Anzac Day at the Brisbane Synagogue (1930)

Anzac Day ceremony in the Synagogue, Brisbane, 1930. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 122582

Anzac Day ceremony in the Synagogue, Brisbane, 1930

On Anzac Day, 1930, a memorial service was held at the Margaret St Synagogue in Brisbane’s CBD. A guard of honour was mounted, consisting of members of the First Judean Girl Guides and First Judean Boy Scouts, through which the 32 ex-servicemen in attendance, along with other dignitaries, passed on their way into the Synagogue.

According to The Hebrew Standard of Australasia, the chaplain, Reverend Nathan Levine, “placed a tallit [prayer shawl] on the Chair of Remembrance, symbolic of our fallen Jewish brothers and after the sounding of the Last Post by a bugler… there was one minute [of] silence”. This was followed by a Memorial Prayer and the lighting of Memorial Lights by members of the Scouts and Guides.

Levine took as his text, “I will give them an everlasting name, which shall not be cut off”, from Isaiah. He addressed the congregation about the sacrifice made by all those who had fought in the Great War, before going on to highlight the specific contributions made by Jews, stating that “the Jews had provided the army with one of the finest of generals, Sir John Monash,and Jewry also had to its credit five Victoria Crosses, 50 Distinguished Service Orders, 242 Military Crosses, 80 Distinguished Conduct Medals, 308 Military Medals and 374 Mentioned in Dispatches”.

Reverend Nathan Levine. Rabbi of the Brisbane Synagogue from 1926 - 1936. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 196590

Reverend Nathan Levine. Rabbi of the Brisbane Synagogue from 1926 - 1936

Levine also consecrated the flag of the First Judean Girl Guides. At the conclusion of the service, a luncheon was given for the ex-servicemen at the Rooms of the Council of Jewish Women, with the Guides waiting at tables.

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland

Queensland Mining Accidents Index

The late 19th and early 20th century mining boom in Queensland forged communities and made the fortune of many, yet it played out in harsh, remote locations, in mostly perilous conditions, and left many casualties in its wake.  Long before today’s enthusiasm for workplace health and safety, accidents were commonplace and varied, from bruises and broken bones to massive, unimaginable episodes such as the Mount Mulligan mining disaster of 1921 which left 75 dead.

Bismuth mine and miners in the Biggenden region, ca. 1890
Bismuth mine and miners in the Biggenden region, ca. 1890

Between the years 1882 and 1946, such incidents were reported on annually in the Queensland Legislative Votes and Proceedings.  This data has been diligently compiled by SLQ volunteers into an index, and is now searchable in One Search, the library catalogue.  Each record includes the name of the person involved and lists details such as the date, the mine, the region, the nature of injury, and comments made regarding the incident.

An example from 1899 concerns a miner by the name of John Dillon, who died from being ‘poisoned’ at the Helena mine in the Cawarral district.  The comments stated: “Killed. Drank from the cyanide tank in mistake for water, and died in an hour”.

Although the entries in the index are quite brief, the matter-of-fact summaries of events and injuries speak volumes about the brutal nature of many of these accidents and of working in the mines generally.  Some manage to be quite harrowing in the space of 1-2 concise sentences.

The index provides an invaluable resource not only to family historians, but to anyone researching mining and industrial history and local histories.  These records also serve as a starting point to further investigating these incidents and those involved, with many of the more serious incidents being widely reported in newspapers which are available online through Trove. The Mt. Mulligan mining disaster is one example which was reported extensively in newspapers across Australia, as seen in this article reporting a cable message of distress from King George.

The Mt. Mulligan disaster (24 September 1921)

Above all, the index provides a fascinating insight into the extreme conditions of one of Queensland’s founding industries.

Search the Mining Accidents Index

More information about mining accidents

Reuben Hillier – Collection Access, State Library of Queensland

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Queensland Places – Croydon

The town of Croydon is located approximately 560 kilometres west of Cairns, in the midst of the area now known as the Gulf Savannah.  The general area which now comprises Croydon was once a large pastoral holding, covering more than five thousand square kilometres when first settled in the 1880s.  The name Croydon is derived from Croydon Pastoral Run, which was originally operated by Alexander and William Chalmers Brown, who were said to have been born in the English town of Croydon.

Gold was discovered here in 1885, by James and Walter Aldridge, who had previously been working and prospecting on the Etheridge Field before moving into the Croydon area.  By 1887, Croydon was well established as a settlement, with a population of around seven thousand.  At this time the town supported four general stores, a bakery, several hotels and banks, two newspapers as well as a school.  Initially, Croydon was linked to Port Douglas on the coast by Cobb and Co but this communication route was eventually superseded by a rail line, with Croydon as its terminus, which was opened in 1891.  This line, now known as the Gulflander, remains operational today as a tourist railway.  In addition to this rail link, the closest port to Croydon was Normanton, providing access to shipping.

Croydon reached its peak in around 1900, when it was said to have been the fourth largest town in Queensland.  The town evolved to become the centre of a number of smaller settlements and camps that had sprung up adjacent to the various mines workings in the area.  These mining operations and settlements included Croydon King, Tabletop, Iquana Hill, Golden Valley and True Blue mines.  The Golden Gate mine was to be one of the most productive in the region.  During the period of greatest mining activity, more than 750,000 ounces of gold and 800,000 ounces of silver were taken from the various Croydon mine workings.

J. O'Donohue's Bakery, Croydon, ca. 1890. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 183537

J. O'Donohue's Bakery, Croydon, ca. 1890

This image shows J. O’Donohue’s Croydon bakery in around 1890, with the adjoining structure to the left of the image possibly being his residence.

Brian Randall – Queensland Places Coordinator, State Library of Queensland

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1911 cyclone

Two children sitting with a badly damaged piano amongst the debris from the Port Douglas cyclone of 1911. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 164590

Two children sitting with a badly damaged piano amongst the debris from the Port Douglas cyclone of 1911

On March 16, 1911, a cyclone devastated the small Far North Queensland community of Port Douglas, 70km north of Cairns, razing many of its buildings.

During the storm, many of the townspeople took refuge at the government bond store, which was described as “a substantial building”, though it was no match for the full force of the cyclone. By extraordinary chance, the 40-odd people sheltering there managed to escape before the building collapsed.

Cyclone damage at Port Douglas, 1911. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 164579

Cyclone damage at Port Douglas, 1911

Councillor Andrew Jack was killed when a “stack of timbers” fell on him at his farm near Port Douglas, where he resided with his wife and children.

A second fatality was 30-year-old Timothy Joseph O’Brien, who was helping his mother and sister find shelter when struck by a “mass of wood and iron”, which dislocated his neck and fractured his skull. There were also tales of heroism. A Mr Twine, manager of the Queensland National Bank, risked his life to save others during the storm by bringing them back to shelter.

Storm debris from the 1911 cyclone at Port Douglas. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 127066

Two men and a boy examine an eight foot sheet of corrugated iron embedded in the ground to a depth of 3 ft, 6 inches by the cyclone. Note repairs already effected to Crosbie's Hotel in the background.

In the aftermath, Port Douglas residents quickly came to the realisation that their town was virtually wiped out – “only about seven residences were partly left standing, besides the Queensland National Bank, the Customs House, the Post Office, and McLean’s Hotel”.

Two boys looking at the results of a cyclone in Port Douglas, 1911. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg  127068

A sheet of corrugated roofing iron has been wrapped round a pole and behind the two boys are piles of additional debris created by the cyclone.

With more than 100 people left homeless, many camped out at the damaged Masonic Hall or at one of the houses left standing. The photograph above shows the extent of the damage.

Telegraphic communication was disrupted with 30 poles blown down within 11km of the town. The nearby settlement of Mossman was also affected by the cyclone.

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland

Waiting for the cyclone

With reports of cyclone Ita threatening the North Queensland coast this week I have been reading Vance Palmer’s 1947 novel ‘Cyclone‘.  The novel uses the rising tension ahead of an approaching cyclone as a background to the increasing conflict and emotional tension between three men. They were partners in a marginal shipping business, and their families.  There is also, in the 1930s depression era setting, the threat of violence between a group of unemployed men camping at the showgrounds and some local businessmen who want to force them out before the coming sports carnival.

Bundaberg born author Vance Palmer, together with his wife Nettie, were among Australia’s best known literary figures from the 1920s to the 1950s.  Palmer attended Ipswich Grammar School and studied literature at Brisbane’s School of Arts, there being as yet no university established in Queensland.  He spent time working as a tutor at Abbieglassie cattle station in western Queensland before heading to London to hone his craft as a writer.  He met fellow writer Nettie Higgins in 1909 and they were married in London in 1914.  At the outbreak of the war they returned to Australia and settled in Melbourne where they had two daughters.  Vance joined the army in 1918 but the war ended before he saw active service.  The 1920s saw Vance and Nettie living in Caloundra to save money while devoting their efforts to writing full time.  Vance published his first novel in 1920 and twice won the Bulletin novel competition.  He became a widely known literary critic through his regular talks and reviews for the ABC.  His last novel The Big Fellow, published shortly after his death in 1959, won the Miles Franklin Award.  The Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for fiction is named the Vance Palmer Award, while the prize for non-fiction is the Nettie Palmer Prize.

Vance Palmer, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 122090

Vance Palmer ca. 1935

The story of  ’Cyclone’ turns around three men, Brian Donolly, Ross Halliday and Clive Randall.  Donolly has come north with his family, renting out his farm, to establish a coastal shipping business with his old army friend Halliday.  Randall, another old army buddy had bankrolled the enterprise.  They had had dreams of building a thriving shipping business but the plan had not worked out.  Their first boat had been burned and the insurance company wouldn’t pay up and Halliday refused to fight them about it.  They had obtained another old boat, the ‘Gannet’, but the business barely paid.  Donolly’s wife Fay is increasingly unhappy about the move and when Brian decides he has to sail with Halliday after promising to stay home for the Easter holiday, and in the face of a possible approaching cyclone, there is an argument.  Brian tries to explain his loyalty to Halliday.

“I suppose I have seemed to go off at an angle,” he said.  ”It’s always been hard, old girl, to make you understand what Ross meant to Clive and me.  He was a couple of years older than us when we went into the Army, and he’d knocked round more than we had.  Been a sailor, for one thing; that meant a lot to us.  Until he was pulled out for the Naval Reserve we shared everything – knocks and circuses – two years of heavy going.  Then we lost track of him, Clive and me, although whenever we met it was Ross we talked about.  It gave us no end of a kick when we heard he was coming up here.  For one thing, we owed him a lot; it seemed as if we might have a chance of making it up to him.”

Further tension comes from the suggestion that Clive Randall is having an affair with Halliday’s wife Bee.  Fay tells Brian that Randall’s wife Elsie has told her she suspects the affair.

Ross Halliday may well be modeled on a real character that Palmer had known.  Palmer wrote an obituary, published in the Melbourne Herald and reprinted in the Cairns Post of April 9, 1934, of William Millard, Captain of the lauch Mossman, lost with all hands in the cyclone in March of that year.

Sir,- As it now seems certain that the launch Mossman has been lost with all hands in the recent cyclone, I would like to pay a last tribute to its captain and owner, William Millard.

He was a man of uncommon character and ability, even in waters where such qualities are not rare. All his life had been spent at sea, in sail or steam, except for a period in the A.I.F., from which he was. Drafted into the Navy as an officer of the R.N.R. He held a master’s certificate and might have returned to the mercantile marine after the war, but preferred his own little boat and the life of the Reef. Few white men knew it better, especially the part between Cairns and Cooktown, and his quick intelligence, his original mind made him the best of companions on little voyages in those waters.  …

There has been a certain amount of rejoicing because this cyclone struck part of the coast where little material damage could be done. Well, it is hard to estimate damage in precise terms. But the life of the Barrier waters will be poorer for the loss of “Bill” Millard–good seaman, good comrade–Faithfully yours, VANCE PALMER.


Tully (ship), John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 32553

Tully at Maria Creek, Innisfail, in 1930. The Tully sank at the mouth of the Johnstone River in 1934.

The 1934 cyclone may well have been the model for the one in the novel.  There are parallels in that the cyclone struck a comparatively unpopulated part of the North Queensland coast but a number of vessels were lost.  The wreckage was discovered by a searching airplane and in the novel Randall takes his Tiger Moth up to search for the missing ‘Gannet’, landing on a sand bar where he discovers two girls lost from a lugger.  This report of the cyclone comes from the Hobart Mercury.

Ten lives were lost when the lugger Mildred foundered between Schnapper Island and Cape Tribulation, about 35 miles from Cooktown, during a cyclone on Tuesday morning, and grave fears are entertained for the lives of ten other persons who were occupants of three motor launches which are reported missing.  The lugger tragedy was discovered by Pilot McDonald, of Cairns, who was engaged to make an aerial search for the launch Mossman, which, with M. Millard (owner), Carl Smith, and a man named George, left Cairns on March 9 for a fishing cruise at the Barrier Reef. Wreckage from the Mossman was sighted yesterday, but there was no sign of the crew.  Pilot McDonald landed on the beach at Cape Tribulation today, and there found the survivors of the lugger Mildred, who were very short of provisions, and had been living on pumpkins. They reported that the lugger had been anchored, but when struck by the cyclone overturned and sank immediately. The survivors swam half a mile to the shore, some being without clothing.

The ‘Gannet’ too is capsized in the cyclone in the novel but Brian Donolly manages to swim to shore and is rescued by Randall, although Halliday and the Malay deck hand Pedro are presumed drowned.  The death toll of the 1934 cyclone eventually rose to 79, most being the crew of luggers fishing for trocus shell and trepang.

Truchus shell lugger, north of Cairns, 1934, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 61158

Trochus shell lugger, north of Cairns, 1934

Another character in the novel is Fay Donally’s brother Tod.  Tod is a young man with ambitions to be a writer and is likely a reflection of the author’s own experiences.  Tod has been camping out in the showgrounds with the unemployed men after quitting his job on the boat after taking a dislike to Ross Halliday.  Tod risks an offer of paid work for the local newspaper and the chance of a date with young lady he has been desperate to go out with to stand in solidarity with the men in the face of threats of violence from local business men.  Eventually the conflict is made irrelevant by the fury of the storm and there will be plenty of work for everyone for the time being cleaning up the damage.

A more detailed and scholarly analysis of ‘Cyclone’ by Deborah Jordan from the University of Queensland was published in etropic in 2011

Simon Miller – Library Technician, State Library of Queensland

New Accession: Letters of a Lady Schoolteacher in Maryborough, 1884-1887

The John Oxley Library recently received a wonderful collection of correspondence written by Jane Ann Dunbar, a young teacher at the Maryborough Girls’ Grammar School during the 1880s.  Jane was twenty years old when she migrated to Australia from Hertfordshire, England, to take up the position as second mistress at the school.  The letters, written to her family in England, provide a fascinating insight into life in Maryborough and a moving and eloquent account of the feelings of a young girl in  a strange land, separated from her family.  Often the voices of women are rarely heard in historical documents so it is lovely to have this firsthand account of life in colonial Queensland.

The following is a letter to her parents, 10 May 1884

Jane Ann Dunbar letter, 10 May 1884. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Jane Ann Dunbar letter, 10 May 1884

Jane Ann Dunbar letter, 10 May 1884. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Jane Ann Dunbar letter, 10 May 1884. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Jane Ann Dunbar letter, 10 May 1884. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Jane Ann Dunbar letter, 10 May 1884. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Jane Ann Dunbar letter, 10 May 1884. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Jane Ann Dunbar letter, 10 May 1884. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Jane Ann Dunbar letter, 10 May 1884. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Jane Ann Dunbar was born in 1864 in Hertfordshire England, the daughter of Lewis and Jane Dunbar.  She attended the Buxton Lodge School in Luton, and then the North London Collegiate School for Girls.  The latter is generally recognized as the first girls’ school in the United Kingdom to offer girls the same educational opportunities as boys.

Jane Ann Dunbar's school report from the North London Collegiate School for Girls, 1881

Jane Ann Dunbar's school report from the North London Collegiate School for Girls, 1881

After first teaching at a school in Jersey, Jane emigrated to Australia in early 1884 on board the ship “Ballarat” to take up a teaching position at the Girls’ Grammar School in Maryborough where she taught from 1884 to 1887.  Her letters home to England cover this period and beyond.  In a letter to her mother, dated 6th October 1884 she writes “It is a great mistake about the Colonials being so hospitable and kind as far as Maryborough people are concerned.  It is all right in the bush but here in the town and at the houses within a radius of a few miles are nothing but gossips and mischief makers….I had no idea the world was such a wicked place until I came here”.  Further in the letter she writes “Of all the towns in the world populated by English people I think Maryborough is the worst – A more disagreeable faultfinding, mischief making and drunken place I never want to see.”

Maryborough, ca. 1885

Maryborough, ca. 1885

Maryborough Girls' Grammar School, ca. 1910. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 1069667

Maryborough Girls' Grammar School, ca. 1910

Maryborough Girls' Grammar School, ca. 1890. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 17534

Maryborough Girls' Grammar School, ca. 1890

In late 1887 she left the Grammar School to marry Robert John Boyle, a music teacher.  The following letter was sent to her parents regarding her engagement.

Jane Ann Dunbar Letter, 10 May 1887. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Jane Ann Dunbar Letter, 10 May 1887

Jane Ann Dunbar Letter, 10 May 1887. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Jane Ann Dunbar Letter, 10 May 1887. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Jane Ann Dunbar Letter, 10 May 1887. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Jane Ann Dunbar Letter, 10 May 1887. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Jane Ann Dunbar Letter, 10 May 1887. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

In 1893, with three children, the family moved to Bundaberg where Jane established a school for girls.  In 1896 Robert sold his piano and the family moved to a small dairy farm at Barolin.  In 1898 they moved to a larger house at Sharon, eight miles from Bundaberg.  In 1900 their sixth child was born but Jane continued going to her school at Bundaberg, traveling an hour and a half both ways.  In 1906 the school was sold and in 1908 the family bought land on the Burnett River, six miles from Gin Gin, where they lived for the next twenty-six years.

Temporary shelter erected on the Boyle land on the Burnett River.

Temporary shelter erected on the Boyle land on the Burnett River.

Jane did eventually travel home to England to visit her family in 1923.  She and Robert spent their later years in Brisbane, living at Wynnum North.  Robert died in 1931 and Jane in 1951.

The collection also includes correspondence from two of Jane and Robert’s sons; Lewis Charles Boyle and Robert Alexander Boyle, both of whom were involved in the First World War.  Lewis Boyle was a gunner in the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade serving in France and Belgium.  After the war he married a Scottish girl, Jean, bringing her to Queensland to settle on the Burnett River farm.  They had twelve children.

Lewis Charles Boyle

Lewis Charles Boyle

Another son, Robert Alexander Boyle (Robin), trained as a chemist at the University of Queensland, and was based in England during World War I at the Avonmouth gas factory working on mustard gas.  He was awarded the British Empire Medal for this dangerous work.  The collection includes letters from both sons writing to their Grandmother in England.

The Dunbar and Boyle Family Correspondence, Acc: 29404, Box 10734, may be viewed at the John Oxley Library.

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SLQ books on the Internet Archive

Internet Archive

The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library that centralises literature, historical texts, film, audio and research materials from over 1500 curated collections around the world, free to read, download, print and enjoy. It offers  free universal access to books, movies & music, as well as 404 billion archived web pages. It unifies and archives internet knowledge from unexpected pockets of the globe, and for the last couple of months I have been uploading over 300 of State Library’s out of copyright books to the Archive, making SLQ the first Australian library in the collection.

When I started I wasn’t sure of our audience – who would we attract with our content? Browsing the site, the other collections are so diverse I found myself wandering into the sub collections of the New York Public Library; watching ‘The Happy City’ a short film about a leper colony in Burma; and back to our own collection, perusing home designs in modern brick styles from 1945. A global site attracts global visitors.
Then I thought of a friend in Denmark who has a WWII Australian slouch hat from the 42nd Battalion, passed down to him; and a French friend whose grandparents met in Sydney and lived in Brisbane in the 1930s. I linked them both to the site to connect them to these parts of their history, boasting they could access the information online, in PDF, ePub, or Daisy formats, read it on their Kindle or add it to their RSS feeds if they liked.

Handbook to Cairns and the Hinterland 1910

Handbook to Cairns and the Hinterland 1910

Being part of a community like the Internet Archive means we are part of a bigger, global group where our content reaches 3 million users a day. Our most downloaded items so far include a 1910 Handbook to Cairns and the hinterland and the tourist guide, ‘Beautiful Queensland, 1929 edition’ which I’d like to think is due to my French friend imagining his grandparents young and in love, but could just as well be a writer from North America, researching a novel, or a young nurse in Mackay, wondering how Cairns has changed. That is the beauty of sharing our collection on the Internet Archive. It is probably all three.

See all our digitised books in the Internet Archive

Jacinta Sutton, Discovery Services

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Rare Torres Strait 1881 diary travels to Ballarat

Guest Blogger: Patricia Tryon Macdonald, Co-Curator, For Auld Lang Syne, Images of Scottish Australia from First Fleet to Federation; with contribution from C. Cottle, Digital Collections Curator, Queensland Memory

One of the rarest treasures to be included in the Art Gallery of Ballarat’s forthcoming exhibition For Auld Lang Syne: Images of Scottish Australia from First Fleet to Federation will be a fascinating illustrated journal kept by a young white woman in the Torres Strait in 1881. The journal is on loan to the exhibition from the John Oxley Library.

Extract from Reverend James Tait Torres Strait Island Papers, State Library of Queensland, John Oxley Library, Image No. 29018-2v021r022 eliza tait diary

From John Oxley Library Collection 29018, "The most beautiful place I have ever seen"

Eliza Tait Scott was newly married when she travelled from Scotland to Australia with her missionary husband and stayed for two years on Murray and Darnley Islands. Eliza said that the Torres Strait was ‘the most beautiful place I have ever seen, by a long way’.

The journal is certainly a unique object – Eliza’s clear handwriting speaks directly to us of her experiences and her detailed watercolour drawings show her fascination for the local wildlife whether under the water, on land and in the sky. When visitors to the exhibition encounter the album, they will see a snake winding its way around the edge of a page of text. If they buy the lavishly illustrated catalogue, they will see Eliza’s remarkable double page illustration of a colourful coral reef visible beneath the crystal waters of the Torres Strait.

The journal will certainly be a focus for the many visiting school groups and the exhibition guides are excited about having this rare and important object in the show. The John Oxley Library has been immensely generous to send this wonderful item to Victoria for our exhibition and has provided digitised images as well.

Sadly Eliza and her husband were fated not to stay long in the Torres Strait. Their baby son, Baxter, who was born while they were in the Strait, died while they were there and they returned heartbroken to Scotland.

For Auld Lang Syne will be on show at the Art Gallery of Ballarat until Sunday 27 July.


Artwork in our Gardens

“Jemmy Morrell and the Brolgas” - image courtesy of  City Botanic Gardens Archive

“Jemmy Morrell and the Brolgas” - image courtesy of City Botanic Gardens Archive

Guest Blogger: Alison Smith – Volunteer Guide, City Botanic Gardens

The City Botanic Gardens is similar to most other gardens you might visit, there is artwork here that complements the surrounds. In a little niche, just near the Rotunda, is Building Blocks of Life, one of two sandstone pieces displayed, the other being the Sundial, enclosed in the hibiscus garden. If you are looking for a bronze sculpture we have Big Red, lying under a tree near the kiosk on Residents Hill. You could have a seat while petting the platypus on the Love Seat close to the Edward Street entrance.

Remember Expo 88? The stainless steel Morning Star 2 on the lawn adjacent to Parliament House and Plant Form on the river bank might bring back some fond memories. Jemmy Morrell and the Brolgas, reminds us of our past and Jemmy can be seen in all his glory in the lily pond near the rainforest.

Although not artwork as such, the steps down to the river from the Bunya Avenue are worth a look. The southern-most ones were built from the bricks of the demolished Government House Lodge while the other two sets of steps show us what the old geological society building was built with. Our Gardens believed in recycling.

Why not go and explore?

Alison Smith – Volunteer Guide, City Botanic Gardens

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Meston Notebooks

Recently State Library digitised a series of notebooks compiled by Archibald Meston.

Archibald Meston. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 68274

Archibald Meston

Archibald Meston (1851-1924) was originally a journalist and politician but is best known for his role as the Protector of Aborigines for Southern Queensland 1897-1904. Meston was also the author of the ‘Report on the Aboriginals of Queensland’ which later formed the basis for the Aborigines Protection Act, 1897 (Queensland).

“]Archibald Meston at an Aboriginal camp during his Bellenden Ker expedition in North Queensland 1904. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 33262

Archibald Meston at an Aboriginal camp, 1904

In his role as Protector, Meston visited many Aboriginal communities and camps across Queensland and as an amateur ethnologist and linguist documented Aboriginal culture and language. Meston collected words and wordlists from sites across Queensland – these were later collated into various notebooks and cuttings.

Extract from Meston Notebook - Vocabulary Book 6.

OM64-17 is ’a collection of press cuttings, notes, correspondence relating mainly to Aborigines in Queensland, in particular, to language’. Of particular interest to community language workers and language researchers is a series of Vocabulary Notebooks compiled by Meston during the period 1898-1903. Notebooks 5, 6, 7 and 8 were the focus of this initial digitisation project and includes a broad selection of Aboriginal words gathered from across Queensland. For example, the extract above shows a listing of native birds and their Aboriginal names as collected by police officers in various Queensland locations.  From this page we can see that the Aboriginal language word for ‘pelican’ at Tinaroo is bilwarra; bombon at Montalbion; while at the Pine River it is cooloocan.

State Library language resources.

In the Notebooks, Meston does not always identify the name of the specific language, so the challenge for language workers is to cross-reference words to other materials. Tinaroo, located on the Atherton Tablelands, is an area where several languages and dialects meet, including Djabugay and Dyirbal. Further research using the State Library collections would help identify the specific language or dialect. Similarly for Montalbion, located on the Western Atherton Tablelands, further investigation is needed to identify the particular Dyirbal dialect this word belongs to.

Extract from Vocabulary Notebook 7.

As well as Meston’s own material, the notebooks also draw upon other sources collated by Meston for further study; for example, Vocabulary Notebook 7 includes a listing of 250 words that were later published in James Devaney’s The Vanished Tribes [J A823.2 DEV]. Other wordlists included those compiled by Thomas Petrie from the Brisbane area in the 19th Century. In some instances, Meston has made comments or notes in the margins to these wordlists for his own reference for follow-up. Other language material included in the Notebooks refer to placenames of Aboriginal origins – another interest for Meston who often wrote articles for the various newspapers on the meanings of placenames. The image below is from Notebook 7 and identifies placenames for sites in the Bunya Mountains.

Notebook 7 - Bunya Mountains

In addition to language, Meston also documented cultural information including notes on individuals and families in the sites he visited. Often his notes would document Aboriginal families, outlining their traditional language names as well as English names – these are valuable pieces of information for Aboriginal families and communities. Through his writings, notebooks and other materials, Meston also provides a social commentary on events, people and other happenings in Queensland at the turn of the century. For example, the image below from Notebook 5 is a set of notes regarding theories of the origin of man.

Extract from Notebook 5

These notebooks are valuable research material and provide an insight into the Indigenous languages of Queensland. Further information on Queensland’s Indigenous languages can be found at State Library’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages webpages.

References/Further Reading:

OM64-17 Archibald Meston Papers.

J A823.2 DEV Devaney, J. (1929) The Vanished Tribes.

API-3 Archibald Meston Photograph Album ca. 1904.

Des Crump – Indigenous Languages Researcher, State Library of Queensland