Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)
On Djiru Country
In far north Queensland, 150 km south of Cairns, the Mission Beach Historical Society (MBHS) is a fledgling association – two years young and dreaming big.
Last month our QLD programs manager visited the MBHS and invited them to write a story to let everyone know about their great work to curate a historical photographic exhibition.
Before the advent of the MBHS in late 2020, Mission Beach had no effective means of making histories and images easily accessible to residents and visitors of this region.
For the two last years, MBHS members have captured and documented some of the Mission Beach histories, having made a bright start with that endeavour. The society’s growing challenge was to find effective ways to share and exhibit MBHS collections. Being without a museum or a building, MBHS relies heavily on online presence and displays. Despite such hurdles, a range of interesting and innovative projects have been undertaken. One of these projects was to present a photographic exhibition.
In 2022, MBHS partnered with Community for Coastal & Cassowary Conservation Inc to receive an $8,925 Strengthening Rural Communities grant, funded by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, to develop a photographic exhibition ‘Echo of the Past – Historical photographs from Mission Beach, 1890s – 1950s’ and present a series of historical photographs and Djiru cultural objects – coinciding with the anniversary of the 1918 cyclone which devastated the area.
The exhibition project aimed to facilitate cultural connection and transmission of culture of and with Traditional Owners through community engagement, cultural expression and on Country experiences.
The exhibition project was led by MBHS president, Dr Valerie Boll, anthropologist and curator, who worked with Djiru Traditional Owner, Elder and artist Leonard Andy and the Warrangburra Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC – PBC, to source and document Djiru history and photographs. Mission Beach residents were also able to bring in old photographs to be scanned and used to illustrate stories that had been researched by MBHS members. The provided material was then collated.
Like many plans during the last few years, the start of the project was delayed due to COVID. Sadly, the project was also put on pause in the first half of 2022 because of ‘Sorry Business’. Another hurdle for the MBHS volunteers to overcome was the lack of adequate IT equipment. Regardless of this impediment, the efforts of the team came together, and the opening day approached fast.
An enthusiastic crowd (over 100 people) gathered on the 10March for the opening of the exhibition ‘Echo of the Past’, at the Art Print Frame Gallery and was enjoyed by the wider community until the exhibition close earlier this month.
A smaller version of the show is now on display at the Mission Beach library and there are plans for the exhibition to travel around the region for the rest of the year.
Ever heard of Wunghnu? It is a rural Victoria town, 215kms north of Melbourne and has a population of 270 residents. Situated in the farming region of the Goulburn Valley, many locals have a strong passion for vintage machinery – so much so that the Goulburn Valley Vintage Tractor and Farm Machinery Club has been running for around 30 years and has 75 members.
All Club members have a common interest in vintage machinery, whether is be tractors, engines or old farm machinery and they meet once a month to discuss any issues and hold regular working bees to keep the facilities and sheds in good working order.
A grant from FRRR’s Small Grants for Rural Communities program, along with some keen negotiation skills and Club funds, helped to purchase a lathe and a sand blasting cabinet for the Clubs most recent vintage restoration project.
Every Wednesday, Club members come together to socialise and work on restoring a 800 Hp Crossley Engine. This engine is a significant part of the region’s history, servicing Radio Australia as a backup power supply generator many years ago.
The Club saved the 800 Hp Crossley Engine from scrap and had the huge task of restoring the mighty engine – the members had the skills but didn’t have the equipment they needed.
The lathe allowed Club members to fabricate and make new machinery parts, and after a lot of hard work and toil, the volunteers were very proud to see the engine running for the first time in 20 years. It can be viewed at the Club’s annual Vintage Rally.
The William Buckland Foundation in Victoria is proud to support this project through FRRR’s Small Grants for Rural Communities program and see a piece of the Goulburn Valley history restored and enjoyed by local residents.