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DEEBING CREEK ABORIGINAL MISSION, NEAR IPSWICH, QUEENSLAND

The Post Card has single copies of th green ½d QV and the orange ‘Four Corners’ Queensland stamps which are cancelled with a duplex Toowoomba and the numeral ‘626' dated August 9, 1903. It is addressed to Herrn Adolphe Feige, Bethel bei Bielefeld, Westphalen, Germany. There is a reception postmark of BETHEL/ 14 14 9 03/ bei BIELEFELD (Figure 1).

 

The reverse is dominated by a photo of standing, seated and recumbent Aboriginal, men with women and children mostly in the rear, with cottages in the background. The print states that the scene is the Deebing Creek Aboriginal Mission, Queensland. General View of the Home, showing Inmates and their Cottages. The message is written in German by Mathilde Frank, Addresse C/o Miss Hunt, The Grange, Toowoomba, as an exchange of postcards (Figure 2).

 

European presence in the Ipswich area commenced in 1827 when Limestone Station was established. A group of convicts along with an overseer were sent to quarry limestone for the manufacture of mortar for building construction in Brisbane. They did not get a friendly reception from the local Aborigines, the Limestone Station was threatened and tools were stolen. As a consequence soldiers were sent up the river from the Brisbane convict settlement to guard the kilns. The Ipswich area was opened for free settlement in 1842 and their frequent violent interactions between the new settlers and the Aborigines. There was no recognition given to the fact that the Aborigines owned the land. In 1844 the native population in the Ipswich area was estimated as ca. 150. In 1849 a native reserve was set up on the Bremer River, which was abandoned after 2 years for the native population was so nomadic that it was altogether unfrequented.

The Deebing Creek mission was founded by the Aboriginal Protection Society of Ipswich. Work started on the establishment of an Aboriginal mission at Deebing Creek around 1887. On 2 January 1892, 130 acres in the County of Churchill, Parish of Purga was proclaimed a reserve for the use of Aborigines. In April 1892 a further 42 acres previously gazetted as a water reserve, was added. In October 1892 an additional 41 acres was gazetted in response to: a deputation from the committee of the "Ipswich Aboriginal Home" [ requesting] … that a small additional portion of land in the immediate locality ... be granted for the purposes of the mission.

Missionary Edward Fuller was the first manager of Deebing Creek which initially catered for Aboriginal people from the Ipswich area. By the turn of the century the mission superintendent reported that the inmates of Deebing Creek came from many different tribes with some children being sent to the mission from as far away as Burketown. Government records show that the mission was supplied with provisions by the Department from February 1891 to February 1894. In March 1894 to June 1896 a grant of £250 per annum was authorised.

In November 1896 the Rev. Peter Robertson, chairman of the Aboriginal Protection Association requested and was granted additional funding for building and the purchase of more land and the annual grant to the mission was increased to £450. At the same time a gazetted notice made provision under the Industrial and Reformatory Schools Act of 1865 for the establishment of an industrial school which came to be known as the Deebing Creek Industrial School. The industrial school at Myora was closed and some of the children were transferred to Deebing Creek Industrial School.

In November 1914 a grant of £200 was made to assist in the transfer of the mission from Deebing Creek to reserve land at Purga. The reasons for the move were the abundance of good agricultural land and the greater distance from the town centre. The mission committee was still acquiring property and land for the mission, with the Chief Protector noting in a Departmental letter that 62 acres of farm land adjoining the Purga site had been purchased for £600 by the committee. In 1915 the mission was completely relocated to Purga. In 1948 the Purga Mission was closed but the Purga cemetery remains open..

 

 
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