Mary River topic for oral history project
THE Looking Forward Looking Back Mary River catchment oral history project by Dr Tanzi Smith and Luke Barrowcliff, Goorie Vision, is getting the community involved in a series of meetings held at venues throughout the catchment.
Dr Smith said that they were taking the project to the people in the community with meetings at Conondale, Kenilworth and Gympie, a recent meeting at Kilkivan, and Teebar and Maryborough to follow.
"We invite anyone interested to come along and just talk about their experiences," she said.
"It does not have to be about the river per se.
"Given recent weather events, floods have tended to be a dominant topic, but a range of other subjects have also been discussed."
Dr Smith said that while there was a common theme throughout discussions, each meeting had developed its own agenda.
As may be expected for a history project, most attending have been in a more mature age bracket and apart from what they remember directly there was also information passed on from other family members.
Mr Barrowcliff said his role was to digitise as many photos as possible to ensure long-term storage, and to take photos of places people mentioned and how they looked today.
"We try to be as accurate as possible, but are dealing with people's recollections and memories," he said.
"Often their information is something Dad told them."
The Kilkivan meeting delved into the general farming and mining history of the region.
When settlers first arrived timber was the mainstay as the pristine forests were felled for agriculture.
The area was a major supplier of logs and piles for many bridges constructed to the south including the first Hornibrook Hwy.
As the land was cleared crops and dairy became important, with cotton (hand picked) along with grain and fruit crops.
The dairy industry went through a number of largely weather-related setbacks, with the droughts of the early 1950s forcing many farmers to work off-farm, especially planting hoop pine for the forestry as timber once again became important in the region.
Kilkivan has a long mining history with all sorts of minerals being found in very rich but small deposits. Gold was panned and mined before the bigger fields at Gympie.
Copper, silver, lead, zinc and manganese deposits have all been used. The district of Cinnabar was named for the mercury ore that was extracted and there are small amethyst outcrops in the hills.
The role that wives and women in general played in developing an area was highlighted. Many farm women worked in the paddocks, as well as (along with children old enough) milking the cows.
General regret was expressed at the decline of the family farm which it was thought to have developed a greater sense of community and purpose than is often apparent today.