Electric city : trams and power in Brisbane

Brisbane in the nineteenth century was in many ways a primitive, frontier town with unpaved streets and an unreliable water supply but in other ways it was in the forefront in adopting new technology.  I have previously described Brisbane’s early and enthusiastic adoption of the new telephone technology.  The Brisbane Gas Company was incorporated in 1864 to supply gas for street lighting and domestic and commercial purposes which it manufactured from coal.  Gas lighting soon had a competitor in the form of electricity.  The world’s first public electricity supply was delivered in Godalming, Surry in 1881 and Thomas Edison opened the world’s first steam driven electricity generation plant in London in 1882.  The first public electricity supply in Brisbane followed less than a decade later in 1888 when Barton White & Co. was contracted to provide electricity to the G.P.O. from their building in Edison Lane.  Brisbane was not the first Queensland town to have established electric street lighting however, that honour went to Thargomindah in the west of the state.

Advertisement for Barton White & Co, manufacturers of electrical equipment, Brisbane, ca. 1890, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 167304

Advertisement for Barton White & Co, manufacturers of electrical equipment

C. Frank White was one of the first electricians in Queensland, taking up the agency for the American Edison Company around 1881 and operating as an electrician and electrical supplier from a shop in Creek Street before forming a partnership with Edward Barton in 1888 with financial backing from his brother Thomas.  Edward Gustavus Campbell Barton was a pioneer of the electricity industry, having supervised the first commercial electricity supply in Godalming in 1882.  After working as an electricity consultant in New Zealand and Australia, Barton was engaged by the Queensland Government to complete the installation of electric lighting equipment in the Government Printing Office and parliament buildings in 1886 and was appointed Government Electrician.


 Formal portrait of Edward G. Campbell Barton, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 187003

Formal portrait of Edward G. Campbell Barton

The depression years of the 1890s proved to be a tough time for developing a new industry.   Uptake of electric power was slow and running cable over the roofs of city buildings was expensive.  The Queensland Government was slow to respond to the new technology and the first legislation for the control of electricity supply was not enacted until 1896.  Transmission of electricity by overhead cables was illegal until 1898.  In 1896 Barton, White & Co. was declared insolvent and the partnership was dissolved.  Barton formed the Brisbane Electric Supply Company to carry on the business.  The original powerhouse in Edison Lane was abandoned in 1898 and a new powerhouse opened at 69 Ann Street.  A unique personal perspective on the early development of  the Brisbane electric industry comes from F. R. L’Estrange who’s presentation to the Post Office Historical Society on Brisbane’s early electricity supply was published in 1954.  L’Estrange joined the company as a 14 year old apprentice in 1904.  In that year the company was renamed the City Electric Light Company.

Brisbane Electric Supply Co. employees in Brisbane, 1904, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 39117

Brisbane Electric Supply Co. employees in 1904. 14 year old apprentice F. L'Estrange is third from the right in the front standing row.

In the mean time another player had come on the scene.  Since 1885 the Metropolitan Tramway and Investment Company had offered a horse-drawn tram service in inner Brisbane from Albion Park and New Farm to West End and Buranda under the Tramways Act of 1882.  An amendment to the Act in 1890 allowed for the sale of the company and electrification of the line.  The 20 miles of track and 51 cars were sold to the Brisbane Tramway Construction Company, the owners also registering the Brisbane Tramways Company to operate the electric trams.  American company General Electric were chosen for the task of electrifying the tramways and Joseph Stillman Badger was sent out as Chief Electrical Engineer to oversee the work.  Badger would stay in Brisbane until 1922, transfering from GE to work directly for the Brisbane Tramway Company as Manager, then General Manager and ultimately Managing Director.

Badger family, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 7557

Joseph S. Badger, of Belle Vue, Miskin Street, Toowong with his wife Carrie and sons Arthur and Richard

To provide the electricity supply for the trams a new powerhouse was built on land at Countess Street bordering the Roma Street goods yards.  Three Robey cross-compound, horizontal, non-condensing, steam engines were installed, each driving a 300 kW, 550-volt DC generator.  The engines were supplied with steam from four large boilers under a 150 ft. high brick chimney.  Alongside the powerhouse, additional land provided space for the offices and workshops for tram maintenance and manufacturing.  In 1902 the installation of more powerful generating equipment meant that the tramways now had excess power which could be sold off to homes and businesses adjoining the tram lines.

View of the Roma Street Railway Station, Brisbane, ca. 1900, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 6408

Roma Street goods yards with the tramway Power Station behind

As well as distributing electricity the tram service had an important role in distributing mail.  This began in the horse tram era when the trams were contracted to transfer mail between the G.P.O. and suburban post offices at Breakfast Creek, South Brisbane and Woolloongabba.  This arrangement was continued and expanded when electric trams were introduced and continued until 1934.  As well as transferring mail between post offices the trams also served as mobile post boxes with posting bags being carried on trams from 1894 until 1916.

Described in the Australian dictionary of biography as able, courageous and ruthless, Joseph Badger oversaw the expansion of the tramways into a profitable company able to pay handsome dividends to its stockholders.  He was implacably opposed to trade unions and his hard line approach led to the General Strike of 1912 after union members were locked out for wearing union badges on their uniforms.  The Labor Party remained hostile to Badger and when a Labor government of T. J. Ryan was elected in 1915 they began planning a government takeover of the tramways.

Boss Badger

'Boss Badger' a cartoon from The Worker, Saturday, 7 January, 1905

The government put plans in place to buy out the Brisbane Tramways Company and at the same time sought to limit the company’s profits by legislating to control fares in a bid to reduce what they would ultimately have to pay for the company.  At the same time they raised doubts about the legality of the company’s electricity supply sideline.  The government did not want to have to compensate them for their electricity distribution assets as well as their core tramway business.  The Tramways company’s electricity distribution assets were sold to the City Electric Light Company in 1921 when the company realised that its aging generating equipment limited its capacity.  Conflict between the government and the company continued with the government attempting to devalue the company and refusing to include tramlines it claimed were built without permission.  The company struck back with its London based investors urging a boycott of lending to the Queensland Government.  In the meantime the company refused to invest in new lines or equipment and the network was becoming run down.  Eventually a compromise valuation was agreed and the company was purchased by the Brisbane Tramways Trust before being handed over to the newly formed Brisbane City Council in 1925.

The City of Brisbane Act of 1924 created what is often known as Greater Brisbane from two former Cities, seven towns, ten shires and parts of two other shires.  Section 36 of the Act gave the city council the authority to generate electricity for light and power.  The only generating capacity in the control of the council was that of the tramways which had three small and obsolete power stations in Countess Street, Light Street and Logan Road.  Much of the city was already being supplied with electricity by City Electric Light Company.  The Council had to decide whether to continue buying electricity from CEL or to go into competition by generating its own electricity.  Firstly, however, the council decided to try to purchase the City Electric Light Company.  The council had turned down the opportunity to purchase the company when Barton & White was declared insolvent in 1894 and on a number of occasions since the idea had been put forward but no agreement had been reached.  In 1926 the council made an offer to by the company’s assets for £1,500,000 but the company was not impressed, making a counter offer to sell at £2,500,000.  The distance between the two parties proved to be too great and the BCC resolved to build their own power station.

Construction of the boiler house at New Farm Power Station, ca. 1926, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 90744

Construction of the boiler house at New Farm Power Station, ca. 1926

The New Farm Power Station was opened in 1928 with two units generating less than 10,000 kW although the capacity would rapidly increase.  The new power station was controlled and operated by the council’s tramways department, supplying in bulk to the electricity department, the tramways and the council’s workshops.  The bulk supply required by the tramways was essential as the council was unable to supply the industrial and commercial customers in the city centre which were supplied by CEL under franchises it owned under the terms of the 1896 Electric Light and Power Act.  City Electric Light had opened its new Bulimba power station in 1926.

The existence of two major power stations in Brisbane where one would have been sufficient was just one example of the inefficiencies that had developed as a result of the piecemeal and patchy development of electricity generation and supply throughout Queensland and in 1936 the Queensland Government established a Royal Commission on Electricity chaired by J.R. Kemp, the Main Roads commissioner and a well qualified civil engineer.  The commissioners gave their prime attention to ‘ensuring the orderly planning of the electrical supply industry in Queensland’, to the elimination of waste and duplication, to the economic development of the state, and to rural electrification.  The end result of the Royal Commission’s work was the formation of the State Electricity Commission.  They undertook to implement a scheme for the electrification of south-east Queensland with the City Electric Light Company playing a leading role with a plan for the government to purchase the company in 15 years time.

Eventually instead of the government purchasing the company a compromise was reached.  The company was converted from a privately owned company into a public authority under the Southern Electric Authority Act of 1952.  The company’s directors would remain in charge, supplemented by the electricity commissioner and an official from Treasury.  There would be no cash payment and the shareholders would have their investments converted into stakes in a public loan.  In 1962 a further rationalization occurred when agreement was reached for the Brisbane City Council to relinquish its power stations and instead take over electricity distribution for the whole Greater Brisbane area.

 Night view of Queen Street, Brisbane, ca. 1959, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Image number: lbp00005

Night view of Queen Street, Brisbane, ca. 1959

The ownership of Queensland’s electricity generation and distribution infrastructure remains a contentious issue with moves by the current government to privatize parts of the network generating a lot of discussion and conflict.

A very thorough description of this history can be found in A history of the electricity supply industry in Queensland by Malcolm I Thomis.  The story of Boss Badger and the Brisbane trams can be found in One American too many by David Burke.  The last Brisbane trams ran in 1969 when they were replaced with buses, however trams are making a return to south east Queensland with a new light rail service carrying its first passengers on the Gold Coast this week.  See an album of Queensland trams on SLQ on Flickr.

Simon Miller – Library Technician, State Library of Queensland

83 Queensland history interviews and going strong

State Library of Queensland’s project coordinator Myles Sinnamon has recently completed 83 interviews with ABC Radio, talking about Queensland history every Tuesday night at 9 pm.  An employee for more than 20 years, Myles brings out ephemera, curiosities, and knowledge of collections from the John Oxley Library to share.

Myles Sinnamon shares Queensland history.  State Library of Queensland staff image

Myles Sinnamon shares Queensland history

Myles said that his favourite of all the interviews has been a show called “Do you believe in magic?” This show was all about magicians, hypnotists and escape artists who visited Queensland in the 1920s and 1930s.

Magic tricks, explosive submarine charges, thousands of spectators, and the Victoria bridge garnered huge attention in Brisbane for traveling magicians and escape artists. In Rockhampton, an escape artist escaped from a straightjacket whilst a speeding car headed towards him.

Toby Ryan magician and escapologist Rockhampton 19251935, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Image No.2000_038_234

Toby Ryan magician and escapologist Rockhampton 19251935

Hypnotists travelled Queensland extensively during the time as well, with good reviews in local papers,  and enjoyed extensively by communities for many years. Volunteers often offered to be hypnotised and apparently were induced to eat imaginary peanuts, according to one news story. Sports teams were also hypnotised and convinced to beat opponents whilst hypnotised, including the Atherton hockey team, to encourage a win.

The radio shows are lively, fun and full of fascinating stories of Queensland history not available anywhere else. Link to a recent JOL blog post by Maxine Fisher to read more about the interviews Myles has done on the ABC. All of Myles’ interviews are available on the ABC website, including the Do You Believe in Magic interview.


Snapping Dinosaurs

Whilst Clive Palmer might be raising hell with the carbon tax, there’s a roaring of a different kind at his Palmer Coolum Resort, Queensland. Canberra may indeed seem like a land before time, but if you want to see some “real” dinosaurs, head to Palmersaurus, the Dinosaur theme park at Clive Palmer’s Coolum Resort.

29351, Opening of Palmersaurus Dinosaur Park Photographs, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Photograph by Hamish Cairns

Dinosaur enclosure at Palmersaurus Coolum Resort Coolum Queemsland

Documentary photographer Hamish Cairns was on hand at the ribbon cutting ceremony to capture the opening of this park. It was officially opened by Palmer along with the Irwin family on 14 December 2013 and has become a unique contemporary cultural icon on the ever surprising Queensland landscape.

29351, Opening of Palmersaurus Dinosaur Park Photographs, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Photograph by Hamish Cairns.

Clive Palmer speaking at the Press Conference for the opening of Palmersaurus at Palmer Coolum Resort Queensland

If you visit Palmersaurus you will find 160 semi-moving, life-size dinosaurs, with button activated roars (someone tell me what they sounded like!). The dinosaurs range from 2.5 to 22 metres in length and from one to 10 metres in height. They include species such as the Velociraptor, Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex!!!!!!!!) and Triceratops.

But if you can’t make your way there, check out the wonderful photographs captured by Hamish on our online catalogue: 29351 Opening of Palmersaurus Dinosaur Park Photographs!

Link to digital item

Link to this record

29351, Opening of Palmersaurus Dinosaur Park Photographs, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Photograph by Hamish Cairns

Small child and his father gaze up at the TRex model at Palmersaurus Coolum Queensland

Zenovia Pappas – Contemporary Collecting Coordinator, State Library of Queensland

Podcast: Queensland Places (A night in the JOL)

State Library of Queensland’s collections contain a wide range of material about Queensland locations. Many of the items promote these places as tourist destinations, illustrating aspects of the Queensland tourism industry from as early as the 1920s, such as the Queensland Rail Sunshine Route.

Listen to Queensland historians Professor Peter Spearritt from The University of Queensland and Andrew Moritz from the Workshops Rail Museum, in conversation with Ian Townsend from ABC Radio National, as they highlight the way in which place has been documented in Queensland.

Further reading


Queensland Police Service and last police tracker, Coen

Guest blogger: Susan Boulton – A/ Manager Public Access, Queensland State Archives

Established on 1 January 1864, the Queensland Police Force is celebrating 150 years of service. Since the inception of Queensland and the Police Service, local trackers have been employed, initially to assist troopers and later Queensland Police officers. The hunting skills of Aboriginal trackers and their ability to find food and water were utilised by the Queensland Police Force to locate offenders fleeing through the bush and outback areas.

Police Detectives and trackers, Blackfellow Creek, Gatton c1899. Queensland State Archives. DID 21878

Police Detectives and trackers, Blackfellow Creek, Gatton c1899

On 3 July Coen celebrated not only 150 years of the Queensland Police Service but the retirement of the last remaining police tracker, Coen local Police Liaison Officer Barry Port.

In the general correspondence records for the Department of Public Works two memorandums addressed to the Government Architect provide an insight into the police camp at Coen. For instance, on 1 October 1912 the Inspector of Works writes that about 22 years ago the Sergeants Quarters ‘was a hotel in Cooktown, it was then pulled down and re-erected in Coen as a hotel and then converted to a skating rink. It was afterwards purchased by the Police Department pulled down and re-erected at the Native Police Camp’. Accompanying this memorandum are sketch plans of repairs to, and photos of, the Sergeants Quarters.

Plan of proposed Sergeants Quarters 1910-1919. Queensland State Archives. DID 26853

Plan of proposed Sergeants Quarters 1910-1919

Photograph of the Sergeants Quarters 1912. Queensland State Archives. DID 26855

Photograph of the Sergeants Quarters 1912

Sketch of the Sergeants Quarters 1912. Queensland State Archives. DID 26854

Sketch of the Sergeants Quarters 1912

Discover more about the Coen Police Camp through the digitised correspondence available to view on ArchivesSearch at Item ID 107412, Correspondence.

Susan Boulton – A/ Manager Public Access, Queensland State Archives

Queensland Places – Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church, Thursday Island

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church was built by the priests of the Mission of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart soon after they arrived on the island in late 1884.  It is likely that the first church building they built forms part of the existing church, although this is not certain.  However, by the early 1900s, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church had taken on its present form and appearance.

The church had come about as the Sacred Heart fathers wished to establish a mission in New Guinea to act as a base or foothold in the region.  In view of this, a mission in the Torres Strait would serve as a convenient mid point and connection between the society’s churches in Australia and those proposed for New Guinea.  The first priests arrived on 24 October 1884 with the early masses being held at McNulty’s Hotel, which later became the Federal Hotel.

The land upon which the church and residence were to be built was purchased in January 1885, with the first small Sacred Heart church being erected over the next year.  By the end of 1886 the mission had expanded to several buildings including a small convent and presbytery.  A small school house was erected in around 1900.  The murals inside the church building were painted by a local islander, David Sing in 1935.  David Sing, born in 1911, had become a lay preacher by around the age of seventeen and used his artistic skills tp paint murals in this church as well as others in Port Moresby and Tully, Queensland.  He also painted a range of other works during his life.

The Sacred Heart church and school have undergone various changes over the years including the way in which, and by whom they are administered.  For instance, after 1967, the parish was no longer staffed by Sacred Heart priests but by priests of the general Cairns diocese.  Some of the various renovations and changes that have been made to the church since its original construction include the replacement of the spire in 1983 by a fibreglass replica of the original iron sheet spire.  The church also underwent substantial centenary restoration in the later 1980s/early 1990s and now survives as an important reminder of the place of the Sacred Heart Mission in Thursday Island’s history.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Thursday Island ca. 1905

Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Thursday Island ca. 1905

This photograph shows the church in 1905, only some twenty years after it was first constructed.

Brian Randall – Queensland Places Coordinator, State Library of Queensland.

Plants Worthy of Attention in an Indooroopilly Park

Recently the State Library of Queensland received a request for information regarding the early beginnings of a garden now called Thomas Park, Bougainvillea Gardens in Indooroopilly.

Bougainvillea covers a residence in Indooroopilly

In 1867, Robert Jarrott purchased land at Indooroopilly and proceeded to clear and prepare it for cultivation and farm use. Within a year he had built a home on the high part and moved his family there from George Street, Brisbane. During the next 15 years, he established a citrus orchard and grew many types of fruit and vegetables, as well as lucerne, often winning prizes at the semi-annual shows of the East Moreton Farmers Agriculture & Horticulture Association (predecessor of the R.N.A.). When Robert Jarrott had his orchard the fruit was transported to the Roma Street markets by boat until a road was eventually built. After the death of Robert Jarrott snr in 1878, his second son, also called Robert, carried on the farm until some years later when the property was subdivided into seven lots and transferred to each of Robert’s siblings and eventually all the properties were sold.

Sub 1  Henry Thomas in 1898, Sub 2 to Morrow in 1893, Sub 3 to Lalor in 1906, Sub 4 Swain in 1888 then to Lalor, Sub 5 Carr in 1889, Sub 6 Lalor, Sub 7  to Thomas.

Bougainvillea archway at Indooroopilly

Henry Thomas came to Australia from England in 1882. He worked as a groom for the Clerk of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly. Later he trained racehorses for the well-known Dangar family on their properties in New South Wales. Henry Thomas purchased his parcel of land in 1898 and built his home and began to cultivate an amazing garden around his residence, “Somerset” situated in Hart’s Road, Indooroopilly.
The garden in its heyday was world renowned and had international attention, because of the variety of plant species cultivated by Henry Thomas. He once told Sara Stramberg, the staff reporter on the Australian Women’s Weekly, that he had done very little gardening until he settled in his new home.

Bougainvillea Gardens

“Somerset” became a popular venue for garden parties, fetes and afternoon teas all of which were held in the magnificent Bougainvillea Gardens.  The Queensland Horticultural Society, held benefits to showcase the natural beauty of the masses of rose-pink blooms that spread out beneath a canopy of tall waving green palm leaves. Several varieties of the bougainvillea were on show, including the Bougainvlllea-Thomassi that once embowered Henry’s home in a wealth of color. This variety, was named in Mr. Thomas’s honor, and was propagated by him ca. 1907. One of Henry Thomas’ mutation triumphs is called Turley’s Special E, a cherry-red specimen, another was Crimson Lake, a beautiful red and  Laterita which was a brick red colored bloom, these were just a few of his bougainvillea varieties. He became known as the Bougainvillea King and well regarded in horticultural circles.

Bougainvillea Gardens home of Henry Thomas

There were many articles written about this glorious garden. A few are listed below -

Henry Thomas was given a life tenancy when the cottage “Somerset” and the gardens were taken over by the Brisbane City Council. This allowed him to maintain his garden that he had established and cared for over many years. Nowadays, the park is maintained by council, who provide benches and picnic tables under shady trees for visitors wishing to rest a while and observe the view. Sadly this site with its variety of shrubs and trees, many of which were planted in 1898, is showing the ravages of time now that Mr. Thomas is no longer able to potter around his garden maintaining the wonderful legacy he created and left for the people of Queensland and Indooroopilly.  He is said to have raised hundreds of pounds for hospitals churches and other charities through opening his garden to the public and sharing the natural beauty of this place.

Janette Garrad – Original Content Technician, State Library of Queensland

Hot Modernism coming soon

State Library will be opening a new exhibition to the public on 9 July 2014. Hot Modernism: Building modern Queensland 1945-75 is the culmination of an ARC Linkage Grant with the UQ School of Architecture and will investigate Queensland’s modernist architecture post-WWII.

The exhibition focuses on five key themes relevant to the period: Climate and Regionalism, Urbanism and Infrastructure, Colour and Art, International Influences and Lifestyle. There will be a range of architectural drawings, photographs and physical models reflecting the work of this period. Uniquely, there will also be a 1:1 scale recreation of a significant house of the era. This recreation of the Jacobi House, built in Indooroopilly in 1957 and designed by Hayes and Scott, will house a range of mid-century furniture and be located literally within the SLQ Gallery.

Hot Modernism is open from 9 July – 12 October. Included in the program is a range of events at SLQ and at some special locations around Brisbane.

You can learn more about Queensland’s post-war architecture at the Digital Archive of Queensland Architecture. This database of oral histories, transcripts and other digital content has been developed as part of the ARC Linkage Project.

To give a small sneak peek into the exhibition, here is a digital story filmed with Chris Osborne and Susan Bennett at their house in Carina.


Say “G’day” in an Indigenous language!

Many Australians can say ‘bonjour’ or ‘konnichiwa’ for hello in French or Japanese, but how many people know how to say g’day’ in an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language?

How many people know the name of their local Indigenous language?

Do you know any words from your local Indigenous language?

Are there place-names, landmarks or even house names that reflect the traditional language of your area?

Did you know that in Queensland there are over 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and dialects?

Over 100 Queensland Indigenous languages/dialects!

Today only about 30 are spoken on a daily basis!  Of these only 2 are classed as strong or thriving languages; the remaining languages are classed as endangered! State Library has an Indigenous Languages Strategy which aims to document, preserve and promote the rich diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages across Queensland. Activities such as language workshops, online resources and digitisation support community groups, language centres and language workers in community language revival. We are continually looking for new ways to promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages in the wider Queensland community.

Say G'day wordle in Queensland Indigenous languages.

The State Library of Queensland in partnership with Yugambeh Museum, Language and Heritage Research Centre, Indigenous Language Centres and other community groups are excited about this new initiative for NAIDOC Week 2014.

“Say G’day in an Indigenous Language!”

During NAIDOC week, State Library would like to encourage Queenslanders to be part of the week! We ask you to find out about your local Indigenous language and discover the local word for ‘g’day’ and use it during NAIDOC Week.  This action is a simple, yet effective way to raise awareness of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

Flyer for the "Say G'day" initiative.

A good starting point to identifying your local community language is the State Library’s Indigenous Languages Map of Queensland. This interactive map allows users to explore regions and towns across Queensland and identify the traditional Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander languages from that area. Hyperlinks will take the reader to items within the State Library collections that relate to that particular language.

State Library Queensland Indigenous Language Resources Map.

From this starting point, research and talk to local community organisations to find out their local word for ‘G’day’ or ‘Hello’ and use it during this week.

  • Talk to your local community to find out the word and how to say it!
  • Use your library, IKC, language centre to research other local words!
  • Are there other words for greetings/welcome, etc.?
  • Share this new greeting with friends, families and others during the week!

Yugambeh words from Yugambeh Museum's website.

The State Library and Yugambeh Museum will have some wordlists on their websites to get you started and don’t forget to follow the conversation on Twitter – we will be using  the following hashtags: #saygday #indigenouslanguages #naidocweek.

Have a great week with the “Say G’day” Campaign and don’t forget to share your stories with others, including State Library. Hopefully this initiative will raise awareness of Indigenous languages in your community and support the ongoing revival and maintenance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages in Queensland.

References and Further Readings:

The following items in State Library collections can help you find out more about your local Aboriginal or Torres Strait islander language; perhaps even the word for “G’day”!

Aird, M. (1996) I know a few words: Talking about Aboriginal Languages. Keeaira Publications: Southport. G 499.15 1996

Allan, J. and Lane, J. (2001) The language of the Wangerriburra and neighbouring groups in the Yugambeh region. Kombumerri Aboriginal Corporation for Culture: Beenleigh. P 499.15 all

Ash, A., Giacon, J. and Lissarrague, A. (2003) Gamilaraay, Yuwaalaraay, Yuwaalayaay Dictionary. IAD Press: Alice Springs. J 499.1503 GAM

Barlow, H. (1865) Harriet Barlow Manuscript. Provides the basis for her work “Aboriginal Vocabularies of Queensland”. OM91-69.

Bell, J. (1994) Dictionary of the Gubbi-Gubbi and Butchulla languages, compiled with the assistance of Amanda Seed. Jeannie Bell: Brisbane. G 499.15321 1994

Bell, J. (2004) Dictionary of the Butchulla language. Korrawinga Aboriginal Corporation: Hervey Bay. G 499.15 2004

Blake, B. and Breen, J. G. (2007) An illustrated dictionary of Yulluna by domains. Yulluna Land Council and James Cook University: Mount Isa. J 499.51 ILL

Breen, J.G. (1981) The Mayi Languages of the Queensland Gulf Country. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Press. J 499.15 bre

Breen, J.G. (1990) Salvage Studies of Western Queensland Aboriginal Languages. Australia Pacific Linguistics, Canberra. J 499.15 bre

Dixon, R. M. W. (1972) The Dyirbal language of north Queensland. London: Cambridge University Press. G 499.15 1972

Dixon, R. M. W. (1991) Words of our country: stories, place names and vocabulary in Yidiny, the Aboriginal language of the Cairns-Yarrabah region. St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press. G 499.15 1991

Edwards, R. (Ed) (2001) Dictionary of Torres Strait languages. Rams Skull Press: Sydney. Q 499.1503 RAY

Helon, G. (1994) The English-Goreng Goreng-English dictionary. Gurang Land Council: Bundaberg. G 499.15 1994

Holmer, N. (1983) Linguistic Survey of South-Eastern Queensland. Australian National University: Canberra. J 499.15 HOL

Mathew, J. (1910) Two representative tribes of Queensland: with an inquiry concerning the origin of the Australian race. T Fisher Unwin: London. J 306.0899915 MAT

Patz, E. (2002) A grammar of the Kuku Yalanji language of north Queensland. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. J 499.15 PAT

Sharpe, M. (1998) Dictionary of Yugambeh, including neighbouring dialects, compiled by Margaret Sharpe from various sources: Pacific Linguistics C-139. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. G 499.15 1998

Terrill, A. (2002) Dharumbal: the language of Rockhampton, Australia. Pacific Linguistics 525. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. J 499.15 TER

Watson, F. J. (1944) “Vocabularies of four representative tribes of South Eastern Queensland”; supplement to the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia (Queensland), No. 34, Vol XLVIII. REFJ 499.15 wat



Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS): www.aiatsis.gov.au

Our Languages: www.ourlanguages.net.au

State Library of Queensland Indigenous Languages webpages: www.slq.qld.gov.au/resources/atsi/languages

Yugambeh Museum website: www.yugambeh.com


Listen to Indigenous Languages at State Library:

Re-told: A re-telling of stories and songs from Myths and legends of the Torres Strait.

Caring for Language. Hear Aunty Ethel Munn, Gunggari Elder talking about the importance of caring for language.

Ngampa Kugu ngampara Thayan Piamu (Keeping Language Strong). A digital story on a Language Research Discovery Workshop held at State Library in March 2012.








Play the Ball Exhibition opens 7 July – a story of strength and courage

Guest Blogger: Mark Newman with digital contributions by C. Cottle

During a four-year period in the early 1960s, boxers in a small country town in Queensland held nine Australian boxing titles. Out of a team of ten boxers representing Australia at the Empire (later Commonwealth) Games, three came from this town. One of these went on to win a gold medal at these games.

Eddie Gilbert in action bowling, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Negative Number 121078

Eddie Gilbert in action bowling

Cherbourg – previously known as Barambah – a town in the South Burnett region about three hours north of Brisbane, had under 2000 residents in the 1960s and has not many more today. It was and is renowned throughout the region as a nursery of prodigious sporting talents in many sports, ranging from boxing to cricket and rugby league.

Today, Cherbourg looks back on its sporting history with the opening on 7 July of an exhibition called “Play the Ball”. The exhibition, installed in the Boys’ Dormitory building in the Ration Shed Precinct in Cherbourg, recalls the achievements of its sportsmen and women in the years since it was brought into existence as an Aboriginal reserve under the Aboriginal Protection Act in 1904.

The exhibition honours the town’s sporting heroes who have represented the region, the state and the country as well as the many unsung heroes – the boys and girls, men and women who play for love of their game, their team, their community.

Sport does not exist in a vacuum; it is subject to the same social and cultural pressures extant in the wider society and in the South Burnett there have always been plenty of those. Cherbourg is at the “frontier” of Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in the South Burnett. Many white people in the area had little idea of the lives being lived “under the Act” by the blackfellas against whom they were bowling or kicking or running.

That a great cricketer like Eddie Gilbert, or a great rugby league player like Frank Fisher or a great boxer like Jeffrey Dynevor could emerge, despite the obstacles thrown up in their way, is a story of strength and courage. “Play the Ball” celebrates this spirit in photographs and texts, videos and artefacts drawn from State Library of Queensland and libraries and museums from around the country. It aims to encourage reflection, discussion and reconciliation.

Curated by Cherbourg Elders, sportspeople and specialists, the Ration Shed Museum is proud to present this exhibition, welcoming those who are interested in sports, in the recent history of Aboriginal culture and in our community. For more information on the Ration Shed Museum in Cherbourg and the Play the Ball exhibition, please visit the website: www.rationshed.com.au or telephone 07 4169 5753