The uniqueness of the Hinchinbrook Region has been motivational to many local artists.
Taking their inspiration from habitats that support a diverse range of fauna, ancient trees, wallabies strolling across fields, as well as the history of the people from ancient times, through to the community we see today.
TYTO Regional Art Gallery
Marvel at the latest Regional Art Gallery exhibition with a contemporary space showcasing local artisans and craft enthusiasts through an annual program and retail outlet.
Head to the gallery’s online shop to see what crafts, art and trinkets can be purchased.
Take a walk around town and see the many public artworks designed to beautify, surprise and intrigue.
We recommend taking a stroll on the Hinchinbrook Way Walk, beginning at the Hinchinbrook Visitor Information Centre and meandering through town.
TYTO Grass Owl, Hinchinbrook Visitor Information Centre
This monumental sculpture was created in 2007 by artist, Amanda Feher.
The large Eastern Grass Owl (Tyto longimembris) captures the essence of the hunting Grass Owl as it descends on its prey and is a testament to the owl that was the inspiration for the naming of the TYTO Wetlands.
The work was a huge challenge to complete. To assist in the creation of this incredible piece, Amanda visited the Townsville Museum, to photograph a real specimen and also worked closely with Australia Zoo to secure footage of the Grass Owl they had in captivity.
Mercer Lane Mosaic, Downtown Ingham
Mercer Lane is home to an incredible 42 metres of mosaic art panels depicting the history of the local sugar cane industry.
Local business woman Karen Venables and artist Kate Carr rallied the community together, resulting in over 1,500 locals and visitors participating in the project. The medium of mosaics was used because it is an artistic form that can be quickly learnt, and also because it is associated with the artwork of ancient Italy and the Italians who to this day, make up a significant percentage of the local population.
The Circle of Life, Tully Street, Ingham
Sculpted by local artist John Heard, The Circle of Life reflects the proximity and influence of the nature of Australia’s most diverse urban wetland, TYTO Wetlands, in shaping the future of Ingham.
Tiddalik the Frog, TYTO Piazza
Sculpted by local artist John Heard, Tiddalik the Frog is derived from the legends of Australian Aboriginal mythology.
A long time ago in the Dreamtime, there was a greedy frog called Tiddalik. Tiddalik wanted to be the biggest frog in all the land.
One hot day Tiddalik was very thirsty so he began to drink and drink and drink until the whole world was all dried up.
When all the other animals came to the billabong to drink there was no water. All the plants and trees began to dry up. Without the trees and plants there would be no food for the animals to eat and no shade to rest in. They knew it was the greedy frog who drank all the water.
They were very angry at him. If the animals wanted to get all the water out of Tiddalik and back into the world they would have to make Tiddalik laugh until all the water came out. The echidna tried to make him laugh by rolling down the hill but Tiddalik didn’t laugh.
Kookaburra was perched high in the gum tree, he pretended to fall out but Tiddalik still didn’t laugh. Wombat started dancing but Tiddalik still didn’t laugh. None of the animals knew what to do and they were still very thirsty.
Then the eel tried dancing a funny dance, he tied himself into a big knot, Tiddalik laughed at the eel. He laughed so much that all the water came out and ran back into the billabong and the rivers and the streams. From that day on Tiddalik was never that greedy and only drank what he needed.
Cultural Congregation Totem Poles, TYTO Regional Art Gallery
Positioned at the front of TYTO Regional Art Gallery, the cultural congregation represents cultural diversity of modern cities and countries.
Two poles represent Russia and Japan and symbolise the buildings of each civilisation and how they have spread and developed. The third represents multiculturalism, urban congregation, and the base of the civilisation, people from all over the world coming together and living as one. This installation was selected as a piece in the ‘Minister’s Arts Awards for Excellence Exhibition’ showcased in Brisbane in 2014.
Created by Taylah Jardine, who has always had a passion for the artistic and a desire for architectural design. While in Year 12 at Gilroy Santa Maria College, Taylor was inspired by her art class teachers Mrs Randi Pietrobon and Mr Andrew Hill who guided her creations and continually encouraged her to produce bigger and better things.
Message Poles, TYTO Amphitheatre
Created by Troy Wyles-Whelan, a carefully sculpted collective of message poles was installed in front of the TYTO Amphitheatre in 2016. The message poles depict the stories and language of the local area.
Mr Wyles-Whelan explains that his early life experiences were the start of his journey in educating and carrying the local language through the generations.
Troy Wyles-Whelan is a well-known local indigenous artist from the Warrgamay and Nawaigi people of Bagirrbarra (Herbert Valley).
Troy takes pride in raising awareness and supporting the preservation of Aboriginal dialects and continues to educate people about the importance of each unique language, identity and knowledge of Australia’s First Nations people.
Luci Barramore, Lucinda
Sculpted by local artist John Heard, Luci’s story begins when he was caught by a fishing line as a young male and lucky to escape (hence the bend in the lip), ‘Luci Barramore’ soon learnt what man and fishing were all about.
Over time he transitioned into a large, protected breeding female, laying up to 32 million eggs per year swimming throughout the Hinchinbrook Channel. You will find Luci relaxing at Borello Park, Lucinda.
Cranky Jenny, Taylors Beach
At Taylors Beach you will find ‘Çranky Jenny,’ a sculpture by local artist John Heard.
Jenny is a very aggressive, mature female crab who was once an attractive young mother to many.
Now too old for breeding, Cranky Jenny has made it her mission to attack as many other creatures as she can, including any other mud crabs that enter the Taylors Beach foreshore.
Flying Free, Forrest Beach
Sculpted by local artist John Heard, this extraordinary turtle’s life began as an egg laid on the long sandy Forrest Beach flat before heading far, far away.
Avoiding wild pigs and sharks and travelling as far as Princess Charlotte Bay, she survived to tell the most fascinating tales.
She is now flying free through the waters around the islands in Forrest Beach, North Queensland, preparing to nest right back where she began her journey.
The local area has inspired many artists who have felt a connection with nature and its unique terrain; a habitat that supports a diversity of wildlife, ancient trees or wallabies moving through the fields, as well as a history of the people from ancient times through to the community we see today. From Ingham’s Art Gallery, the TYTO Regional Art Gallery and other smaller studios including Picture This Framed, Elements Studio, Ingham Art Action Group, Balgarra Designs, and the Community Art Space of Kristina Fontana, you too can be a part of it. Learn a new skill through one of the local studios or indulge in an artistic passion with inspired workshops for young and old at TYTO Regional Art Gallery.
Five Fountain Studio – Kristina Fontana
Kristina Fontana is a F.I.F.O wife, mother of three, Artist and Workshop facilitator based in Ingham.
Kristina is an Ingham local, growing up on her family’s sugar cane farm in Ripple Creek. She is an impressionistic artist and is heavy influenced by the landscape of her youth, drawing from the colours of the sugar cane, open skies and vast mountains.
From her studio, Five Fountain Studio, Kristina runs weekly classes for both adults and children and hosts other artists with their workshops and events.
As well as forming a home for art, she has also created “Painting in the Paddock”, a one-of-a-kind painting experience. It combines the Hinchinbrook Regions best and most beautiful landscapes with food, wine and a landscape tutorial. Each tutorial is unique and specifically created for that location. It’s a wonderful way to spend an afternoon with friends and loved ones and is an experience for everyone, amateur or accomplished artist alike.
Five Fountain Studio
John is an award-winning metal sculptor who resides in the Hinchinbrook Shire. He has been the recipient of numerous art awards including the winner of the Open Award at the 37th Hinchinbrook Art Awards in 2015.
Originally from the Shoalhaven district in NSW, John developed his skills working in the boat building industry and aircraft welding. John has lived in the Hinchinbrook region since 1992 and has been interested in art from a young age, including painting and other various art mediums. Today, John focuses on sculptures and has found his niche in the art world. Most of his sculptures are based on the natural world that he visually sees, using all types of metals, he puts his own unique spin on everything he creates.
To learn more about John Heard, watch the video below!
Address: 359 Oak Hills Rd, Mount Fox
Phone: 0439 199 978 or 07 4777 5129
Balgarra Designs – Joanne Cassady
Balgarra Designs is 100% Aboriginal owned and operated, by Joanne Cassady. The word Balgarra comes from the Wiradjuri language which means: “To Emit Sparks”.
Joanne chose the word Balgarra because of what the word represents. To emit sparks, the beginning of something new, to ignite a fire. Through the symbolic meaning Joanne hopes to ignite a fire of understanding, education, cultural awareness and unification through her art to the world.
Joanne is a self-taught artist and mother of six, with five sons and one daughter as well as being a doting grandmother. Joanne is a descendant of the Wiradjuri & Yorta Yorta Nation’s, located in NSW & VIC. Joanne’s Wiradjuri totem is the goanna & her Yorta Yorta totem is the turtle, which gives her inspiration to recreate throughout her artwork. Joanne began painting at 20 years of age and her background stems from running art stalls at markets & conferences nationally, participating in and creating street art murals, as well as holding various exhibitions, completing commissioned works and teaching and educating through art workshops.
As a professional artist, Joanne utilises her skills as a means of education for cultural awareness, having experience working with both adults and children alike. This allows opportunities to deliver personal experiences and share her culture in art workshops and art therapy. Joanne was born & raised in Sydney, NSW and grew up in the suburbs of Redfern and Waterloo. Joanne faced many challenges from a very young age, choosing not to become a victim. Choosing art, its meaning to her as an artist is deeper than paint on canvas. It tells of her stories, her culture & language. Joanne’s art is as contemporary as she is. As an artist she loves to challenge herself, branching out to try new things artistically.
Picture This Framed – David Rowe
Picture This Framed is a treasure trove for the artistically interested and the discerning buyer.
“Art to me is a doctor, a lawyer, a gardener, an architect etc and in some ways, another partner. To be lucky enough to grow up in a rural landscape like the Hinchinbrook region, an artist’s menu of mountain ranges, waterfalls, pristine rainforests and tapestries of cane fields and a wonderful people to share it with is truly a gift”.
This beautifully combined inspiration drives the artist to paint through their heart and soul. Just because you live in a rainforest, doesn’t mean you can’t paint the desert.
Because of this rich cultural background, artists can tap into this aesthetic atmosphere and create a diversity of images and stories, not related but paralleled to what this area has to offer.
Picture This Framed
Address: 22 Lannercost Street, Ingham
Phone: 07 4776 6620
Elements Studio – Louise Plint
Louise Plint is a full-time artist and tutor at Elements Studio in Ingham.
Since 2018, she has been the president of Ingham Art Action Inc., encouraging and supporting local visual artists, potters and basket makers through organised events and workshops.
She holds a BvA since 1993 from James Cook University. In addition to her own studio art practice, Louise has an active interest in paper making, artist books and mixed media collage and journaling.
Address: 1 Hawkins Street, Ingham
Phone: 0457 585 956
A mix of ancient Indigenous traditions and European pioneering, the Hinchinbrook region represents no less than 23 nationalities, forming a wonderful tapestry of cultural experiences. Discover Hinchinbrook’s strong military heritage, immerse yourself in the colourful celebrations of the Australian Italian Festival, step back in time at the Herbert River Museum, or be taken on a journey through incredible stories and the way of life of the Nywaigi People at Mungalla Station.
Mini Military Museum
Bequeathed to the Hinchinbrook Shire Library by local historian for the 31st Battalion Infantry Association, Captain Bob Burla.
The mini Military Museum honours and celebrates the 31st Battalion Kennedy Regiment and the Spirit of Gallipoli in the 100th year anniversary. World War I was fought very close to home, with danger imminent, local young men joined the Militia or Citizens Military Force with recruits from Townsville, Bowen, Burdekin, Charters Towers and Ingham.
To discover the story of the 31st Battalion, Kennedy Regiment, visit the mini Military Museum, located within the Hinchinbrook Shire Library.
Mungalla Station is a successful Indigenous enterprise, a multi-award-winning tourism destination and an iconic Australian cattle station.
Mungalla Station is a resource owned by the Nywaigi Traditional Owners for the purpose of fostering Aboriginal cultural values by building economic and cultural opportunities through the careful use of our country as a legacy for our children. Mungalla Aboriginal Tours opens the history books of local Indigenous Australians, the Nywaigi People’.
Jacob Cassady is a brilliant story teller who is proud to share the Nywaigi people’s customs and cultural history with you. Offering a range of incredible tours, you can experience the history of the Nywaigi People, experience the incredible taste of Kup Murri (earth oven) dinner and enjoy live contemporary indigenous music.
Learn more information about Jacob Cassidy in the video below!
The Australian Italian Festival
Immerse yourself in Hinchinbrook’s culture, celebrating all things Italian such as food, wine and world class entertainment.
The weekend long festival is loaded with fun activities, including cooking demonstrations, markets and craft stands, spaghetti and pizza eating competition, grape stomping, greasy-pole climbing and a historical display showcasing the influence of Italian immigrants on the Hinchinbrook region.
Eat, drink and sing – Mangiamo, beviamo e cantiamo!
How the Historic Sugar Industry
moulded Hinchinbrook’s Culture
An area ‘best suited’ for sugar
A journey that brings to life a yesteryear that shaped the great pioneering sugarcane community of Hinchinbrook.
A long-established sugarcane growing area lies in the fertile plains of the Herbert River Valley, land traditionally owned by the people of Girringun (a collective of nine Aboriginal groups). In 1864, European explorer George Dalrymple entered the area, and his inland expedition from Cardwell opened up the region for the development of the sugar industry. Dalrymple described the land as “undoubtedly the best suited” for the growing of sugar in Queensland.
The first sugarcane was planted in the Valley in 1868. Land clearing started, with devastating repercussions for the people of Girringun through loss of their traditional lands.
The continued growth of large-scale farms or “plantations” spread across the landscape. Gairloch opened the first mill in 1872 followed by Macknade, Bemerside, Hamleigh and Victoria. Each plantation required a resident labour force, a crushing mill and wharf for transporting raw sugar to Dungeness, the little port at the mouth of the Herbert River. Around 1875, the first hotel called the ‘Planters Retreat’ opened, and was located on the coastal stock route and became the half-way stop between Gairloch and the ‘Camping Reserve’.
The reserve soon filled with permanent residences and shops, with market gardens established by the Chinese community who were amongst the first small scale growers of sugarcane. In 1879 the reserve was named ‘Ingham’ after William Bairstow Ingham, once a local plantation owner.
The labour force
The plantations required an extensive labour force, capable of working in harsh, tropical conditions.
Considered beyond the capabilities of white Australians, plantation owners first engaged local Aboriginal people, although large numbers of labourers were not available. To address the shortage, labourers were recruited from Asia and the Torres Strait, although most were from Melanesia – Vanuatu, New Caledonia, the Louisiades and the Solomon Islands. All were indentured to an employer for a specific period of time. Many of the Pacific Islanders were kidnapped in a practice known as ‘blackbirding’ and faced punishing conditions and back-breaking work during their three-year indenture. They were known collectively as ‘Kanakas’ (a term now regarded as derogatory). Thousands of their descendants live in Queensland and are known as Australian South Sea Islanders.
The beginning of the end of the plantation era
In 1880 August Anderssen, together with a group of other hopeful farmers, purchased land in the lower reaches of the Herbert River to grow sugarcane.
Rather than build and maintain their own small mills, they successfully negotiated with the managers of Victoria Mill, CSR, to crush their cane for them.
They formed the Herbert River Farmers’ Association in 1882, and became the forerunners for the small farm and central mill system which would eventually characterise today’s sugar industry. In 1885 Anderssen offered some of his land for subdivision as a township. The town was named Halifax in 1886, after the Earl of Halifax, the then Secretary of State for the Colonies. CSR built a wharf on the Herbert River on land they purchased from Anderssen. Because the river had become impassable due to increased siltation, the company decided to expand their tramway from Ingham to the new port of Lucinda in 1896.
Reaping the changes
The recruitment of non-European labourers in the sugar industry was controversial and in 1885 legislation attempted to phase out ‘non-white’ recruitment by 1891.
Although this decision was reversed in 1892, the industry had begun to suffer from labour shortages.
The first of the white cutters – From Italy
To help circumvent this problem, over 300 people were recruited from Italy in 1890 and arrived in Townsville the following year.
Over 100 were destined for the Valley and within 30 years many had established their own cane farms.
The last of the Kanaka cutters
The decision to allow the continuation of islander recruitment was temporary and in 1901 the Pacific Island Labourers Act was released, calling for the mass deportation of non-white labourers by 1906.
Between 1863 and 1904 the number of Pacific Islanders recruited into Australia was approximately 61,000.
The cook, the gang and the barracks
Following the deportation of Pacific Islander Labourers, the majority of the remaining and new sugarcane workers were of European ancestry, who continued to live on the properties.
In response, the Queensland Government enacted the Accommodation Acts 1905-1906 which dictated that employers provided reasonable shelter for their workers.
The ‘barracks’ ranged from tents to brick structures, although most were constructed of corrugated iron and timber and divided into rooms. Each shelter housed a cutting gang and their cook, although some housed families.
The rooms were lined with bunk beds with a basic wood stove for cooking and heating. The cook played the pivotal role in the success of the day’s cut. The men would be unable to perform the demanding work required if they were hungry. Isolated from the towns and other countrymen, the sugar crews looked to each other for mutual support and entertainment.
Beyond the Wars
The war years marked the advancement of technology which had a direct impact on the industry.
Tractors took the place of horses and with the appearance of mechanical harvesters, hand cutting sugarcane become a thing of the past.
Some insects and animals create serious problems for sugarcane industry, either through damaging the crops or the spread of disease.
The native greyback cane beetle and its root-eating grubs have long been a pest. The beetles eat the leaves and, in turn the larvae, which hatch underground, eat the roots, which either kills or stunts the growth of the plant.
In 1935, the native cane toad of South America was imported as a beetle-control measure. A total of 102 adult toads were brought from Hawaii to Gordonvale for breeding purposes, within weeks over 2500 toadlets were released. The cane toad has since become one of the most prolific of all introduced pests.
In the early 1930s, many cane cutters were struck down by the often fatal Weil’s disease. The cause was discovered to be the bacteria Leptospira, transmitted by rat urine through open skin. Burning of the cane began in 1936 to ‘sterilise’ it before handling to protect workers from potential infections. This process is no longer continued in the Hinchinbrook Region due to the evolution of machinery.
Today and tomorrow
With approximately 550 growers, the Herbert River Valley, now known as the Herbert cane-growing area, produces approximately 15% of Australia’s sugar export.
The region still has its own port at Lucinda, with the longest offshore sugar loading facility in the world at 5.76 kms.
Disease and pests still present many problems, especially rats, feral pigs and the cane beetle. No cane is fully resistant to their grubs, although hardier species are constantly sought through research. Through the use of technology and better land management practises, the industry has done much to address environmental concerns. Improved practices include reduced burning, close monitoring of irrigation water and soil moisture levels, and replanting of trees adjacent to waterways.
Credit: This exhibition was developed in conjunction with the Herbert River Museum, Halifax, as part of the Queensland Museum’s Regional Partnership Agreement. Thanks and acknowledgment to Bianka Vidonja Balanzategui, historical consultant; Lawrence Di Bella, Manager, Herbert Cane Productivity Services Ltd, Ingham; and Doug Kingston, Project Implementation Manager, North Queensland Bio-Energy Corporation Limited (NQBE). Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are sourced from the Local History Collection, a part of the Heritage Collection held at the Hinchinbrook Shire Library and used with permission from the Hinchinbrook Shire Council.
Of The Hinchinbrook Way
LOCAL WAY OF LIFE: JACKSONS FOLLY
MORE THAN JUST BEER: EAST INGHAM HOTEL
Hoffensetz & Cockrell Printers, Stationers & Newsagents
BRIDGE THE GAP: NEW BRIDGE OVER PALM CREEK
THE TREBONNE FRONTON
A BEEF ABOUT FLOODS: TEITZEL BUTCHER
TAYLOR'S ENTERPRISE: TAYLOR’S BEACH
BEFORE MOTORS: FRANK FRASER MERCHANTS
STEAM DOMINATES: PARKS AND GRASSY VERGES
SWEET, SWEET PORT: LUCINDA
FLOOD IS A DRAWCARD: RUPERT LEE & COY MERCHANTS
ON A SURE FOOTING: PRESTIPINO’S SHOE SHOP
BEACH ABODE FORREST BEACH
FRANK FRASER INGHAM’S ENTREPRENEURIAL GIANT
VICTORY AND ENDURANCE THE HINCHINBROOK HOTEL
A VITAL SERVICE: INGHAM'S POST & TELEGRAPH OFFICE
THE GRAND DAME OF INGHAM: THE ROYAL HOTEL
TREES AND TRAMWAYS: INGHAM'S AVENUE
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE KENION AND CO
DROWNED CANE AND SOURED LAND FLOODS IN THE LOWER HERBERT VALLEY
TYTO WETLANDS EASTERN GRASS OWL – TYTO LONGIMEMBRIS
A PROGRESSIVE COUNCIL: HINCHINBROOK SHIRE COUNCIL
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS LEES CORDIALS AND SOFTDRINK
The History of the Hinchinbrook Community
Hinchinbrook Shire Library Special Collections
The Hinchinbrook Shire Library’s Special Collections includes books, photographs, oral histories, births, deaths, and marriages records, magazines, pamphlets, local newspapers, files, Council reports, ephemera; and anything relevant to the history of the Hinchinbrook Shire region.
Hinchinbrook Shire Library
Visit the Herbert River Museum and Gallery
Tucked away in the old Shaw’s building in Halifax, you will find the Herbert River Museum; a treasure trove of historical artefacts that have been steadily collected and preserved for visitors to discover. Take a step back in time and take a stroll down memory lane.
The Herbert River Museum and Gallery is made up of various rooms depicting different walks of life and backgrounds. The main room depicts the history of the sugar industry, a school area with artefacts dating back 100 years, local sporting bodies and their achievements, dedications to significant local families and their stories that shaped the region, a collection of cars and planes dating back more than 70 years and an old post office. The Museum also has a room resembling an equipped cane cutter barracks showcasing the typical life of a cane cutter while living and working in local cane fields. A hospital room provides a visual insight into the old Ingham Hospital including an old bed and equipment, x-ray machine and dental machines. A 50/60s room sends you back in time, displaying antique radios, televisions, piano and gramophone, all used for entertainment. There is also a stunning display of wedding and bridesmaid dresses and a military room displaying uniforms and equipment from World War I to the Iraqi Wars.