14 November, 2023
Piece of region’s history on display
A GIANT yellow tobacco picking machine has been put on display outside the Mareeba Heritage Museum and Visitor Information Centre, showcasing the rich history of the region’s tobacco industry.
The locally manufactured machine was revolutionary for tobacco farmers, allowing workers to pick the leaves without too much strain on their backs.
The picker was owned by former tobacco farmer and Dimbulah Lions Club member Eddie Toffanello, who said the machine was just sitting in his shed, waiting to be used again.
In collaboration with Mareeba Lions Club member Denis McKinley, they formulated a plan to get the picker out into the world in all its glory.
“It was actually my wife’s idea because it was at my place, and we didn’t know what to do with it … so she said, ‘Why don’t you approach the heritage museum and see if we can give it to them?’,” Eddie said.
After approaching the Heritage Museum, they soon learned putting the giant machine into the facility would be difficult.
Denis quickly found out a spot had already been allocated for a project such as this and started applying for grants and funding to put it into play.
He said the tobacco picker display is a testament to the hard work and dedication of those in the industry.
“This industry created so much labour-intensive work, and mums, dads and children all got involved,” he said.
“This is just doing all that work justice and showing the public what this industry was about before now.”
The display will be officially opened on Saturday 25 November at 10am. Members of the public are invited to join in the festivities.