Aurukun on the Archer River was a mission marked by trouble during its first ten years under the German Moravian pastor Richter who strongly relied on ‘native assistants’ to mediate contact with indigenous communities that remained aloof. It was the third of four stations on the west coast of Cape York in the Presbyterian/Moravian string of missions consisting of Mapoon (1891), Weipa (1898) and Mornington Island (1914).
|Bethesda Mission (1866-1881)||
Bethesda was the first mission to be set up in the separate colony of Queensland. It was one of the very few missionary ventures in Queensland during the 1870s. Typical of that period, it hovered precariously between an unfunded mission and a commercial enterprise with cheap Aboriginal labour. Its founder Pastor Johann Gottfried Haussmann had been a colonist at Zion Hill mission. Bethesda mission operated more or less for seventeen years, directed at the spiritual and material requirements of the surrounding German and Aboriginal population in the Albert-Logan region. It did not result in any conversions to Christianity of indigenous people.
Bloomfield River mission in the Daintree commenced as a well-funded government initiative during a period of rapid settlement in the Cooktown region. It was then devolved into Lutheran care and underwent a parallel development with the Lutheran mission at Mari Yamba. Two successive missionaries foundered in health and spirit at Bloomfield. When the mission was wound down in 1901 the Kuku Yalanji refused to be shifted to Cape Bedford, and although the reserve was revoked, they remained in the area in a number of small camps. In 1957 it became Wujal-Wujal and still exists as an Aboriginal community. Because it became a Lutheran mission only in 1887, it celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1987.
|Cape Bedford Mission (Hope Vale) (1886-1942)||
This was the first mission on Cape York Peninsula, and became the oldest surviving mission in north Queensland. It was initiated by Lutheran staff from Cooper Creek (South Australia) who established Elim and it became a stable community with the assignment of two young Neuendettelsau missionaries, Schwarz and Poland who stayed for 55 and 20 years respectively and added the Hope Valley site. The whole community was evacuated during World War II, because of its German missionary and lugger connections with Japanese. After the war Hope Vale was established on a new site. Outspoken and indomitable Missionary Schwarz is still remembered at Hope Vale which has remained a cohesive community and is home of a number of active and high profile indigenous activists.
More than fifty years after the Zion Hill missionaries tried to emulate the ‘Moravian model’, the first Moravian mission in Queensland was established at Mapoon. Its success was largely due to the 28-year staying power of its first missionary, Nikolaus Hey, who implemented distinctly Moravian regimes and seeded a string of missions along the east coast of Cape York Peninsula.
|Mari Yamba (1887-1902)||
The 15-year history of Mari Yamba mission has all the appearance of an ill-conceived and poorly managed project, resulting in the forced displacement of Aboriginal people from their homelands. Its establishment by the Hermannsburg-leaning Lutheran synod of Queensland (UGSLSQ) had more to do with the competition and splintering between various Lutheran synods than with an evangelical spirit, and foundered mainly on the particularly dogmatic, bureaucratic and authoritarian stance of Hermannsburg Lutherans. Like several other missions, it quickly outlived its historical position at the frontier of settlement causing the Queensland government to withdraw its support. The Mari Yamba mission residents were relocated to Cape Bedford mission in 1902. Mari Yamba itself has received very little historical attention. It was located near the present day Proserpine and Andromache State Forests.
|Nerang Creek (1869-1878)||
The 'Aboriginal Industrial Mission Reserve' at Nerang Creek was a private initiative of Pastor Johann Gottfried Haussmann in association with his nearby Bethesda Mission on the Albert River. It, too was an attempt to start a Gossner-type mission in a funding vacuum. It received much criticism and little support, during a period when there were no other mission efforts in Queensland.
|The Stradbroke Island Mission (1843-1847)||
The first Catholic mission in Australia began and ended with miraculous events: it was heralded by an auspicious comet and ended with the mysterious disappearance of Fr. Raimondo Vaccari. Staffed by Passionists and directed by the Benedictine Archbishop in Sydney it was riven by internal disputes and starved of support. This mission is not connected to ‘Myora Mission’ (1892-1942) on Stradbroke Island.
Weipa became the first branch mission of Mapoon in a string of roughly equidistant missions along the West coast of Cape York under the direction of British Moravian Rev. Edwin Brown until 1919. Its purpose was to prevent recruiting for the trepang and pearling industry in the area.
|Zion Hill Mission (1838-1848)||
This was the first mission in what later became Queensland. It was intensively staffed yet surprisingly harmonious, and functioned to facilitate the settlement of Moreton Bay. Some of the Zion Hill missionaries themselves became pioneer farmers of the emerging state of Queensland, imprinting their names on the modern Brisbane map: Rode Road in Chermside and Wavell Heights, Zillman Water Holes, Zillmere, and Zillman Road in Hendra, Gerler Road in Hendra, Franz Road in Clayfield, Wagner Road in Clayfield, Nique Court at Redcliffe, Haussmann Courts and lanes in Meadowbrook (Loganlea) and Caboolture. They are remembered as the first free settlers of Queensland, producing the first free-born settler children in Queensland.