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 No: 13
Welcome to our Autumn newsletter, click on the title below to go directly to an article
or simply scroll down to read about the new, old and upcoming events.
President's Report

In the face of so much hot weather one significant project and quite a few activities have been completed during the first two months of this year. Yaegl artist Frances Belle Parker has finished painting two murals for the exterior walls of the Museum. The first is inside the window box area on the right as you walk up the ramp at the very front entrance. The second mural wraps around the Breezeway doors leading to the Function Room, on the verandah outside the entrance door of the Old Kirk. Titled Caring for Country, both murals are based on the same design and colourings, with varying shades of blue and green in nature, and the leaves symbolic of various traditional Yaegl community healing methods. In her artist’s statement Frances writes that it depicts her deep love and respect for the environment, and she wants to remind us of “the importance of protecting, nurturing and caring for the land.”


This project was commissioned by the Society in 2021 with funding from a grant through the Yulgilbar Foundation/ FRRR. A full version of the artist’s statement explaining the markings and how the museum and its community are at the centre of the mural can be read later in this newsletter and on our website. As well, there are many images of close-ups of the two murals. I encourage you to visit soon to see this wonderful artwork that complements our museum and its stories.

Lesley Pickering Spring 21.PNG

Busy January  

The Committee and a few volunteers made a big effort very early in the year by reorganising the Flinders Room - the workroom area at the back of the museum building. This is the workplace for our researchers and their assistants (welcome to Vicki McAlpine who is now assisting John McNamara with the Newspaper Index), and the storage areas for stationery, work files, original photos donated to the Society and items of the Collection not on display. We have now created a designated space for the 4-member Collection Team, with a specific table for donations and items being assessed, as well as a permanently set-up section for the photographing of items. This makes their work much easier and more efficient. We still have some minor changes to make such as getting smaller tables for the computers, and sorting through the folders and filing cabinets.


In the third week we hosted a visit at very short notice by NSW Minister Ben Franklin (Minister for the Arts, Tourism and Aboriginal Affairs) and Chris Gulaptis MP on Tuesday 17 January to announce funding for the Yaegl community, who had requested that it take place in the Yarning Circle of the Yaegl Cultural Garden. Ben expressed his delight in his tour of the museum, especially speaking at length with Elders Billy Walker and Dianne Chapman about the newly updated Yaegl Timeline display, and fitted in a chat with John Jackson about his Scottish Geology exhibition.


AVID– Annual Volunteer Information Day

On Friday 10th February about 20 volunteers spent a morning in the Function Room revising and updating their responsibilities and work routines when on roster at the Front Desk. Many thanks to presenters Bev Mansfield, Kerry Hulm, Margaret Lawrence, Phil Cousemacker and in particular to Anne Dinham for the overall program and pulling it all together, and devising ways of helping us all remember how to manage the operation of the museum. A new version of the Handbook was welcomed, thanks to the patience and design skills of Denise Patten.


Members Meeting

Just a reminder that we have a Members Meeting soon – Friday 24 March, in the Old Kirk. We’ll start at the new time of 9.30am, with morning tea to follow at about 11am. This change in the timing may suit more members.


You may recall a recent email from our Secretary that this is an important meeting to discuss our Constitution, and the implications following a new model developed by NSW Fair Trading.  There'll be an overview of projects planned for 2023. The format for 2023 meetings offers a timeslot for members to raise and discuss issues important to them about the Society. If you are not available to come to the meeting, you can email us your questions, suggestions or ideas that you would like discussed.

Hoping you can join us for the launch of the art exhibition Four on the Wall on Saturday 1st April at 5.30pm - Free Entry. 

Mural - Caring for Country
Frances Belle Parker's
Artist's Statement

This mural has been designed specifically to adorn the external walls of Yamba Museum. It represents my deep respect and love for nature and the environment. The artwork showcases varying shades of green and blue in nature, depicting blossoming flowers, leaves,and abstract line markings. The leaves are symbolic of various traditional healing methods while the blossoms represent new life.

The museum and the local community are represented by the round shape in the centre of the mural near the entrance.
Through this mural, I want to remind viewers of the importance of protecting, nurturing and caring for the land.

The green, which is present in every aspect of nature, symbolises growth, abundance, and renewal. It is a colour that offers healing, peace, and calm within the space. The blues represent our waterways from our river, Biirrinba, to the sea, and the delicate balance in which they flow and connect our land. All colours depicted were carefully chosen to complement the museum's colours and the natural environment.The various markings in the background of the mural represent the paths that humans have taken through this landscape. They are areminder that we must respect and protect the land we walk upon. My deep connection to the environment is evident in the blending of my cultural heritage with my artistic expression. The mural depicts my love for nature while putting out a call to arms to protect it. The artwork serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of caring for our environment and preserving it for generations to come.

© Frances Belle Parker (Yaegl) 2023

Ben Franklin's Visit. L-R, Ritchie Williamson, Chris Gulaptis, Uncle Clarrie Randall, Uncle Billy Walker, Minister Ben Franklin, Dianne Chapman, Diane Randall.

Ben Franklin's Visit. L-R, Ritchie Williamson, Chris Gulaptis, Uncle Clarrie Randall, Uncle Billy Walker, Minister Ben Franklin, Dianne Chapman, Diane Randall.

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Dianne Chapman explains the Yaegl Timeline to Ben Franklin

Museum's Yaegl Garden Plays Host for Funding Announcement

Last Tuesday 17 January Yamba Museum hosted a visit by the NSW Minister for the Arts, Aboriginal Affairs, Regional Youth and Tourism, Ben Franklin and local State MP Chris Gulaptis, local indigenous leaders Uncle Billy Walker, Dianne Chapman from the Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, Clare Murray and Dianne Randall  from Birrigan Gargle LALC, State Candidates, prominent local artists and Museum members.


The visiting party had the opportunity to view the newly updated Yaegl Timeline display with Yaegl representatives explaining much of the exhibit to Ben Franklin and Chris Gulaptis. This display has formed a powerful partnership between Yamba Museum and the Yaegl community. 


The purpose of the visit was to announce $800,000 in funding for six solutions-focused projects proposed by local Indigenous groups, including four new community buses. A total of $450,000 will be invested in projects in the Yamba area: the Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation will buy a bus to help locals get around and will also receive funding for an exciting cultural education and employment training initiative on Country, while the Birrigan Gargle Local Aboriginal Land Council has been awarded funding for a bus to support transport its members to functions ranging from medical appointments to funerals.

Two other buses will be bought for the Gurehlgam Corporation in Grafton and the Jana Ngalee Local Aboriginal Land Council, solving a multitude of transport issues in the community, in particular for the two remote communities of Malabugulmah and Baryulgil.  The Baryulgil Cemetery is a special place for local Indigenous people and $85,000 will be invested to build a shelter and storytelling place there.


Dr John Jackson fascinated the visiting party with a brief tour of his exhibition Scottish Geology, presently in The Old Kirk.  Dr Jackson explained his artwork depicting the formation of the earth's surface in various parts of the world.

( refer to middle image below in the next article ) Also having Scottish heritage, Ben Franklin was mesmerised by the graphic paintings and their geological significance. Dr Jackson’s Exhibition closed Sunday 29th January.


Although the visit was brief it was beneficial to our local community for the Minister to ‘touch base’ with locals and have face to face interaction.

Dr Jackson
Dr Jackson at Exhibition Opening[40241]_

Dr John Jackson dressed for the part at the opening of his superb exhibition “The Art of Scottish Geology” on Friday 16th December at the Old Kirk Yamba Museum, the exhibition continued unit early February.  Artist Graham Mackie advised John,  “Your work has stepped up another level” !  Long time friend, Warren Rackham, Secretary of the Maclean Scottish Association, opened the exhibition revealing the many attributes and qualifications of the infamous Dr Jackson.


Dr Jackson, otherwise known as The Rock Doctor, paints the story of how the earth evolved and chose Scotland as his theme, paying homage to the acknowledged founder of modern geology James Hutton. Scotland was one of the countries that contributed most to the foundation of geological science.  Scottish Geology is a wonderful introduction to how our world works.


The artworks depict what the earth’s activity and landscape looked like from 3 billion years ago moving into the present day. Scotland is a small country with an enormous story to tell, and with nearby Maclean being the Scottish Town in Australia this exhibition is an added connection. Brooms Head rock formations excite geologists for the clarity of form.  


Dr Jackson has indicated he will do more geological excursions during the year so keep an eye on our website and emails from the museum to members.

Dr Jackson discussing his art.jpg

The Collection Team manages the collection:  its care, storage and condition, its priorities and practices.  And, the Team ensures the collection is safe, managed and sustainable. There is always lively discussion about process, practices; and its continuing improvement.


The Collection Team’s responsibilities are diverse and varied.  They range from donations to supporting exhibition planning, to research for grants, and to loans to other institutions that are interested in our many collection items. It’s a big responsibility that the team are committed to and continue to enjoy.

Behind the Scenes
What does the Collection Team do ?

Anne Dinham leads the Society's Historical Walking Group,  8:30-9:30am Thursday mornings, weather permitting.  Participation for PYHS members is free, with a $2 donation to the museum by non-members and visiting walkers. 

Contact Anne on 0408738116 or email: for current departure point.   
Optional after the walk is a cuppa at own expense.


Walking Tours



Try this quick Quiz!

What type of shark attacked Steve King’s surfboard?

What year was the Yamba bakery built? 

What three things did the MV Mulgi transport?

What time did the switchboard make its last call?


Maybe you do know the answers but for many young and intrepid historians that visit our museum these questions need a little investigation to find the answers.

A discovery worksheet for Junior historians and intrepid historians was created so a visit to the museum is more than just a brief stop between swims. These quizzes were created and inspired by Quincy and Alice Fargher, wonderful creative granddaughters of one of our volunteers Sally Huxtable.  They had an idea from a previous visit to Yamba to help make a more meaningful experience for kids like themselves to discover more about Yamba’s stories.

Next time you are at the museum ask for a “Discoveries for Young Historians” or for teenagers “Discoveries for Intrepid Historians” sheet.

It may be a way to engage your children or grandchildren on their next visit. 

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