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What is ASSI 150 ? ASSI – Australian South Sea Islanders

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2 What is ASSI 150 ? ASSI – Australian South Sea Islanders
150 Years – 1863 – th anniversary of the first labourers to arrive in Queensland. Woodhill State School , the first school in the area opened in 1873.

3 Who are ASSI ? Australian South Sea Islanders are people descended from a group sometimes called ‘Kanakas’. They arrived between 1863 and to work on the sugar cane plantations and farms. They were strong workers who could handle the hot Queensland weather.

4 Where are the South Sea islands?
Australian South Sea Islander’s ancestors came from many different islands but were mostly from Vanuatu Sandwich Tanna Solomon Islands Lifou Mare

5 What is Blackbirding ? Blackbirding is a word that means to trick or kidnap. The captains’ of the ships that sailed to the islands would trick the islanders to come onto their ships. Once they were on board they would be chained and locked into cabins. Sometimes when they were returned they were sent to another island and not their home. When the islanders were kidnapped their village lost their husbands and fathers and also their stories and histories.

6 Who is Robert Towns ? Sydney business man Captain Robert Towns wanted to make lots of money by growing cotton and bought acres of land on the Logan river at Veresdale. Captain Towns agreed that the labourers would be fed, clothed and housed and returned to their homeland at the end of their service.

7 How did they get here? A ship called the “Don Juan” sailed to the South Sea islands to collect the labourers. It arrived at Redbank on the Brisbane river in 1863. The Islanders then walked from Redbank to the cotton plantation at Townsvale (Veresdale)

8 Where is Townsvale? Woodhill State School Townsvale

9 What is The Cotton Drain
The plantation land along Cyrus Creek would often flood and this would ruin the cotton crops. The South Sea Islanders were responsible for digging the “Cotton Drain” to help drain the water out of the fields and back into the river system. These drains are still visible today.

10 Life on the Land The islanders would spend long days in the hot Queensland sun picking cotton. They would be called in at sundown by the ringing of the Kanaka Bell, The workers became quite competitive with each man bringing in his bag to be weighed at night by candle light. Prizes such as knives, buckles and glass beads would be given to the man with the most cotton picked. A set of these beads are currently on display at the Beaudesert Historical Museum.

11 Why is this important for our region?
With the arrival of the South Sea Islanders at the Cotton Plantation, the district began to grow quickly. Schools, churches and business would soon be built as people began to move to the area. It was a thriving township that became the major centre in the region. It wasn’t until late 1960 when cotton prices dropped and they stopped growing cotton that growth in the town would slow down. When they built a train line to Beaudesert, the township of Townsvale would soon disappear and Beaudesert would grow to be the centre of the region.

12 Why is ASSI 150 important? To acknowledge the ASSI people and promote their unique culture and valuable contribution in the development of Queensland. To increase awareness and recognition of Australian South Sea islanders and their significance to Australia's past , present and future. To learn more about their culture will help us understand more about the different cultures in Australia.

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