Unknown Printer | Australia | (Myora Mission, Stradbroke Island) c.1900s | Commercial photo postcard on paper | 9 x 14cm | Acc. 2009.255 | Purchased 2009 with funds raised through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Appeal
(Myora Mission, Stradbroke Island) c.1900s
Shortly after the Moreton Bay Penal Colony was established in 1824, the colonial authorities established a pilot station on Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah) to cater for the increase of shipping in Moreton Bay. By 1828 permanent settlements had been made at Amity Point (Pulan) and Dunwich (Goompi) but relations between the colonists and the Indigenous population soon soured, serious conflicts erupted in 1830-32 and the settlement closed. Dunwich later became the site of successively a Catholic mission, a quarantine station (1850-65) and a benevolent institution (1865-1946).
Inhabitants of a mission settlement at Bribie Island were transferred to Stradbroke Island when the Myora Mission was established in 1892. (The word myora means meeting place in the Nunukul language). In 1898 the Indigenous inhabitants came under the Aboriginal Protection Act which controlled all aspects of their lives. However, Stradbroke Island’s Indigenous people managed to retain their cultural identity, despite adjoining a quickly developing region as the island’s poor herbage protected it from claims by pastoralists and the sandy soil precluded clearing for farming. The Myora Mission closed in 1941, when most people moved to the village built at One Mile (Moopi-Moopi-Pah).
Some of the subjects in this photograph have been identified by independent researcher and photographic historian, Michael Aird,. In the mid-ground left to right are: Margaret Brown; Lizzie Finnock; Ethel, Vera and George Markwell Brown (Margaret Brown's children); Jane and Agnes Roberts; unidentified child and Mary Anne Compigne (half-sister to Lizzie Finnock). The old lady lying behind is Margaret Brown's mother Nelli.
In the late nineteenth century there was, throughout Australia, an attempt to document the Indigenous inhabitants of this country with both fine art and popular visual images. Improvement in postal services and the development of printing processes in the late nineteenth century led to the enthusiasm for postcards, as a means of communication and for the visual recording of contemporary life.
This rare image is the first of Indigenous people from Stradbroke Island to enter the Queensland Art Gallery Collection.