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Welcome to your  Spring Newsletter Issue 15, enjoy the articles and images of what has happened at the Museum over the last 3 months and what new events are planned. Click on one of the buttons above to read a selected article or scroll through the newsletter reading at your leisure.  Thankyou to all our members old and new.

President's Report

I’m very pleased to be collaborating again with familiar faces of the newly elected Committee 2023/2024. All 9 Committee members were confirmed by Returning Officer Cr Karen Toms at the August AGM. Cr Toms spoke about the very high regard in which the Society and its volunteers are held throughout the Clarence Valley. Our first meeting will be held at the Coombadjha property of Graham Mackie, long-time Society supporter and art exhibitor in the Old Kirk. Graham has generously offered to host our meeting, give us a tour of his studio and gallery, as well as making morning tea. An invitation not to be refused!

Honour Board for Life Members

When you’re next visiting the museum, take some time to view the newly completed honour board that lists the names of 35 Life Members. These are volunteers who have contributed significantly over several years to the successful operation of the museum, from the beginning of the Society in 1981. This was made possible through a Clarence Valley Council grant of $930. It’s currently hanging outside the File Room – just ask the Front Desk volunteers.

Honor Board 2023_edited.jpg


Mosaic 12 online workshops

The Collection Team is currently committed to four days of online workshops on the new Mosaic 12 software. This program is used to record digitally all information about our 2,000+ collection. The five team members will complete units that update their skills in using the program, enabling more efficient responses to requests re objects/images and in responding more effectively to visitors in relation to donations. This course will certainly boost the team’s confidence in managing the collection. The $1,500 funding was through a Skills Development grant from Museums & Galleries of NSW.


Replace Old Kirk front steps

We have recently received a state government “stipend grant” of $2,000 from Museums & Galleries of NSW – Lights on, Doors Open, part of Create NSW’s Volunteer Museum Grant Program. We were one of 113 NSW museums in the volunteer-led sector to quickly respond and access this stipend, designed to supplement small museum incomes that were significantly reduced during Covid years. This funding will be used to replace the front steps of the Old Kirk which were badly water-damaged during the 2022 rain deluge.


My thanks to the following members: Gai Pritchett for acting as President during my six-week holiday in May/June; Graeme East for expanding our social media presence by establishing an Instagram account; Vicki Jermyn for taking on the role of recording and reporting on visitor numbers. Hoping to see some of you at the next members’ social activity on Friday 8 September with Dr John Jackson who is leading a small group around the breakwater, explaining its geology. And also openings for forthcoming art exhibitions - see other links


Address at funeral service, Maclean, by Associate Professor Joanne Jamie.

I am a chemistry academic at Macquarie University in Sydney. I first met Uncle Ron in the early 2000s when Macquarie University botanist Jim Kohen introduced us to talk about medicinal plants. I could not have imagined then as to how much of a profound impact Uncle Ron would have on me and on so many others at Macquarie University and beyond. 

Starting as a research project between Macquarie University and Yaegl and Bundjalung Elders on medicinal plants, this project extended to empowerment of youth and cultural revitalisation, with Uncle Ron and this community as a catalyst for these extensions.

One of these extensions was to the cultural immersion program, the River of Learning, where Uncle Ron shared his knowledge annually with Maclean High School students, including on the fish traps, tool making, medicinal plants and bush foods, along with other Elders, including Aunty Judy, Aunty Carmel, Aunty Rosie and Aunty Glenda. This program has won many awards and has been an inspiration for other schools. Thank you to Rhonda Pitson for developing this program with the Elders and for Maclean High School for making this an important annual event that embraces the knowledges of the Elders.

Uncle Ron was a driving force for the co-creation with Macquarie University of the National Indigenous Science Education Program/NISEP. Annually, this program reaches around 200 Indigenous secondary students as science leaders, with over 2000 people annually as their audience. This program also includes the Indigenous Science Experience at the iconic Redfern Community Centre, which Uncle Ron attended for many years, sharing his immense knowledge on medicinal plants, with school children and families and helping many more Australians respect and value the rich knowledge systems of Aboriginal peoples.

Uncle Ron once said he wanted to see every school getting involved with NISEP. While we aren’t quite there yet, our reach is across South East Queensland, northern NSW, Wagga Wagga, Armidale and Western Sydney schools, and along with Macquarie University, we now have Griffith University, Charles Sturt University and University of New England as NISEP partners. This all originated from the passion of Uncle Ron and other Elders in creating a better future for their youth.

In 2014 Uncle Ron received an honorary doctorate for his work with Macquarie University, becoming Dr Uncle Ron.

At the time, Maquarie University’s Vice Chancellor  stated of Uncle Ron. “He provides a remarkable example of the power of education; not only in his own life but in how he has touched and shaped so many others.”

Uncle Ron responded saying that “This award is a great honour and means so much, not only for myself, but for all of my people of Yaegl and Bundjalung Country,” “I feel enormous pride – I have come a long way from a tin hut.”

Indeed, this was a very special day.

I remember the university suggesting Uncle Ron could bring two family members to the graduation ceremony.  Thankfully they relaxed the rules. Seeing all the front row of the graduation hall filled with Uncle Ron’s family was so joyful.  Dr Uncle Ron’s honorary doctorate sent a message that everyone can achieve great things if you set your mind to it.

Uncle Ron believed in education being life changing. Along with being associated with Macquarie University, Uncle Ron studied in Canberra and graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Letters in prehistory and anthropology. He then lectured for 10 years at Southern Cross University, Lismore in Indigenous Studies.

I and all the team at Macquarie University have been incredibly fortunate to have had the privilege to know and work with Uncle Ron, and to be a part of this community.

I want to also provide condolences from others associated with Macquarie University who were not able to make it today.  This includes Dave Harrington, Jo Packer, Nienke Brouwer and Subra Vemulpad, who along with Ian and myself, learnt so much by yarning with and listening to Uncle Ron.

Uncle Ron has provided us with many special memories that we will cherish.

Uncle Ron wanted to make a positive difference in society – he has done so in so many ways – and he now leaves a legacy that will keep making lives better.

Thank you, Dr Uncle Ron. We will miss you deeply but we will ensure your positive impact continues


Lesley Pickering, Steve Tranter, Kerry Hulm (1).JPG

In July the President of Clarence River Historical Society (CRHS), Steve Tranter, officially gifted to PYHS President Lesley Pickering and Treasurer Kerry Hulm, two lanterns from the SS Alexandra,

possibly the best known of all Clarence River pilot boats and tugs.  The lanterns had been part of the CRHS collection on display at Schaeffer House Grafton for many years.

The tug SS Alexandra was built in North Sydney in 1902 and leased to the Government soon afterwards as a bar and pilot vessel.  The Government bought her in 1910 and she remained in service for 38 years until the send of September 1940. She was then sold to Pullens in January 1942, hulked a year later and towed to Sydney in January 1943, by the replacement tug the Henry Miles - the last wooden tug for bar and pilot work on the Clarence.

Lesley Pickering, Steve Tranter and Kerry Hulm 
Alexandria Crew.jpg

Crew of the Alexandra L-R: Frank Shawman, James Harcus, William Whitman, Edwin Taylor, Frank (Guy) Alison. Early 1930'3.

Alexandria p1.jpg
Frank Shawman and Edwin Taylor on the deck. Marr's boat 'Aldinga'in the foreground. Early 1930's.

Nature's Palette Exhibition

Four talented artists exhibited their very varied works at The Old Kirk from 24th June to 20th July.  Their official opening fell on a very cold, dark and dreary evening; however their enthusiasm wasn't lacking! The theme of their works indicated a display of colourful birds and animals, bright flowers and shrubs and magnificent seascapes.  The foursome came from Yamba and the surrounding the district.

Painting is Paul's passion which is very evident in the perfection of his subjects. Most of Paul's work is Australian themed, his intention is to create movement and emotion in every piece. "If you have managed to excite the senses then you have been successful" said Paul. View Paul's work at:

Lucy Car delights in the big, bold and colourful. Creating statement pieces or pops of colour using acrylic paints on canvas. A wonder woman with five children, a big garden, vege patch where does she find time to paint! Lucy and her husband live on 11 acres. 

Maree Hannah is inspired by the colourful views of the Clarence Valley Coast. An inherited creativity and naturally evolved painting style, Maree follows her instincts when capturing magical moments onto canvas.

Crafty Karin Brear loves working with pastels and learning different mediums and techniques. Not limiting herself to one style, colour, theme or technique and is inspired by nature.


Geoff and the chair leg lure.jpg

It always amazes volunteer staff at the Museum with what some people donate, depicting a time in Yamba's history.

The most recent story coming from a donation started in 1965 when a bass lure was brought from the U.S. to Australia by Ross Garvin.  This lure inspired a young Geoff Hirst to fashion various timber items to create the ideal lure.

Read Geoff's story and other fishing stories that have become legend on the Clarence in the latest display at the Musuem. You too, and the grandchildren, may be inspired to experiment with various household castoffs and you never know... it may become legend!

A young Geoff Hirst in 1966

Members AGM Meeting

2023_2024 Committee Best_edited.jpg
2023 Sarah Gurich, Lesley Pickering, Cr Karen Toms.jpg
Guest speaker Sarah Gurich, Lesley Pickering and CR Karen Toms who stood in as returning officer.

As a result of an extremely successful and productive year all previous Committee members were re-elected for the incoming year in order to complete many of the projects for the Society's Strategic Plan.

Meet your 2023-24 Committee left to right front row is Margaret Lawrence, President Lesley Pickering, Brenda Salisbury, back row Jan Angelo, Treasurer Kerry Hulm, Vice President Gai Pritchett, Jude McBean, Secretary Anne Dinham, Phil Cousemacker and special Guest Speaker Sarah Gurich.

Members were enthralled by Guest Speaker, the newly appointed Director of the Grafton Regional Gallery, Sarah Gurich.  Sarah's very interesting speech was accompanied with a visual presentation of her previous art exhibitions and programs including a stint at the Venice Biennale, the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre in Katoomba, as well as Bathurst Regional Art Gallery (BRAG), impressed the audience. Sarah shared some of her personal and professional background and acknowledged her predecessors - Jude McBean and Niomi Sands. Sarah expressed enthusiasm for bringing art to the public, including digitally in public spaces and also working with Historical Societies.


Dr Jackson at Exhibition Opening[40241]_edited_edited.jpg

Dr John Jackson is going to thrill us once again!  He will take a group to examine the Yamba Breakwall - fitting the pieces of the geological puzzle together by examining the rocks at the southern end of Turner's Beach and the breakwall. 

There are two excursions, the first will take place at 10am, Friday 8th September, this one is full and the next excursion date is Monday 25th September. Meet at the picnic table in the breakwall/ Yamba Farmers Market carpark. Free to members.

No bus required - book your place on

What is this ?

What was this object used for? 

Is this object just one part of a set?

Look at the markings, try a google search and

see if you can find out more?

Mystery item revealed


Sheep knuckle bones were used as 'jacks' - a popular children's game of toss.

The game is played with at least 2 people, but more make for more fun. Also required is a small rubber ball. To decide who goes first, use a method of flipping, place the jacks in cupped hands, flip, then back to cupped hands. The player who holds the most jacks goes first. That player scatters the jacks into the playing area with a throw from one hand. A game is divided into rounds of ascending numbers, which are based on the number of jacks each player must pick up per throw. The 1st round "Onesies" means that the player throws the ball in the air and picks up one jack then grabs the ball after it bounces once.  The player must pick up all jacks this way without missing the jack or letting the ball bounce more than once. If all the jacks are picked up successfully the player moves on to Twosies (pick up 2 jacks per throw), then Threesies, and so on.  In some South African countries it is used to determine the next tribe leader! There are many variations of this game which is thought to have originated in Asia, although there have been many references in Greek and Roman mythology that describe games using stones or small bones.

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