ACT News


Exhibit legacy of a legend

EDDIE MABO'S daughter Jessie first thought of Canberra sceptically but these days she boosts tourism to the national capital.

On Saturday she surprised 24 tourists brought to the capital as part of a project called the Human Brochure.

The tourists tweet and blog about their experiences and their host, Australian Capital Tourism, hopes this will attract other visitors.

They were given plenty to write about when Ms Mabo made her surprise visit to the Treasures Gallery of the National Library to talk about some of her father's documents. There are 28 boxes of papers at the library, all of which used to be stored in the shed or spare room at the Mabo home.

''Mum was more than willing for [the library] to have them,'' the Brisbane resident said. ''It's overwhelming what he wrote and how he wrote it.''

The Treasures Gallery has welcomed 150,000 visitors since it opened in 2011, with the Mabo papers displayed alongside James Cook's Endeavour journal, William Bligh's list of mutineers and author Patrick White's glasses.


For Ms Mabo, second daughter of Eddie and Bonita Mabo, seeing the papers reminds her of her father being away from home, often in Canberra.

She explained how she first thought Canberra would be a ''stuck-up'' place but since travelling back and forth to view her father's documents she has formed a positive view of the capital.

Visiting the collection also reminds her the Mabo name is enshrined in Australian history.

''At home I'm just Jessie but here I'm 'the daughter of [Eddie Mabo]','' she said.

As she spoke she stood beside a showcase which contained a self-portrait by her father, as well as a map drawn by him of Murray Island - with ''Eddie Mabo's portion'' marked with red lines - and a handwritten speech he gave at James Cook University in 1981.

Eddie Mabo's 10-year legal battle finished in the High Court with the doctrine of terra nullius - land belonging to no one - being overturned.