Lost Stories of Mareeba

About this project

Welcome to  Our Lost Stories of Mareeba Series.  Mareeba is an incredible multi-cultural immigrant community and is home to people from some 64 different nationalities and cultural backgrounds.  The first series of this project shares 22 personal migrant stories.

Our Mission

The Lost Stories of Mareeba Project’s mission is to record, archive and share the stories of immigrants to Mareeba to help us understand their experiences and vital contribution to our community.

Our growing archive will ensure that the faces and voices of immigrants are seen and heard, not only collectively, but individually, and in so doing, will help us showcase our multicultural community and conserve our immigration history.

Our Story

The Mareeba Lost Stories Project is an initiative dedicated to preserving the immigrant stories of Mareeba’s vast multi-cultural immigrant community. These testimonies illustrate the struggles, dreams and accomplishments of immigrants so that future generations may learn from their collective experience.

Launched this year, the Lost Stories of Mareeba project is led by Janet Greenwood and Angela Musumeci who have documented the stories of 22 immigrants who arrived from countries around the world. These are real stories of men, women and children who have sacrificed to become Mareebarites by choice. 

All those involved in developing this project have used their expert skills,  resources and hours of in-kind support to bring the power of these stories to the public.   This first series records the stories of 22 courageous Mareeba residents who have trusted us to record and share their personal stories with the wider Mareeba community.

We have had the opportunity to meet with many of our immigrants from all walks of life and found a common thread among the immigrants who shared their stories.  Regardless of where they are born, the great majority are hardworking people with a burning desire to succeed and provide for their families. They truly embody the Mareeba community spirit, and collectively, theirs is the quintessential Mareeba story.

The content of the immigrant stories is shared via the MHC website, a soon to be opened exhibit in the Museum and a variety of social media tools.

This series is hosted by the Mareeba Heritage Centre and produced by Warren Thomson (Ventures Online), Al Kirton (NQ Radio), Mick Hay (Mareeba 4AM Innisfail 4KZ).  The Mareeba Heritage Centre’s team are Janet Greenwood, Angela Musumeci and Maryjane Musumeci.

Lost Stories of Mareeba is brought to you by the Mareeba Heritage Centre, with support from the Regional Arts Development Fund, a partnership between the Queensland Government and Mareeba Shire Council.

Thanks to our sponsors

The Lost Stories

Mary Thompson - a town of many stories

Mareeba, a town of many stories as told by Mary Thomspon. The land on which Mareeba stands has been the traditional land of the Muluridgi people for thousands of years.  They lived on this land without interruption until the late 1800’s with the growing world need for minerals saw prospectors investigate the far north-eastern region of Queensland striking it lucky with the Palmer River goldfields. 

Kamber Ahmet

Kamber Ahmet was born in Konle Dersnik, Albania in 1886. At the end of the 19th century Albania was an extremely poor country. There was little employment and the land did not provide enough for him to feed his family.  Kamber and his brother decided to try for a better life in the ‘New World’.

Anka Barbir

Anka was born in Privlaka on the Dalmatian peninsular in 1943.  From my village you could just see the Italian coast. At that time many young people took boats to escape to Italy.  Many drowned. Others were caught by the coast guard.  My cousin and his girlfriend were one couple who made it to an Italian refugee camp where they married and from there immigrated to Australia.  It seemed to me that everyone went to Australia and as long as I can remember I wanted to go as well.

Luka Barbir

Luka was born in 1933 on a small farm in Prolog, a tiny village on the Croatian and Bosnia-Herzegovina border. I was the oldest of 7 boys and 2 girls. I remember learning from my Grandfather. One day he was drinking ‘Sljvivovica,’ a home-made plum brandy. He pointed to the bottle and said “this is medicine and poison”.

Giacomo & Grazia Bombardieri

Giacomo Bombardieri was born in 1901, in Tirano the province of Sondrio in Northern Italy.  He lived in Roncaola a small village in the Alps. Like all young men in Italy at that time, my father had to serve in the Italian army.  He spent 3 years with the national guard, known as the Alpini, in the mountains.  When he finished his national service, he decided to emigrate to Australia.

Michelli (Mick) Borzi

I am Michelli (Mick) Borzi, born 24 July 1933 in Innisfail. I was the third of 4 children born to Alfio and Concetta Borzi. My father Alfio was born in 1902 in St Alfio, a small town in the province of Catania, Sicily. When he was 18 years old he decided to join his sister, who had emigrated to Australia with her husband to Far North Queensland rather than do compulsory army service.

Franc & Gabrijela Brezavscek

I, Amalia Goulding, was born in Italy in 1950 after my parents Franc and Gabrijela Brezavscek escaped Slovenia.  This is my parents’ story.  My mother, Gabrijela Brezavscek, was born in Slovenia in 1915.  She was always reluctant to talk about her life as the fear and anxiety she felt as a child and young person stayed with her.  Over the years I have been able to put together some of her experiences.

Linda Carucci

I was born in Towchester England in August 1941.  My parents were Scottish but dad was in the regular army and during World War 2, Dad was stationed in London. Towchester is outside London so I assume the wives were sent there after the Blitz.  Mum said she would put me in wardrobe draw to sleep. 

Joze Cek

Joze was a 9-year-old living in Slovenia when World War 2 ended and his homeland was subsumed into Yugoslavia. His father, with a family of 9 children had no money, and no food but managed to survive with the whole family working hard. By burning limestone in a very hot fire they created calcium oxide earning a small income. They also made charcoal to sell by burning wood on a slow combustion fire in the forest.

Alfio & Giovanna Cuzzubbo

I am Rossario Cuzzubbo, the youngest of four children born to Alfio and Giovanna Cuzzubbo.  On behalf of my brother and sisters I tell this story of our parents. Alfio Cuzzubbo (Dad) was born in Riposto, Sicily, Italy in 1903 just after the end of World War 1. There was little work available and things were tough so he decided to immigrate to Australia.  In 1922 he boarded a German boat with his cousin in Naples, Italy.  They arrived in Brisbane on dad’s 19th birthday.

Zoulihr & Louiza Demi

Zoulihr Bekir Demi, was born in Vriselli Greece in 1907. When she was 14 years old her parents and the parents of her future husband arranged a marriage between their children.  Unfortunately, the marriage did not produce children and it failed.  My grandmother returned to her family.

Gilmore Family


The Gilmore History In North Queensland.  Members of the Gilmore family moved to North Queensland in the 1880s. Originally from Scotland and Ireland, our great-grandfather left Ireland in the 1850s when Ireland was in the grip of the potato famine which left the Irish economy in tatters.

Ferruccio Ius

I am Ferruccio IUS (Frank) born in Friuli, Northern Italy on the 10 September 1936. I was part of a big family living on my grandfather’s farm. Things became difficult during World War 11 in Italy.  Although initially aligned with Germany, most Friuli disagreed with this, particularly later when German soldiers came.

Linda Jaques

My name is Linda Jaques.  I was born in 1953 in Zanzibar, an island off the coast of Tanzania in East Africa, which was known for its slave trading.  My father of Scottish descent was born in India where he grew up and became a lieutenant in the Ghurkhas.   He returned to England with his father who was a Major in the British Army when the independence fighting became a concern but sought opportunities to go back to the colonies and found work in a shipping company in Kenya.

Raif Latif

Around 1940 during the start of WW-II when Raif was about 13, his father feared that he would be conscripted into the army like his older son. Raif’s father ordered him to flee from Kosovo, formally known as Communist Yugoslavia, to reside in Egypt.  Fortunately, Raif had a cousin in Cairo where they both studied at the Al-Azhar University.

Sirkku Helena Mulla

I was born on 9 January 1947 in a small village called Mἅnttἅ, a small inland village located in the centre of Finland. My father was Urho (Tom) Neminen born in 1917 and my mother was Olga Maria Salmi. She was born in 1922. I was the middle of the three children born in FInland, with an older sister and a younger brother. We loved Finland.

Peters Family

Cardwell Peters (Cardie) born in Mareeba on 8 February 1936. I was born at the Ormonde Private Birthing Home located in the house still standing next door to the child care centre on Constance Street, Mareeba. This is the story of my family.

Fabio Petrusa

Fabio was born in 1939 the fifth child of seven. The war began soon after and it was not a happy place in northern Italy at that time. As a child I saw many soldiers from many nations pass our house from the partisans, Italians, Germans and lastly the Americans. My education was very limited and I spent most of my childhood walking the hills around our town, climbing trees, hunting for mushrooms, wild asparagus and anything else that was edible.

Miguel Samanes

I was born in Pamplona, capital of Navarra, Spain, on 14 February 1950.  Navarra is in northern Spain and part of the Basque country.  Spain was then ruled by Franco under a Fascist regime that many Basques resented although where I lived the land was flat good farming country that attracted people from all over Spain so there was less fighting than in the mountains where life was harder and the people were all Basque.

Rafet Shaban

My name is Rafet Shaban. I am called Rose.  I was the 4th of 15 children born on 22 November 1938 to Albanian parents taken to Greece as prisoners following a conflict in Albania with Greece.  Life in Greece was hard.  Only 4 of my siblings survived.  We were considered little more than slaves in Greece.

Filip Srhoj

Filip was born on 15 November 1908 in Bogomoje on the island of Hvar in Dalmatia, a region of what is now, Croatia. He was the oldest of five children. My grandfather’s family were landowners but like all people in that region they suffered during World War 1. At the end of the war, Hvar was occupied by the Italians so the family escaped to Loviste, a small village on the nearby peninsular.

Ye Vang

I born on 5 September 1952 in a village in the area of Xamneu in Laos.  Laos is a long narrow country that runs along the Vietnamese border and as long as I can remember, there was war in the area.  As a child my family were forced to move from village to village as communist soldiers fought to take control of Laos and Vietnam