THE Mareeba Heritage Museum and Visitor Information Centre had a special visitor last weekend as the great grandson of Mareeba founder John Atherton, Chris Atherton was in town.
Mr Atherton was in Mareeba to donate ornaments to the museum and speak on the extensive Atherton family history and its role in shaping the town today.
“I’m giving it to the museum so the people of Mareeba can enjoy it,” Mr Atherton said.
“It’s fantastic to be able to return items and tell stories about things that mean so much to this town.”
However, the main reason for Mr Atherton’s visit to Far North Queensland was to donate Woomeras to the new $6 million museum in Kowanyama.
“Great grandad amassed an enormous collection of Aboriginal artefacts, including the Atherton Woomera collection, of which there were 9,” he said.
“And they are being handed over to be placed in the new museum which is pretty special.
“We’re very privileged to have been asked.”
John Atherton’s involvement with the region’s Aboriginal community didn’t stop there, as he also authored a English-Aboriginal dictionary after learning to speak the language by liaising with the Indigenous people in the region over time.
“It was unheard of in those days,” Mr Atherton said.
“He was an extraordinary man whose work with Aboriginal people was before its time.”
Whilst in Mareeba, Mr Atherton and members of the Mareeba Heritage Museum and Visitor Information Centre visited where John Atherton and other family members were buried on Emerald End Road.
Mareeba has a rich history that spans centuries, and it is evident Mareeba wouldn’t be the wonderful place that is today without its founder John Atherton and his enormous influence.