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I've Been Working on the Railway

By JOL Admin | 4 April 2013

 Guest Blogger:  Dr Geraldine Mate, Senior Curator, The Workshop Rail Museum

I've Been Working on the Railway

In 2012, the Workshop Rail Museum developed a new exhibition called I’ve Been Working on the Railway.  This was a new venture for us in our exploration of the social aspects of railway history.  The exhibition explored the role of Australian South Sea Islanders, Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal people in railways across Australia – a history that until now has not been well known.  But it is a history that people are very proud of, and a history rich with stories and memories.

For me it was a wonderful project to be involved with.  To hear first-hand people’s experiences, good and bad, of railway work and their pride their families’ achievements made it a very personal experience.  One of the families we met during the development of the exhibition was the Minniecon Family.  Arnold Minniecon’s family originally came from Vanuatu and he worked in railways in Queensland all his life.  The family moved all over the state with railway work and Arnold’s wife Maureen brought up many children in railway camps.  Her recollections of that time made the history become alive for me.  For the family sharing these stories was an emotional experience, one that bought both sadness and happiness.


Sonia and her mother Maureen Minniecon with Geraldine Mate.

Those family connections and pride in the achievements of their father were evident on the faces of the Minniecon Family when they attended the opening of the exhibition.  As a curator of an exhibition, that opportunity to connect with people and their stories is a wonderful part of my job.

I've Been Working on the Railway Opening Night

We hope to be able to take the exhibition I’ve Been Working on the Railway out to communities across Australia over the coming years and share these fantastic stories of a recent past.  For more information contact The Rail Workshop Museum on (07) 34325100.


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