The old schoolhouse Yumba Museum
At the end of the Yumba Trail stands the original Aboriginal school, which is now a community museum that tells the stories of the Gunggari and other families who lived on the Yumba. The pride and strength of the Aboriginal community is apparent in stories of old people, sporting prowess, political struggles and military service.
The strength of the Aboriginal community in Mitchell is reflected in the intense negotiations with the local Council that brought the old Aboriginal school back to the Yumba. The old timber ‘Aboriginal School’ was built on the Yumba in 1934, but in 1948 it was moved to the Mitchell State School, and classes integrated. In the early 1990s when the Council decided to sell it off, Aboriginal people in Mitchell successfully lobbied the government to have it returned to the Yumba where it has been adapted to house a museum upstairs and a place for gatherings and reunions in the cool area underneath. Visitors arrive at the museum at the end of the Yumba Interpretive Trail. The exhibits are the result of over 40 years of work by Elders and other volunteers, collecting records and photographs from places such as the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in Canberra, and the John Oxley Library in Brisbane. There are still remains of Aboriginal people at the Queensland Museum waiting to be returned to the Yumba to be buried in the ‘proper way’ when the resources to perform these ceremonies become available.
Yumba Museum in the old schoolhouse, Mitchell
Part of a display at the Yumba Museum, Mitchell
Artifacts in the Yumba Museum, Mitchell
Exhibits include images of Aboriginal people taken away from the Yumba, some of them thousands of kilometres away to Palm Island. One man was repeatedly removed to Woorabinda and each time walked home to the Yumba, a distance of over 500 kilometres. Another couple were removed to Cherbourg with their four children because the husband was ‘out of work and unable to support his family’, but other employer records found by the Museum custodians show he was a diligent worker who provided for his family. Children whose parents had either passed away or were no longer living on the mission were passed around from one relative’s home to another to keep them safe from being taken away.
The Yumba Museum also securely houses important artefacts such as weapons and stone tools, and displays relics of the original school room. On the walls are photomontages of people and place, which are visited by Aboriginal people returning from other places, and descendants of those who were removed, as a way of reconnecting with their history and their place.
Mitchell Yumba guided tours sign