Wish You Were Here: tokens of travel

Hokey Pokey Contest Greenmount Beach 1953 - photo by C. G. SimpsonSending postcards and buying a souvenir or two were once part and parcel of a trip away, before the days of personal cameras and instant selfies. Ceramic dishes, trinkets, cups and saucers, toothpick holders, spoons, and tea towels were some of the most popular take-home items and were produced in their thousands.

Charming examples of all these souvenirs are among Tweed Regional Museum’s latest exhibition, Wish you were here: tokens of travel, features souvenirs of the Tweed from the early 1900s through to the present.

“These tokens were usually inexpensive and easy to transport, and their appeal was often short-lived, fading quickly along with the holiday glow,” said Museum Director Judy Kean. “Many items were relegated to the back of a cupboard or donated to the local op shop. But a large number survived and found their way into public and private collections.

“These mass-produced, inexpensive, sometimes kitsch holiday mementos are actually valuable historic records. They often featured images based on photographs taken at the time and therefore provide tangible and accurate records of people, places and events. In many cases, these landmarks, people or activities are gone and long forgotten, or have at changed considerably.”

Wish you were here includes a strong focus on holidays at the beach, which was a big reason for holidaying in the Tweed and around the border. Many postcards and other items show beach scenes, camping, guesthouses and holiday activities. They sit alongside items depicting Murwillumbah and coastal and rural villages such as Cudgen Headland, Mooball, Fingal and Uki.

“Fabulous film footage, taken by Charles Simpson in the 1950s, shows beauty contests and Hokey Pokey competitions which attracted hundreds to the region’s beaches,” added Ms Kean.

Many items on display were collected by Allen Callaghan, who grew up in Tweed Heads and worked for the Daily News early in his media career. Mr Callaghan collected Tweed souvenirs while travelling all over Australia and has donated a substantial part of his collection to Tweed Regional Museum and the Queensland Museum.

“We’re delighted to have over 25 items from the Queensland Museum collection on loan for this exhibition,” said Ms Kean. “iPads at the exhibition feature images of more than 100 postcards from our collection and a number of tourist guides dating back to the 1920s.”

Wish You Were Here: tokens of travel
Tweed Regional Museum, 2 Queensland Road, Murwillumbah
Exhibition continues to 28 May 2018
Free admission

For more information, visit: www.museum.tweed.nsw.gov.au for details.

Image: Hokey Pokey Contest Greenmount Beach 1953 – photo by C. G. Simpson