Innisfail district where she was to receive many accolades and honours for her outstanding community service including the British Empire Medal and the Johnstone Shire's Citizen of the Year award.  This booklet is a welcomed addition to the collection of stories that the Watsonville folk have published for their little annual event and is worth the effort to obtain.

Monday 14 December 2015

Atkinson Family History

I have just received a copy of the impressive leather-bound, two-volume history of the Atkinson family to preview.  Researched and written by the well known local historian Mrs Marjorie Gilmore, the huge book tells the 150 years long story of this prominent pastural family and their involment in the northern cattle industry.  Entitled 'On Eagles Wings; the Atkinson Family of North Queensland 1862-2014', the first volume covers the early pioneering history of the family from when the newly arrived Irish immigrants, the young James and Kate Atkinson, set off from Victoria by bullock wagon for the North and on through to the cattle stations that they and their children worked to develop.  The second volume tells much of the family history of the later generations who are now scattered all over the North but with many still been involved in the grazing and agricultural industries.  The book can only be acquired through the family and is in limited numbers which makes in difficult to obtain.  But this well illustrated and valuable book would be a grand addition to any history library.

Sunday 6 December 2015

Search for Hells Gate

This eighth publication from local historian, Mr John Hay was released recently in a very low-key fashion.  The book entitled 'Beyond Hell's Gate, The Return Journey', is essential an up-dated rewrite of his earlier book 'Beyond Hell's Gate, The Journey' which was taken from a manuscript that John originally wrote back in 1980.  One part of the book tells the tale of the infamous Hell's Gate Track used by the gold diggers of old during their rush to the Palmer River Goldfield in 1874 and the journey to rediscover the notorious Hell's Gate pass a century after the great Palmer River gold rush.  The other part of the story tells of the effort and problems that John and a team of film-makers had to go through to film the story of the Gate for Bill Peach in 1982 for an episode of the 'Peach's Gold' television documentary series.  A book for anyone interested in the stories of the gold fields that helped to open up and build the North.  This new book also illustrates the maturing literary skill of the author who is developing into a fine story-teller of Far North Queensland history.  

Thursday 3 December 2015

Wartime Aircraft Crashes

Michael Musumeci's long-awaited new book on the local air crashes of World War Two has recently appeared in the bookstores.  This large book of over 570 pages entilted 'Aircraft Crashes of Northern Queensland 1942-1945', provides detailed accounts of fifty-two aircraft crashes, many forced landings and other aircraft mishaps that occurred in North Queensland during the later World War Two years.  The book also includes over 490 photographs, both in colour and black & white, along with official crash reports, telegrams, eye-witness stories, memories and documented research.  Michael's heavy volume will make a great textbook for those historians of the future who seek to study our local military history as it is packed with as much information that the research to date allows.  It pays due respect to all those in the Air Force who lost their lives in such tragic circumstances and it will have a place on the book shelf of anyone interested in northern military or aviation history.

Saturday 31 October 2015

Down Gunnawarra to Kirrama

I recently joined almost thirty fellow history buff friends with a dozen vehicles in front of the little school at Mount Garnet to begin a trip down the Gunnawarra Road to the Kirrama Range and out through the Kennedy Valley.  After a short discussion on the plans for the day, our line of cars headed out to the first heritage site of the trip which was the historic Mount Garnet Racecourse and Rodeo Grounds.  After a quick drive about the grounds and a short lesson on its history from one of the members of the party, our small convoy turned off the highway to drive down the Gunnawarra road.  I was quite surprised at how many small properties have been established at this end of the road and also just how far down the bitumen extends.  Our first stop of this trip was the historic Gunnawarra Station homestead.  Here we were met by the Atkinsons who took the time to show us about their heritage listed buildings and the little family cemetery.  They gave us a run-down on the drought conditions affecting the station and then gave our group a preview of the new two volume Atkinson family history written by local historian Margaret Gilmore which is just hot off the printing press.

Old Gunnawarra Station building
Then it was back on the road which was now gravel but in quite a good condition so we made good time passing many cattle stations with familiar names such as Tirrabella and Glen Ruth.  The next stop on this little adventure was at the historic Cashmere Crossing where morning tea was had.  While here, the lonely little cemetery was viewed as was the nearby site of the original Cashmere Station homestead.  The next section of the trip was the roughest with some steep climbs in and out of gullies before entering the Girringun National Park where we stopped to view the magnificent Blencoe Falls and gorge.  This was the first time I had ever been into this amazing waterfall and I was astonished that the road down through this location had not yet been promoted as a major tourist route.  Our party even had several conventional vehicles which made the trip with just a little care through the rough section.

Cashmere Crossing
Then we drove down to the camping area below the falls for a late picnic lunch beside the creek.  It was here that we left a number of our group who had decided to make this expedition into a camping trip.  So with a little light rain coming down, the rest of the vehicles headed down to the Kirrama Range area where a stop was made at the Society Flats boardwalk to wander around the rainforest path.  I was surprised to see the huge areas of young karri pine regrowth in the valleys we passed.  Having recently read Ed Healy's book on the vast amount of timber that had come out of this district, I now felt that I had a better idea of the extent of that timber-getting enterprise of olden days.  Many members of our party were also surprised to see the Shire boundary signs down here showing just how far south the Tableland Regional Council extends.

The last section of this expedition was down the Kirrama Range Road where several short stops were made at the lookouts along the way before our finale stop in the Kennedy Valley where members of our group said their goodbyes then made their own way back up the coast to home.  What a trip!  With many getting home after dark, it was a long twelve hour day but those who joined in the excursion were pleased with the adventure, as like me, many were travelling through country they had never seen before.  I can see this road trip becoming popular in the future.    
              Shire boundary signs                                Lunch beside the creek                                 The magnificent Blencoe Falls    

Yaramulla Station Story

A new self-published book has recently been launched by its author, Mr Don Pinwill.  The book entitled 'Whatever it Takes', tells the story of the Pinwill family and their efforts to develop the Yaramulla Cattle Station near Mount Surprise.  The tale begins when two young brothers, Don and Chas Pinwill find this undeveloped property in 1969 and decide to gamble their money on the dry block.  The adventures these two later-day pioneers had during their first few years on the station makes a great yarn with stories such as their experience with learning how to operate their own drilling rig which lead them, for a short time, into becoming professional drillers finding water all over the district.  Other experiences that Don and his young family had while on the land and with the local wildlife showed that even during the 1970's, it was still a pioneering life out there.  Don's story covers the twenty year period up to the end of the 1980's when he sold the station shortly before it was made into the Undara National Park which has become famous for its volcanic lava tubes.  Written in an easy reading style and sprinkled with a few of his bush poems, this book is a great read specially for those interested in the folk who made their lives living and working within the northern pastural industry.

Monday 31 August 2015

Bamford Cemetery Mystery Solved

Eyes were strained to read the old cemetery records in the light of the campfire but it was clear enough, an enter titled 'Unknown'.  There was only a handful of burials in that small and almost forgotten cemetery at Bamford, the almost forgotten town where my Grandfather and his brothers and sister had grown up back in the early years of the Twentieth Century.  It seemed sad that some pioneer had been laid to rest there without anybody even knowing their real name.  The only information in the old records was that the grave contained a man of Irish decent who worked as a labourer and was approximately fifty years of age and had died of a fever in August 1904.  Not much to show for a lifetime but I might now be able to put a name to this forgotten burial.

This curious tale began with the discovery of a short article that had been published in a regular column featured in an old 1930's newspaper.  Written by someone using the pen-name of 'The Rover', the story tells of a old-time rogue who was known throughout the northern mining districts only by the nick-name of 'The Lamb o' God'.  This battler, wit, humorist and hard case was known in every North Queensland mining camp but very few knew his real name.  It was only when 'Rover' was acting as a electoral scrutineer in the old Griffith-McIlwraith days that he learned his name when he came in to vote, Bob Baylias.  He knew this man as on one occasion, when talking to Billy Shepherd and Jack Yeo outside Shepherd's hotel in Croydon, the Lamb came along.  "Well", he said, "here is the Shepherd, the Ewe and the Lamb and the Lamb wants a drink".  Those were the days of great prosperity in the North but the Lamb would still always advised a party to have their drinks before their ore crushing as they might not be able to have it after the crushing went through.  The Lamb was once threatened with a Law suit and as he had two young girls attending school, he settled some property on them which he feared he might lose.  But the case never came off and when he tried to get back the property, he couldn't.  He often said it was the only good turn he ever did and he did it unintentionally.

According to Rover, the Lamb died at Bamford and the last words he spoke was a joke.  He sat down on the verandah of the hotel with his back against one of the posts.  "I am going to have a sleep, boys," he said, "and if I die bury me near the beer casks".  When someone went to arouse him, he was dead.  Of couse they didn't bury him by the beer casks, but no body in town would have known his real name.  So on the official records he was a 'Unknown' and there is only one burial in the Bamford cemetery for a unknown and the details fit the Lamb.  A search of the Queensland records brings up only one person of that time that fits this mystery but the name is spelt as 'Bayliss' which could point to a simple mistake of memory on Rover's part.  So lets have a drink in his memory, be it Bob or Robert, Baylias or Bayliss, all the evidence points to the unknown grave of the Bamford cemetery being that of Mr Bob Baylias.

Wilesmith Family History

A new book was introduced to local history buffs at the recent Pioneer Women's Day event held at Watsonville.  The book, with its somewhat unfortunate title of 'Gold Expedition to Stannary Hills', (Stannary Hills is a tin mining town) tells the story of the epic life journey of Christina and Joseph Wilesmith.  The author, Mr Tom Freeman has woven much of the history of the Etheridge goldfields and the local Herberton tin mining district into the background of this story of the Wilesmith family who arrived in Gilberton during the gold rush of 1869, after having arrived in Australia from England five years earlier.  Mr Freeman has also added the story of many of the prominent identities of this time who became involved in the lives of the Wilesmiths while they mined gold about the Etheridge and later on the Hodgkinson goldfield before they moved to the tin fields where they found their prosperity and became known as the 'Wilesmiths of Watsonville'.  This book is a great read not just for the family history but also for the added general history of those mining days that have now long past out of living memory.

Tuesday 30 June 2015

Cairns Historical Society

The Cairns Historical Society reported that they were still waiting to hear from the Cairns Regional Council about the start date for work on the School of Arts building.  It was originally hoped that the renovations would be finished this year but it now appears it may not even be started before the end of the year.  Planning and preparations for the new museum displays are well underway with the volunteers starting to identify and ready objects for the displays.  As a part of the re-vamp of all the Society's systems, a consultant and students have been working on a Business Plan.  They recently presented a report on charges and fees and as the membership fees have not changed for over ten years, a new fee structure is proposed which will need to include GST.  On other matters, the Society reported that they recently obtained two grants to upgrade the group's computer systems which will enable them to be set up properly when they return to the School of Arts building.  The group have also obtained improvements on their photographic catalogue database program and the archive and library catalogue program.  Unfortunately, the recent gathering to present the last bundle of history papers saw a disappointing turn out of less that a dozen members in attendance.  This situation may require some attention.

Heritage North Association

The recent Heritage North Association meeting held at Port Douglas was a rather quiet affair with eight historians in attendance representing just four member groups.  The main business of the meeting regarded the promotional brochure project for the northern museums.  Dr Jo Wills has this well in hand and the information produced will be used on a TTNQ web database which is directly linked to tourist networks.  The other project discussed at the meeting concerned the planning for the trainning workshop to be held on Saturday 11 July at the Cairns Historical Society centre.  The facilitator of the workshop will be Dr Janice Wegner of the James Cook University and it will concern learning core skills for history research.  The Association also agreed to support the Australian Sugar Industry Museum in their proposed project; 'World War One and its effect on the sugar cane industry of Australia'.  A letter will be written in support for a funding submission and the Douglas group mentioned an interest in this project.  The next meeting of Heritage North may be held at the new Armour and Artillery Museum (to be confirmed) at the end of August.

Mareeba Historical Society

Mareeba Shire Mayor Tom Gilmore recently made a visit to the 'Mapping Our Anzac History; the Mareeba Shire's Anzac Legacy' display held at the Mareeba Historical Society's centre.  This project is the Society's major effort for this year with this current display been the first of a series of four that the group has organized to highlight the contribution that the Shire's men and women made for the First World War effort.  The first display which tells the story of the local soldiers will remain at the history centre until the end of July before been replaced by a display involving local Indigenous soldiers.  This second display will continue until the end of October when the third display, on the Nurses and Medical efforts, will be put in place and will run through to the end of January.  The last display will centre on the Non-Combatants efforts and will be open until April next year.  In order for more of the Shire's residents to be able to view the displays, they will be moved to other locations such as the Mount Molloy Memorial Hall after their time at the Historical Society's centre.  To thank the many people who loaned their precious artefacts, a wine and cheese evening was held so they could view the display.  The Mareeba Historical Society invites everyone to come in to their centre and enjoy the displays.

Watsonville Pioneer Women's Day

The Western Progress Association oranized their annual Pioneer Women's Day again recently which saw over a hundred people gathering at their little community shed for the celebrations.  The group's president, Mrs Jane Chapman told the story of the pioneer Myra Ruby Jones who went on to spend much of her life at Innsifail and the life story of a second pioneering woman of the district, Christina Wilesmith was told when Mr Tom Freeman launched his book on the Wilesmith family on the day.  The usual music and singing and various bush poets entertained the crowd before the traditional bush lunch.  The event also honours the most elderly lady present on the day which saw Mrs Dulcle Welnert and Mrs Muriel Skinner, both ninety years of age, sharing the honour.  This little heritage event is a regular annual outing for many people and I hope it will be for many more years to come.

Mulgrave Shire Historical Society

The Mulgrave Shire Historical Society's efforts for the Anzac Centenary display turned out well due to the many donations from locals which included a 'Dead Man's Penny' and shrapnel and pebbles from Anzac Cove along with photographs of soldiers who fought in that conflict.  One of the group's members has researched the story behind the Gordonvale Soldiers Memorial Hospital as part of the unveiling of the plaque that used to be on the gateposts.  The Society is also looking into the history of the Gordonvale Turf Club which has its centenary this year.  For the second year, the group is holding a Tea Cosy competition as last year's event was well received with many positive comments.  Entry is free and cosy must be at the museum by the 4th August.

Sunday 17 May 2015

Historic Motor Vehicles

The Atherton Men's Shed were the facilitators of a recent Cruise-in car evening which saw car enthusiasts from across the Tablelands, along with some car loves from the coast, travelling up to Atherton to gather and show off their pride and joys.  More that seventy historic cars and twenty motor cycles were brought in by their owners for the display which attached hundreds of interested people, many of whom once owned similar vehicles in their younger days.  Most of the cars were from the period of the Sixties and Seventies although they ranged from much newer specialist vehicles back to the oldest car which was a 1926 Chevrolet.  The Men's Shed has now organized several of these car shows and it is good to see this event developing for those involved in our motoring heritage but who don't really fit into the vintage car movement.

Eacham Historical Society

The Eacham Historical Society has experienced a very slow start to this new year, both at the museum in Millaa Millaa and at the history centre in Malanda.  The museum Curator reported that only a handful of visitors entered the museum on some weeks although this was the slow season and tends to be usual for the early months of the year.  Work at the history centre is now picking up with new inquiries coming in from the public, once again mostly involving family history issues.  Some input has been given to local projects to mark the centenary of the ANZAC campaign including assisting with the 'Anzac Treasures of the Tablelands' project.  The Society is now well into the badly needed upgrade of the photograhic database and it is hoped to have this new system completed with the entire collection up-loaded and revised before the end of the year.  Two new members who have an interest in technology have greatly assisted in the re-organizing of the group's computer systems.  The Society's Facebook site is still showing its worth but the, 'you know you grew up on the Atherton Tablelands when' site has been the real success story with almost three thousand followers signed-up.  This site has brought many historic photos out of people's albums and has started numerous online discussions about local history.  The program of fieldtrips and other outings has been continued with a recent successful tour of the district to view sites connected to the memory of the First World War.

El Arish History Station Museum

The El Alish History Station Museum houses a collection of the town's documentary history in the original railway station which operates under the auspices of the El Arish Community Sports and Recreational Association.  The town of El Arish was originally established as a soldier settlement community after World War One and six of the streets were named for that war's Generals.  Monash, Chauvel, Royston, Ryrie, Wilson and Glasgow.  As a part of the First World War commemorations, the group received a grant which has enabled them to have constructed some street signs along with interpretive panels giving biographical information and lamp posts designed to commemorate these men.  The unveiling of the signs occurred with a public event held on Saturday 18 April.  Sadly, the group also reported that the museum building had been broken-in to on one evening in February but fortunately, besides some graffiti and the theft of the donation box, very little damage occurred much to the relief of the group's members.  

Thursday 30 April 2015

Zillmanton Village Found

At last!  After several expeditions over the years, we believe we may have finally found the site of the little village that long ago served the mines of Zillmanton.  Zillmanton deserves better than a near-forgotten footnote in the local history records as it was the first township on the Chillagoe Mineral Field and for a short time was the only settlement out beyond Koorboora.  An official town site was not surveyed until near the closure of mining so it was never accurately marked on any of the older maps or plans which made finding the site rather difficult.  And as the mines closed permanently at the end of 1911 and the town was pretty much gone by 1914, all those who may have known the pioneering township would have past from this world many decades ago and sadly taking that information with them.

Looking down on the site
While recently enjoying a lazy long weekend at Chillagoe, our intrepid trio of Duncan, Robert and myself decided to give it another try and after reviewing all the areas where we had searched in the past and failed to find the site, we chose this time to explore well past the mine sites.  So one morning, before the heat of the day got too much and with a couple of young 'whipper-snapper' in tow, we headed out to Zillmanton for yet one more try.  It shouldn't have been this hard to find as the place had the services of a proper town with a couple of bush hotels and a number of boarding houses along with a couple of shops and for a few years towards the end, a small school.  But were was it all?  We knew it was suppose to be close to the railway line and perviously we had searched the areas about the mine site, then an 'old timer' told us that he thought the town site was further out along the rail line.  So we looked out on the Mungana side which made sense to us as there was a water source in that direction.  But we didn't find anything out there so we decided this time to look in the opposite direction as we later found a copy of a Mines Department plan which showed the site of the school reserve out there.

The hidden stumps
We drove off the road where it crossed the now disused railway line and followed a track for a short way before parking in the shade of a large tree.  Our party then wandered down the railway line, back in the direction of Chillagoe and pass the old mines and through the areas we had searched in the past.  On our right was a line of low hills behind which we could hear the traffic passing by so we were still reasonablely close to the main road.  Towards the end of the hills, the country opened out onto a flat area which looked promising and we walked across to investigate and to our delight we started to come across old metal barrel rims and pieces of broken glass.  To get a better view of the area, I climbed up the side of the nearby hill and onto a small rock outcrop which was shaded by a old tree and there I found dozens of old green beer bottles along with a sortment of whisky bottles.  It seem too high on the hill slope to be a dump site and the lack of old tin cans there, suggested that men from nearby might have climbed to this place to enjoy a drink during their spare time.

Soon after coming down from the hill, one of the youngsters pointed out a row of old wooden stumps half hidden in the long grass.  We had found our first building site.  The front of the site was facing the rail line and had been built up with rock and several rows of old floor stumps were still in place giving us an idea of the dimensions of the structure.  Shards of broken crockery found about the site suggested this was a residential dwelling, maybe one of the boarding houses which provided accommodation for the miners.  With the long grass making the search difficult and the midday heat starting to take its toll, we decided to call it a day and headed back towards the car happy with the knowledge that we had found the likely area where the village once stood.  Our little party resolved to return later in the year, after the annual bush fires have cleaned up the long grass, to better investigate this area.  But for now, it was off to cool down with a cold drink and a splash in Chillagoe Creek.
The mines of Zillmanton                                                                  The mine site today

Tuesday 31 March 2015

Heritage North

The first meeting of the Heritage North Association was held at the end of February at the small museum in El Arish with ten delegates in attendance representing six member groups.  The El Arish group reported on the recent break-in to their museum and their relief that little was lost.  A discussion was then held on the different projects been planned by the Societies for the coming Anzac centenary.  After the member group's quarterly reports, it was decided to plan a training workshop to be held in June to cover the subject of history researching using internet resources.  The meeting also held a brief discussion on the development of a new tourist brochure to promote the museums of the Far North Queensland region.  The next meeting will be held in Port Douglas at the end of May.

Douglas Shire Historical Society

The members of the Douglas Shire Historical Society finished off last year with their annual Christmas dinner party which was again held at Mojo's in Mossman.  They had just reported having spent two great days of interviewing local descendants of men who had served with the ANZAC's for the group's Centenary of Anzac Day project.  Research is continuing into the people of the district who had connections to the First World War.  The Society has started this new year off with their annual maintenance of the Port Douglas Court House Museum which was closed for the whole month of February while the work was carried out and was re-opened in the first week of March.  This job was finished in time for the March meeting which was held at the Mossman Community Centre with Mrs Pauline O'Keefe of the Cairns Historical Society as the guest speaker who spoke on the Cairns group's photo collection and the SS Kanowna.

Douglas Grant Book

After long years of reseach, Mr Tony Griffiths has finally published his work on the life and times of Douglas Grant.  This small book entitled 'Douglas Grant; that Black Digger from the Scottish mob', tells the life story of this indigenous man who was taken as a young toddler from the site of a local 'dispersal' and sent down to New South Wales where he was raised as a part of a white family and given a full education.  He became a qualified draughtsman and later served with the first AIF where he was promoted to the rank of sergeant.  He was taken prisoner by the Germans at the battle of Bullecourt and it was as a POW organiser in the camp where he earned much of his wartime reputation.  After the war, Douglas spent many years at Lithgow and wrote extensively about the plight of the Aborigines making him one of the earliest activist but he also suffered badly from depression in his later life.  The Eacham Historical Society was able to help Mr Griffiths with reseach concerning how Douglas Grant came to be 'fostered' by the Grant family and their efforts are acknowledged by the author.  This study is an important addition to our aboriginal history and copies can be obtained from the Malanda Vistors Centre.

Thursday 26 February 2015

Mining History Association

The North Queensland Mining History Association recently held its first quarterly meeting for the year with a gathering of mining history enthusiast at the Herberton Mining Centre.  After a brief meeting to catch up with the belated Annual General Meeting which saw the sitting officers returned unanimously, a discussion was held to bring members up to date on the destructive 'mine capping' fiasco.  It turns out that the contractors ignored the government guide lines on the protection of project sites' heritage values which have left the area desolated and open to renewed toxic leaching.  It was also reported at the meeting that a reasonable insurance policy had been organised for the group through a membership with the History Queensland organisation.  Graham Byrnes gave a talk on his mining project on the Palmer River Goldfield in which he hopes to include a heritage venture for the growing tourist traffic on the field.  A field trip to the Palmer River for members was discussed and may be arranged for this winter.  The meeting closed with a report on the Tin Dredge Project which will include a launch of Col Robinson's study of the history of the dredges of North Queensland as well as the presentation of the scale model tin dredge.  After the meeting closed, members inspected the progress made on the construction of the model.  The next meeting of the group will be held in May.  

Mulgrave Shire Historical Society

The Mulgrave Shire Historical Society ended the last year on a positive note with the two main events of the year, the John Gordon plaque and the Tea Cosy competition, been very successful.  Sadly, one dark note for the group over the year was the passing of many of the Society's old long-time members who had contributed greatly through their volunteering work or historical material donations.  Acquisitions of a local historical nature is still enriching their museum and it was reported at the end of the year that the group had recorded on the computer a total of some 1400 artefacts.  They also reported that the group had done well with their publicity over the year which was helped along with the popularity of the Facebook page which has grown immensely and now have some 134 'likes'.  The first project for this year was the annual clean-up of the museum and members were busy with working-bees so that the museum would be ready for the re-opening at the end of January along with a new central display to commemorate the 100 years of Anzac Day.  Although the rain kept down the numbers of members in attendance, the Society has just held its first meeting for the new year and is looking forward to another successful year.

Innisfail Historical Society

Towards the end of the year, the Innisfail Society organised an event for the 50th year reunion of the 1964 winning Innisfail Foley Shield Rugby League team.  Cheryl Belbin and Chris Head were the instigators of this project and worked hard to ensure the celebrations were a memorable occasion.  The original Foley Shield was on display and they also acquired a football jersey worn during that game against Townsville in 1964.  Original players from the team returned to Innisfail to celebrate and memorabilia collected for the function will be donated to the museum.  The Society's annual fund-raising calendar for the new year is now on sale and this year's theme is 'Pubs from the Past' which feature twelve of the districts oldest hotels.  While researching for this calendar, it was found that in 1940 there were twenty working pubs in the old Johnstone Shire area with many of these pubs having come and gone over the years.  The group's year concluded with their annual Christmas break-up lunch held this time at the newly re-opened Queens Hotel.

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Cairns and District Chinese Association

The Heritage Co-ordinator for the Cairns Chinese Association, Mrs Mary Low reported that 2014 had been a year of steady progress in terms of their heritage and collection management goals.  Various tasks undertaken included museum database entry, library resource management and cataloguing the Cairns Chinatown collection, as well as researching and conserving objects and photos.  Members of the Heritage section took the opportunity to participate in a number of training workshops during the year including a Social Media workshop conducted by the State Library of Queensland and then five members participated in an ABC Open photographic and video editing workshop.  This resulted in the production of video stories about five objects from the Lit Sung Goong collection which can now be viewed on the Association's website.  The Chinatown Oral History Research is the group's current major research project with three interviews already completed.  A RADF grant was used to engage consultant Jan Cattoni to assist and train the group in interview techniques and recording skills.  The Association was also pleased to have acquired the collection of the late Kevin Wong Hoy.  Kevin's family donated the collection which included eighty-six books relating to Chinese-Australian history and culture.  A number of community engagements have proved very successful during the year and the Heritage Group's main aspiration is still to be able to exhibit and provide a permanent home for the collections that are now being developed.  The group would like to see the Cultural Centre Project at the top of the Assosciation's agenda in this coming year.

Monday 12 January 2015

Heritage North

The last meeting of the Heritage North Association for the year included the Annual General Meeting for 2014 and saw a number of alterations to the committee.  Mr Travis Teske of the Mulgrave Historical Society took over as President for the coming year with Mrs Cheryl Belbin taking on the position of Secretary.  Mrs Suzanne Gibson was thanked for her efforts over the years as Secretary and it was decided to present Mr Gil Jennex with a certificate to acknowledge his twenty years as Editor of the Heritage North's quarterly newsletter.  Representatives of six member groups then presented annual reports from their Societies which will be included in the next newsletter to be sent out in January.  The general meeting then saw a discussion about topics for training workshops for the coming year with suggestions mostly concerning understanding technology such as using Facebook, Website development and Online research techniques.  Suzanne then spoke on how the Cairns Historical Society will be getting professional advice to assist in re-branding the look and feel of the organization when the new museum opens along the lines of Cairns, the Tropical City.  She thought this expertise might provide some opportunities for other Heritage North members.  The next meeting will be held in El Arish at the end of February.

Historic Railway Group

The railway history buffs at the Atherton-Herberton Historic Railway have been hard at work on their project.  With the pulling up of the line from Atherton to Mareeba the group was able to obtain, at scrap iron prices, hundreds of the old experimental steel sleepers that Queensland Rail had put on that line.  These are now been used to upgrade the Herberton line so they can start using a lighter steam train on the track from the Herberton Station out to the History Village.  The group's Treasurer, Mr Don Lamb informed me that fundraising was about the only thing holding the group back and the re-opening of the whole line back to Atherton is still the aim of the organization.  It is good to see something happening on this line again.