Joskeleigh: Homeward bound, opens 2 August 2013

Guest blogger - Josh Tarrant, Museum Development Officer, Rockhampton 

Mr Russell Brown, Old Joskeleigh School, Joskeleigh, 2013.

In May 2013, the Museum Development Office of Central Queensland and the Joskeleigh South Sea Islander Museum began the development of Joskeleigh: Homeward bound, an oral history and exhibition project that focuses on personal recollections of Joskeleigh and what it means to those associated with it.  Eight Australian South Sea Islander community members from four different generations were interviewed and filmed to provide over four hours of new video, as well as the transcripts used in the exhibition.

The Old Joskeleigh School, Joskeleigh, 2013. Image Courtesy of Imelda Miller.

Jodi Brown, Ed Brown, Imelda Miller, Cecil Parter, Maria Martens and Daijah Martens. Old Joskeleigh School, 2013..

There were some real characters among the participants, with some amazing stories to tell.   We discovered the identity of the Joskeleigh Queen of salt pan calf-riding, usually known as “The Brown Bomber”,   and gasped at bravado of the Josko boys who climbed high in the mango trees snaring snakes!   Some laid claim to the title of most fish caught from Strubers Creek (yeah, right!), while others told daring tales of close encounters with prickly pear traps!  Their wonderful stories really capture the essence of what life at Joskeleigh is like.  In the future these interviews will be  incorporated into the Joskeleigh South Sea Island Museum collection.

Although the exhibition was generally intended to explore the social history of Joskeleigh and its value to the community, there were no pre-determined themes chosen for this exhibition.  By answering a series of open ended questions, the interviewees provided their own perspectives and experiences.   Their stories shared a number of important recurrent themes, which were then presented in the exhibition.

Mr Ed Brown enjoys having his portrait taken for the exhibition, Joskeleigh: Homeward bound. Image courtesy of Josh Tarrant.

Aside from benefits to the community itself, the exhibition will provide the broader Rockhampton community with an opportunity to learn about the Australian South Sea Islander History of their region.  It will also be another significant event in this significant year commemorating the 150th anniversary of the first arrival of South Sea Islanders to Australia.   The exhibition will open and be displayed during August at the Rockhampton Regional Library.

Joskeleigh: Homeward bound opens at the Rockhampton Regional Library on Friday 2 August at 10:00am.  For more information about the opening email

All are welcome- we hope to see you there!

 The project received assistance from the Regional Arts Development Fund, a Queensland Government and Rockhampton Regional Council partnership to support local arts and culture, and the Emu Park Lions club.



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Thanks for the post - sounds like it will be a great exhibition. The importance of telling the stories seems to be a really important theme on ASSI150 . Wondering if you will be sharing online the stories that you have created.