DID Aboriginal people find the treasure from a sunken ship off Stradbroke Island and use it to finance community purchases?
That is one of the intriguing questions oral historian Greg Jefferys, of the University of Tasmania in Hobart, addressed yesterday.
Mr Jefferys was one of the speakers at the national biennial oral history conference Islands of Memory: Navigating Personal and Public History, held at the Tramsheds, Inveresk.
He spoke about the evolution of oral histories and traditions into myths and true histories.
Mr Jefferys discussed how to go about examining the contradictions that occur within oral histories and arrive at a core truth.
"Another buried treasure mythology surrounds the wreck of the Hope found in Hobart in 1827," he said.
"The original myth says that it carried the pay for the garrison that was stolen when the ship was wrecked.
"That was about £5000, but when you look at stories from the 1940s, the same treasure has become 40,000 gold coins.
"Myths grow and evolve and people exaggerate."
Conference convener Jill Cassidy said that the four-day event finished yesterday.
"It has been amazing and one of the gems of the conference was uncovering hidden stories," she said.
"We were discussing just how many hidden stories there are that are uncovered by doing oral histories.
Ms Cassidy said that there was a buzz of excitement and dozens of conversations among the 130 participants.
It was the first time since 1995 the conference had been held in Launceston, she said.