On the Tuesday the 21st of April, a yearlong project finally came to fruition and we launched “The Boys from Barambah” project. “The Boys from Barambah”, is the story of 47 Barambah/Cherbourg men who played a part in WW1. It tells the story of our small community’s contribution to the Great War of 1914-18 and it pay tribute to our Black Diggers in the defence of our country. The project tells of the development of the Barambah settlement, life under the Aboriginal Protection Act (1897), the event of the Great War and how it affected our people. It brings to light issues such as racism and enlistment, the hardships of returned Indigenous servicemen, personal stories of war and service, and it honours the individual stories of “The Boys from Barambah”, carrying the ANZAC spirit forward to the present.
Queensland Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Curtis Pitt opened the exhibition. In his speech, Minister Pitt stated; “These men showed great courage to volunteer during an era when Aboriginal people were not acknowledged and they did this at a time when they weren’t entitled to vote and couldn’t enter a public bar or buy property.”
The “Boys From Barambah” is more than just a new exhibition, it includes a book, a film and a dedicated interactive website. The project has a big educational component and was developed for school students. We received great feedback and it was a wonderful event. The day included a performance of traditional dancing by the Barambah Dancers and especially composed songs by Robert “Rocko” Langton and Clowry and Elizabeth Kennell. A finger lunch was served by local caterers – Yurri Muntha.
On ANZAC Day – the 25th of April, the Ration Shed Museum in collaboration with the Law family and the Junior Police Rangers organised the unveiling of a new Honour Board. The old Honour Board contained the names of 27 men from the Great War. Our research uncovered 47 Aboriginal men from Barambah/Cherbourg and the nearby region that had enlisted so a new Honour Board was designed to include the men, by artist Rocko Langton and designer Peter Trail.
Crowds arrived early for breakfast. Long lines of eager hungry folk helped themselves to a delicious breakfast prepared by our local Cherbourg café – Yurri Muntha. At 8pm a bugle sounded and the crowd made their way to the Memorial. It was a moving ceremony – the names of 47 Black Diggers – “Our Boys from Barambah” “- were read out and children came and placed small memorial crosses in a specially prepared box. The new Honour board was unveiled and Eric Law, chairperson of our ANZAC100 committee spoke passionately about respect and being able to honour our Black Diggers. Wreathes were laid and a few tears were shed.
Copies of the Book are available via our online shop or from the Ration Shed Museum. To interact with the “Boys from Barambah” website – follow the links to our Memory project and then click on the “Boys from Barambah” tab.
The Ration Shed Museum wants to acknowledge our ANZAC100 committee for their yearlong commitment to the project. This was a community driven project and many people played an important part. We want to thank the descendants and families of the Boys From Barambah for their contribution and all the other key contributors, researchers, archivists, writers, website developers, local historians, editors etc.
We also want to acknowledge the Law family and the Catholic Schools who contributed to the New Honour Board.
The “Boys from Barambah” project was proudly sponsored by the Queensland Government as part of Queensland’s ANZAC100 celebrations.