This site honours the men, women and children of the South Sea Islands, who worked throughout the cane fields of North Queensland, including those around this site.
Between 1860 and 1904, South Sea Islanders were brought to Queensland as cheap labour for the sugar industry. Over 60,000 were recruited from the island groups of Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Kiribati and Tuvalu.
The human trade of South Sea Islanders to Queensland was commonly known as blackbirding. This colonial trade was notorious for false promises, trickery and even kidnap, as means of recruiting young Islanders.
In Queensland, South Sea Islanders did the backbreaking work of planting, maintaining and harvesting sugar cane. They worked long hours for low or no wages while living in very poor conditions. Many were treated like slaves. To survive and stay strong, Islanders grew taro and yam and went hunting and fishing, according to custom.
In 1901 the Australian Government began deporting South Sea Islanders, under the White Australia Policy. South Sea Islanders who had started new lives and begun families in Australia protested, and eventually the law was amended to allow some to stay.
The descendants of these men, women and children are Australian South Sea Islanders. We pay tribute to the hard work and endurance of their ancestors who chose to make Australia their home.