SPINKS, Ingham (1879-1935)
Manuscript diary, with original photographs, of a young English visitor to Barambah Station (later Cherbourg), southeast Queensland; with entries describing Sydney and Melbourne. September – December 1891.
An important eyewitness account of life on Barambah Station at the close of the nineteenth century.
Henry Penny’s Improved Patent Metallic Pocket-book Diary, oblong duodecimo, limp leather, marbled endpapers; manuscript in ink, pp ; the first page inscribed ‘Ingham Spinks. Diary, 1891. What I did part of the time in Australia’, and bearing the red wax seal of Baramba (Barambah) Station; loosely inserted are 13 original snapshot photographs in format 36 x 50 mm, taken on Barambah with a very early box camera, presumably by Ingham Spinks; the majority of these photographs, which are undoubtedly unique and unpublished, are candid shots of local Indigenous people, most likely Wakka Wakka or Gubbi Gubbi speakers, and several have contemporary identifying captions verso; Ingham’s 1891 account is followed by a further  pages headed ‘Diary of Wrecks seen by me whilst at school at Bramcote in the year 1893’, also written by Ingham but in a slightly more mature hand; at the rear of the diary are a number of blank pages, as well as 2 pages recording letters received by Ingham whilst at boarding school at Bramcote, Scarborough (Yorkshire) in 1893; the pocket diary is complete and, aside from the second leaf of the Barambah account being detached, the contents are in very good condition, the manuscript clear and legible throughout; the accompanying photographic prints, although slightly over-exposed and with low contrast, are preserved virtually in their original state.
Ingham Spinks (born Yorkshire, 2 September 1879) had just turned twelve when he visited Barambah Station, situated midway between Gympie and Kingaroy, for three weeks during September and October 1891, prior to the area being gazetted as an Aboriginal Reserve in 1900. In the late nineteenth century the Indigenous population in this region of southeast Queensland who had managed to survive Native Police operations and still remained on their own country were often used as cheap labour on pastoral stations, although many became so-called fringe dwellers on the outskirts of small settlements. During the 1890s Aboriginal men were employed as stockmen, station hands and brumby runners on Barambah Station, where they lived with their families. At least five of these people – men, women and children – are identified on the backs of Ingham’s remarkable snapshots taken with one of the first types of commercial box camera: Pompey and Lame Jacky (station hands), Katie and Alice (young women), and Winnie (a young girl). Two white station residents, May and Isaac, are also identified.
Ingham’s Queensland account begins on September 29 1891, with his arrival at Kilkivan, east of Barambah. Setting out at 8 a.m. the next day, his party, which includes his father, aunt, and governess, Eva, travels the 25 miles across country to Barambah. Ingham records that he rode 14 miles on horseback before going the rest of the way in the buggy, and that they arrived at Barambah “in time for dinner”. His time at Barambah is spent riding around the station (on a horse called “Sweetheart”), paying visits to the Plain Camp and the Well Camp, and encountering local workers and families (the Lahertys, as well as an unnamed German family, are mentioned); he assists with tasks such as lambing and mustering cattle, helping to separate those that are “for the butcher”, and witnessing their slaughter. Ingham records numerous observations of the activities of the Aborigines on the station. These “black boys” are adept at training horses, handling cattle, killing and skinning animals for their hides, and catching snakes. One of the accompanying photographs shows the station hand Pompey holding an eleven-foot black snake.
On October 21 the family leave Barambah for Brisbane, then travel by train to Wallangarra on the Southern Downs, where they change trains and continue on down to Sydney. They go sailing at Watson’s Bay, and sightseeing in the Blue Mountains. The Jenolan Caves make a particularly strong impression on the young Ingham. On October 29 they travel by train to Melbourne where they are met by Ingham’s cousins. They stay in Malvern at “Noswad”, the residence of their relative, Hugh Moore. After a three-week sojourn in Melbourne, Ingham and his family board the ship for the return voyage to England on December 5 1891. The final 10 pages of the diary describe his experiences on the voyage home via the Suez Canal.