Sandra Morgan and Robyn Hofmeyr travelled to North Stradbroke Island on the 28th of September as part of a Museum exchange with Elizabeth Gondwe at the North Island Stradbroke Historical Museum (NISHM). The Museum and Gallery Services Queensland, 2012 Mentorship, Exchange and Fellowship Program is funded by Arts Queensland through the Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF). Elizabeth had invited Sandra and Robyn to talk at their Museum’s AGM on the 29th of September.
Sandra had never been to Stradbroke Island – despite having spent most of her life in South East Queensland and having relatives on the Island. There is a strong historical link between Cherbourg and Stradbroke as many Aborigines were moved between the two places during the years of the Aboriginal Protection Act.
When we arrived, we heard there had been some tensions on the Island after the post office near the Museum had been burned down. Many of the alleged young offenders had been incarcerated and various communities on the Island were reeling from the disappearance of many of their youth as well as from the damage and destruction of the Post Office.
The Museum on Stradbroke seeks to accommodate and reflect the diversity of the Island. The Pioneer room, the Aboriginal room as well as the current Whale exhibition all tell different stories of life on the Island. We were impressed with their storage facilities, cataloging, archiving system and database. For various reasons, this one aspect of the Ration Shed Museum in Cherbourg is still way behind and needs a lot more effort and attention. Elizabeth kindly offered to assist us with this.
We were surprised (and envious!) to learn that the Stradbroke Museum receives operational funding from the local Redland Council. At the Ration Shed Museum we receive no core government support for running costs and rely on visitors, tourists and various government grants to keep us going. Balancing our books is a constant struggle – as it is with so many of the museums in our country. Seeing the Stradbroke Museum gave us cause for hope.
On the day of the AGM, we were overjoyed when at the end of our talk the members of the Museum suggested that they hire a bus and visit the Ration Shed Museum in Cherbourg. Councillor Craig Ogilvie and Councillor Paul Bishop who both attended the AGM are clearly big supporters and champions of the North Stradbroke Island Museum. At the close of the meeting, the Stradbroke singers entertained us with their beautiful songs.
After the AGM was over everyone feasted on the delicious delights baked and donated by the various members. Ricky’s recently caught fish and Constance’s pumpkin scones were memorable! We were given a jar of grapefruit marmalade as a gift, which is one of the “must purchase” objects on sale at the Museum shop.
The Ration Shed Museum look forward to building an on-going relationship with the North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum and the communities it reflects.