Image Gallery: Mer (Murray Island) and its People in 1907

Mer (Murray Island), located close to the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef and on the periphery of the Torres Strait, was the destinations for the Australian Museum's collecting expedition in 1907. This island, in spite of a reduced population and several decades of missionary influence, retained a cohesive society with its cultural traditions. Even European presence manifested itself in a less destructive manner than elsewhere in the Straits. This island promised a superior preservation of indigenous ‘folklore.’ Even if some customs and ceremonies were not actually practised, they were usually well remembered. ‘Murray Island was chosen as a field of operations because its far northern latitude, volcanic structure, proximity to the Barrier [Reef] and backward condition of the population promised interesting Results’ wrote Charles Hedley in his report.