North Stradbroke Island homefront, 22 soldiers saluted

What was life like on North Stradbroke Island during 1914 – 1918?  A new exhibition at the island’s Historical Museum explores daily life during this era and focuses on the lives of 22 men who enlisted in the First World War.

Willliam Shackleton, plumber at Dunwich Benevolent Asylum, portrait from The Queenslander, 15 April 1916

Willliam Shackleton, plumber at Dunwich Benevolent Asylum, portrait from The Queenslander, 15 April 1916

Stradbroke 100 – North Stradbroke Island’s First World War Soldiers and the Homefront beautifully articulates life on the island and the life and times of those who lived there through monumental world events that impacted the island for generations to come.  Many of the residents at the turn of the century were Myora Aboriginal Mission residents, inmates and staff of the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum, fishing families (mostly Aboriginal) and cattle grazers.  Much of the information about who lived on the island is gleaned from the School Attendance Rolls, as the electoral rolls did not count Aboriginal people nor inmates of the Asylum.

Womens quarters at Dunwich Benevolent Asylum North Stradbroke Island 1914

Despite barriers, Aboriginal men from the island found ways to enlist, making up almost half of the men featured in the exhibition where stories are told of each of the 22 men.  One story is of William Shackleton, a plumber at the Asylum.  He made a point of saying goodbye to his good mate Uncle Richard Martin by getting the boats to come together so he could say goodbye. Richard was going as he was coming from the Mainland.  He asked if they could go along side just to say goodbye.  His story is remembered by Aunty Rosey Borey, who attended the opening of the exhibition and is one of the descendants of the two men killed on the Western Front.  Several other men from the Island were wounded in action, some were gassed, two married while overseas, some died young and some lived into their nineties.

View of Myora Mission North Stradbroke Island 1906

During the war, people from the Mission supported the war effort by fund raising for the Wounded Soldiers Fund, reflecting the emotional commitment from this small community.  The exhibition is today a reflection of the community as many people contributed stories, pictures and documents to create the rich tapestry that now exists.  The North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum partnered with not only residents but State Library of Queensland, Queensland State Archives and many other governmental agencies to glean more information about these 22 heroes and the people behind the heroes. The exhibition is a salute to the men and the people of North Stradbroke Island.  The exhibition is staying at the Museum until June 30, before heading to Redland Museum. The exhibition and accompanying book were funded by the Queensland Anzac Centenary grants program.

Submitted by Guest Bloggers Elisabeth Gondwe and Lisa Jackson,  North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum




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