Mulgrave Settlers Museum, which is part of the Mulgrave Shire Historical Society, has been awarded the 2018 Gallery and Museum Achievement Awards (GAMAA) in the category of Engagement for Volunteer-run Organisations for its program “Visiting the Ancestors”. As MDO in Far North Queensland, it’s great to see this group recognised for all their hard work. Read on to find out about the three parts that made up this project:
Volunteers photographed all graves in the Gordonvale Cemetery and added basic information to “Find a Grave”. When searching for information the group realised many of the residents had interesting stories that formed the history of Gordonvale.
‘Streets Ahead’ newspaper column in the Pyramid Views
Many of Gordonvale’s streets had been named after early settlers and those now buried in the Gordonvale Cemetery. Locally produced magazine, Pyramid Views, approached the Mulgrave Shire Historical Society to write a regular column capturing this history of the family or person the street was named after. Each month one of the volunteers organised for the family members of several generations to be photographed at the street sign.
Since its inception, the project has grown. The paper now dedicated a whole page to the section due to the response from families wanting to share their heritages and the response from readers. Information is also available via their Facebook page.
Public programs: Ghosts of Gordonvale Cemetery & Ghosts of Babinda Cemetery
Inspired by similar cemetery tours developed both other organisations, volunteers at the Mulgrave Settlers Museum decided to conduct a similar program. They identified 12 individuals from the cemetery, researched their history using a range of local, reference and online resources.
Volunteers then approached Gordonvale State High School to see if any students were interested in portraying the chosen individuals. Students memorised the scripts and then, on the day of the performance, dressed in period costumes whilst standing next to the gave of their character.
Success at Gordonvale inspired a similar program in Babinda – the other cemetery in the original Mulgrave Shire. This time, 10 identified were chosen and students from Babinda State School and St Rita’s Catholic School participated in the project.
The Society also produced an associated booklet of for each cemetery that included the script, a photo of the student and an image of the person. Background information about the township and surrounding geography was also included.
In mid July, MDOs Ewen McPhee and Dr Jo Wills worked with Bradley Higgins, archivist from Yarrabah’s Menmuny Museum, to install the “Blow ‘Im: The Yarrabah Brass Band Story” exhibition in time for the Yarrabah Band Festival.
In just over three days, the museum space was reinvigorated, whilst maintaining the consistency of original stories and exhibition rationale. Object cases were cleaned, moved and reinstalled. Graphic panels were re-hung. Some cases were relined with calico. Object supports were also made for an original euphonium used in the first band that was donated to the Museum A new object label was also produced to accompany the display.
Digital screens were installed to make Menmuny Museum’s pictorial collection more accessible to visitors, and showcase an interview with the exhibition’s original curator, Elverina Johnston. A descendant of the Kunganji tribe of the Yarrabah Aboriginal Community, Elverina curated “Blow ‘Im” in 2003. The exhibition comprises graphic text panels that explore the history of Yarrabah Brass bands as well as other Indigenous brass bands all around Queensland from 1901 to the 1970’s.
The Yarrabah Band Festival was put on by Queensland Music Festival and supported by Queensland Performing Arts. Check out the following link to find out how the project got started, and its importance to communities in the following short video clip on the ABC.