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Mercer Lane Mosaic

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by Cris (subscribe)
I am an Organiser of the Group Hiking South East Qld and More on Meetup. Visit the website at https://www.meetup.com/HikingInSEQLDandMore/ is free to join all the activities posted on the hiking group.
Published April 18th 2021
The mosaics recount the history of the cane sugar in Ingham
Mercer Lane features beautiful mosaics, paintings and photos to narrate the history of the cane cutters, their lifestyle and the sugar industry in the Herbert River, North Queensland.

Karen Venables is the mastermind behind this great project of the mosaic artwork, involving local artist Kate Carr and more than 2,000 people in the community for the making of the artwork.

Mercer Lane, Mosaics, Ingham, North Queensland, Cane sugar industry, cane sugar cutters, Kate Carr, Dave Rowe
Karen Venables on the right and visual artist Kate Carr are the instigators of the public mosaic. Karen was very impressed by the mosaics in the town of Sheffield in Tasmania and she went ahead making an art project for Ingham. Photo from www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2014/12/11/4146822.htm


The art project is a tribute to the people who came to the New World as sugar cane cutters. The people from different countries such as England, Ireland, Italy, China, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, the Solomon and Papua New Guinea. They contribute to the making of today's very multicultural community in Ingham.

Mrs Venables was inspired by the mosaics in Tasmania and she had the vision to have great artwork in Ingham. The mosaic was also associated with the ancient mosaics in Italy and hundreds of colourful tiles were used to make the mosaics. More than 2,000 people were involved in cutting and gluing the mosaics on the panels. Also, passing by tourists were involved in the construction of the mosaic.

Mercer Lane, Mosaics, Ingham, North Queensland, Cane sugar industry, cane sugar cutters, Kate Carr, Dave Rowe
Many people in the community were involved in the making of the great mosaic. Photo from www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2014/12/11/4146822.htm


The mosaic is 42.5 metres long. It took more than 1,500 tiles and about 3,000 people were involved. The project started on the 25th of August 2014 and it took about one year to be completed.

Mercer Lane, Mosaics, Ingham, North Queensland, Cane sugar industry, cane sugar cutters, Kate Carr, Dave Rowe
A detail of the mosaics in Mercer Lane. The panel depicts a worker cutting the sugar cane by hands. On the side, there are Aboriginal people. When the land was cleared to make room for the sugar cane, it created a terrible impact on the Aboriginal people. The land was a source of food for the Indigenous people and they were pushed away starving. Photo by Author.

"In the Hereber River Valley the Nywaigi, Warrgamay and Bandjin Aboriginal people maintained a delicate balance with their environment. The clearing of land for timber, cattle grazing and the growing of crops meant that their natural habitats and hunting grounds were taken from them with devastating effects on the native plants and animals. From then on they were forced to live on the margins of society and economic activity. However, thy were not without a few protectors like James Cassady, the owner of the Mungalla Station at the heartland of Nywaigi lands. He wrote of the terrible situation as he saw it:

In this portion of the Kennedy, the white man up to the present has had little cause to complain, but it is not so with the black; for the last twelve months, both men and women have been disappearing one by one, and sometimes in large numbers, by the aid of powder and ball. And what is the crime? It may be taking a few sweet potatoes or a few cobs of corn.

Today I hear of the massacre of four blacks, amongst them a woman, a boy of about eight years old, and a girl of about twelve years of age. "
- From the sign.

Mercer Lane, Mosaics, Ingham, North Queensland, Cane sugar industry, cane sugar cutters, Kate Carr, Dave Rowe
In the background are visible the six major mills to process the sugar cane. Photo by Author.


Mercer Lane, Mosaics, Ingham, North Queensland, Cane sugar industry, cane sugar cutters, Kate Carr, Dave Rowe
Different aspects of the growing of the sugar cane in the fields. Photo by Author.


Mercer Lane, Mosaics, Ingham, North Queensland, Cane sugar industry, cane sugar cutters, Kate Carr, Dave Rowe
In modern days the sugar cane is cut by machine, loaded on trucks and transported to the sugar mills. Photo by Author.


Mercer Lane, Mosaics, Ingham, North Queensland, Cane sugar industry, cane sugar cutters, Kate Carr, Dave Rowe
Today there is a great competition in the world for the production of sugar cane. Photo by Author.


Mercer Lane, Mosaics, Ingham, North Queensland, Cane sugar industry, cane sugar cutters, Kate Carr, Dave Rowe
This painting was made by the artist Dave Rowe from a photo dated 1942. All women cane cutters at Ingham district in 1942 when all men folk were interned in North Queensland. Photo By Author.

"During World War II many women of cane farms were obliged to do the farm work and cane cutting as their Italian husbands had been sent to internment camps, their sons were serving with the Australian Army overseas and seasonal cane cutters were in short supply.

Italy entered WWII in 1940, and at this time Australian began a program of the internment of "enemy aliens", even though many have been naturalised citizens. In 1942, with the fear of the Japanese invasion, there was another round of internments and many tractors were confiscated from farms. Italian men kept their suitcases packed, as they could be taken away at any time. they were sent to camps in NSW and South Australia. Many were not able to return home until 1944."
- from the sign.

Mercer Lane, Mosaics, Ingham, North Queensland, Cane sugar industry, cane sugar cutters, Kate Carr, Dave Rowe
A panel from the mosaic depicting a sad woman and a blackbird. Photo from zoeboccabella.com/tag/mercers-lane-ingham/

"Our first sugar planters, Maurice Geoffrey O'Connell and William McDowell proved that sugar was not going to be successfully grown in the Herbert River Valley by the hands of Europeans alone. And so that men and women from the islands of Melanesia were brought on recruiting ships to toil on the cane fields of the Herbert River Valley. Originating from Vanuatu, New Caledonia, the Solomon and Louisiades (PNG) island. Many came, not involuntarily, but others were enticed or kidnapped. The word "blackbirding"came to be used for that enticement and kidnapping, and the word 'Kanaka' for these indentured workers themselves."- from the sign.

Mercer Lane, Mosaics, Ingham, North Queensland, Cane sugar industry, cane sugar cutters, Kate Carr, Dave Rowe
Many tiles were used for the making of the mosaics. Lots of people donated tiles as well. Photo from zoeboccabella.com/tag/mercers-lane-ingham/


Mercer Lane is located near Jk's Deli in the heart of Ingham, just off Lannercost Street. In Mercer Lane, there are tables and benches. You can relax with refreshments from the Jk's Deli. Jk's Deli is at 78 Lannercost St, Ingham QLD 4850.

Nearby is Lees Hotel - The Pub with no Beer, the original Pub with No Beer was made famous by Slim Dusty #1 hit. The pub now has got plenty of beer and is committed not to run dry again since 1943, when US servicemen on their way to PNG to fight in WW2 drank all the beer leaving not a single bottle. A local named – Dan Sheahan – rode 20 miles into town the next day, where he found that the pub was dry! Sitting in a corner with a glass of warm wine, he penned the poem. Lees Hotel is at 58 Lannercost St, Ingham QLD 4850.

Mercer Lane, Mosaics, Ingham, North Queensland, Cane sugar industry, cane sugar cutters, Kate Carr, Dave Rowe, Lees Hotel- The Pub with no Beer, JK'S Deli in Ingham
The Pub with no Beer made famous by the Slim Dusty. Photo by Author.


Mercer Lane, Mosaics, Ingham, North Queensland, Cane sugar industry, cane sugar cutters, Kate Carr, Dave Rowe, Lees Hotel- The Pub with no Beer, JK'S Deli in Ingham
The sugar cane bins. Photo by Author.


Mercer Lane, Mosaics, Ingham, North Queensland, Cane sugar industry, cane sugar cutters, Kate Carr, Dave Rowe, Lees Hotel- The Pub with no Beer, JK'S Deli in Ingham, TYTO Wetland in Ingham,
Miles and miles of sugar cane fields around Ingham. Photo by Author.


Mercer Lane, Mosaics, Ingham, North Queensland, Cane sugar industry, cane sugar cutters, Kate Carr, Dave Rowe, Lees Hotel- The Pub with no Beer, JK'S Deli in Ingham
Sunset over the sugar cane fields. Photo by Author.


You can take a stroll in the tranquil environment of TYTO Wetlands, a unique 90-hectare natural wetland in Ingham. The wetland has numerous walking trails and it is home to over 245 species of birds, native Australian wildlife and numerous tropical plant species. Be very careful to tread away from the waters since there are crocodiles in the wetlands.

Mercer Lane, Mosaics, Ingham, North Queensland, Cane sugar industry, cane sugar cutters, Kate Carr, Dave Rowe, Lees Hotel- The Pub with no Beer, JK'S Deli in Ingham, TYTO Wetland in Ingham,
TYTO Wetlands in Ingham. Photo by Author.


Reference

www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2014/12/11/4146822.htm
https://zoeboccabella.com/tag/mercers-lane-ingham
www.jksdelicatessen.com
https://leeshotelingham.com.au
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Your Comment
Stunning mosaics, Cris!
by Elaine (score: 3|8103) 22 days ago
A greatly informative and historical article Cris. The mosaics are beautiful and a credit to the artists. Let us not forget our history.
by Neil Follett (score: 3|2302) 22 days ago
Very good quality article with very interesting content.
by T. A. Rose (score: 2|265) 22 days ago
Very good and interesting article, great photos, thanks. Cheers.
by telor (score: 1|22) 22 days ago
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