The Historic Village Herberton cares for and displays the extensive collections of the Herberton Trust, established by Craig and Connie Kimberley. With over 300,000 items, the collections are used to tell the stories of Herberton, the tin mining, agriculture and gold rushes of the region, as well as extraordinary impact of industrialisation to Australia’s national heritage. The collection has a number of key collection areas.
The Historic Village’s mining collection focuses on the history and discovery of tin on the Atherton Tablelands. The collection is housed at the Doc’s Rock display, named after Samuel Douglas “Doc” Smith (1916-1980) who operated the tin mine The Sandra Mary at Slaughteryard Gully to the West of Herberton. The huge collection of mineral samples ranging from mixed copper carbonates, various tin ores from Herberton, Watsonville and Stannary Hills, Shell Conglomerate, opal from Winton, red ochre, tourmaline needles and peacock copper ore is well documented for viewing. Doc’s Rock Shop overlooks the nearby Happy Jack Tin Mine, established at the turn of the century on that very spot on the bank of the Wild River. The adjoining stamper is powered by what is considered a modern innovation in the form of an early McCormick tractor (circa 1920s).
Local Herberton History
The collection, including a strong photographic component, comprises social and personal histories, and includes materials related to businesses, factories, workshops, public institutions and societies, sports and recreation and municipal history.
Horse Drawn Carriages
The Historic Village has a significant historical collection of horse-drawn vehicles, most of which are on display at The Coach House, and across the Outdoor Pioneer Museum. Highlights of the collection include a magnificent century-old hearse, and a mint condition Cobb & Co coach built in 1883. A Cradle Shaft Sulky, Street wagonette, Abbott horse-drawn buggy, horse- drawn Milk Cart, Butcher’s Cart, Piano Box Buggy, Buckboard Wagon, Hooded Pony Phaeton and even a human-powered Penny Farthing bicycle (circa 1880) are also some of the highlights of this private collection, which is considered one of the largest in Australia.
More than 20 well-preserved motor vehicles, dating from the early years of the last Century are on display in Day’s Garage. These include a 1923 Model-T Ford, 1923 Harley Davidson and 1925 Indian Prince motor cycle, 1934 Packard Super 8 (“the most beautiful Packard ever made”), 1933 Continental Flyer, 1927 Morris Cowley Van (from The Sullivan’s TV series) and the 1937 Chevrolet Master Deluxe sedan, which operated the Atherton/Cairns White Car passenger service. Names like Bedford, Plymouth, Overland, Vauxhall, Ford Mercury, Buick, and Daimler stand out in this collection.
Pride of place in this collection goes to the 1927 Ruston Hornsby compression ignition engine. This engine once pumped water in the Burdekin Region and the huge flywheel makes it instantly recognisable. Another highlight is English Electric 16SVG Engine and 1350 KVA Generator. Made in Preston, UK, this 16-cylinder V configuration diesel engine, with its massive brass radiator weighs in at close to 40 tonnes. This engine was donated to the Village by the Malanda Milk factory where it had been the back-up generator since its acquisition in 1985. It is believed to have been manufactured in the late 1930s. Today, it powers the Ted Keid Saw and Planing Mill at the Historic Village. Other highlights include the Village’s RD6 Caterpillar and collection of 12 “dozers”, the outside collection of old boilers, featuring mammoth examples of 19th century engineering including a general-purpose steam engine (circa 1887), which was only decommissioned by the Historic Village Herberton in 2019. There are also a number of small engines, including the recently acquired XX, to round out the collection.
Wonderful examples of Australian made furniture can be seen throughout the Historic Village Herberton. However, the most special items are on display at Elderslie House. Inside this homestead, built by the founder of Herberton, John Newell in 1880, you will find early Australian furniture, made mostly from red cedar and silky oak due to its abundant supply in the 1800s. Designs were Georgian and Regency influenced as they were fashionable at the time.
This art collection features beautifully detailed l bird paintings of John Gould (1804 – 1881), an English ornithologist and bird artist. He published a number of monographs on birds, illustrated by plates that he produced with the assistance of his wife, Elizabeth Gould, and several other artists.
Discover the richness and diversity of First Nations cultural material and objects in this collection. It has a small photographic component that shows the impact and influence of Europeans on the local Aboriginal peoples (Jirrbal People of the Koombooloomba, Ravenshoe and Herberton areas), as well as objects that reflect hunting and gathering lifestyles such as spears and woven baskets.
Offering a rare look at police memorabilia spanning an era from the 1800s to present day, this collection was donated to the Historic Village by retired federal police officer Tom Bone and comprises an array of police cap badges and helmet plates from all over the world, along with hats and helmets, uniforms and police equipment. Attractive and very rare cast police station signs from Queensland and Papua New Guinea overlook the extensive. Some of the rarer items include a Queen Victoria era cap badge from South Australia, a full Beverley Hills cop uniform (with an interesting story to tell) and a very rare British bobby helmet plate from the time of King Edward VIII.
The humble newsagent was extremely important in small pioneering communities like Herberton. The extensive array of newspapers, datelined from the early years of the 20th Century, reminds us that Herberton reporters played an important role keeping the community informed. Don’t miss the Robert Ringrose Library and Reading Room, named in honour of Robert Colin Ringrose who arrived in Herberton in 1887 as a young man of 31. He enjoyed a distinguished career as a solicitor and barrister and had a special interest in geology and natural history. Many of the books and periodicals have come from the original Herberton School of Arts, which was established in 1881.
Featuring domestic, formal, industrial and military clothing, the Historic Village collection has an emphasis on 19th century Victorian-era fashion. Highlights include Ada’s Frock Salon, which houses an array of elegant clothing and clothing related items that are all fine examples of the personal belongings the pioneers brought with them. Wives came to Herberton with dresses and accessories that suited the English climate but were thoroughly inappropriate for hotter and more humid conditions of Queensland. The collections feature a selection favoured by well-dressed women of the day, including a black brocade jacket and skirt from 1894. The Military Wing and the Sewing Room further add to this.
John Newell / Elderslie House
John Newell’s beloved home, which once stood on the hill near the present day Mount St Bernard College overlooking the tin-mining town he founded in the 1880s, once again echoes the sounds of footsteps and voices. The 130-year old Elderslie House has been painstakingly restored to her former glory and is now the proud “jewel in the crown” of the Historic Village. In 1885, Newell married the daughter of his friend and business partner William Jack and several years later became the first Mayor of Herberton. It was then, in 1888, he decided to build this imposing house, made of mainly red cedar with white beech timber flooring. Newell died in this house on July 30, 1932 and was buried in Herberton’s cemetery.
The Toy Shop has a very special collection of late 19th Century dolls including a rare 1909 Kammen and Reinhart baby doll from Waltershausen, Germany, and an 1890 Bebe Jurneau bisque head doll (with original human hair) from France. There are over 100 dolls of varying age in the Historic Village’s collection.
The Toy Shop has plenty of indoor toys on display. Table games like Snakes and Ladders, Dominoes and early Monopoly and every boy’s favourite – battalions of toy army vehicles. Other childhood gems include a circa 1900 push-pull child’s cart, a small penny farthing bicycle from around 1910 and various pedal cars, each certain to have given generations of Herberton children years of fun – there is even a miniature wood-burning stove. The charming Herberton-inspired model railroad and township built by Frank Kopke with the help of the Townsville Men’s Shed volunteers in 2015, features around 100 hand painted people, trees, landscaping, period motor vehicles and a picturesque waterfall, completes the collection.
During the 1880s, Mr E.J. Martin, Chemist and Dentist, offered his professional services from “Apothecaries Hall”, a site in Grace Street Herberton. It was this man that inspired the Historic Village’s pharmaceutical collection, which features in the window, colour glass carboys dating back to the 1600s. The chemist of old would carry a wide range of products including cosmetics, photographic supplies, household chemicals, patent medicines, potions and cure-alls. A dispensary was usually set aside as a place where medicinal concoctions and pills could be prepared according to doctors’ orders.
The Lock Up (Gun Collection) features 50 guns that have been decommissioned and are locked behind a toughened glass panels. There is still the ominous sound when the collection is locked up for the day inside the original two-cell police ‘jail’ from Alamaden.
Of the hundreds of bottles that make up the Historic Village’s collection, many dating from the 1880s, each served a particular purpose for the early settlers of Herberton. Part of the reason for the sheer number was that by the time Herberton was settled, bottle manufacturing was automated and bottles were produced by the thousands. A great number shown here once contained consumables – everything from schnapps to hospital ether. The colour of the glass often gave away the contents..
The Camera Store (circa 1883) is a treasure trove for anyone who loves old images and the equipment once used to capture them. Its collection extends from the thoroughly familiar (for many older visitors) to the cameras used by photographers in the very early days.
Photography credits go to: Thomas Wielecki, Brad Newton, Phil Warring, Colyn Huber, Darry Cooper and Tanya Snelling.