Library History

Library Construction

The Burdekin Library has a rich history, and has seen many changes since its 1984 opening. Read about the events leading up to the library’s opening and how it has evolved, or more specifically, about the stunning Mirka Mora mural that has called the library home from the beginning.

  • Library Construction

    History of the Burdekin Library

    The Burdekin Library has a rich history, and has seen many changes since its opening in 1984. Here is a chronological order of events leading up to the library opening and how it has evolved in more recent years.



    April 23- Tenders are called for construction of the Burdekin Library
    June 22- Tender from J. B. Malas accepted for construction, and tender from R. & K. Bonato Electrical accepted for the electrical work
    June - Invitations for Chief Librarian and Children’s Librarian positions circulated
    August 29 – Jeff McInerney’s first day as Chief Librarian
    October 12 – Carol Stableford becomes the first Children’s Librarian
    December 15 – First shipment of books is received (totalling 10% of the collection)
    December 21- Commonwealth Employment Program allows for the hiring of two library assistants

    Library Construction Begins

    Library Construction Begins


    JanuaryMirka Mora completes a mural for the library
    January 18 – Carol, the Children’s Librarian, says the Burdekin Library definitely won’t be a “Shh, shh” library
    January 27 – The computer system is installed (a Vax 750 computer with ‘Book Software’)
    Early March – The Reading Toad library logo is released


    Cr John Trace Cutting the Ribbon

    Cr John Trace Cutting the Ribbon

    The Burdekin Library was officially opened at 3.00pm by Shire Chairman John Trace.
    A week of festivities was organised with a Queensland Ballet performance, a market in the plaza, Queensland Theatre Orchestra performances, a Family Quiz Show, and the ‘Brigadoon’ musical performed by the Ayr Choral Society.

    Exhibitions were displayed throughout the library and theatre, including an Exhibition of Pottery, The Stained Glass of Gary Burgess, Batik from Utopia, Women at Work ’84, A History of Kites, How to Spin, a Lapidiary (Gemstone) display, and a Puppet Theatre. Students from James Cook University and volunteers from the Burdekin Community Youth dressed up as clowns, performed street theatre, acted as guides and entertained.

    The Home Hill Library was officially opened at 10.30am by Cr J. T. Hinkson.

    April 10 – First Book issued (at that stage members were allowed to borrow two books for two weeks)
    June 21 – First school holiday program released, including clay modelling, creative games, fence painting and children’s crafts
    June 21-27 – First Book Week celebrated (the theme was ‘Books Have It Covered’)


    February 15- First overdue notices sent out (for books months overdue)

    Annual Book Week Celebrations

    Annual Book Week Celebrations

    November – First issue of Blink! produced


    June 10 – First microfiche/microfilm reader installed at the Burdekin Library


    February 7 – Home Hill Library closed due to flooding


    April 6 – ‘Black Snow and Liquid Gold’ published by John Kerr, coinciding with the tenth anniversary library celebrations


    2003 Library Logo

    December 3- New Library Logo launched (Barramundi and Sugarcane)



    March 24 – Online Library Catalogue launched!
    June 18- The Library Train mural is painted outside the library by Aicey Zaro and six High School students

    Library Train Entrance

    Train Mosaic - Library Entrance


  • Mirka Mora Mural

    Mirka Mora Space

    The story behind the Mirka Mora mural and its place in the Burdekin Library.


    Burdekin Library is home to two rare and stunning pieces of artwork: a mural by acclaimed artist Mirka Mora and a dramatic stained glass window featuring the region’s only waterfall.

    Mirka Mora Mural

    Mirka Mora is an internationally acclaimed Paris-born Melbourne artist who, in 1984, accepted the commission of previous Theatre Manager John Young to paint two murals for the Burdekin Cultural Complex.

    It took Mirka several weeks to paint the library’s mural, reaching 6.1 metres high and 5.7 metres wide – she needed scaffolding to paint the higher areas. In her biography, Mirka says of the experience:

    “The man was high up on the open scaffold, nine metres above the ground … As I climbed there, a most terrible vertigo invaded me and I started to fart without stopping, until the man left me up there all by myself.”*

    Hundreds of people came to watch Mirka at work, and it is said that she often allowed locals to pick up brush and paint and join her! She named it “The Painting of Life.”

    The mural was put into storage for months to wait for the library to be fully built. It has kept its place in the library ever since, but many things around it have changed. For several decades it overlooked a fish pond, but the water had started to damage the mural.

    So now, at long last, you can see ”The Painting of Life” in great detail from up close, while sitting on the comfy wave cushions below. It has become the defining feature of the Burdekin Library and we are so very grateful to John Young and Mirka Mora for their efforts.

    The restoration and conservation of the mural is a result of funding from the Australian Government through the Community Heritage Grants Programme.

    Mirka Mora Space

    Mirka Mora Space


    Some things to look for in the mural:

    • The boat, “The Peruvian”, named after the boat that bought James Morrill to Ayr
    • The giant toad (during Mirka’s visit to Ayr, a lady bought in a giant toad in a jar for Mirka to paint for the mural)
    • The Burdekin Bridge


     Click here to reserve Mirka Mora’s fascinating autobiography!

    *Mora, Mirka. (2000). Wicked but virtuous: My life. Victoria: Penguin Books

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