Oral history and online interpretation
Niche Environment and Heritage, in partnership with property owners The Port Binnli Group and Steve Chaddock of Timeline Heritage, has recently completed an oral history and online interpretation project for the former Moray Fields Sugar Plantation site in southeast Queensland. The plantation ruins are recognised for their importance through their inclusion on the Queensland Heritage Register as an Archaeological Place.
The ‘Re-connecting with Moray Fields’ Project commenced in 2013, a year that marked the 150th anniversary of the first employment of indentured South Sea Islander labourers in Queensland agriculture. The project was jointly funded by the property owner and through a Your Community Heritage Grant from the Commonwealth Government.
The genesis of the project came from the relationships developed over several years of Niche’s Heritage Team Leader Cameron Harvey, the property owners, and local heritage interpretation specialist Steve Chaddock, who had all worked together discovering the history, archaeology and heritage significance of the extant ruins of the former Moray Fields Sugar Plantation.
The story of Moray Fields is one of the earliest phase of indentured labour in southern Queensland, commencing in the mid-1860s. Little documentary evidence survives to illustrate the plantation operations or the lives of the islander and non-islander workers and families. Much information is contained in legend and myth and had never been documented. The importance of collecting such stories is, however, essential in developing a full understanding of the place. Significant stories were to be found in the living memories of former residents (post-plantation period) and also in the stories handed down to members of the current South Sea Islander community.
The project has resulted in new layers of knowledge about Moray Fields, including snippets into the daily lives of those who experienced this place from the plantation days to the recent past. The stories told have already led to new archaeological discoveries concerning the original plantation complex layout, something that was not identifiable from other documentary sources.
A selection of the stories and other information gathered has been presented via a website: www.morayfield.org The aim of the website is to bring a rich history of the former plantation to a wide audience. The design concept was to capture some of the key ideas and significances identified in relation to the site.
It is hoped that as the land around the former plantation remains is gradually developed into an integrated business park and residential community, further archaeological and other research will take place that continues to reveal even more stories about this important Queensland heritage place.
Read more about our archaeology and heritage management services, or contact Cameron Harvey to discuss your project.
Cameron Harvey, Team Leader – Heritage
Mob: 0488 224 036 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org