Mur’bah Show

Mur­willum­bah meet­ing the start of one of re­gion’s favourite events

Tweed Daily News - - NEWS - TALK­ING HIS­TORY TWEED RE­GIONAL MU­SEUM

AS THE crowds rush to see the 2018 Mur­willum­bah Show to­day, we thought we’d look back at the rich his­tory of our com­mu­nity’s much-loved show.

The ori­gins of the show date back to 1890, when a pub­lic meet­ing was held in Mur­willum­bah with the am­bi­tion of form­ing a Show So­ci­ety.

Lo­cal farm­ers, pro­duc­ers, politi­cians, and gen­tle­men were en­thu­si­as­tic at that ini­tial meet­ing and chose the name The Tweed Brunswick and Border Pas­toral and Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety.

The name was changed in 1907 to the Tweed River Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety; that name is still in use to­day.

Ten acres of land be­tween Mur­willum­bah and Joshua Bray’s farm at Kyn­num­boon were granted in 1890 and a fur­ther five acres in 1898, mak­ing up the land the show­ground sits on to­day.

It took a huge ef­fort to clear and pre­pare this site ready for the show, per­haps the rea­son the first event wasn’t held un­til 1898.

The first show was held on Thurs­day and Fri­day, Novem­ber 24–25 1898.

The sched­ule of prizes was ad­ver­tised in a full page ad­ver­tise­ment in the lo­cal news­pa­per. There were cat­e­gories for cat­tle, horses, pigs, poul­try, dogs, farm pro­duce, su­gar cane, dairy pro­duce, hor­ti­cul­ture, fruit and veg­eta­bles, pre­serves and cook­ing, and the school chil­dren’s sec­tion in­cluded hand­writ­ing copy books..

Over 1000 en­tries were re­ceived across the var­i­ous com­pe­ti­tion cat­e­gories. Show ad­mis­sion was one shilling, and saw the largest crowds the Tweed had ever seen, with over 2500 peo­ple at­tend­ing the two days.

The show was tra­di­tion­ally an im­por­tant so­cial event; it was a time to look your best. Fam­i­lies of­ten pur­chased new out­fits just for the oc­ca­sion, show­ing off their fin­ery at the day out. Lo­cal res­i­dent John Wes­sell re­calls that his fam­ily, “al­ways went dressed up, but the re­al­ity of walk­ing around a dirty pad­dock would al­ways ruin your shoes.” Dairy cat­tle have been a star at­trac­tion at the show since its in­cep­tion; at the first show, 150 dairy cat­tle en­tries were re­ceived.

The em­pha­sis of show­ing cat­tle was to build up a foun­da­tion of good qual­ity breed­ing stock in the lo­cal area. But­ter fat com­pe­ti­tions were in­tro­duced in 1923 to boost en­tries into the cat­tle sec­tions of the show.

The win­ning cow was awarded on the weight of but­ter fat pro­duced in its milk in a 24-hour time pe­riod. The Clarke Broth­ers were cat­tle farm­ers at Midg­in­bil, and won the first 24 hour but­ter fat com­pe­ti­tion at the show in 1923. The win­ning cow was called May Day of Hil­lview. The broth­ers went on to win many more but­ter fat and other cat­tle cat­e­gories in fu­ture shows.

The pavil­ion has al­ways been es­sen­tial to the suc­cess of the show. It houses the ex­hibits of farm pro­duce, flow­ers, dec­o­ra­tive works, pre­serves and cakes, and ex­hibits from school chil­dren, and has seen much fierce com­pe­ti­tion over the years. One well-known prize win­ner in the pre­serves sec­tion was Alice Haigh, who ex­hib­ited from 1916 to 1963 and was awarded over 300 prizes. Amongst the show­ground’s build­ings, none is more fa­mous than the Brand­ing Rail bar.

The bar is rus­tic and one of its main fea­tures is the three huge sup­port­ing logs sur­round­ing the bar, known as the “brand­ing rails”.

The rails are filled with burnt stock brands, which record the reg­is­tered marks of many of the Tweed’s ear­li­est farm­ing fam­i­lies.

The brand­ing rail opened in 1972 and gave stock­own­ers the op­por­tu­nity to record their fam­ily’s stock brands, burnt into the rails for pos­ter­ity.

On its de­but it cost $5 to record a brand, and pro­vided ex­cel­lent fundrais­ing for the Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety. It be­came in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar; 78 brands were recorded on the first day alone.

Lo­cals will all have child­hood mem­o­ries of sideshow al­ley, how­ever to­day it is very dif­fer­ent to the early years, when spruik­ers would stand high on a plat­form call­ing through mega­phones to “come one, come all” to see any num­ber of cu­riosi­ties.

In 1917 a trav­el­ling show­man had a croc­o­dile on dis­play as part of the Show. That year the show­ground flooded and the rep­tile es­caped from his hold­ing pen.

Such an ex­cit­ing event gave rise to many lo­cal sto­ries; some say he was found in Tum­bul­gum a few days later, some be­lieve he was never found and ended up in An­gourie years later. A

s laws and so­cial at­ti­tudes changed, the “freak shows” were re­placed by games and rides that got big­ger, bet­ter, and louder ev­ery year.

One of the most fa­mous guests to the Mur­willum­bah Show was Prince Charles, who opened the Tweed Sil­ver Ju­bilee Show in 1977.

After the of­fi­cial open­ing, the Prince watched the wood­chop event, in­spected prime cat­tle, and spent time in the Pavil­ion ad­mir­ing the dis­plays. He strolled through thick crowds, smil­ing back at good na­tured greet­ings such as “Hello, Char­lie Boy” and had to al­most push his way through sideshow al­ley. Be­fore he left, Prince Charles planted a Hoop Pine in hon­our of the oc­ca­sion; to­day that tree is over 11 me­tres high.

For more his­tory and sto­ries of our won­der­ful show, visit the ex­hi­bi­tion, Chut­ney, Chooks and Cham­pi­ons: Sto­ries of the Show at Tweed Re­gional Mu­seum Mur­willum­bah.

Talk­ing His­tory is a col­umn supplied by the staff of the Tweed Re­gional Mu­seum. It fea­tures the sto­ries be­hind their rich col­lec­tion.

PHOTOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

TOP LEFT: Clarence John­son and horse Gen­eral at the 1911 Mur­willum­bah Show. TOP RIGHT: The Wil­liamson Fam­ily, well dressed at the Mur­willum­bah Show, circa 1941. ABOVE: Horse-drawn ve­hi­cles dec­o­rated for the grand pa­rade, 1908. BELOW: The Tweed Brunswick and Border Pas­toral Agri­cul­tural Show, circa 1900.

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