“Black Diggers”: Scenic Rim Aboriginal Soldiers

Mary Geary in her Land Army uniform, c. 1943. Ruth James & Geary family collection

Mary Geary in her Land Army uniform, c. 1943. Ruth James & Geary family collection

The ANZAC Centenary has provided a stimulus to reflect on impact of war on communities. The emotional distance created by the passage of 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War has resulted in an interesting dynamic for the exploration of the past. Generationally, it has distanced many from the raw and deeply upsetting immediate personal impacts of the war. In turn, it also appears to have created an environment where the highly political, patriotic and emotionally charged rhetoric of yesterday has decayed, allowing the reconsideration of our current perspectives on the past. This setting has been conducive to the acknowledgement of previously untold or marginalized aspects of our war history.

The remembrance of Aboriginal Soldiers is one such “forgotten” story and the focus of the new exhibition “Black Diggers”. Produced by the Museum Development Office of South East Queensland for the Scenic Rim Council, it focuses on Aboriginal service people connected with the Scenic Rim region throughout a range of conflicts.

Trooper Les Yuke, c. 1943 Yugembah Museum Collection

Trooper Les Yuke, c. 1943
Yugembah Museum Collection

The exhibition takes the form of a compilation of stories and images shared by community members about serving family members and their own experiences at home during the war years. The decision by community members to share their stories with the broader community in remembrance of their soldiers has been a moving and humbling experience, and one that will be greatly appreciated by all.

The historical component of the exhibition shares the gallery space with a range of artworks inspired by the topic created by the Munanjali Artist group and Kim Williams.

As a whole, the evocative and powerful nature of these first person recollections, images and artworks certainly makes for interesting viewing. However it is hoped that the exhibition provides a conceptual space or starting point for future remembrance, storytelling and sharing within its communities that endures beyond July.

Private James Page, c.1943 Page Family Collection

Private James Page, c.1943
Page Family Collection

“Black Diggers” will be on display at The Centre, Beaudesert from the 5th of June to the 15th of July 2015.

 For more information, visit



Posted on 10 June 2015, in Josh's Diary and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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