I've Been Working on the Railway
Railway stories and experiences of Torres Strait Islanders, Aboriginal people and Australian South Sea Islanders.
Fettlers placing sleepers in formation during the construction of the Greenvale Line, North Queensland, 1974. Image from The Workshops Rail Museum / Queensland Rail Collection. Fettlers laying track on the Gregory Line, central Queensland, 1980. Image from The Workshops Rail Museum / Queensland Rail Collection.
Through the 1950s, 60s and 70s, there were large scale developments of rail infrastructure across Australia. In the hot and dusty environments of the inland north, it was a common scene to find Torres Strait Islanders, Australian South Sea Islanders and Aboriginal people working long and hard in the hot sun.
In this exhibition we explore the little known railway stories of Aboriginal people, Torres Strait Islanders and Australian South Sea Islanders and their contribution to the development of rail across Australia. Their stories are about their achievements, like the 1968 World Track Laying record set by a predominantly Torres Strait Island gang, but also about so much more.
The camp life, the realities of the work, the hardships, the separation from their land, islands and family and the opportunities and challenges of working on the railway.
Today, Torres Strait Islanders, Aboriginal people and Australian South Sea Islanders work across the full spectrum of roles that make up railway activities.
This exhibition is supported by Visions of Australia, an Australian Government program supporting touring exhibitions by providing funding assistance for the development and touring of Australian cultural material across Australia.