by Marcus Priaulx
Sandra Morgan watched from afar as people wept, laughed and teased each other when they looked at photos on display at the annual Golden Oldies reunion dances held in Cherbourg.
Each year Sandra and her sisters Lesley Williams, Grace Bond and Jeanette Brown would painstakingly mount a few hundred pictures.
They brought memories flooding back to viewers who had travelled from across Australia and were raised in the town when it was a government Mission.
Their reactions inspired Sandra to make a childhood dream come true.
“The photos would draw people together,” she said.
“I would become emotional; teary and I wanted to provide a keeping place for their memories.
“It was something I’d always thought about as a young girl.”
So Sandra asked Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council to move the former Ration Shed to the town’s centre in time for its 2004 Centenary.
The building was where families had collected their weekly flour, tea and a little bit of meat while living “under the Act” and the council honoured Sandra’s wish.
Another photo display was put in place and over the years people joined Sandra’s effort to create a national, award-winning Ration Shed Museum on a purely voluntary basis.
People and schools now flock from around the country to view its displays and films and hear Cherbourg Elders tell their stories about life on the Mission.
The Ration Shed Museum will celebrate its 10th anniversary on October 4.
This is the first day of a South Burnett-Cherbourg On Show long weekend and the museum will host tours from 10:00am to 2:30pm.
Children’s art workshops will also be held onsite at 10:30am and 12:30pm.
An official celebration of the Ration Shed’s anniversary will be held later in the month and it would be fair to say most visitors will not leave the same as they came.
“There is no shame or blame,” Sandra said.
“We just want people to go away with a better understanding.
“I think what we have changes people; they return with their families.
“It’s very moving for us.
“Years ago, to see a white face was kind of scary. Now we face them freely, meet and greet and there’s no barriers.
“That’s what we want, no barriers. We’re all colour blind.”
People who want to take a tour can simply drop into the Ration Shed, book a tour by phoning (07) 4169-5753 or book by email.
The tour fee is $10 for everyone except Cherbourg residents, who are never charged to see their own history.