Refined White and Plantation Voices

A selection of images from the extensive Refined White photograph collection were used in State Library of Queensland’s exhibition Plantation Voices, which explores the heritage, culture and identity of Australian South Sea Islanders.

Australian South Sea Islander men putting food onto the hot stones in the hungi pit at Lakes Creek, Rockhampton, Queensland, 2000. Refined White Exhibition collection, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 28873-0001-0078
Stone wall built by Australian South Sea Islander labourers at Bargara, Queensland, 2000. Refined White Exhibition collection, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 28873-0001-0188

This collection of images were taken by photographer Brian Rogers in 2000, under the direction of assistant researcher Imelda Miller, and used in 2001 for the Australian Sugar Industry Museum’s travelling exhibition, Refined White. The aim of the exhibition was to highlight the contributions made by South Sea Islanders to the Australian sugar industry and to create more awareness about this hidden history.

In his travels Rogers captured photographs of Australian South Sea Islander communities in Bundaberg, Gladstone, Rockhampton and Mackay. They record their work and celebrations, their struggles and achievements, their pride and spirit. This collection is the first major contribution of Australian South Sea Islander life to the State Library’s collection since the early historical images dating back to 150 years ago. A selection of over 200 images from the Refined White project have been digitised and can be browsed via our One Search catalogue.

Railway track laying machine being inspected by construction workers outside Bowen, Queensland, 2000. Refined White Exhibition collection, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 28873-0001-0078

State Library’s Plantation Voices exhibition will run until 8 September 2019. Entry is free.