Treasures of the River, a photographic and audio installation, was launched last Friday 12 July at 5.30pm in Augathella. As part of the exhibition, local artist Joanne Sutton announced details of a new geocaching treasure hunt. “Six caches have been hidden around the Augathella district and people will need to log onto the One River website and follow the link to access the GPS co-ordinates,” Joanne said.
Those who take the trouble will be well-rewarded. Not only will they be taken to some of the most-favoured secret picnic and fishing spots generally known only to locals, if they manage to locate the cache, they will be able to read a collection of memories of local people about their river and what it means to them. Visitors will be able to leave a message in the log book and take a small memento. “The One River project in Augathella uncovered so many wonderful recollections going back over a hundred years, well before the nation’s capital was planned,” Joanne said. “These important stories were in danger of being lost, because nobody thinks any else will be interested, but they are the stories of our town and how we have survived drought and floods.”
Speaking at the launch, third generation Warrego station owner Ashley McKay recounted how his grandparents arrived on the land in 1913 on a dray, to a site that had no homestead, no water and no food. The larger stations drew their water from wells; up to 100 may have been in operation at any time, and each had a family of ‘water bailers’ living at the well, who would draw water for the cattle as needed. Small communities sprang up along the river and around the well sites, but moved when the water dried up or the river changed course.
“We often get visitors looking for sign of their forebears who lived and died on the land around here,” Ashley said. “But it is impossible to pinpoint where that might have been, because they moved so frequently.”
Treasures of the River is on exhibition in the Q150 shed in Augathella’s main street throughout July 2013. The shed, a unique multi-sided corrugated iron touring venue, was commissioned by the Queensland government as part of the Q150 celebrations and was recently acquired by Murweh Shire.
The geocaches will be hidden over the next few days. “We had our story books and log books on display at the launch, but unfortunately they were souvenired” Joanne said, “so I need to print some more. I think this is a sign of just how valued these stories and photos are to the people of this region.” To take part in the treasure hunt, visit oneriver.com.au and follow the links to the Augathella project home page.
Treasures of the River is one of ten local projects that form One River, a national program of the Centenary of Canberra, recognising Canberra’s position as the largest city in the Murray-Darling Basin. All ten projects will travel to Canberra and be on display at the Belconnen Arts Centre on Sat 24 Aug, and a One River Symposium will be presented in partnership with the National Museum of Australia on Sun 25 August. One River is a Centenary of Canberra project, proudly supported by the ACT Government and the Australian Government.