Along with Europeans, Indian families were among new settlers to arrive in the Richmond River district in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Historically referred to as Hindoos, they worked as farm labourers, as well as established their own businesses. Sheroo Singh, whose story is told here, was among these Indian migrant families.
Being non-European, unmarried and working class, written documentation about Sheroo is sparse. Revealing Sheroo’s story has required the careful viewing of photographs and newspapers, as well as the ‘reading’ of his cart and riding crop. Alstonville resident Elsie Johnston – now 101 years of age and who recalled that Sheroo ‘was always there’ on her father’s Uralba farm – also provided oral evidence for his story.
Sheroo’s story is unique, but representative of the experience of Indian migrant families. Learning that he was a Sikh, whose custom was to wear a turban, certainly made him look different and his old spring cart confirmed that he took the produce from his market garden to stores in Ballina.
Presently stored at Lumley Park, Alstonville, Sheroo’s spring cart is a tangible reminder of his life and story. This artefact demonstrates our multicultural heritage and is key to Unlocking Sheroo for future generations to understand the diversity of our migration past.
By Jye, Salika (Alstonville High School), Jane (Alstonville Plateau Historical Society) and Susie Forster in collaboration Richmond River Historical Society, Elsie Johnston (nee Crawford) and Anna Johns.