Plantation Voices

State Library of Queensland

Plantation Voices is a fascinating State Library of Queensland exhibition that explores the history of the Australian South Sea Islanders who were tricked, kidnapped and enslaved into work on plantations all along the Queensland coastline and shares the stories of their descendants.

Plantation Voices

Australian South Sea Islanders are the descendants of South Sea Islanders who were used as cheap labour for the Australian sugar and cotton industries between 1863 and 1904. Many were blackbirded, kidnapped or tricked into working as indentured labourers on the plantations.

Plantation Voices

Featuring never-before-seen original photographs, rare and restricted historical papers, and newly commissioned artworks, Plantation Voices brings the living history of these unnamed people to life. 

Plantation Voices

The exhibition charts the paths of descendants in reclaiming their lost past and forging new identities into the future, whilst looking at the community’s contribution to the state’s cultural and economic landscape over the past 150 years.

In a nutshell - Through State Library’s heritage collections, this free exhibition gives voice to the untold stories of a community that played a vital role in shaping the nation.

Image Credits (top to bottom) :

Group of South Sea Islander workers on a property in Cairns. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Accession number 6576

South Sea Islanders cutting cane in the Bundaberg district, ca. 1906. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Accession number: 6326

South Sea Islander woman planting sugar cane in a field, 1897. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Negative number: 142325

Dylan Mooney, Stop and Stare series, 2018. Black pencil and charcoal on paper. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Accession number 31872

State Library of Queensland is a valued partner of Must Do

Plantation Voices

State Library of Queensland

Stanley Place

South Brisbane

Feb 16 - Sep 8



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