History of KHS

30 Years of the Kununurra Historical Society in 2016

  The Kununurra Historical Society Inc. (KHS) was formed at a meeting on June 5th 1986.

 In 2016 we commemorate 30 Years as a Society and will have an Open Day & Evening from 12 to 8pm - Sunday, June 5th 2016 - 30 Years! The night before this (Saturday June 4th) we will be having a KHS Members Dinner in Kununurra (hence the casual start time ;^) - Thank you to all those who have sent acceptances or apologies.

  This coming week we commemorate thirty years since the inaugural meeting that saw the formation of the Society on June 5th 1986, the meeting having been convened by Ursula Brimble, was held at the 'Multi Function Room' at the new Kununurra Leisure Centre and was chaired by Dennis O'Brien, who (I was informed just last week - 29 V 2016 AB), had issued strict statements before the meeting, to the convenor, Ursula Brimble, that he would chair the meeting but would NOT be President. Fortunately it transpired that Dennis O'Brien did indeed become the first KHS President at that meeting on June 5th 1986, although he probably had many roles already in Kununurra activities, had been President of the Kununurra Progress Association and led that dynamic group for many years. Dennis was made an Hon. Life Member of the Society a few years ago for the contribution he made in the earliest years of the Kununurra Historical Society and for the constant stream of archives he has gifted to the important local collection we have, in the ever-growing KHS archive. Thank you Dennis!

Front page of the Kimberley Echo with announcement of meeting to form Kununurra Historical Society

  It is not mentioned in the article above, but it is interesting to note that CSIRO ended their 40 year association with the Kimberley Research Station (KRS) and that KRS was re-named at this time which was exactly 40 years after the start of KRS in May/June 1946, now being 70 years ago, while at the same time, the Department of Agriculture WA has gone it alone now for 30 years out at KRS. While it is no longer called the 'Frank Wise Institute of Tropical Agriculture' and it never did become an Agricultural College, as the article states, Kim Durack IS being remembered. On behalf of all KHS members, congratulations to the Department of Agriculture WA past and present KRS staff for 30 years at KRS alone and 70 years including years with the CSIRO and for the 75 years involvement with Ord River Irrigation from Carlton Reach days. [Only found this incidentally it as front page for the article that follows - when scanning this for KHS 1986-2016 commemorations today - AB 29 V 2016]

'Historical Society Forms in Kununurra'

1986-06-1 - The Kimberley Echo - Page [? CHECK - not on page scan] - KHS to be Formed Article - KHS Archive KHS-2016-78-H-BD_3

 The convenor of the meeting, Ursula Brimble unfortunately moved to Perth soon after the inaugural meeting, but in 2015 I made contact with Ursula in relation to the wonderful oral histories she recorded of Don & Meg Shedley, Bill Withers, Howard Young and others with copies for KHS and for the Battye Library Oral History Collection, including the Maggie Lilly oral history, which is now available to listen to online from the the State Library of WA [Add new page with KHS oral history information].

  Ursula has recently rejoined KHS as a financial life member and tonight (29 V 2016) wrote to me with apologies for our 30 Year Dinner, which has inspired me tonight to create this new page as Ursula also wrote about how the idea of a historical society at Kununurra came about, as follows.


  ...In the meantime I would like to say, my thoughts are with you all on celebrating 30 years of this historic occasion. I was fortunate to have the backing of Dennis O'Brien and Bill Withers and the support of many townsfolk who I had to convince that having a Historical Society was of the interest to the community and a benefit to the tourists visiting Kununurra. This all came about to tourists calling into our peanut block and wanting to know about the Ord. So I gave them a talk on the production of cotton to our last planting of peanuts in 1986. This was all followed up with our celebration of the cotton festival where I put up a display with information provided by a few people in town and bits of photographs etc. Thanks to the dedication of those who carried on with the Historical Society, especially Margaret Lawson, Dennis O'Brien and Bill Withers supporting and others. It has become a great success.

  Add to this list Judy Withers, Roy and Rosalie Hamilton, Howard Young, Di McCosker and many others since then, as well as volunteers, who have become crucial cogs in the works of archive and museum activities.

  KHS in 2016 thanks you all for starting this Society, the dynamically growing and changing history collections (as evident in the first minutes reproduced below) of the archive and museum, which have become a great asset for the future, accessible locally and some accessible to all online.

Andrew Barker - President - May 29th 2016

[1 week before the June 5th 2016 commemorations of the KHS's formation.]

1986 Minutes - Inaugural Meeting for the formation of the Kununurra Historical Society

Minutes of Public Meeting held 5th June 1986 at the Multi Function Room Leisure Centre.

OBJECT: To discuss the formation of an Historical Society in Kununurra.

CONVENOR: Mrs Ursula Brimble

CHAIRMAN: Mr Dennis O'Brien

MINUTES: taken by Miss Margaret Lawson

PRESENT: D. O'Brien, M. Lilly, K. Lilly R.H.Taylor, D. Oliver, M. Warnock, Roy Hamilton, Dianne McCosker, M. Lawson, R Small, June Hegarty, J. & W, Withers, Doug. McGhie, Jim Hughes, G Broome, W Raak, S & M Whiting, B Dickey, Barbara Oosterhuis, U. Brimble, J. Lamoreaux

APOLOGIES: J [Jo']. White, Jan Ryan, Lyn O'Brien, Eric Sydenham, Mr & Mrs. G. Gauci, Murray Brown, Susan Bradley, Judy Caratti, Julie Kemp, Glenda Blythe, Mrs Raak, Alma Petherick, David Warnock, Robyn Ellison, Mrs Lawson, Howard Young.

Meeting opened at 7.35 pm

Mr O'Brien welcomed those present, asked for apologies and then stated reason for meeting – to form an Historical Society in Kununurra. He then introduced Mrs Ursula Brimble to give further details.

Mrs Brimble thanked Messrs Edwards and Hamilton for their help. Stated that Mrs. Di McCosker had started a collection of tapes and photographs and reports and felt more were needed. Aims of society – to record regional and local history ie. Maps, relics, photos, old and new historical details while memories are available. Mrs Brimble suggested that Mrs Mary Whitehead from Wyndham be invited the next meeting to discuss matters – she is a member of the Royal Historical Society.

Mrs Brimble gave details for running Historical Societies and a handbook for museums is available from Battye Library also printing details for photos.

The Chairman put the question that a Historical Society be formed in Kununurra, carried unanimously.

The Committee was then elected

President – Mr Dennis O'Brien, moved Roy Hamilton, seconded Michael Whiting

Vice President – Mrs Di McCosker, moved K. [Kevin] Lilly, Seconded W. [Wilhelm] Raak

Secretary – Miss Margaret Lawson, moved Mrs [Joy] Lamoreaux, seconded J. [Jim] Hughes.

Treasurer – Roy Hamilton, moved Bill Withers, seconded K. [Kevin] Lilly.

Committee Members:

Julie Kemp, nominated Ursula Brimble, seconded Joy Lamoreaux

Judy Withers, nominated Ursula Brimble, seconded Barbara Dickey

Gracie Broome, nominated June Hegerty, seconded Joy Lamoreaux

Perth Committee Member – Ursula Brimble nominated Margaret Lawson, seconded Di Oliver.

Members were asked to consider over the next two months actual archival photo, printed matter etc, that they had in their possession or had news of the whereabouts of, so that a general list could be drawn up. The next meeting to be held in one months time. Members to be notified.


Student from Adelaide had a grant to study Kununurra's history, to be contacted by Mr Raak.

Mr Hamilton asked Mrs Brimble to read the aims of a Historical Society.

Treasurer asked for nominated of fees, decided $10.00 per family. $5.00 per member.

Discussion should businesses be asked for a membership fee – negative reaction. Name of Society to be Kununurra Historical Society.

Secretary to contact Battye Library about Handbook for Museums.

Committee to meet 17th June at 5.15 pm.

Suggested by Jim Hughes that the size of photo reproductions to be 9 x 13

also markers on blocks for their history.

There being no further business the meeting closed at 8.30 pm.


June 1986 mailing list as per names from first meeting: in order of signature

[KHS 2016 Note - Bold and Italicised entries represent those who are current KHS Members or Families of those who have 'gone where we all must go' that are still involved as members of the Kununurra Historical Society in 2016.]

D O'Brien PO Box 465 Kununurra

Maggie Lilly Packsaddle Plains

R. J Lilly Packsaddle Plains

Heather Taylor 1269 Beefwood Kununurra

Diana Oliver PO. Box 108 Kununurra

Mary & David Warnock PO Box 773 Kununurra

Roy. A Hamilton PO Box 85 Kununurra

Dianne McCosker PO Box 141 Kununurra

Margaret Lawson PO Box 239 Kununurra

Robyn Small PO Box 106 Kununurra

June Hegerty PO Box 112 Kununurra

Bill & Judy Withers PO Box 55 Kununurra

Doug McGhie PO Box 19, Kununurra

Jim Hughes PO Box 25, Kununurra

Gracie Broome PO Box 205, Kununurra

Wilhelm & Hedi Raak PO Box 204 Kununurra

Barbara Dickey PO Bpx 9 Kununurra

Barbara Oosterhuis PO Box 846 Kununurra

Ursula Brimble PO Box 576 Kununurra

Joy Lamoreaux PO Box 33 Kununurra

Mrs M Whitehead Wyndham

Mailing List from Apologies List – no addresses or contact numbers

Jo White

Jan Ryan

Lyn O'Brien

Eric Sydenham

Mr & Mrs G. Gauci

Murray Brown

Susan Bradley

Judy Caratti

Julie Kemp

Glenda Blythe

Alma Petherick

Robyn Ellison

John Edwards

Howard Young

[ALSO See - June 5th 2016 events to commemorate 30 Years of the Society - See the KHS Events Page]

1986-06-14 - The Kimberley Echo - 'Historical Society Meets' - KHS-2016-78-H-BD_5

[Transcriptions and scanned articles by volunteer members of the Kununurra Historical Society were placed online just before June 5th 2016 events to commemorate 30 Years of the Society - See the KHS Events Page]