Thursday 29 December 2016

Douglas Shire Historical Society

The Society was very pleased to announce that due to popular demand, they were able to conduct another Mossman Cemetery walk in October.  So many people missed the first one that Judy Coulthard repeated her fascinating tour of the cemetery.  This free tour was another successful partnership between the Douglas Shire Council and the Historical Society.  The November meeting of the group was held at the Port Douglas CWA rooms and members were asked to bring along some of their old photos and if they could, tell some stories about them.  The Society would also like to say a huge 'thank you' to the Salsa Sorensen organization for funding the Society's new computers.  Now the group can really get the databases in order so it can 'share our history with our community'.  And as it's that time of the year again, the Society's Christmas dinner was held at Mojo's of Massman as usual, on Monday 5th December.  Don't forget the Society's fundraising bookstall at the Christmas in the Park event.  The museum will be closing down on 12th December and reopening on 3rd January and then on the 29th January it will be closed for the annual maintenance program and reopen on the 5th March 2017.

Innisfail & District Historical Society

What a great day the Society had in the museum recently with the opening of the aboriginal Ma Mu 'Midja', a Mamu rainforest shelter.  It has been made in the traditional way and has been furnished with authentic everyday household things from the museum collection.  There was a big crowd for the event and everything went off really well on the day.  It is a great exhibit and the group are proud to have it.  Thanks to Trisha and Shenoa for building the Midja and especially to Thelma as she was the one who suggested having the exhibit.  Make sure that you come in and see it soon.  Also, the Society's 2017 calendar is now available and this time it is celebrating one hundred years of Rugby League football in Innisfail.  Call in to the museum to buy your copy at $10 each.  The group has ended off this busy year with the Society's annual Christmas party which was held at the Criterion Hotel at South Johnston.

Monday 26 December 2016

Mulgrave Shire Historical Society

The Society held it's AGM in September with Travis Teske been returned as President and the group's doyen Jim Hill as Vice-president.  Don Lawie was elected to the position of Secretary and Jenny Verrall to serve as Treasurer.  Their first ever Gordonvale Cemetery Tour was a huge success.  The wet drizzly weather didn't stop well over a hundred visitors listening to interesting stories told by amazing Gordonvale State School students dressed in period costume.  Thanks to Jenny Verrall from the Society for putting this wonderful idea into motion and thanks also to the school teachers, Patrice Honnef and Janine Faulkner who assisted Jenny.  Members have already started researching for the next 'Ghosts of Gordonvale Cemetery' walk to be held sometime in 2017 and are asking if anyone has any suggestions as to which pioneer families to include in the event.  The Gordonvale Scouts are celebrating their centenary with the first scout troop been formed on the 22nd November 1916.  The Society has just put together a Scouts display at their Mulgrave Settlers Museum and if you have any stories, photographs etc, about Scouting in Gordonvale, please let them know.  The local Mirriwinni State School also reached their 100th year recently and members of the Society attended their celebrations.  The Society has just enjoyed their annual Christmas dinner party which was held at the Hamilton Hotel in Edmonton and they will be closing down their museum from the 11th December until the 23rd January 2017.

Cairns Historical Society

As you are probably aware by now, the Cairns Council is renovating the School of Arts building and have awarded the contract to Hutchinson Builders.  This project is slated for completion in February 2017 and when finished the Society's area will really be just a empty shell.  The Society's project will then be to build the museum inside the building and to build the operational area for the Society.  Then all the objects will have to be moved back into the museum galleries.  This will be a separate job with Michael Marzik, a Cairns based Museum and Gallery specialist, taking on the work.  The historical society area will need new workstations and storage installed with upgraded IT systems and the return of the archival collection.  The current timeline has the Society re-opening in June 2017, but this is still notional as it depends on the building being handed over on time, with the museum fit-out being completed on schedule and the Society installation program running on time.  On other news, congratulations go to Pauline O'Keeffe and Gordon Grimwade who have been involved in the Cairns Regional Council project acknowledging and honouring the significant contribution made by the men and women of this region during Wold War One.  A part of which, the Cairns ANZAC Trail, was launched on 25th November.  Also, at the recent AGM, Clive Skarott was returned as President of the Society with Jan Wegner as Vice-president and Megan Lilly in the position of Secretary along with David Goodman as the new Treasurer and Suzanne Gibson returned as Museum Manager.  The Society Christmas party was held once again at the Edge Hill Bowling Club and the Research department closing down for the year from the 22rd December until the 5th January.

Sunday 18 December 2016

Heritage North

After twenty-five years of assisting local heritage groups, we held our very last Heritage North meeting in Cairns.  At the recent AGM it was decided that as the organization had not been supported very well over the past few years that it be wound up.  Heritage North grew out of the old 'Far North Queensland Museums and Historical Societies Association' which was formed in the early 1980's as an umbrella group when many of the local historical societies were getting off the ground and were setting up their museum collections.  Then after a few years in recess, the Association re-commenced operations in 1992 when a second wave of small history societies were starting up and the group was later renamed the 'Heritage North Association'.  But as the societies have developed and matured, the need for an umbrella group has lessen, although an informal group may continue to help organize training workshops for local historians and maybe an annual conference to get the societies together for a social to share news and ideas.


Historic artifacts from Cairns' original Chinese temple will get a new lease on life thanks to funding from the Federal Government's Community Heritage Grants Program.  The Cairns and District Chinese Assocation inc (CADCAI) will receive $13,630 to carry out conservation treatment on the Lit Sung Goong (Temple) furniture.  This was great news for CADCAI who are very active in promoting and preserving our Chinese heritage.  The Chinese Temple in Cairns was opened in 1877 in what was then called Sachs Street by settlers from the Zhongshan district of Guangdong.  The temple was a significant cultural site as it was a meeting place and the focal point of Chinese community life in Cairns well into the 1920's.  Unfortunately, a series of events including a fire and a cyclone that destroyed the front of the temple, along with dwindling attendance and a debt resulting from City Council rates, forced the sale of the site in the 1960's.  Luckily the internal fixtures and the entire collection of temple artifacts were salvaged and today, members of CADCAI are custodians of this important collection and it's their goal to establish a Chinese cultural facility in Cairns to re-house, preserve and showcase this collection for present and future generations.  CADCAI was also thrilled to announce that they have signed a three-year, $100,000 naming rights sponsorship deal for the Chinese New Year celebrations with developer KUR-World.  The group's Vice-president Nathan Lee Long was very excited to see the growth of this festival, which next year will be its fourteenth year.  Chinese New Year in Cairns will be launched on 20th January.  

Wednesday 30 November 2016

Folk of Herberton's Past

A new history book entitled 'Ghosts of a Mining Town' was launched at the recent heritage walk at the Herberton cemetery.  Edited by local historian Mr Ivan Searston, this new volume is a collection of stories which has been amassed from the many 'ghost' walks conducted by the Herberton Lions Club since the early 2000's.  These stories chronicle the history of Herberton and the characters that helped to shape the town.  Ivan stated at the launch that the walks was firstly a way of telling the stories of people who are long gone but still remembered by headstones at the local cemetery and then later as simple re-enactments of the town's past.  Some three dozen of these tales have been included in this new book which are taken from five history walks.  These walks have become very popular about the North and this collection is just the first volume of several which is planed for publication in the future.  You can obtain a copy from the Mining History Centre in Herberton.

Sunday 27 November 2016

Back to the Palmer Goldfield

It had been a couple of years since I was last on the Palmer River and with the heat building up and this year's wet season approaching, this might be my last chance to get in for the year.  Our mining friend, Graham Byrne had given us permission to stay at his new mining camp on his lease at Ida for the weekend.  That along with the news that the road into the Palmer was been cleaned up, made this a proposition too good to let pass.  So we loaded up the vehicle and with some friends who wanted to learn how to metal-detect for gold on board, it was off for another long weekend exploring the heritage of the old River of Gold.

The camp site
It was starting to get quite late before we were able to hit the road on the Saturday morning for the long trip up to the Palmer River and the drive was rather uneventful until we reached the gravel road.  This end of the Palmer road had not yet been graded and the rear of the vehicle began to swing about the road.  Yes, a tyre had blown-out, no doubt on a sharp rock.  We found a place to pull over and found ourselves beside another vehicle and laughed as the other were also changing a tyre.  It was the Fitzgeralds who maintain the road and were out here to organize their next road building camp to finish off this last section of the year's road maintenance job.  So after changing the tyre and chatting with the Fitzgeralds, it was late in the afternoon before we reached Ida and set up our camp in the shed at Graham's mine camp.  After tea that evening, with light from torches and the full moon, it was out for a couple of hours work to familiarize our friends in the art of metal-detecting for gold on the Palmer.

The following morning we made an inspection of Graham's new mining plant.  He had just laid a concrete pad for a small crushing plant where he hopes to become the first hard-rock miner on the Palmer since the late Sam Elliott put through his last crushing at the Wild Irish Girl battery in 1959.  Later we the drove over to Maytown to show our friends the remains of the old town and on the way back we spent some time exploring the remains of the old houses and the mill sites about the old Ida town.  After lunch, we drove over to the North Palmer to give our friends a better idea of the extent of the goldfield and to show them the site of the Chinese village near German Bar and its cemetery.  That afternoon was spent searching for gold about the mining lease but found only old tin and nails and a few Devil's Dice.  We enjoyed the quiet of the bush camp that evening and many happy hours were spent talking about the gold that was found on this goldfield of old.

The old mine 'toms'
On the last day, before we pack-up to head off home, we decided to drive over to Thomson's Creek which had been worked extensively by machines some twenty or more years ago.  It was here that we found the most interesting heritage site of this trip.  After driving down the appalling piece of road off the ridge into the mined out creek area, our attention was drawn to several rows of low stumps embedded in the creek bed.  There was another set of these stumps protruding a few centimetres out of the mud just a short way down stream and we puzzled over this for a while until we noticed the remnant sand and rocky wash of an ancient river bed in the creek bank.  Then it dawned on us that what we were looking at was the tops of old mine 'toms'.  The old time miners, possibly the Chinese who had a village nearby, had found the ancient river buried two or three metres below the modern stream and had tunnelled in to get the gold-bearing wash.  In a number of places, the roof of the tunnel must have been unstable and they had shored it up with timber posts.  Then about a hundred years later, modern miners had stripped the earth away from above to expose the tops of these old mine toms.  We stood there and wondered at just how extensive might this old unrecorded mining project had been and how much gold might the 'old-timers' had recovered for their efforts.

When we returned to the camp, we found our friend sitting there with a silly grin across his face.  He had gone off at five o'clock in the morning determined to find some gold and after spending all morning working about the old lease, he had found his gold.  A tiny piece, not much to show for more than six hours of hard work in the heat but it was his first bit of gold and Palmer gold at that.  So we had all been successful this trip and after a late lunch, we packed up and hit the long road homeward and near Adam's dam we pass the Fitzgeralds again, as they were setting up their next road building camp.
The first hard-rock plant on the Palmer since 1959.

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Ravenshoe School History

After many years of research, the folk of Ravenshoe have finally seen the impressive centenary book on the history of the Ravenshoe State School completed.  The book entitled 'Ravenshoe State School P-12 Centenary 1912-2012' was launched recently, although some four years late, for the school's centenary celebrations.  Many past students have added accounts of their experiences at the school and the book is well illustrated with many hundreds of photographs.  This large 218 page volume also briefly mentions the many smaller schools of that local district where the local children did their early schooling.  The book is a credit to the dedication of the many people who worked over a number of years on the project to bring this detailed history to the public, particularly Mrs Starr West.  At times Mrs West didn't think it would ever get finish but it came together in the end and is now a great addition to the recorded history of the tablelands. Congratulations to all those involved in this project.

Saturday 1 October 2016

Douglas Shire Historical Society

At the Society's September meeting held at the Port Douglas CWA rooms, Peter Lloyd spoke about the historic steam tram 'Faugh-a-Ballagh'.  Peter has teamed up with the Port Douglas Men's Shed to undertake some restoration of the old engine, with paint kindly supplied by Bunnings.  The 'Diggers of Douglas' project continues with filming of the descendents' memories of their World War One soldies relatives.  Alan Crees, Marveen Hodgson and Bob Korotcoff have been filmed by Mike Stent and these interviews will soon be added to the touch screen presentation units on display at the Court House Museum and the Mossman Library.  Some history of the road transport of sugar from Mossman to the Cairns Wharf was covered by John White at the August meeting along with some Francis family history by Jocelyn White.  The Society held a very successful history walk through the Mossman Cemetery recently on a beautiful sunny afternoon.  About fifty people listened to Mossman Librarian, Judy Coulthard as she told stories about some of the people remembered there.  The group has already had requests to organise another walk which they will consider in the near future.  Recently the Society was very fortunate to have a visit from the local Shire Council and was able to show the Mayor and all the Councillors around the Museum and Dixie's Shed.  It's wonderful to know they are so interested in the community's heritage.  Members are reminded that the next meeting will be held on the new date of the 10th October at the Mossman Community Centre with Laurie Taylor as the guest speaker.

Innisfail District Historical Society

Some of the Society's members and friends had a great day out on the recent bus trip to Cairns which was organised by the Sugar Heritage Centre to see the Anzac Experience.  Everyone enjoyed themselves and the exhibition was well worth viewing.  It was great to see the Society's trench periscope from World War One which was lent to the organisers to add some local content into the display along with all the other great exhibits.  The group had a social event by celebrating a 'Christmas in July' at Richies Cafe at South Johnstone (old Gee Kee building) and what a great time was had.  All in all, it was a wonderful evening and meal.  Another recent event was the Society's display in the No.1 Pavilion at the Innisfail Show.  It was wet, cold and admissions were down but it was still a quite good Show.  The stall sold quite a few copies of the new South Johnstone Memories book, plus other publications so it was worthwhile being there.  To all those people chasing the Memories book, please email the Society on and they will arrange to get a copy to you.  But the big event for the Society was the recent centenary day at South Johnstone and what an evening it was.  A record crowd turned up for the town history walk and to hear the stories of old South Johnstone town.  Many thanks to the great story tellers who brought to life some of the events and people who gave South Johnstone such an interesting history.  Thanks also to the local Policeman and Ambulance who added to the colour - and what would it have been without the sugar locos trundling in and out of the mill.  Such atmosphere.  Thanks also goes to the South Johnstone State School committee who provided refreshments after the walk and to top it all, it didn't rain.  The Society also had a successful launch of their photographic collection book 'Memories of South Johnstone'.  For those who missed out on this fun event, it is hoped to hold a Cemetery Walk there some time in October.  So put that in your diary and come along and meet some of the ghostly past.  And for all those interested people who have responded to the page for local sporting heroes - thank you for your input.  If you are in Innisfail, please call by and see the window display which has lots of photos of Innisfail's sportmen and Women and the group would be grateful to receive more names and would love photos.

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Cairns Historical Society

The Cairns Historical Society was proud to have won the prestigious John Oxley Library Community History Award for 2016.  The Society was commended for its efforts in continuing its programs despite the closure of the museum while the building is undergoing major renovations.  Imaging Manager, Mrs Pauline O'Keefe received the certificate on behalf of the Society and acknowledged the contribution of the group's members over the last sixty years.  Mrs O'Keefe was also honored recently by been awarded with the S.E. Stephens History Award for 2016.  A most deserved recognition of her extensive efforts for the Society since she becoming a volunteer in 2004.  Another long-time member, Mr Geoff Wharton was recently awarded in recognition of his service to the preservation of history.  Geoff received an Order of Australia medal for his thirty-five year involvement with recording Western Cape York history and his work with the indigenous communities.  The Society reported on their successful field trip to the Goldsborough Valley which began at the site of the early Pyramid Sugar Mill and ended with a picnic lunch at Kearney's Flat.  The last quarterly lecture series was held at the Cairns Library Meeting Room with a theme of 'pioneering families'.  Papers on the Wilkinson, Mohammed and Earl families were presented.  Many members attended the 'Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience' exhibition which told the story of Australia's involvement in the First World War.  The Society provided a number of images and stories on the local World War One story to complement the broader national ANZAC narratives.  The Society also gave notice that their AGM is to be held on Monday 19 September at 10.00am at the Old Post Office centre in Grafton Street.  The agenda will include an update on the Museum Refurbishment project which appears to running on schedule.

North Qld Mining History Assoc

The recent meeting of the local Mining History Association saw a rather disappointing turn out of members.  It was reported to the meeting that the historian Felicity Jack has begun recording the life story of the northern mining entrepreneur Mr Donald Walker.  The tale of Don's mining adventures should make a great addition to the recorded history of the north's more recent mining story.  Ivan Searston then gave a very interesting talk on the research into the very early tin mills about Herberton, in particularly the Monarch battery and the Herberton Tin Crushing & Smelting Company's plant.  As these enterprises were set up by mining people from Tasmania, it was interesting to learn of the importance of their attempts to use water power to run these mills of those early days.  It was also reported that the folk living at Milkmans Flats on the North Palmer River must vacate the mining lease they are on and there is some concern about the collection of artifacts in their small museum.  The meeting closed after a short discussion on a proposed geologic time-line walk project that is planed for the mining centre.  The next meeting of the Association will be held at the Herberton Mining Centre in November.  

Saturday 3 September 2016

Mulgrave Shire Historical Society

Thanks to the Queensland Government and the Cairns Regional Council, the Society was able to obtain a RADF grant to restore research material from the Meringa Sugar Experiment Station which was donated to the Society by SRA.  These seven cases of items show aspects of Dr Jarvis' research at the Station between 1919 and 1933 and contain insect varieties, drawing and photographs used to inform cane farmers about the different pests that might affect their crops.  This year's tea cosies competition was well supported and was open to the public for viewing at the 'Rambler Station' opposite the Mulgrave Settlers Museum.  The Society along with the assistance from the history students from the local High School, will present a 'Ghosts of Gordonvale Cemetery' evening.  Those interested in attending are asked to gather in the cemetery shelter shed at 3.45pm on Sunday 4 September.  There is no charge but a small donation would be appreciated and please contact the group of your intention to attend.

Sunday 31 July 2016

Forgotten Rail Bridge

The impetus for this little adventure came from the many car trips that the members of our intrepid trio had made between Malanda and Millaa Millaa over the years.  A casual glance out across the green pastures while driving along many parts of this road brings into view the faint remnant of the old railway that once wound its way through the hills on its way out to Millaa Millaa.  This last section of the Johnston River Railway was built from Tarzali to Millaa Millaa just after the First World War and opened in 1921.  It served the people of the district for more than forty years until it was closed down and torn up in 1964.  Some fifty years after this line was shut, much of the once extensive network of railways of the region are now gone and has become just a fading memory of the local old-timers who themselves are beginning to fade away.  This lost rail network has always attracted our interest and some startling news about this line drew our attention back to it.  It appears an old wooden bridge still stands intact.

The old bridge
The information on the railway bridge came from the land owner who also had an interest in the local history of the area and he was willing to show us the site.  So on a Sunday afternoon, a half-dozen local history buffs gathered at his farm to explore the Mindun section of the old Millaa Millaa railway.  We began the day with Ray giving us a run down on his farming enterprise which has grown from the original family farm into one of the largest dairy operations on the Tablelands and he showed us some concrete foundations of a small dairy that he had recently found that predated even his family's generations long association with that property.  Then we drove across to the other side of the main highway and parked on what was once the site of the Minbun railway station.  At this site there once operated a small timber mill and on the hill overlooking the community was the site of a little school which could still be identified by the grove of old pine trees that had been planted behind the school buildings.  Nothing remains now of this little village but some fading cuttings in the earth.

Minbun Falls
We then followed the foundations of the railway a little way from the station site into a thick grove of thorny Coral trees and there before us, hidden by the trees, were the remains of an old wooden railway bridge.  To get a better view, we climbed down below the bridge and to our amazement we found most of the timbers still in place although some had rotted out and were beginning to fall.  This had been one of the longest bridges on the line and had somehow been forgotten over the years.  The Coral trees had grown up around and even through the timbers to hide the bridge from view, even from the traffic driving pass on the nearby main road.  We moved to the other end of the bridge and found some of the small copper protection plates were still attached to the ends of a few of the timbers.  And on top, many of the old timber transoms that once held the steel rails were still in place, although rot was slowly eating them away.

As a history enthusiast, I was delighted to find this artifact of our past age of railways still intact.  Although I am not sure how many more years it will remain before time brings it down.  To finish the day off, our party climbed down along the creek to just down-stream from the old bridge to view another forgotten landmark, the little water fall that was once known as Jackson's Falls, named after the Jackson family who had help pioneer this property.  This was once the swimming hole and picnic spot for the local residents of Mindun but it too has been long forgotten.  In a twist to this story, I found myself sitting opposite the elderly Mr George Jackson at a recent historical society dinner.  He knew about the bridge and had spent much time at the falls when a young lad and he was pleased to learn that the old Minbun railway bridge was still safe.  I wonder how many more artifacts of this railway was still out there to be found.
Old Minbun village site                                 The bridge in the old days

Thursday 30 June 2016

Eacham Historical Society

With the start of this new year, it was realized that the Eacham Historical Society was fast approaching its 40th anniversary.  At the March meeting, it was decided to celebrate this special occasion by organizing a small event at the museum in Millaa Millaa.  Even the weather came good on the Sunday chosen for the gathering with more that fifty members and guests attending the morning tea on the footpath in front of the museum.  Two of the founding members were present and they spoke of the struggles that the first members had in establishing the Society during the early years.  An anniversary cake was cut and the museum team showed everyone through the collection.  A brief history of the society to date was put together and published.  It was also reported that the recent field trip to explore the heritage sites about the Wondecla area was a great success with fifteen members attending and enjoying the outing.  Petrina reported that her small equipment grant application had been successful and will be used to purchase office equipment etc needed about the history centre and the museum.  The members who volunteer at the Society's museum at Millaa Millaa have reported an increase in vistors coming through the doors and that they are now busy getting ready for the approaching tourist season.  The next meeting, which is to be held in late June will be the Annual General Meeting which had been postponed from the May meeting as the annual financial report had not yet come in from the accountant.

Heritage North

The recent meeting of the Heritage North Association which was held at Millaa Millaa turned out to be a quite a disappointing affair with just three member groups sending delegates.  With such a poor attendance, it was questioned if the group's activities should be discontinued and it was decided to bring this issue up at the Annual General Meeting at the end of the year.  The meeting continued with several Societies reporting dissatisfaction with the information written for their group's entry in the proposed promotional brochure.  It was not understood where the information was obtained and many mistakes needed to be corrected.  A discussion was held on problems concerning a failed grant application by the Innisfail Society and on the recent successful grant application by the Eacham Society.  The ongoing problem of attracting new and active members to the local historical societies was also discussed with many of the ideas on this issue having the basic problem of finding the volunteers within those groups to implement any plans.  The possibility of a shared field trip to visit the sites of all the closed sugar mills was brought up and tentative plans for the tour were made for about August or September.  Eacham is to contact the Mulgrave and Innisfail societies with details closer to the trip date.  The next meeting is to be held in Gordonvale in late August.

Innisfail & District Historical Society

The Innisfail Society has brought forth its new Quarterly E-newsletter entitled 'Innisfail Inklings' and I wish them well with it.  They have reported that as the South Johnstone Sugarmill, Post Office, State School and Police Station are all celebrating their centenary this June, the Society has prepared a 'Memories' booklet of photos and local history to commemorate the occasion.  It had taken near six months of hard work but it made it to the printers.  The group had also planed the repeat of the 'Spirits of South Johnstone' town walk for Friday evening of 24 June by the special request from some of the local town's folk.  The Society has also had a couple of schools come in to visit the museum over the past couple of months and the youngsters were highly amused (or horrified) at the new outdoor dunny display and at the thought of how such a toilet was run.  The Feast of the Senses Market Day was held again in March and the Society had the museum open and a bookstall out the front and as it was the Tenth anniversary of Cyclone Larry, they had a display of cyclone photos in the museum windows.  And recently the Innisfail Library put on a display for Heritage Week which featured the history of the Railway.  Society volunteer Gloria Ballington was one of the speaker on their opening day and her talk was warmly received.

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Tableland Heritage Network

Fifteen volunteers from some eight different museums and heritage groups travelled from across the tablelands to attend the recent Tableland Heritage Network (THeN) meeting.  This second meeting for the year was held at the Mareeba Heritage Centre with that organization acting as host for the day.  The meeting opened with a workshop conducted by the region's Museum Development Officer, Dr Jo Wills which centred on the correct handling of artifacts within the museum and how best to secure a index label on each object.  After morning tea and reports from the different member groups, the delegates made a tour of the newly renovated Jamieson House where the Centre's plans for this development was explained.  The next THeN meeting will be held at Ravenshoe in late October.

Tolga Historical Society

The local MP, Mr Shane Knuth and the new Mayor of the Tablelands Regional Council, Mr Joe Paronella were the special guests in attendance at the recent Annual General Meeting of the Tolga Historical Society.  One important issue dealt with at the meeting was their need to raise the large amount of funds needed to enable the construction of the large shed beside the museum.  Recently the Society was fortunate enough to pick up one of approximately fifty of the original, old fashioned railway chairs that once sat outside each of the main Queensland railway stations.  Some of these chairs are nearly 150 years old and it will make a great and useful addition to the museum.  The Tolga & District Lions Club along with the historical society has replanted a Banana Fig tree ahead of Anzac Day to remember all service men and women.  Once the revitalization work in the Main Street is completed, the tree will be permanently replanted amongst a new garden bed with a dedication plaque, to replace the century-old Anzac tree that collapsed recently.  Already the area is starting to look better with the shelters sheds receiving a face-lift.  The Tolga Historical Society has a fantastic display of memorabilia on the local historical railway, township of Tolga and World War Two history and the museum is open Wednesday to Monday from 10.00am to 4.00pm for those who are interested in the local history.

Sunday 26 June 2016

Watsonville Pioneer Women Day

The annual Pioneer Women's Day was held recently in that township's little community shed in what was once the old main street of the village.  Although the weather was wonderful, the crowd on the day was down a little on the previous year but those in attendance enjoyed the usual program of music and various bush poetry followed by the traditional bush lunch.  The lady featured this year was Mrs Elizabeth Leinster nee Pascoe.  Her family built and ran one of the early hotels at Watsonville during the old mining days.  It is hoped to see a small book on this family history produced some time in the near future.  Congratulations to the members of this tiny Association on their continuing efforts to organize this heritage event each year which has become a regular annual outing for many heritage-minded folk and I hope it will continue for many years to come.

Mareeba Historical Society

Due to the public interest shown in the Society's World War One photographic displays, for which the group won the local Australia Day Community Award, it was decided to have a collation of all four displays so that people could have more time to view it all.  The last few months had been very busy for the Society with an invition from the Council to attend the unveiling of plaques commemorating local pioneer families and an invite to the presentation of the land to the Mareeba Heritage Centre.  Members also attended a presentation evening of the Bendigo Bank Community sponsorship to receive a $250 grant to purchase archival lever arch storage boxs.  The group has been fortunate to have a university student come in to help with the library database while they were on their holidays.  It was also decided to begin planing for a future project to scan the vast number of mining history documents that the Society hold.  These are at least an hundred years old and great care will need to be taken and once digitalized, they will be correctly conserved.  On a sad note, news came of the recent passing of Mr Eddie Sheerans who was a past President of the Society, condolences to the Sheerans family.

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Douglas Shire Historical Society

The Courthouse Museum was opened after the annual maintenance with even the Chinese temple panels having been refurbished.  Thanks to a very generous and welcome donation from John and Jocelyn White, the Society now have a portable wheelchair ramp available to access the Court House Museum.  Opening times remain Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays between 10am and 1pm and there is always a knowledgeable volunteer available to answer questions.  In Mossman, in partnership with the Mossman Library, the Society has celebrated HeritageWeek with an historic walk around the township of Mossman.  They have been a busy group at the moment with their April meeting taking the form of a trip to Daintree.  The day involved a visit to Sally and Peter Maher at River View in Daintree to see their display of collctables.  Peter cranked up his 1913 International portable engine, which delighted the gentlemen on the tour.  Then the tour did a walk around the town following the Society's historic posts before having lunch then returning to Mossman.  The Society's foundation Life Member Mr Noel Weare was recntly awarded a RADF grant from the Douglas Shire Council to travel to Brisbane to do research at the Queensland State Archives.  While there, he met with Dr Jonathan Richards, a professional researcher and avid historian who is researching North Queensland history.  He was able to collect some 1500 page images in the six days spent there, most of which will assist in research for the manuscript for the complete history of the 1879 Port Douglas Court House building.  Thanks to the Douglas Shire Council for assisting Noel in his far-reaching research.  The Society also mounted a Heritage Week display which will run for a month in the Shire Council building foyer.  The Society is also very pleased to see the local schools' interest in local history.  The Port Douglas school visited the Museum recently where secretary Annette Anich gave a talk and the Daintree school children walked the Heritage Trail in that village.  Some new information on the Port Douglas Chinese history was revealed at a presentation by Jacky Tam of the Cairns & District Chinese Association at the May meeting held in the Port Douglas CWA rooms.  

Sunday 29 May 2016

Cairns Historical Society

It was a big welcome home to the 1906 Chandle & Price platen printing press after repairs by Dave McIvor at the Herberton Historic Village and Greg Wyatt from Wyatts R & M Services.  The entire CHS Archives team was locked away for two days learning storage and handling procedures for archival materials.  Thanks to Rachel Spano from the State Library who has led the training.  The new Society website is up and running, so when you are done testing it out, you should check in and 'like' the Cairns Museum Facebook page.  Then you can keep an eye on the work as the Society gets ready for the reopening of the museum in 2017.  Debra Jakes, the volunteers co-ordinator, welcomed six new workers to the 'History on the Move' school trailer team.  They attended an induction and training session with the existing team and they're all fired up for the sharing of their time and Cairns history with local school kids.  'History on the Move' is a great program, popular with local schools and new volunteers are always welcomed.  Thanks also to Cairns Penny Savings and Meteor for their sponsorship of the trailer.  It was a happy National Volunteers Week with volunteer manager, Debra hosting a morning tea on the 9th May for all the volunteers of the Cairns Historical Society and Museum to acknowledge the wonderful work that the volunteers do and the skills that each person brings to their role.  Some thirty people turned up and filled the room.  The Society has relied upon volunteers since 1958 and it is very grateful for all the work that they do.  It was also reported that over fifty members attended the last quarterly series of lectures which were held on the 17th April.  The papers were presented by Dr Graham Cossins, Dr Nicky Horsefall and World War One expert, Pauline O'Keeffe.  All of the contributions had a medical focus and were extremely interesting and will appear as Society history Bulletins in due course.  The Society is now looking for someone who is a bit of a Graphic Designer who would be able to produce the group's newsletter and publications.

Monday 25 April 2016

Book on our Tarzan

At an event held recently at the German Club in Cairns, about a hundred local history enthusiasts gathered to attend the launch of Peter Ryle's new book on the life of the eccentric adventurer, Michael Fomenko who is also known about the North as 'Tarzan'.  This new book tells of Michael's unsettled youth as the Fomenko family fled the old Soviet Union to the Far East and then on to Australia in 1937.  After nearly twenty years of growing up in Sydney, Michael first came to Cairns in 1955 and fell under the spell of the tropics which led the young man to begin his life of adventure in the North.  The story also covers well his conflict with Australian officialdom during that deeply conservative period of the 1950's and 60's which led him to be sent to a mental health facility for some time.  Much of the information used in this publication was collected by the late Harold Jung who got to know Michael in later years when he was camped close to the Jung's farm.  Harold past away before he was able to put his material into book form and the project was handed on to local historian, Peter Ryle.  The tale of Michael 'Tarzan' Fomenko's adventures in the North and how he lived his life on his own terms will lead to him been remembered as a later-day folk hero and an adventurer the likes of which we will not see again.

Historic Motor Vehicles

The first Cruise-in car night of the year for tableland car enthusiasts was held recently at the Atherton Men's Shed on Railway Lane.  These events are open to vintage, restored classic or customed cars, trucks and motorcycles with people travelling from all over the Atherton district to gather and show off their pride and joys.  Dozens of historic cars and motor cycles were brought in by their owers for the display which was hampered by wet weather.  Most of the cars this time were from the period of the Sixties and Seventies although they ranged up to much newer specialist vehicles.  The Atherton Men's Shed has organized a number of these car shows now and it is good to see an event for those involved in our motoring heritage but who have vehicles which don't really fit into the vintage car movement.  The guys from the Shed are hoping to put on these events every two or three months.

Monday 29 February 2016

Heritage North

The first meeting of the Heritage North Association for this year was held recently at Innisfail with that local historical society acting as host.  Some ten historians attended the gathering and gave reports from six member groups.  Unfortunately, nobody has been found to edit the group's newsletter, so this will be discontinued until a volunteer steps forward to take it on.  As no written reports are needed for a newsletter, a more informal meeting has been instigated and oral reports from the member groups were given.  The general business of the meeting mostly concerned the progress of the new Heritage North museum's brochure and the information required from each group.  The next meeting will be held in late May with the Eacham Historical Society as host.

Mulgrave Shire Historical Society

Fishery Falls was the site chosen for the annual Christmas party to end another successful year for the Mulgrave historians.  The highlight of this event was the presentation of Long Service Awards to several of the Society's long-time stewards.  With their museum closed until the end of January, the Society held an informal get together for the museum volunteers which saw a great turn-up.  The group also reported on the value of the recent workshop they conducted to review their Society protocols and recommend other Societies should consider a similar exercise.  The Society has recently been given a large collection of old glass plate negatives and a number of photographic negatives from which the group are now seeking to produce photo images.  They also reported that the group had received a donation of records from the old Hambledon Sugar Mill for their library collection.  At a recent meeting their President, Mr Travis Teske stated that the Mulgrave Shire Historical Society was looking forward to a busy new year as their district will be celebrating a number of centenary events for local community organizations, in particular the Gondonvale Turf Club, the local Scout Group and the town's Ambulance Centre.

Saturday 20 February 2016

Tolga Historical Society

The Tolga Historical Society has started this new year off by beginning an oral history project.  Society committee member, Mr Joe Tomerini suggested to the group at their January meeting that they should start a project to build up a library of local oral histories of the Tablelands' pioneering days.  The Society have been collecting eulogies from local funeral services for their pioneers files and they also want more Aboriginal family histories to be collected as well.  As a farming district, the group would like to see more photographs of pioneering farm life along with scenes of horses pulling ploughs and cultivators etc.  They are sure many older Tablelanders would have valuable memories to share and if you wish to have your stories recorded and preserved, contact the group's President, Mr Rob Fuller on 0427869446.

Tableland Heritage Network

Some twenty volunteers from different museums and heritage interested groups from about the district recently made the long journey over the rough gravel road out to Irvinebank to attend the first meeting for the year for the Tableland Heritage Network (TheN).  After gathering at the historic School of Arts Hall, the meeting began with a persentation from the region's Museum Development Officer, Dr Jo Wills concerning the need for the local groups to have an Interpretive Plan for their collections.  Having enjoyed morning tea, the group then climbed up to the Loudon House Museum where Mr Tony Dirksen explained how the museum was been redeveloped and their plan for it's future.  After a tour of the collection, it was down to the recently reopened Irvinebank Tavern for lunch before heading homeward.  The next THeN meeting will be held at Mareeba in early June.

Mareeba Historical Society

The Mareeba Historical Society started the new year off with the great news that the third display of their First World War series, the Nurses and Medicos photographic display, had won the Australia Day's Community Event of the Year award from the Mareeba Shire Council.  The Secretary of the group, Helen Kindt didn't think they stood a chance of winning and so was very pleased with the award.  This display closed in late January after a twelve week viewing to make way for the Society's fourth and last display in this series.  The new Non-combatants display, which was officially opened on the 5th February, chronicles the actions of the men and women who took part in the war while never carrying a gun.  The display also covers the amazing contribution of around sixteen million animals, mostly horses and mules but also dogs, carrier pigeons and even cats that were used to keep down the rats in the trenches.  The Non-combatants display will run until the end of April.  The Society is also calling for more helpers to come into their Centre to assist with the many little jobs that are needed to be done to run the group and to help John on the morning of the Mareeba Markets to erect the gazebo and set up the tables and put out the boxes of books for the fundraising stall.

Saturday 6 February 2016

Cairns Historical Society

At last!  A contract has been signed for the renovation work on the old School of Arts building with the Council and the successful builder currently working to finalize the budget and design issues with work due to start in March.  This date being a full two years later than the Society originally thought was planned.  Working from the start date of construction, the Society hopes to be back in their building and have the museum opened again by the middle of next year but with the way things have gone with this project, I would not be surprised if the group is not up and running again until towards the end of that year.  Planning for the designs of the new museum exhibitions is now absorbing much of the group's efforts and the concept for the new museum is starting to take shape.  On other issues, the Society ended last year with their annual Christmas break-up party been held this time at the Edge Hill Bowls Club with about fifty members attending the event.  The highlight of the party was the presentation of Life Membership to the recently retired President of the group, Mr Stephen Fowler.  The Society also welcomed a new volunteer co-ordinator, Ms Debra Jakes who will manage the recruitment and induction of volunteers to help run the collection.  The Society is now calling for nominations for the S.E.Stephens History Award for 2016 and the nominations should be mailed to the Secretary by the end of March. The next quarterly lecture series will be held in the Cairns City Library on Sunday 17 April from 2pm.

Monday 1 February 2016

Cairns & District Chinese Association

It has been twelve years since CADCAI became the caretaker of the important Lit Sung Goong temple artifacts.  A small group of volumteers was formed to collate amd catalogue the collection.  They had a lot to learn but now they are getting ready for the next phase which is to build on their land in the Cairns Cultural percinct near the Chinese garden.  This will establish a permanent home for the temple artifacts and a place where the community can come together to share and celebrate their heritage.  During the year a fresh sub-committee has been working on a more affordable staged development aiming to start in this new year.  Recently the heritage group has received a number of family history enquires regarding Chinese migrants who had lived in North Queensland.  In most cases the trail have been difficult to track, however there has been some success such as the story of Jang Tim who settled in Gordonvale and was been researched by his grand-daughter from China.  The Association has also catalogued a collection of twenty-three original lithograph poster depicting both traditional and popular Shanghai vintage art.  Other achievements during the year were the completion of the cataloguing of the Kevin Wong Hoy library and the Chinatown collection files.  This new year will see the ongoing conservation of all the CADCAI heritage collection and fundraising will become an important and major focus for the group.

Saturday 30 January 2016

Douglas Shire Historical Society

The Douglas Shire Historical Society finished a busy year off having accomplished much including helping to save the old Dixie's Shed from the axe with the combined efforts of the Douglas Shire Council, Member for Cook, Billy Gordon and also thanks to the District Officer of the Boating & Fisheries Patrol.  The Society also organized a free guided walk for Seniors Week around historic Port Douglas starting off from the Court House Museum.  The Bel Cibo restaurant in Port Douglas hosted the group's annual fund-raising event this year with the Melbourne Cup luncheon.  Congratulations are due to Mr Norman Yarr who was named the Volunteer of the Year and he received his award at the Society's Christmas party.  Norman has contributed many hours to the group and has often stepped in at the last minute to volunteer at the Court House Museum and he was thank for his valuable support and efforts on behalf of the Society.  It was decided to try a new format for meetings in 2016, there will no longer be 'housekeeping' items at the monthly meetings.  These will be dealt with at management committee level.  Please ask a committee member if you require any information on thses changes.  The next meeting will be held on Monday 1st February at 2pm at the Mossman Community Centre.  Society member Mr Ken Keith will present his paper on the First World War and there will be a photo display.  Please bring along any of your war-time photos to share with others.

Innisfail and District Historical Society

The Innisfail Historical Society's museum was closed from 25th December 2015 to the 5th January 2016 and then only open on a limited basis till the end of January.  The group are giving their wonderful volunteers a well earned rest.  If you wanted to show your visitors around the museum, the Society will try to arrange a time to open up for you.  Phone numbers notice is pinned up on the door.  The Society's new calendar for 2016 is celebrating the centenary of the South Johnstone Sugar Mill.  It is selling extremely well and they have already gone through the first one hundred and had to order more.  They are only ten dollars each and make a good present.  The Christmas Dinner to end 2015 was held at the Innisfail Accommodation Centre on Flying Fish Point Road.  In this new year, they will be having another street walk at South Johnstone to help the sugar mill, the School and the Post Office who are all celebrating their centenaries.  The group will be looking for all their friends to be there to help.  The Society recently had a stall at the Lioness Craft Fair and that was a great day.  There was a great little article published in the Innisfail Advocate newspaper about the Mourilyan State School recent visit to the museum and how much they all enjoyed it.  All the kids are usually horrified when they see the Dunny and learn what it is all about!  More schools should avail themselves of this resource and see for themselves how interesting the museum is.  The Society will also be publishing another of their Memories Albums of photos in this new year, also about South Johnstone.  They have a very interesting history and there is some great photos for the album.  The group also have a postcard and a magnet for sale, both feature photos of the beautiful Johnstone River taken in the 1930's by Robert Stack and hand-coloured by his daughter, Queenie.  They thought they would try these items out for fundraising and they are selling really well.

Eacham Historical Society

The Eacham Historical Society finished the year off with a number of gatherings to celebrate another successful year.  The members who volunteer at the museum in Millaa Millaa got together for a fancy-do at De Millaa coffee shop while more than a dozen members who regularly volunteer at the history centre in Malanda gathered at the Rainforest Bounty premises on Lindsay Road to enjoy a morning tea.  The Society could not function without the efforts of those who volunteer and their efforts are greatly appreciated.  And to end another successful year, some fifty members and guests gathered once again at the Malanda RSL function room to catch up with fellow history buffs and see the old year out at the Society's annual dinner party.  The work of the Society these days typically involves issues of family history research with the Society regularly assisting members of the public who are working on their family stories.  So much so that they are beginning to feel like a genealogy group.  But the group did do other heritage work over the year and were pleased to hear that the 'Anzac Treasures of the Tablelands' project that they had assisted with had won an award.  Later in the year, a field trip which attrached great interest from the members involved a long drive out to Mount Garnet then down to Gunnawarra Station and on through to the Kirrama Range and out through the Kennedy Valley.  It was a long day but those who participated in the trip enjoyed themselves.  It was also reported that the Society's electronic-media effort is still the most successful aspect of their publicity effort with their 'You know you grew up on the Atherton Tablelands when', facebook site now with over 4,000 members and the official Society facebook page continuing to grow.  The Society also managed to maintain their regular annual social events with successful display stalls at both the Malanda Show and the Rocky Creek VP Day with good interest from the public.  The Society started the new year off with their first meeting for the year on the 19 January.