This display in the SSJG Museum in Broome depicts the 1907 arrival from Ireland of nine Sisters of St John of God. These young women, dedicated to a religious life, had travelled around the world to a hot remote corner of Australia, far from any western civilisation. They joined German monks at Beagle Bay to run a school for the children living there. Beagle Bay had become a haven for Aboriginal people hunted from their land, harassed by draconian laws of association, and preyed on by official policies separating children from their families. The sisters soon abandoned their heavy black habits and dressed in white. They quickly learned to to love and understand the people in their care, and established, with the priests, a Garden of Eden at Beagle Bay. Men, women and children came there from all over the Kimberley. Reading about life at Beagle Bay is still fairly shocking for modern day people, but there was always fresh food grown in big vegetable gardens, everyone had somewhere to live and sleep, and the children were educated. This model of the tiny boat arriving from around the world foreshadowed hope and shelter for displaced Aboriginal people, and a hard new life for the young women sailing on her.
In the museum Agnes showed me the exhibits, talking about her life as a child at Beagle Bay. She did not know who her people were, she explained that the Mission was a good home for her, where she learnt many skills and felt looked after. Stolen children, taken from their families because they were half-caste were also sent to Beagle Bay. For some Beagle Bay represented a place where they were controlled and stripped of their identity, being given English names, losing contact with their birth families. This little video shows the mission when it was operating, while Daisy Howard tells of her experience there, losing her sister Mary.
and for the history of Beagle Bay
and the exquisite pearl shell decorated altar that tourists come to see. We were unable to get there due to heavy rain flooding the access road … but maybe next time!
See some more interpretations of Foreshadow here http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/foreshadow/