Sunday 1 July 2018

Story of Minnie Kemp

The second small booklet that the Watsonville folk published for this year's annual Pioneer Women's Day event is another great addition to their collection and is worth the effort to obtain.  Entitled 'The Story of Minnie Kemp nee Roos' it was also compiled by Watsonville historian, Jane Chapman.  This little book tells the tale of a local lady who was left with seven young children to rear on her own after the death of her husband in 1928 and how she soldiered-on during those hard old days.  The booklet includes a number of short memories of life with Minnie which was shared by her descendants.  Another great addition to anyone's collection of short stories of life in early North Queensland produced by the Western Progress Association.

Heather Joan Howe's Story

The family of Mrs Heather Howe was pleased to be able to present a snapshot of Heather's life in this small booklet which was featured at the recent Watonville Pioneer Women's Day event.  Entitled 'Heather Joan Howe's Story', this story was compiled by Jane Chapman from an eulogy written by Heather's daughter, the Cairns historian, Kay Earl.  Heather spent much of her life on the coast particularly about the Gordonvale-Aloomba area before she and her husband moved out west to manage cattle properties including their own small station 'Red Bend' on the Herbert River.  The Western Progress Association was pleased to produce this booklet to pay tribute to Heather who, until her passing in 2016, was a regular at their Pioneer Women's Day where she was well known for her enthusiasm for bush poetry.

Saturday 30 June 2018

Kuranda Historical Society

A new group is welcomed to the local heritage movement.  The new Kuranda Historical Society is now officially constituted and incorporated and proudly proclaiming their objective 'to receive and preserve historical items from or relevant to, the Kuranda region and display them appropriately to as wide an audience as possible.'  The committee is in place with Dugg Stratford as President and Anne Clarke as the Secretary and the position of Treasurer filled by Gayle Hannah.  Now that the Society is legally up and running, they will begin to seek a 'home' for the group and start pursuing funding.  They are also to organize their first public meeting and be able to open up a membership drive in the near future.  The committee wish to thank everyone who has expressed interest in being involved and with the administrative tasks finished, they hope soon to be in a position to begin receiving donations of historical materials.  Anyone with queries can contact the Society via email on or c/- P.O.Box 66 Kuranda 4881. 

Cooktown Historical Society

The Cooktown Historical Society is trialing a series of history nights this year and May saw the inaugural 'History Evening' at the History Centre in Charlotte Street.  The twenty people attending made a full house in the available space.  The presentation by Bev Shay was enthusiastically received and led the way to several lines of discussion.  This month saw the second evening, presented by Marge Scully and entitled 'Tommy Ah Kum, His Legacy'.  It looked at the life of one of Cooktown's Chinese merchants from the 1880's.  One of the visitors said they, "found it fascinating in the amount of 'detective archaeological' efforts to acquire the presented information and the discussions on the types of opium medications we used to take was very humourous."  Disappointingly, attendance numbers were down but perhaps they should check as to when the football is on when planning these event!  Next public event will be the opening of the Sam Elliot/John Hay display.  There was a busy Monday recently at the History Centre.  It started with a visit by sixteen pensioners from Brisbane and finished with a VIP visit.  The French Consul-General Mr Crozier, the German Consul-General Mr Freischlader, the Honoray Consul from Cairns Mrs Indorato accompanied by Marie-Claude Nicot from the French Benevolent Society of North Queensland.  They had requested a meeting with the historical society.  The purpose of the visit was to lay wreaths on the memorials to the French sailors who died of disease here in Cooktown in 1879 and on the grave of Dr Korteum, Cooktown's resident doctor for many years and the German Vice-Consul from 1886 to 1914.  The Society would also like to make contact with anyone associated with the old Palmer River Preservation Society which was operating in the 1980's.  If they could make contact it would be much appreciated.   

Sunday 27 May 2018

Innisfail & District Historical Society

The Innisfail & District Historical Society recently held their Cyclone Centenary event in the Shire Hall and it was a major success.  The storytellers all did a wonderful job telling the tale of the great 1918 cyclone and the compere for the evening saw that everything ran smoothly.  Special thanks go to Les Cavanagh, Barbara Smith, Jeff Baines, Sheryl Cavanagh, Paul Hynes and Pam Egan along with Kirsty Densmore who also told a story or two while handling the compere's job.  A very special thanks you to the CCRC Council staff that did so much to help with the success of the evening.  And thanks to the members of the Society, it has taken many months to get this event together and it all came together beautifully.  The 1918 Cyclone booklet will be on sale in the museum as soon as the printer in Townsville is able to get the rest of the order to the Society.  The forty books they had at the launch night were all sold out very quickly.  Thank you too, to everyone who came to support the event.  With the weather over that week or two, the group didn't really expect so many to turn up but a fabulous bunch of history buffs came out in support and the Society was so pleased.  Another book from the group, 'Memories of old Geraldton/Innisfail Volume 3' is also now on sale for $18.00.  Brilliant photos of old Innisfail and a great companion book to volumes 1 and 2.   

Thursday 10 May 2018

Douglas Shire Historical Society

At the Douglas Shire Historical Society's April meeting at the Mossman Community Centre, Gail Coburn spoke about the history of the Mossman Support Services group which recently celebrated their 25th anniversary.  The Anzac exhibition on display at the Douglas Shire Council's Mossman Foyer commemorating this Anzac Day and the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One has been successful.  This computer presentation of the Diggers who had connections with the Douglas Shire and filmed remembrances of their descendants closed on Thursday 3rd May.  The Society's AGM will be held on Monday 14th May at 2pm at the CWA Hall in Port Douglas.  The talk for this meeting will be on Port Douglas and the flagstaff on Flagstaff Hill.  The group has an interesting year ahead with the lease of the old SES shed going ahead.  It appears the Society will finally have a resource centre for office space and for the safe storage of heritage documentation and artifacts.  So please come along and volunteer your time to learn how to help with the digitizing and cataloguing of the collection.

Monday 30 April 2018

Harry Dalziel Commemoration

When David Dalziel and his son John planned their journey to the North to speak to a couple of school class about his famous war-hero father Harry Dalziel, he had no idea the trip would turn into a full week of lectures and civic functions.  To celebrate the centenary of the Battle of Hamel and the action that won Harry Dalziel his Victoria Cross, a glossy twenty-page booklet was printed telling the story of Harry's life and of the battle that became a turning point of the First World War.  Harry, who was born at Irvinebank and spent much of his life in Atherton, has the distinction of been the only soldier from the Far North of Queensland to have won the V.C.  This little pictorial booklet was compiled by David Dalziel mostly from family records and makes a great souvenir for those interested in Australian military history.  Copies can still be obtained by contacting the Eacham Historical Society.

Sunday 29 April 2018

Cairns Historical Society

The Society's Volunteering Open Day was held in March with more than forty people coming in to see whether they might be interested in joining the staff.  Mel has been busy following up with prospective volunteers and will be monitoring the results and the retention to see whether it has been a useful strategy.  Thanks to everyone who made the first trivia night fundraiser a great success.  The event was sold out a week early with eleven tables of contestants on the night.  Ben Woodward did a sterling job as MC on the evening and the Society is thinking of having another trivia night later in the year.  The last set of local history lectures were well attended.  David Phoenix's presentation on the mystery of Kuranda's 2,225 year old Ptolemaic coin led to much interest and discussion.  Carol West spoke of the days when the Central Hotel was one of the major social meeting places in Cairns and Angela Meyer introduced the group to Anna Eglitis who was a promoter of the arts and culture in the Far North.  The next lectures will be held at the museum on 26 May at 1.30pm.  Subjects will include the early history of the Waugh Pocket area and the story of Bill Horsfall's memoirs of 1950's Cairns.  On a sadder note, three of the Society's long-term volunteers, Bill, Val and John have decided it is time to move on.  Their long years of effort have left the Society a huge legacy of which they should be justifiably proud and they will be missed.  The Society is now on the hunt for information about a benevolent society which once operated in the city.  The museum manager Suzanne Gibson is seeking to learn more about the Loyal Trinity Lodge of the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows (MUIOOF) after a donation of formal Lodge regalia from the Uyterwijk family.  This year's annual tour, which is held in conjunction with the local branch of the National Trust will be held on Sunday 20 May.  This will be to the Herberton and Watsonville areas and for further details, contact Dawn May on 40578100. 

Saturday 28 April 2018

Herberton Mining Museum

Volunteers from the Herberton Mining Museum were thrilled recently to be invited by the Atherton Visitors Centre on a familiarization trip to Ravenshoe.  The weather was beautiful and the Millstream Falls were spectacular.  The day started with devonshire tea provided by the ladies from the Ravenshoe Heritage Railway followed by a visit to the Ravenshoe Visitor Centre where their displays were viewed.  The museum volunteers are currently developing an 'app' that is based on the 'Heritage Walk' brochure.  Visitors to Herberton will be able to download the app and then as they walk about the streets of town it will tell them stories about each building and shows photos of it at different times.  They are looking for people who have links to particular buildings who would like to be the voice for that building's story on the app.  Hopefully it will be finished in time for Pioneer's Weekend in May.  The museum was recently visited by a VIP; Mr Paul Turpin.  A photo of Paul features in one of the displays at the museum and the volunteers were enthralled by his stories of his life as a local tin miner.  There is continuous progress at the Herberton Mining Museum!  Thanks to Mr Smiley Wharton, the water turbine that once drove a stamper mill on Wondecla Creek has been recovered.  This 1880's Laffel water turbine is another valuable part of our history saved and is now on display for all to see. 

Monday 16 April 2018

Cairns & District Family History Society

The Cairns & District Family History Society is looking for actors for their 2018 production of 'Shadows from the Past.'  No experience is necessary but you must be over the age of 15 years.  Get a team together for the Trivia Night and come along to a fun night to help raise valuable funds to support your local family history society!  When; Saturday, 12 May  Time; 6.30pm  Tickets; $10 for members and $15 for non-members  Theme; General knowledge and family history.  There will be a Cash bar and light nibbles provided with a complimentary tea and coffee.  Book a table or team for six or eight people.  'Stories from the Shadows - Mary Anne Lovelock' is the latest blog post by member Joan Taylor.  It summarizes the life of Mary Anne Lovelock of North Queensland and includes some beautiful family photos. The Society is also delighted to announce that the Cairns Family History Centre is now a FamilySearch Affiliate Library.  With Affiliate Library status you will be able to access nearly all the restricted digitized images available from FamilySearch.  Many of the restricted digitized images are highly desirable sets not freely available elsewhere, including the Scottish parish records and a lot more worldwide.  Then come in and learn some terrific and easy search tips for finding family history information using Google at the 'Googling for Genealogy' lecture with presenter, Melanie Dunstan on Saturday, 21 April 2018 at 2pm.

Monday 9 April 2018

Douglas Shire Farming History

In 2009, Mr Ken Keith moved to the Douglas district and quickly became fascinated with the local history.  This led to a project with two fellow Douglas Shire Historical Society members, John Anich and Belinda Peters, to document the old farming equipment that still exist on local farms.  The trio soon had so much information that they decided to put it into print.  Now after years of research, Ken has released his book,'Cattle, Cane and Cedar; Early farming in the Douglas Shire.'  This story follows the progression of local farming from horse-drawn implements to the increasing powerful tractors and agricultural machinery of more modem times.  The new book also tells the story of the pioneers who struggled or thrived from the 1870's to the 1960's and highlights the farming families who are still on the land in the district.  These rural industries are a part of the cultural heritage of the Shire and the authors tried to cover the whole region from Wangetti in the south up to the Bloomfield River in the north.  It also touch on the attempts to produce crops like cereals, coffee, coconuts and even rubber in this district.  Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu recently officiated at the launch of the book at a small event at the Mossman Library.  It can be purchased through the Douglas Shire Historical Society and local booksellers.   

Friday 23 March 2018

Kuranda History Group

Last year, following the opening of the newly refurbished and expanded Cairns Museum, a group of interested Kuranda residents were encouraged to explore the idea of establishing a Kuranda 'historical society' with the aim of finding a home for items of historical interest pertaining to the Kuranda district.  Photos, letters, documents and other items are being lost each year and with them the details of daily life.  Ultimately it is hoped that one day Kuranda will have a museum or keeping place for residents old and new and of course visitors to explore.  An interim working group consisting of a dozen or so local residents, with Interim President Garth Owen and Interim Secretary Gayle Hannah, was established to approach Council to see if a space could be found to store items the public might donate or loan, as well as a space where small displays, exhibitions or events might be held.  Council has responded positively and now the working group is wanting to invite the general public to get involved.  The process of incorporating the Kuranda Historical Society has just begun.  It is hoped that a public meeting will be held in April.  For more information see next month's Kuranda Paper, check them on Facebook or send them an email on  

Thursday 22 March 2018

Cooktown Historical Society

The Cooktown Historical Society is wanting to start a self interest Family History Group.  This is for anyone researching their family history, not necessarily just the Cooktown area.  This group will be under the umbrella of the historical society so there will be no separate committee etc.  They envisage this will be an ideal forum to discuss those 'brick wall' that all genealogists encounter and to be able to talk with others of a like mind.  If you are interested, please contact the Society to give an ideal time to suit and when number are ready, the group will let you know the date of the first gathering.  The historical society is also to trial a series of free public History Nights this year.  The first evening will be presented by Bev Shay and will be entitled 'A Productive Community'.  It will look at the production and exporting that was being conducted in Cooktown in the early 1900's.  The most exciting news of all is that the Society was advised by Council that it had been awarded a RADF grant.  This fund is to be used towards the 'Preserving the Palmer' project and cataloguing of the Wild Irish Girl collection.  This Community Engagement project aims to train volunteers on how to catalogue and manage objects from the collection of the late John Hay.  The workshop will be open to other participants if they wish to learn more about collection management.     

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Irvinebank museum

Volunteers Brian Perkes, Bob Barnes and Bill Moulang have been hard at work with their shovels installing the new interpretative signage at Irvinebank's heritage and historic buildings.  Visitors to Irvinebank can now enjoy a heritage walk around the town to view the historic buildings built during the Moffat era from 1884 - 1912 and read the stories that provides a glimpse into the past and the people who were connected to these buildings.  This project has seen interpretative signage erected at the following sites; School of Arts Hall,Queensland National Bank, Loudoun Mill, Police Station & Courthouse Buildings, Tramway Station and the Loudoun House Museum.  Heritage walk maps are available from the museum which is open 10an to 4pm daily.  This 'Sharing Our Heritage Stories' project was supported by the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) Small Grants.  The talented local, Mr Harry Knowles has very skillful constructed in paper a model of the small Borsig locomotive that used to run on the 2 ft gauge tramway from Irvinebank to Boonmoo.  It will form part of a new display for the Tramway and State Treatment Works.  The group is so lucky to have a talented artisan such as Harry working on the displays.  The Association is now holding a fundraising event at the School of Arts Hall every second Friday evening from 5.30pm till about 7.30pm with a barbecue and drinks.  All the proceeds to go towards maintaining the lovely old heritage buildings.  The group is also seeking a new Volunteer Caretaker to assist in the museum and help with the ongoing conservation work of the town's heritage buildings.  For a information package, email the Secretary. 

Sunday 18 March 2018

Tableland Heritage Network

Some twenty volunteers from many different museums and heritage groups recently travelled from across the tablelands to attend the first Tableland Heritage Network (THeN) meeting for the year.  This gathering was held in the Old Post Office Gallery at Atherton Chinatown where the 'Railways 1914 - 1919' display was recently opened to honor the work of the railways during the First World War years.  Many of the organizations attending the meeting helped with this display and expressed satisfaction with the result.  After morning tea, the meeting opened with a report from a delegate from each of the groups in attendance telling of their efforts since last year and of their hopes and projects for this new year.  This was followed by the region's Museum Development Officer, Dr Jo Wills presentation concerning the Railways display and a discussion on ideas for future displays.  The next THeN meeting will be held in June at Mareeba with the Mareeba Historical Society as host. 

Friday 16 March 2018

Eacham Historical Society

Members of the Eacham Historical Society celebrated the end of another successful year with a number of gatherings just before last Christmas.  Those who volunteer at the history centre in Malanda got together for a morning tea on the barbeque deck at Atherton's Platypus Park while the members who volunteer at the museum in Millaa Millaa enjoyed a get together at De Millaa Cafe.  The group could not function without the efforts of those who volunteer and their generosity is greatly appreciated.  Some forty members and guests also attended the annual end of year dinner held again in the function room of the Malanda RSL Club.  The Society has recently completed a project to reprint a number of its popular publications which had sold out.  This also included a long awaited second edition of the 'Murder in the Boonjie Scrub' book which was launched in a brief ceremony at the end of year dinner.  It was also decided to award a Life Membership to Mr Anton Kneubuhler in recognition of his many year of dedicated service to the Society.  The new year began with the Society's first meeting in late January at which a paper written by David Candow was read telling of the childhood adventures growing up at Topaz in the mid 1940's.  The group was also asked to assist with the travelling Railways 1914-1919 project which has been organized by the Workshop Rail Museum to honour the military service of the railways and its personnel during the First World War.  The first field-trip for the year was held in late February to explore the Ravenshoe - Innot Hot Springs district.  A wild storm that hit during lunch at Glen Gordon Station made it a most adventures outing.  The next meeting will be held on 20 March at the Malanda Centre. 

Thursday 22 February 2018

The Don Walker Story

I recently attended the book launch event for Felicity Jack's biography on the life and times of local mining identity, the late Mr Donald Robin Walker.  This small event which was held at the Herberton Mining Museum attracted some sixty people who heard the local Mayor Joe Paronella official launch the book entitled 'You'd never believe!..The life and work of Donald Robin Walker'.  The story covers Don's family life from his childhood growing up in Victoria to his arrival in North Queensland as a young man seeking opportunities in the timber industry just after the end of the Second World War, through to his long involvement in the local tin mining industry.  Felicity spoke of how she came to write the story and although the many 'skeletons in his cupboard' was left out of the book, it still makes a good read on how Don came to find many opportunities on the Atherton tablelands for a young entrepreneur at that time.  The ninety year old Donald, who was then in failing health, lived long enough to be able to attend the event although his daughter spoke on his behalf and together they generously gave away a copy of the attractive hardcover book to all those in attendance.  Donald Walker passed away just several weeks after the book launch and a page has closed on the history of the Far North.  I have been told that stocks of the book has already sold out so it may be hard to find a copy.

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Mulgrave Shire Historical Society

Everyone who came and shared in the fun and games at the Member's Christmas party in December was thanked for their attendance.  The Society would also like to thank the Cairns RSL for the grant they recently received.  They purchased a compactor with the money which has been installed into the Mulgrave Settlers Museum.  This will provide easier storage for all our historic documents and photographs.  The museum is open and ready for visitors for the new year with the volunteers been behind the scenes updating the central display.  They are now showing off items from the Mulgrave Sugar Mill.  Changes have also been made to the kitchen display and now have a variety of games and activities that kept kids busy in days gone-by.  Not one piece of electronic technology to be found.  The Mulgrave Shire Historical Society have began a project to compile a booklet of the early days of Edmonton.  They would like to hear stories of life and times in the township of Edmonton - school, work, sporting activities home life etc.  Please bring along any photos you would like to share as these may prompt other visitor's memories.  The first monthly meeting for the year was held on 3rd February.  The Society has also created a facebook group to enhance our museum page making it easier for members to add photos and information that relate to the old Mulgrave Shire from 1879 to 1995.  Check out the page; 'You know you grew up in the Mulgrave Shire when.' 

Monday 19 February 2018

Innisfail & District Historical Society

As the 100th anniversary of the huge cyclone which devastated Innisfail and the surrounding areas in 1918 will soon be here, the Innisfail & District Historical Society is planning to issue a booklet of photographs and stories commemorating this event.  To this end they are wondering if anyone has copies of any old photos and/or stories in your archives which could be passed on to the Society for possible inclusion in this publication.  If you are able to assist would you please furnish them and to save on cost they could be e-mailed.  The group will be telling stories of the people who lived through this and showing photos on the big screen documenting the devastation that occurred.  This is still thought to be the biggest cyclone to hit the Queensland coast.  A hundred years ago, they had no emergency services or armed forces to come immediately to their assistance - they were on their own.  Also, most of the young men were away fighting in the Great War while here in Innisfail their people at home were fighting a battle of their own.  In addition, the Society will be marking this historic event with the launch of this booklet with a function.  There is a change of venue for the event, instead of the first planned Warrina Lakes venue it is now to be held in the Shire Hall.  Write it in your diary now!  Saturday 10th March 2018 at 7pm.  The CCRC are assisting with this event and it is going to be big.  Watch for the publicity posters etc.  Hope to see you there.  Also, the winner of the Giveaway at the High Tea competition was Mrs Margaret Fontana with the only correct guess for the spaghetti machine.  People were really puzzled this time and it was interesting to listen to people discussing the object and trying to work out what it was.  With the new year here, check out the Society's Calendar for 2018 with the theme 'Life on our Waterways'.  At only $10 and with lovely photos from the past, it would make a good gift.  You can buy them at the Innisfail museum in the old School of Arts building.

Sunday 18 February 2018

Douglas Shire Historical Society

The rugged pioneering spirit that gave birth to the Douglas Shire was remembered when the 140th anniversary of Port Douglas was celebrated recently.  Douglas Shire Historical Society and the Douglas Shire Council unveiled a sign detailing the 'Proclamation of Port Douglas' at the iconic Teamsters Park.  The memorial, located on the Captain Cook Highway at Craiglie, pays tribute to those who discovered the route from the Hodgkinson Goldfield.  Douglas Shire Council Mayor Julia Leu said the new sign would help tell the story of the region.  Craiglie was originally known as Four Mile and served as a good base for animals, such as horses and cattle, due to the pasture available.  In its prime the town had three hotels, a store, a bakery, a butcher, a blacksmith and a saddler.  A 2015 Council study revealed more the 8,000 vehicles pass Teamsters Park every day.  Port Douglas was proclaimed as an official port of entry for the levy of dutiable goods on December 1, 1877 and was named after the then Queensland Premier John Douglas.  The Society's first meeting of this new year was held at the Mossman Community Centre.  The group is researching the war-time mines and bombs that were washed up on the coast, so if you're interested in the subject or have something to tell them, please come along.  Also, what a great achievement and congratulations to Ken and helpers Belinda and John on their new book.  Yungaburra resident Ken Keith's new book details the early history of farming in this region.  'Cattle, Cane and Cedar; Early farming in the Douglas Shire' also covers attempts to produce cereals, fruit, coffee, coconuts and even rubber.  Mayor Julia Leu launched the book recently at the Mossman Library.  This Book is available at a special price at the Society's Court House Museum or at the local newsagencies and bookshops.  Or you can order on line with postage at $12 - because it's a very big book!

Saturday 10 February 2018


Cairns and District Chinese Association Inc is honoured to have Cairns Business identity Mr Michael Aw as its new president as the group moves towards its next phase of growth and innovation.  The computer upgrade is almost complete with another computer in working order to enable the museum database to be networked across three computers.  The timber furniture preservation project is underway with conservators working to repair artifacts from Cairns' Lit Sung Goong collection.  This project is funded by a National Library Community Heritage Grant.  A fieldtrip was held late last year with members surviving the long, hot and dusty road to explore historical Maytown, the main township of the old Palmer goldfield.  At the peak of the gold rush there were as many as 18000 Chinese on the goldfield.  One can also step back in time to the 1880's by visiting a miniature version of Cairns Chinatown.  Created by local historian Mr Col Walter, this display is complimented by information compiled with the assistance of CADCAI.  This display can be viewed at the Cairns City Library to the end of February.  The program of events for the Chinese New Year has been set with the annual street festival in Grafton Street to be held on the 24th February 2018.