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Curatorial field trip to Ingham
20 Aug 2014
By Lee Burgess
National Museum curators Andy Greenslade and Lee Burgess travelled to Ingham, north Queensland to meet with members of two prominent family groups earlier this year.
The Bosworth and the Cassady families have strong historical connections with two beautiful cane baskets in the Museum's National Historical Collection. The baskets were acquired in 2006 and came from a pastoral property called Muralambeen station, just outside Ingham. The baskets are made of lawyer cane, a type of climbing palm.
Muralambeen and Mungalla stations
Muralambeen was established in 1882 by Irish immigrant Christopher Allingham, who ventured north from New South Wales, in search of good grazing lands to fatten his cattle. Today, descendants of Christopher Allingham still live on and manage the property, caring for the old homestead and managing the family business – growing sugar cane. The cane baskets were collected by the family from workers on the property, probably in the early 1900s.
Nearby is Mungalla station, which Irish immigrant James Cassady established in 1882. He was buried on Mungalla in 1902. Back in their day, both pastoral properties stocked cattle and employed Aboriginal people and Pacific Island people to clear the land and tend to the animals. The workers lived in huts provided by the white settlers but also built their own shelters made from plant materials sourced from the local bush. Signs of the old camps can still be found on both properties in the form of middens, stone tools, old fireplaces, gravesites and even groves of mango trees now more than 80 or 90 years old.
Mungalla to Canberra
Today, Mungalla station is owned and operated by local Nywaigi peoples – the traditional peoples of the Ingham district. Nywaigi manager Jacob Cassady is also a descendant of Irish immigrant James Cassady. Earlier this year, Jacob and his family travelled to Canberra to visit the National Museum. They were 'blown away' by what they saw at the Museum. Not only did they see the lawyer cane baskets, they saw other significant cultural artefacts such as boomerangs, shields and clubs from their traditional country. I hope that one day more members of the Ingham community can visit the National Museum and see these incredible and beautiful objects from their district.