July 5, 2016
Last year former residents of Cherbourg’s Girls Dormitory – known as “domo girls” – held an emotional reunion on the site of the building.
That reunion, and the many memories shared on that day, have been captured in the latest film to be made by the team at the Ration Shed Museum.
“Domo Girls” – a partner to the movie “Domo Boys” made in 2013 – was screened for the first time on Monday afternoon.
Many of the former “Domo Girls” were present for the premiere which was held, fittingly, in the old Boys Dormitory.
The film, narrated by Aunty Sandra Morgan from The Ration Shed, details the history of the two-story Girls Dormitory which was built in 1925 and only closed during the 1980s.
During that time, hundreds of girls passed through its doors, some as young as babies.
When it burned to the ground in 1998, some of the shocked former residents cried … to others it was a relief.
For many, it was their only home until they were sent out as teenagers to work as domestic servants on properties.
The children were sent to the Dormitory by authorities for many reasons, and from all over Queensland.
Once at the Dormitory, their lives were totally controlled.
The children weren’t allowed to mix with the camp children, or their brothers in the nearby Boys Dormitory.
They weren’t even allowed to see their mothers or fathers.
At one stage a barbed wire fence was erected around the building, to stop the children from leaving.
There was even a “gaol” – a small building at the back of the dormitory – where the girls could be locked up if they misbehaved.
The girls bonded with each other, creating life-long ties. But the discipline was harsh and there was no family love.
Sadly, the girls’ mothers often were only a fence away, but the children didn’t know it … or in some cases, even know they had mothers.
Their stories, their tears and their laughter have now been captured by The Ration Shed on film for future generations thanks to funding from The Healing Foundation.
After ‘Domo Girls” was screened on Monday, “Domo Boys” was shown again, bringing many of the guests to tears … again.
Both short films can be purchased at The Ration Shed Museum.