Tuesday 31 October 2017

Eacham Historical Society

The Eacham Historical Society has been busy over recent months in three main fields; book reprinting, field trips and celebrations at the museum.  After the successful field trip to the Millaa and Middlebrook area earlier in the year, the group conducted a very successful trip out to Irvinebank when the Irvinebank Progress Association celebrated this years' Heritage Festival by opening many of their heritage listed building that were not generally open to the public.  More than two dozen members turned out for the trip which included a guided tour and a light lunch.  The Prokhorov celebrations at Butchers Creek School give the Society an opportunity to have a field trip about the farming lands in that area where many of the old Russian families settled as well as meeting the grand-son of the Nobel Prize winning scientist.  The most recent field trip was a tour of the museum along the coast from the Mourilyan sugar museum up to the Innisfail museum, then on to the small collection at Babinda with the trip ending at Gordonvale at the Mulgrave Settlers Museum.  It was good to catch up the other heritage groups and see their collections.  The Society members who volunteer at the group's museum at Millaa Millaa held a small get-together to celebrate forty years since the Society opened their museum.  A couple of the founding members spoke of the group's early efforts in setting up the museum and a cake was cut in celebration of the event.  The other big project for the Society over recent months has been an effort to reprint a number of the group's publications.  The last stock-take showed that stock of several of the Society's book were almost finish and it was decided to make a major effort to reprint these books and include several older titles that had been out of print for many years. It was also decided to rewrite a couple of the Society's older books and bring them back into print.  With the end of the year approaching, this years end-of-year parties are now been planed.             

Cairns Historical Society

Glenys Lonie and the museum staff have been busy working on the next exhibition for the Temporary Gallery which was installed in the last week of September and opened in the first week of October.  The new exhibition features shells with photographs, sheller's stories, shells in use and shelling equipment.  Glenys has found this project very interesting and was introduced to much scientific information as well as the legalities of shell collecting.  The Society had a truly successful day at the stall for Carnival on Collins.  Thanks to the volunteers for your efforts on that day.  They received really positive reports about the Historical Society and people's level of enthusiasm for the museum was high.  The Society was please to announce that Mr Noel Weare from the Douglas Shire Historical Society was this year's winner of the SE Stephens History Award.  Noel has spent many years researching various aspect of Port Douglas' history.  The new museum has now been open for several months and we have all been on a steep learning curve.  Since opening the Society has welcomed over 4500 people into the museum including locals, school groups and students and international visitors.  The Society lost one of its most dedicated members when Mr Gil Jennex passed away recently.  Gil was the group's librarian for almost thirty years and was the face of the Society.  With the phone on his desk, he took most incoming calls and people visiting the Society were invariably directed to him with their queries.  Under his direction the Society's collection has become recognized as the best and most accessible research library operated by a volunteer organisation in North Queensland.  Gil did not confine his library skills to this group but also helped other societies including Eacham and Mulgrave with their early cataloging.  He has left a lasting legacy at the Society and was a very worthy recipient of a Life Membership.  The last set of local history lectures were held on 28 October with all the papers having a military theme.  Michael Musumeci delivered a power point presentation on North Queensland air crashes during WW2, Pauline O'Keeffe spoke on two WW1 soldiers and Trev Clark looked at the effectiveness of propaganda, censorship and media bias on WW1 referendum.   

Thursday 26 October 2017

Daintree Protest Book

In late 1983, a small group of local residents organised a protest to stop work on a road being built from Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield.  The local Council, in defiance of the parks authorities and the state government agency in charge of roads, decided to bulldoze a track through.  Council's preparatory surveying and engineering work was slipshod and amateurish.  Even Russ Hinze, then the Minister for Main Roads and a man not known for his conservationist credentials, was appalled.  The protest brought a stop to construction, the media arrived, the police were called in and protesters were arrested.  When supporters of the protest arrived from southern states, the confrontation escalated into a full-blown environmental protest; The Daintree Blockade.  The blockade set off a clash of ideologies; Greenies against developers, hippies against the local Council and anarchists against police.  The blockade failed - the road went through and the short term impact on the environment was as dire as expected.  Run-off from the road affected the Great Barrier Reef and the integrity of a unique wilderness site was damaged.  In Council's haste to push it through, that first road was so poorly constructed that the first celebratory motorcade to travel on it became hopelessly bogged and had to be painstakingly towed to safety, one by one.  In time, the Daintree blockade would take its place as one of the big three early rainforest campaigns that helped shape the growing Australian environment movement.  Bill Wilkie takes readers into the heart of the Daintree, the oldest rainforest on the planet, revealing the courage, passion and dedication of those who fought to protect it.  This new book features 344 pages, more than 250 photographs and a foreword by actor Jack Thompson.  The Daintree Blockade is based on over 80 interviews with key protagonists and intensive archival research.  In the end, the world's attention had been drawn to the unique Daintree ecosystem and the result was World Heritage listing, a tourism boom and growing economic prosperity for the region.  Wilkie's important book reminds us all that these outcomes were never inevitable and should never be taken for granted.  I spent a little time on the earlier Windsor Tableland Picket in 1981 on the western side of the Daintree which gives me a personal interest in this story.  It was a surprise to me to learn that this is the first book to be written about the protest and it has now won the 2017 Queensland Premier's literary award for a Work of State Significance. 

Thursday 19 October 2017

Hann Expedition Mystery Solved

Many long years ago, back in those days before my bones begain to creak, a rather vigorous discussion was held about the campfire concerning the true identity of the mysterious 'Mr Stewart' who accompanied William Hann on his famous 1872 northern expedition.  Our old friend Mr Alf Stewart believed it was his grand-father, John Ignatius Stewart who held that honour but his claim just didn't seem to ring true to us.  Alf had little evidence but old family tradition to back-up his story.  His research efforts at that time failed to offer facts to prove his story and he admitted that counter claims existed.  Now twenty-five years after old Alf had passed away from this world, I have discovered the truth behind the mysterious 'Mr Stewart'.

I have that blessed gift to historians, the 'Trove' website to thank for the path to solve this little mystery.  All the old reports on the Hann Expedition of 1872 refer to the last two men of the party only as 'Stewart and Nation', with no further information.  While researching another subject, I noticed that an old newspaper article from that period refered to a member of the Hann party as 'Mr Stewart better known as Peak Downs Stewart'.  This was the clue I had been waiting for.  I reached for my book by Dan O'Donnell on the history of the Clermont district but not a word about an early day Stewart.  Back to Trove!  There in the old newspapers was mention of an ex-squatter named Mr W.R. Stewart who had brought some of the first stock into the district when he briefly owned Peak Downs Station in the very earliest days. 

I was on the right track as I soon found an article referring to an early grazier from Peak Downs named William Robert Stewart who was better known as 'Peak Downs Stewart'.  It looks like I found him and what a shame that our old friend Alf, who passed away in 1993, never got to know the truth behind this little mystery.  And the identity of the 'Mr Nation' of the expedition.  It turns out he was William Nation, a man who had come up from South Australia in the early days to help set up a station and then had joined the goldrush to Gilberton in 1869 where he became a partner in a storekeeping firm of Tulloh, Nation & Co.  After this business partnership broke up, he became the town's Postmaster before joining Mr Hann on his expedition to explore the country to the north.   

Saturday 30 September 2017

Douglas Shire Historical Society

Many thanks to the Sorensen Foundation who has recently funded some new equipment for the Society.  Volunteer archivist, Gail Cockburn is now hard at work on a smart new laptop computer and the group has also purchased a big new printer.  The Society was also fortunate to have been selected by LiveLife Pharmacies in Port Douglas and Mossman for their September token donations.  This is a fantastic way to help raise funds to support their collection of local history and is much appreciated.  The monthly meeting for August was held at the Mossman RSL rooms where members had the opportunity to look at their historical collection.  The following meeting was held on September 4th at Port Douglas CWA hall with Mr Noel Weare speaking about some of the graves in the Port Douglas cemetery.  And many congratulations to Noel, past President and Life Member, who has just been granted the S E Stephens History Award from the Cairns Historical Society for 2017.  He collected his award at the recent Annual General Meeting of that Society receiving it from their President, Mr Clive Skerrett with the current Douglas Historical Society President, Freda Wilson and past President Pam Burden there to cheer him on.  The October meeting is to be held on the 9th at the Mossman Community Centre.  All welcomed.

Innisfail and District Historical Society

What a fantastic night the Society had on the recent Sunday night when they held their 'Cemetery Walk'.  About 150 people turned up and everyone said they had a great time.  The narrators did a wonderful job, Mr John O'Brien entertained with his singing (without music) and the Boy Scouts were everywhere holding the lights and guiding people on the ramble from grave to grave.  Thank you so much Leaders and scouts!  In fact one lad said, when he was asked if he had enjoyed it, that it was better than watching MasterChef on TV.  Thanks especially to those who helped in any way with preparations including the cemetery staff who had the cemetery very tidy and markers set out for group on the night.  The Society is also pleased to report that they had been awarded a $9000 grant from the State Government Gambling Community Fund to obtain several large display cases.  One will be used to display the Society's collection of Aboriginal artifacts and the second will be used to show the collection of Innisfail/Geraldton souvenir memorabilia they have in their collection.  Thanks go to the State Government for this grant.  If you're in Innisfail, chech out the museum windows and see the display created by the 4KZ radio station and museum staff to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the commencement of Innisfail's first radio station 4KZ.  A great achievement for all involved over the past fifty years. 

Mulgrave Shire Historical Society

Thanks to Jenny Verrall for organizing another successful 'Ghosts of Gordonvale' event for the Mulgrave Shire Historical Society at the Gordonvale Cemetery.  A huge crowd came to listen to the awesome Gordonvale State High School students who volunteered their time to share the stories of twelve people and families of Gordonvale.  Thanks also go to the other volunteers who ushered and greeted the visitors.  And what a great success the inaugural 'Babinda Ghost Stories' event was.  A big thank you to the students from the Miriwinni, St Rita's, Babinda primary and high schools who narrated and dressed in character of each of the occupants of the ten graves visited.  Huge thanks again to Jenny Verrall for all the time and effort put into organizing this event.  The ladies of the Cairns RSL Day Club came in to visit the museum recently where they partook in the morning tea and visit activity.  Please contact the museum if you would like to show a group through the museum with a morning tea.  Make sure you come into the Museum to see the new exhibition showcasing the work of Dr Edmund Jarvis which opened recently.  The Society restored seven entomological specimen cases donated by the Meringa Sugar Experiment Station, thanks to a grant from the Regional Arts Development Fund.  The exhibit showcases part of Dr Jarvis' studies and represents the research undertaken into pests in the sugar industry during the 1920's.  The cases are believed to have been an integral educational tool for our early farmers and scientists.

Atherton Local and Family History Group

The Atherton Local and Family History Group held their September get-together at the Atherton War Cemetery.  Some two dozen history buffs and members of the local branch of the National Servicemen Association met to explore the local war cemetery with Mr John Hardy as host for the day.  The morning started with John giving the gathering a brief run-down on the history of the cemetery and on his interest in the men who lay at rest there.  The group then wandered about the cemetery with stops at significant graves to hear the stories of the men there.  The October meeting will have the theme of 'Medical Histories'.  Drop into the monthly gatherings of the group held at the Atherton Library at 10am on the first Thursday of each month.  Listen to a variety of interesting family stories that have been researched prior to each meeting.  Some stories are illustrated with small booklets while others are concise and told from short notes.  It is a fun time and all are welcome.

Mareeba Military Muster

The results for the 2017 Mareeba Military Muster have been compiled.  This year set a new record in crowd numbers with just over a thousand members of the public supporting the event.  The organizers were overwhelmed with the positive support from the public.  A huge 'thank you' to the awesome team at the Australian Armour and Artillery Museum of Cairns who have gone beyond the call of support for the Military Muster.  The North Queensland Historical Re-enactment Society from Townsville will also be back next year with a new display for 2018.  Planning has already commenced for the 2018 Mareeba Military Muster with the grounds of the Mareeba Turf Club having become the event's new home after its early beginnings in Ravenshoe in 2009.  Next year's Muster marks a very special occasion as it will celebrate ten years of the Military Musters in Far North Queensland.  The organizers are actively trying to locate people who have a passion for the North Queensland military history, own military vehicles or want to display their collections.  If you want to be involved in celebrating ten years of the Military Muster, please sent an email or contact the organizer - Michael Musumeci.  It was decided that proceeds from this Mareeba Military Muster will go towards a well overdue memorial in Biboohra for Pilot Lt Andrew Duke. 

Mareeba Historical Society

A thank you goes to everyone who took part in the Society's Father's Day raffle.  The winner was the Cannon family of Emerald Creek who were thrilled to win making their Father's Day just that little bit different.  Thanks to the sponsors for their generosity in donation items for the wheelbarrow full of goodies; Mitre 10, Gateway Hotel, the RSL Club, Mareeba Leagues Club, Skybury, Repco and to the members of the Historical Society who also donated items or sat and sold tickets.  All proceeds will be going towards purchasing storage for the group's many collections, all of which need to be correctly stored for safe keeping for rhe future.

Thursday 31 August 2017

Idriess and the Drums of Mer film

I joined a dozen other history buffs in shuffling our chairs about the small area at the back of the old bookstore in order to get the best advantage to hear the story about to be told by Fairlie Sandilands.  Fairlie, who has a degree in Anthropology and qualifications in Museum Curatorship, spent many years living in Townsville and was the start-up curator for the Magnetic Island museum.  Now at the age of sixty years and retired to a home at Topaz, she has looked back some forty years to when she was a nineteen year old teenager working for a film company and the adventure she was to have researching for a proposed film.

Drums of Mer book
With a screen in place and the projector set for the powerpoint show, Fairlie began her tale of a movie project that could have been one of the great Australian films but was not to be.  The talk she entitled, 'Drums of Mer Revisited' started with an over-view of the history of the Torres Straits and the culture of the islander people who call the Straits home.  Fairlie then told of how a young adventurer and prospector named Ion L. Idriess, known then as 'Jack', wandered into the Straits and came to learn much of the Islander culture.  While camping at old Somerset, Ion had the privilege to be one of the last to read the decaying journals of the Jardine family and having learnt from Rev MacFarlane of the great anthropological expedition of the 1890's, he later studied the reports of this Cambridge Expedition.  This study was the background to the writing of his 1933 novel 'Drums of Mer' which he based on the true story of the wreck of the ship 'Charles Eaton'.

Ion L. Idriess 1950
Fairlie went on to explain how she became involved with a group of film makers led by Sandy Harbutt who had just made the classic Australian movie 'Stone'.  Have been a fan of Idriess since boyhood, Sandy sought to make a feature film of 'Drums of Mer' and spoke to Idriess about his project and obtained the film rights.  He found funding near impossible to find but had obtained a little money to finance the researching of the proposed movie and sent the young Fairlie to interview Ion Idriess and up to the Torres Straits.  Fairlie spoke of her three months long expedition to Mer Island to talk about the project with the Murray islanders.  She found the people there had been so impressed with Idriess' novel that they were using it as a text book on their culture with a few even believing it was actually non-fiction.  They were quite keen to see the film made especially after they discover that the actor Mr Harry Belafonte had shown interest in starring as the lead character.

Sadly, the film could not be financed, although Sandy Harbutt still believes in the project to this day.  Fairlie ended her story telling of her time spent with Ion Idriess and how it took her many years to realize what a privilege it had been to be able to meet and talk with this truly iconic Australian.  Been a fan of Ion Idriess myself, I found great delight in this afternoon's discussion.  It also gave me a greater appreciation of the academic value of Idriess' writings.  Especially after having just re-read many of his northern Queensland books after nearly thirty-five years of history study since my first reading.  So thank you Fairlie Sandilands for sharing your experiences.
Fairlie Sandilands with her hosts and some of her audience

Thursday 29 June 2017

Douglas Shire Historical Society

The Society's website was recently upgraded, so the group couldn't post anything for some time.  The Annual General Meeting of the historical society was held in May at the Port Douglas CWA hall and after the meeting, those in attendance heard profiles of some of the pioneering women of Douglas from the members.  Featured were Betty Whiting, Cathy Jack, Ema Anich and Belle Cheyne.  Several committee members recently visited the elderly folk at the Port Douglas OzCare home and presented them with some of the Society's books for their library.  They also did a sit down 'Walk through historic Port Douglas' and jogged some memories in the elderly folk.  Recently, the Society was pleased to host a visit to the museum by students from the St Augustine's Primary School in Mossman.  The school officer Mrs Richelle Woods brought the children along and Society secretary Annette Anich conducted the tour of the collection.  The Society now has copies of the new book on the Daintree Blockade of the 1980's for sale at the Port Douglas Court House Museum or from the website.  The story was written by a local Society member, Mr Bill Wilkie and everbody who is interested in local history is urged to obtain a copy.  Price is $35 with postage an additional $10 (it's a big book).  The next meeting of the Society will be held on Monday 3 July.  

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Tolga Historical Society

The Tolga Historical Society's long campaign to build a storage shed beside their museum has taken a step in the right direction.  The Tableland Regional Council has recently agreed to amend the User Agreement with the Society to allow for the new construction.  The proposal was to change the size and shape of the museum site to solve the problem of accommodation of the new shed as the original proposed site to the right of the museum was not large enough.  This problem has held up the project for many years with the Society needing to expand.  The Society has artifacts that are being stored in members sheds and garages because it doesn't have the room at the museum.  The decision will allow the shed to meet the required building approvals and fundraising can now go ahead.  

Watsonville Pioneer Women

Watsonville's small community shed in what was once the main street of the village was again busy with about eighty history buffs attending the annual Pioneer Women's Day event organized by the local Western Progress Association.  The usual singing from You Can Sing Too and various bush poets entertained the crowd before the traditional bush lunch.  The pioneering lady featured this year was Mrs Eileen Mary King (nee Miles) who raised a family at the Croesus mine and worked as a cook but would not take on work unless she was paid men's award wages.  Local historian Jane Chapman again produced a small booklet on the featured lady which was for sale on the day.  This little heritage event has become a regular annual outing for many and although the crowd was down on previous years, I hope it will continue for many years to come.

Cairns and District Chinese Association

The Cairns and District Chinese Association has at last received planning approval to build their long awaited culture and heritage centre.  A centre dedicated to celebrating the city's rich history of Chinese immigration will finally be built after decades of planning and fundraising.  The organization's vice-president Nathan Lee Long reported that the group had held land at Arthur Street in Manunda since the 1980's for this project which will initially include a multi-use space with the ability to store artifacts from the old Lit Sung Goong temple which was built in 1897 in the city's Chinatown at Grafton Street.  The second stage of the project will incorporate a museum to display their nationally significant collection of artifacts and relics to the public.  Construction of this heritage centre is expected to begin within a year.

Sunday 25 June 2017

Mungana Scandal Again

Mungana is now just an insignificant ghost town near Chillagoe but in the 1930's it was the centre of one of Australia's most controversial scandals.  The discovery during the Great Depression that the Federal Treasurer, Mr E.G. (Ted) Theodore and Labor politician, Mr William McCormack had interests in a company which sold mining assets to the government at considerable profit had caused a great outcry.  Now forty years after the eminent historian, Dr K.H. Kennedy wrote his book on the affair, a new study of the scandal has appeared entitled 'The Curse of Mungana'.  This new book is written by David Moore who is the grandson of the conservative Prime Minister at the time of the Royal Commission into the affair.  Although found not guilty in the civil prosecution, this is not just the story of a failed mining venture and its victims but an expose of the arrogance of powerful politicians who compromised integrity for personal gain and it is pertinent to ask if ethical standards have really improved over the past eighty years.

Monday 29 May 2017

Story of the Port Douglas Courthouse

A new book was recently launched at the Mossman Library by the Douglas Shire Historical Society.  Entitled 'Built to Survive; the uncertain journey of a Courthouse built for Port Douglas', it tells the story of the life of the old Port Douglas Courthouse which was built in 1879 and is one of the town's oldest buildings.  Once marked for demolition, the story of saving the old Courthouse and bring it back to life as the district's museum involved many in the community.  This story was researched and written by the past president of the Society, Mr Noel Weare whose aunt purchased the building when it was about to be demolished and so saved it.  The book also gives a brief outline of the history of Port Douglas which was founded a 140 years ago.  Another great effort from members of this dedicated little group. The book is available from the Society's museum in Port Douglas.

New Townsville History

Thanks to its stature as the premier city of North Queensland, from as early as 1895, Townsville was known as the 'Queen City of the North'.  This now been the title of a recently published book written by Trisha Fielding.  It is like a leisurely stroll through some of the fascinating aspects of Townsville's history since its settlement in 1864 as a port for the region's pastoral industry.  The book tells tragic tales such as the disappearance of the last lighthouse keeper at Bay Rock, the sinking of the SS Yongala and shark attacks in Ross Creek.  Stories of the destruction caused by floods and cyclones, to gun battles in the city streets over workers' rights, the bombing of the city during World War Two and of the cast of colourful characters that shaped the city's fortunes.  The book presents a remarkably vivid picture of life in early Townsville that should delight all lovers of northern history.  Trisha Fielding won a National Trust of Queensland Award in 2010 for her first book, 'Flinders Street, Townsville; A Pictorial History' and was awarded the John Oxley Library Award in 2015 for her blog on North Queensland history.

Sunday 21 May 2017

Cooktown Historical Society

In May of this year, the Cooktown branch of the CWA is celebrating its 80th birthday.  The Cooktown Historical Society, on their behalf, is searching for any old photos of past members and events like dances or dinners.  If anybody can help, please send a message or email to the Society.  Recently, Cooktown was visited by a descendant of Captain Albert Ross Hovel.  They visited the cemetery, weeded his grave and laid a bouquet of flowers.  Its been a long time between visitors for Albert Hovel, Master Mariner who was buried there on 6th May 1888.  This Society have a wonderful number of volunteers but would love just a couple more to work at the front desk for this tourist season just to meet and greet the visitors.  Three hours a week is all they are after, this would be perfect for parents with kids at school either in the morning or the afternoon so call in if you can help.

Sunday 14 May 2017

Mulgrave Shire Historical Society

The Mulgrave Shire Historical Society is inviting all local Seniors Groups to visit their Mulgrave Settlers Museum.  An entry fee of $6.00 per person will include a morning tea.  To book your group, contact the Publicity Officer Julie or phone the museum.  The Society has also put out an urgent call for more volunteers to help out at their museum in Gordonvale.  The volunteer positions would be suitable for people who like to share their knowledge and or learning about the area's rich history.  So, if you like meeting people and can spare four hours a fortnight, contact the Society about becoming one of the museum staff.  The central display in the museum is changed approximately every six months.  The current display includes the opening of this museum twenty-five years ago and the story of the local Silhouette Marching Girls.  The museum will be closed from the 19th to the 22rd June to enable the volunteers to get the next exhibition ready.  This new display will feature the Edmund Jarvis cases and other items to celebrate one hundred years of the Meringa Sugar Experiment Station.  The Jarvis cases were restored through a RADF grant.  The Society is also asking if anyone have any early Cane Grower's Quarterly Bulletins that could be donated to the Society or loaned to be copied.  

Mareeba Historical Society

The Mareeba Historical Society has begun a celebration of strong women through the generations with a series of photographic displays for the month of May.  The new displays showcase local women through the photos as well as personal belongings that have been handed down.  On some of the displays are five to six generations of local families.  Society Secretary, Helen Kindt stated that the Mother's Day display had morphed into a 'Month of the Women' and the display will run until the end of the month.  The Society has their Centre open every Tuesday and Wednesday from 8am to 4pm for anyone who wish to view the displays.

Friday 28 April 2017

Cairns Historical Society

It was very pleasing to see that over forty people attended the last local history lecture series held at the City Library meeting room.  The three papers which were given by Angelica Geisel, Susan Darby and Julia Volkmar were excellent works.  It is planned to have the next series of lectures held at the refurbished Museum.  The Society was saddened to hear of the recent passing of Len Graham.  Len was a member of the Society's Management Committee for a number of years.  He took great delight in organizing luncheons for members at various locations around town.  The volunteers have finally started the move back into the School of Arts building.  It is hoped to have all the collections moved by the end of April and any new furniture installed by the middle of May.  The plan is for the Society to be operational in the School of Arts building by June.  The Museum fit out is powering ahead and should have all the showcases, joinery and graphics up by the end of April and from then will start moving the collection onto display.  A donation of a large collection of 1960's slides has given the group some great images for the database.  The group has also just received an interesting set of photos of the former Gas Company premises from a fellow historical society down in Victoria which were not relevant to their collection so they sent the photos up here.  Members of the Management Committee met for a very pleasant morning tea at Limberlost Nursery cafe to thank Janet Koch for her wonderful work as Honorary Treasurer for the Society during this difficult time of transition.  Janet's efforts are gratefully acknowledged by the group.  To mark the 75th anniversary of Cairns' involvement in the Second World War, the National Trust and Cairns Historical Society's Heritage Festival activity will take the form of a tag-along tour.  This means that you meet up in your own car, filling it up with relations and friends and we drive to places of significance to the Cairns of 1942.  Members should all meet outside the old Post Office building in Grafton Street at 9am on Sunday 7th May and proceed from there.

Douglas Shire Historical Society

Gill Savage came along to the March meeting at the Port Douglas CWA hall to tell tales of her adventurous trips to Maytown, the heart of the original Palmer River goldfields, which is now deserted.  It was so wonderful to hear Gill share her stories.  What an adventurous lady and so enthralled by history. There was no April meeting becuse on Wednesday 5th April, at the Mossman Library we had a new book launched by Mayor Julia Lue, 'Built to Survive; the history of the Port Douglas Court House'.  Many thanks to the Douglas Shire Council for contributing to the printing costs for Noel Weare's new book which is now available to buy for only $17 at the Port Douglas Court House Museum, Port Douglas and Mossman newsagents and Cairns Books.  The Society is very pleased to be able to introduce three new Life Members - John and Jocelyn White and Annette Anich.  They have all given many hours of valuable time to the Society over the years and all the Society's committee and members would like to send their sincere congratulations.  The next meeting of the Society will be the Annual General Meeting to be held on Monday 8th May at 2pm at the Port Douglas CWA hall.  

Thursday 27 April 2017

Eacham Historical Society

About twenty members of the Society recently enjoyed a field trip into the Middlebrook area to the south of Millaa Millaa.  The bad weather which had caused the earlier postponement of this expedition held off, so on a recent Sunday morning, the group headed off with the first stop being the top of Kjellberg Road.  The expedition also travelled Pheasant and Whiting Roads and a number of historical sites were visited about Hennessy Flats.  As it is the 50th anniversary of the greatest flood to hit the tablelands, it was decided to start a project to collect information and memoirs on the flood of 1967 and its local effects.  The March history paper was written by the late Roy Fischer for the Topaz re-union and tells the story of his time teaching at the Topaz State School during the late 1930's.  A report was made on the large number of Kulara books the Society has sold due to the low water at Tinaroo and it was decided to make a move to get the book undated and professionally printed.  The Society recently loss a valued member when Ed Dennis moved southward and a Certificate of Appreciation was presented to him in recognition of the many years of service he had given the group.  The April meeting was held at the History Centre with a paper by Lil Henson been read which told of her memories of war-time Malanda to mark the 75th anniversary of the town's involvement in the Second World War.  It was decided to take advantage of the Irvinebank open days for the next fieldtrip and the Society has booked Sunday 7th May for the outing.  The next meeting which will be held on 16th May will also be the Annual General Meeting.

Irvinebank Museum

There is now a rare opportunity to visit Irvinebank's heritage listed buildings which are not generally open to the public and to hear the stories of the men and women who lived and worked in this historic town.  The Irvinebank School of Arts & Progress Association will be celebrating this years' Australian Heritage Festival with the Irvinebank Heritage Festival Open Days and Guided Tours.  The guided walking tours of the town's heritage listed buildings are to be held over five Sundays - April 23rd & 30th, May 7th,14th & 21st.  The historic building included in the tours are the Loudoun House, Tramway Station, Loudoun Tin Mill, Old Queensland National Bank and the Irvinebank School of Arts Hall.  Tours start at the Irvinebank School of Arts hall at 9.30am to 12 noon,  The tours are free and a light lunch is available for $5.00 at the School of Arts hall after each tour,  Bookings are essential so phone Loudoun House Museum on 07 4096 4020 or email.    

Cairns & District Family History Society

The Society is now seeking actors for the 2017 production of 'Shadows of the Past'.  'Shadows' is a set of dramatised walks through the McLeod Street Pioneer Cemetery presented by CDFHS.  The Society use community actors who take on a role of one of the pioneers to tell their life story.  The walk is accompanied by members of the Cairns Brass band who provide music to suit the story.  All ages and experience are welcome to participate in this unique experience.  Rehearsals will commence on the 5th June with performance dates throughout August.  The Easter raffle has just been drawn so call in to see if your ticket is a winner.  If you are in Cairns and you are interested in learning how DNA testing can confirm your family history research, help with brick-walls or help to identify biological relatives, call in to the Drop-In DNA Clinic or make a visit to the Drop-In Genealogy Clinic which is held on each second Saturday of the month.

Monday 27 February 2017

Cairns Historical Society

The Cairns Historical Society finished off last year with their annual Christmas party which was held on Thursday 8th December at the Edge Hill Bowling Club.  The evening was a great success and thanks were given to all those involved in the event.  The Society believes that 2017 will be an exciting year as after more that three years out of their home, the Society will soon be able to begin the move back to the renovated School of Arts building.  President Clive Skarott reported that the volunteers will need time to pack everything up for the move, so the research centre will be closed to the public from the 13th February and reopening some time mid-year.  It will not be possible to answer all requests, however they will endeavour to respond to everyone.  The next lecture series is scheduled for Sunday 5th March at the City Library meeting rooms.  Angelica Geisel will speak on the Cairns-Tully Rail Motor Service and Sue Darby will tell about the beginnings of the School of Distance Education and then Julia Vilkmar will reveal addititional facts on Hap Wah.  The Society has also announced that they are now open for nominations for this year's SE Stephens History Award.  Nominations should be in the hands of the Secretary by the end of March.  

Cooktown & District Historical Society

On the Saturday evening of 26 November 2016, the Cooktown Historical Society celebrated its 21st birthday party at their History Centre which was attended by a motley crew whose ages ranged from almost one to almost ninety.  The party was also attended by three of its founding members, Mrs Bev Shay and Don and Carol Sinclair.  The Society was originally run from the back room of the Shay's home and reminisces were made on how the entry fee to a meeting was a bottle of port wine and when the sum total of the Society's finances was just $35.00.  All this merry-making was accompanied by an endless stream of food provided by the CWA ladies and appropriately, by some old time music from an old time turntable.  It was a good night out.  The usual monthly general meetings of the Cooktown and District Historical Society are held on the first Thusday of each month at their Cooktown History Centre at 6.30pm.  The Centre is housed in the oldest building in Charlotte Street which was erected in 1875 as Cooktown's first post and telegraph office.  All interested in local history are welcome to attend.

Friday 24 February 2017

Douglas Shire Historical Society

The Society's annual Christmas dinner which ends their year off was held as usual at Mojo's of Mossman.  Many congratulations goes to their hard-working President, Freda Wilson for being awarded the Douglas Shire Volunteer of the Year at the recent Australia Day ceremony.  Well done Freda.  Congratulations also to Norman Yarr, who was named the historical society's Volunteer of the Year.  Norman won the award in recognition of all the time he has given to the Society as a guide at the Court House Museum during 2016.  Well done Norman.  Noel Weare has completed his manuscript on the history of the museum building and his booklet should be available for purchase towards the end of March, so please watch out for their announcement.  Many thanks to the Douglas Shire Council for contributing to the research and printing costs for Noel's book which covers the whole history of the Port Douglas Court House which was built in 1879.  On 29 January the museum will close for the annual maintenance project and will reopen on the 5th March.  There will not be a monthly meeting in February.  

Mareeba Historical Society

A thank-you goes to the Mareeba & Dimbulah Community Bendigo Bank for sponsoring the Society $250 so they could purchase a quantity of lever-arch file boxes.  These assist in keeping their records together but unfortunately a great deal more boxes are needed so their whole library can look more professional.  The group has had a busy couple of months recently including their Melbourne Cup raffle which went well and thanks to the sponsors for their generosity.  The photos on that display were of the Melbourne Cup winners since the very first race and thanks to Terry and Julia and the other members who participated.  And many thanks also to everyone who helped out with the Christmas raffle.  The winner was a lady from Malanda.