A spy camera museum in Herberton? Yes, and it’s absolutely world class.
To the unknowing eye, the Herberton Spy & Camera Museum’s ageing exterior could easily lead a visitor to walk on by and write it off as a two-bit country novelty.
However, to do this would be a grave mistake.
A quick peek through the front door reveals walls lined with shelves full of cameras, cameras hanging from the ceiling and old curiosities all crammed into this intriguing building.
It appears to have no order, no story to tell, but appearances can be deceiving.
And like its owner Michael Petersen, this historic 130-year-old building could almost be accused of leading a double life, because within its walls, behind the modest front counter and past the pamphlets is a world class museum.
For those who do venture in, it is Michael’s passion for cameras that converts the intrepid visitor into a captive of the wonderful world of photography.
It’s Michael's obsession with double agents and the tools of their trade that transports a visitor from downtown Herberton to the cold, dark streets of the former USSR and the world of espionage.
“Welcome to the Herberton Spy & Camera Museum,” says Michael with enthusiasm that cannot be measured.
And like a fly to honey, Michael holds you captivated as he takes you through the history of photography, starting at the birth of today's modern cameras and finishes with his favorite: the spy cameras.
The Herberton Spy & Camera Museum was founded in the year 2000 and was the brainchild of Roy Jaques who then was a member and president of the Cairns Photographic Society and learned during that time that no one was collecting old cameras.
Roy Jaques was also an ex-special forces operative, and that's where his interest in spy cameras started. As his large collection of antique cameras grew, he decided to expand and open the collection to the public.
Michael happened to visit the museum in 2006 and Roy mentioned he wanted to retire, so Michael saw the opportunity to get involved in one of the most unique museums of the world and to expand the collection and bring professional photographic services to the Atherton Tableland.