“180 Mementos, 180 Years,” the exhibition marking Queanbeyan’s 180th birthday, was launched in fine style last night at The Q, but the cake looked so much like the historical council chambers that no one was willing to cut it.
The launch and accompanying Q&A, presided over by ABC presenter Jolene Laverty, saw a crowd of Queanbeyanites joining in the refrain to Evelyn Grieg’s stirring song, “Queanbeyan, Queanbeyan, I’ll always long for you”.
The centrepiece of the evening was the exhibition, which featured artefacts from the town’s colourful history. Other items have also been installed around town, in the library, the Queanbeyan sporting gallery, the local museums and the Royal Hotel, a historical replica of which appears in the exhibition at The Q.
Curator and member of the organising team, “CityNews” columnist and social historian, Nichole Overall, recently told us: “This exhibition is another chance for us to present some of these amazing stories, people, and events in an engaging and interactive way, highlighting our journey which, to a degree, also charts the progress of a nation.”
Last night Overall described the proclamation of Queanbeyan as a village on September 28, 1838. She commented on “the myth of Struggletown”, arguing that it was initially a tag invented to entice Snowy Mountains workers to settle here. She said the title should now be worn as “a badge of honour,” praising the tenacity of a populous largely devoid of pretension.
She named some of the city’s “champions”, including squash legend Heather McKay, who was present, rugby legend David Campese, author Miles Franklin who had lived in the Brindabella area when it administered from Queanbeyan, and “James Bond” star, George Lazenby.
Items in the exhibition at the Q are varied, and include the first gravestone ever erected in the town, tent-pegger George Gribble’s silver cup awarded by Queen Victoria in 1897, fascinating maps of the emerging village, mayoral robes, the famous F!NK water jug by the late artist Robert Foster, and armour worn by Mick Jagger in the “Ned Kelly” film.
“180 Mementos: 180 Years,” at The Q, Queanbeyan, rear, 253 Crawford Street, Queanbeyan, 10am-4pm, Monday to Friday and 10am-2pm, Saturday, until October 14.