A fitting tribute to Val Robertson as museum room is named in her honour

Long-time volunteer member, Val Robertson, was recognised for her huge contribution to the Innisfail & District Historical Society, with the front room of the museum named in her honour.

INNISFAIL & District Historical Society stalwart, Val Robertson, was again recognised last month for her outstanding contribution to the organisation, with the front room of the museum being dedicated and named in her honour, at a special afternoon tea. 

A special morning tea was previously held on February 21, 2020, in Johnstone Shire Hall, in conjunction with Cassowary Coast Regional Council, to acknowledge Val’s 32 years of voluntary service to the Historical Society.  

Unfortunately, in 2020, members of Val’s family were unable to attend, so last month’s event was held with her family members travelling from Brisbane to be part of the auspicious occasion. 

Robertson, originally from New Zealand, but who has been living in Innisfail for 60 years, said that it had been an honour to be part of the museum.

“The museum has been my second life after I came to Australia and started researching my family history.  However, my interest was ignited after discovering the history of Innisfail had links to my birthplace in New Zealand through the Explorer, Thomas Fitzgerald.”

Val Robertson became a member of Innisfail & District Historical Society on April 24, 1987, and became President on March 3, 1988, and so held this role for 32 consecutive years until 2020.

Over the years, Val has observed many changes since the museum started in 1984 and took the museum from one room in the upper floor to eventual occupation of the entire two floors in the School of Arts Building.

In 1997, a partnership with the Queensland Art Gallery, and Val, and then Secretary, Carol Huddy, on behalf of Innisfail Historical Society, arranged for the restoration of two valuable paintings of the See Poy children. 

Val has also been involved in the planning, setting up, and manning of special displays in Central Arcade and Shire Hall, such as Vale Johnstone Shire Council, 100th anniversary of the name changes from Geraldton to Innisfail, opening of new Jubilee Bridge, ANZAC Day, and many others.

Val, along with other members of the Society, and Council staff, were involved in the production of a book and event at Shire Hall to mark the centenary of 1918 cyclone, which was named Event of the Year at the Cassowary Coast Regional Council’s Australia Day Awards in 2019.

She has been involved with acquiring grants for educational purposes, as well as for the purchase of additional equipment and display cases, including two large glass cases complete with LED lighting to highlight the artefacts.

During her long association with the Society, Robertson has been instrumental in recognising the contribution of early settlers and undertook the huge task of preserving this history with a variety of memorabilia including photographs, books, and lots more.

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