A roomful of stories

A roomful of stories

The Story Bank, including The Yarning Circle, Maryborough, Queensland + The Legends of Moonie Jarl

A large room in a museum which was once a bank in Maryborough, Queensland has been dedicated to Indigenous stories. Called “The Yarning Circle”, the room also celebrates the first Aboriginal children’s book published in Australia, The Legends of Moonie Jarl.

“That book presages this storytelling tradition here that was then taken on by Europeans.” - Ian Brown, local storyteller, Maryborough, Queensland

First published in 1964, The Legends of Moonie Jarl was written and designed by Butchulla siblings Moonie Jarl (Wilf Reeves) and Wandi (Olga Miller). It recounts the stories told to the pair by their father, a Butchulla headman.

“My father … told us many things in the evnings before we went to sleep. He would tell us the stories or legends of our people.” - Moonie Jarl.

The Story Bank interactive museum occupies the heritage-listed former bank which was the birthplace of P.L. Travers, author of the Mary Poppins series of books. Travers, whose birth name was Helen Lyndon Goff, was born on 9 August 1899. Her father worked at the Australian Joint Stock Bank on the ground floor of the building. The family lived upstairs, above the bank.

Launched at the beginning of NAIDOC Week, The Story Bank focuses on the telling and collection of stories, be they myths or otherwise. ILF Founder Suzy Wilson was at the launch celebrations, along with our Board Director, Butchulla elder Glen Miller who spoke about the history of the Butchulla people in the region and the considerable power, the story has in bringing two cultures together. 

Travers was fascinated by myths as a source of wisdom. And while much of The Story Bank features her life and work, Fraser Coast Council, which now owns the former bank, wanted to establish not just an exciting new museum but also a means of encouraging literacy and storytelling. They especially wanted to include the ancient cultural traditions of the Butchulla people of the Fraser Coast.

“No culture can satisfactorily move along its course without its myths, which are its teachings, its fundamental dealing with the truth of things, and the one reality that underlies everything.” - P.L. Travers

Now, instead of safeguarding people’s savings as it once did, the bank collects and protects stories. Visitors to The Story Bank are encouraged to open an account and deposit their own literary creations!

Buy a copy of The Legends of Moonie Jarl 

  • Posted 12 July, 2019

If you enjoyed reading this article, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter. We'll keep you updated with the most current stories of our work in remote communities, as well as upcoming events you could participate in. SIGN UP