Monthly Archives: December 2010 Back

New Year's Eve 2010

On this last day of 2010 the staff of the State Library of Queensland would like to wish you all a Happy New Year for 2011.

The Corinthian Cup, a prize for the Corinthian Handicap, a feature race for gentlemen riders which was run at the first race meeting of the Queensland Turf Club in August 1865. New addition to the John Oxley Library Collection in 2010. Prof. Anna Haebich co-presenter with Mark Schuster of October’s Out of the Port talk on the German Heritage of Queensland. Des Crump shows Petrina Walker, from the North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum, some information relating to Stradbroke Island languages. Aboriginal Languanges Discovery Workshop Nov 2010. Dr Jeff Rickertt receives the John Oxley Library Fellowship 2010 Young Historians Workshop participants 2010 Simon Farley displays an original passport from 1859. Ship to Shore School Workshops, October 2010. Session 1 panel discussion. Black Opium Symposium, February 2010.

2010 was a great year for the John Oxley Library with beautiful new additions to the collections, enriching learning programs, school visits, exhibitions, talks, symposiums and a host of events that brought researchers, students, members of the public, and Oxley staff together.

Wednesday night group. Final session. Discovering Queensland course participants with Prof. Raymond Evans, March 2010. Simon Farley, Manager of Client Services, John Oxley Library delivering Queensland at War presentation. ANZAC Day 2010. Reading Room visitors. From left Louise Denoon, Manager Heritage Collections, Mr Thomas Sebasio, Simon Farley, Manager, Client Services, Heritage Collections, Lynette Griffith (front), project coordinator from Erub Erwer Meta, Louise Anson, coordinator of Darnley IKC, Florence Gutchen (front) and Kapua Gutchen, artists from Darnley Island. Group researching body ornamentation in the Torres Strait Islands. Viewing the original Manifesto of the Labour Party to the People of Queensland of 1892. Labour History Symposium 2010. Oxley Librarian Dianne Bryne speaking about the history of Fernberg. Queensland Day, Government House, 2010. 2009/10 John Oxley Library Fellows, Dr Judith McKay and Ms Susan Addison present their creations at their goodbye morning tea.

Whether you visit us in the Reading Room on level 4 next year, or access our website to view historic Queensland images, or digitised manuscripts and books, or online exhibitions…we look forward to helping you online and in person.

New Year’s Day crowds at Sandgate, 1907. John Oxley Library Image number 48274. McLellan family group at ‘Pine Hut’, Baralaba District, Queensland, New Year’s Day, 1930. New Year postcard showing Queen Street, Brisbane. John Oxley Library Image Number 193117.  Grammar School boys welcome in the new year at school. John Oxley Library Image Number 7708-0001-0096. Shearer’s float in the New Year’s Day procession, Barcaldine, Queensland, 1931. Oxley Image Number bar00034. New Year’s Day Celebrations at the Belle Vue Hotel, Brisbane, 1 January 1940. Image number 102773.

Feliz Año Nuevo

Bundaberg in flood

Major flooding of the Burnett River is relatively infrequent but when heavy rainfall pours down, resulting from low pressure systems over the catchment, significant river rises and floods have occurred, such as those in the years 1875, 1890, 1893, 1928, 1942, 1954, 1971 and presently in 2010. The following John Oxley Library images record some of these.

Tantitha Street during the floods in Bundaberg, 1890. Image number 153840.  Bundaberg in flood, 1893. Image number 9553. Bundaberg during the flood of 1893. Image number 168001. Burnett River during a flood in Bundaberg, 1928. Image number 202890. Whittred Street, Bundaberg 1942 flood. Image number qbun00009. Town wharf during a flood in Bundaberg, 1942. Image number 202884.

Today Bundaberg, like a number of other Queensland towns including Theodore, Dalby, Alpha, Jericho, Emerald and Rockhampton, is flooded with 400 people evacuated overnight as the Burnett River reached 7.9 metres, the highest since 1942 when it reached 8.4 metres.

Looking north toward Bourbong Street down Targo Street. 12.30pm 30th December 2010. Looking north toward the CBC down Targo Street. The Melbourne Hotel Public Bar is beneath the green awning. 12.30pm 30th December 2010. Main Road through the Byweach towards East Bundaberg. Taken at 12.30pm, 30th December 2010 in front of the Lutheran School. Tattersalls Hotel from the 5-ways. 12.30 pm 30th December 2010.

Bundaberg resident Scott Coleman sent through the images above to be added to the John Oxley Library as a lasting eyewitess record of the floods of 2010.  Mr Coleman took these photographs today at 12.30pm.

This recent deluge has caused wide scale damage and devastation throughout Queensland and Northern NSW and, when the waters do eventually recede, images and accounts recorded by those who experienced this natural disaster will form a continuing memory of the events of December 2010.

The John Oxley Library houses photographs, maps, newpapers, diaries, letters and films that record the effect of floods on the people and places of Queensland.

The Whiskey Au Go Go File

Online newspaper databases have been around for quite a while now providing users with an historic treasure trove of press articles from a wide variety of titles and from different periods in time.

The State Library of Queensland enables access to these subscription only newspaper databases via its website for e-service card holders. They include the Times Digital Archive 1785-1985 searchable by key word and including all articles, advertisements and illustrations and photos, Newsbank providing acces to full text articles from more than 230 Queensland, Australian, and international titles from 1998 onwards, Library Press Display which provides a full-colour, full page collection of today’s newspapers from over 70 countries around the world in 37 languages, and National Library’s wonderful Historic Australian Papers, 1803 to 1954 which includes The Courier Mail and The Queenslander.

Before the advent of online databases librarians in the John Oxley Library clipped articles of interest on a daily basis from Queensland newspapers placing these in folders with various subject headings. We still add to these files although the need to exhaustively cut from hardcopy papers is not as pressing as it was prior to the existence of the above mentioned digital resources.

On December 18, 2010 in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Weekend Magazine, journalist Frank Robson contributed an intriguing feature article “Family Secrets” on the subject of the 1973 firebombing of Brisbane’s Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub in Fortitude Valley. This firebombing resulted in the deaths of 15 patrons and staff making it one of the worst mass murders in modern Australia until the Port Arthur massacre in 1996.

James Finch and John Stewart “Whiskey Au Go Go Warning” “Stuart feared he would be set up” “Finch: confession a lie” “Pistol threat, then death in nightclub” Oxley Reference Librarian, Trudy Bennett, looks through the Whiskey Au Go Go File.

John Stewart and James Finch were tried and convicted for the Whiskey Au Go Go murders and sent down to Brisbane’s Boggo Road Gaol were they continued to proclaim their innocence. Stuart died in prison in 1979.

In the article Robson interviews Danny Stewart, nephew of John Stewart, who claims that his uncle was innocent of the crime.

I’ve added this to the substantial clippings file we have on the “Whiskey Au Go Go Fire, 1973″ as the latest instalment on this horrific event and its aftermath. The pictures in the article do not appear in Newsbank, although the text does. If you see the pictures they certainly contibute to the story and this is one of the reasons I’ve added this article to our clippings file. It also complements the other articles in the file from titles like The Sun, The Bulletin, The Toowoomba Chronicle, The Courier Mail, and many others. Most of these articles are from the 70s and 80s and are not available online.

Newspaper clippings are of great value to researchers as they bring together articles on the same subject from different periods in time resulting in a greater variety of perspectives. The John Oxley Library collection also includes newspaper cuttings books and all Queensland newspapers. You can find out more about the State Library’s newspaper collections here.

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Simon Farley, Heritage Information Services.

Posted in Brisbane, Collections, Events | 68 Comments


  1. Thank you for adding my story, written by Frank Robson to the library Whiskey Au Go Go File, there is a lot more material to come out in the near future.



    • Ralph and Johnny were my grandfathers brothers. I am very intrested in what you have written?

  2. Hi Danny

    Look forward to seeing that material and preserving it in our collections as this story continues to unfold and your account sheds new light on the events of 8 March 1973 and what followed.

    Simon Farley
    Manager – Client Services
    Heritage Collections
    State Library of Queensland

  3. My mother was one of the 15 that died that nite. im so very interested to talk and find out what really happend. i was also keen to see any old photos . i hope to hear from u soon. cheers……tiodd

  4. Hi Todd. I am very sorry that you lost your Mother on that night and I couldn’t imagine the grief you must have suffered from loosing her.
    I have dedicated my book to the 15 victims and their families, devoting more than 30 years of my life on getting the truth to you. As soon as the book is complete I will organise a way of getting in touch and hopefully we can have a talk then. Cheers, Danny Stuart

    • danny , I bet i could add one or two pages to your book..( which i’ve never read , I Know what happened ) In 1975 , i shared a cell with them in the southport watch-house , for nearly 28 days , And at the age of 17 , on my first offence ? lol , we spent every waking moment together , and spoke openly , and freely , of our crimes . and how we could escape justice… And mate !! After i had heard with my own ears. what they had done..not only at the whiskey au go go , but well before that … my blood run cold as ice. , Then ? we all got chained up , nice and tight ,( stewart with a smashed ankle ) and shipped off H.M.P Bogga Road Prison ..And lucky me !! I had one handcuffed either side of me..Then i got to spend , 11 months on remand ( till turned 18 ) then , 2 1/2 years with them at the road… maybe I should write a book….

  5. Hi Michael, I also would be very interested in talking to you about the Whiskey, I believe you do have a close association with this subject, can you leave your contact details with the Oxley Library so that I can email or phone you, looking forward to making contact. Cheers, Danny Stuart.

  6. Hello again Michael, If you are worried about any heat coming your way because of any discussion we may have, don’t be. I will not disclose any information that you give me without your consent, no matter how vital to me this evidence may be. It isn’t easy to make changes to my book at this stage, but if you feel you could add a little light to the subject that would be great. Are you related to John or Ralph Bell? All the best. Danny

  7. Hi Todd, That’s a hard question to answer at this stage, when we think we are ready to wrap it up new evidence comes flying our way from many directions, none of which can be ignored. I will let you know as soon as it goes to print, and thanks for your email. Cheers, Danny.

  8. Danny, I have been eagerly awaiting your book since I read the feature “family secrets”. Will there be anything in it about the McCulkin murders? There is a lot of evidence that they were related to the Whiskey au Go Go.

    • There is NO Doubt they were connected to Whisky. Barbara spoke personally to me the day before they were kidnapped & her & I compared notes .
      She had more than Whisky to expose . I touch on it in my Book ‘I Survived’

  9. Len, I will leave a comment on this blog and let you know when this book is available to the public. Did you know Barbara McCulkin? Danny

  10. I will be releasing a Book on Kindle on my life as a Private Detective in Brisbane 1971 – 1978 & will be featuring the Whisky & the behind the scenes players as well as the barbara McCulkin Kidnap arranged by Police.

    I know ,Barbarea rang me & my Partner gave us the story & when we went to pick her up to get her & the kids to a safe house the Kidnapping had unfortunately already taken place.

    Their disappearance was very definately related to Whisky.

  11. Hi John, Thank you for your comment, Your name is familiar to me, and I do know there is a connection with the Whiskey and the the McCulkin kidnapping. Is there any way of contacting you direct as this isn’t a subject that I would like to discuss on a blog. All the best with your book.
    Can you leave you contact details with the Library.

  12. Hello. I am interested in doing some research into the McCulkin disappearance. John and Danny would you be interested in speaking with me via email in relation to the information you have? Thank you. Peta

  13. Hi John
    I really believe even that small amount of information you gave is of vital importance to the case. Please contact me so that we can speak further regarding it. It is vital to attempt to solve this before every person that may have been involved dies of old age. The right people need to be bought to justice – this whole thing reeks of corruption.
    Thank you John.

    • Len, would you be kind enough to contact me when you get a chance? I’m on 0404 868154. Best wishes and hope to hear from you, Matt

  14. Hi Danny
    Could you email me your phone number so I can pass it to my cousin Billy Stokes who is very much still alive!

    Cheers Mark

  15. Hi everyone

    Before leaving a comment on the JOL Blog please be aware of our Comments Policy:

    Comments will be deleted if they have content that:

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    - promotes hate of any kind
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    • Anyone wishing to know about the Whiskey firebombing and the McCulken Family murders should ask Dan Stuart for a copy of the statements that I sent to him. Billy Stokes

  16. I Survived my book on my time in Brisbane as a Private Detective in the 70s is now on Amazon Kindle and in Print through Bookpal of Brisbane by mid August.

    I worked Whisky , Barbara & I had a conversation about everything the day before the Kidnapping. It is in my Book. Not rumours and innuendo.
    John W Ryan

  17. John Stewart ran into his prison acquaintance Jim Finch in the Valley, he subsequently helped him siphon petrol from a parked car.

    Finch in company with missing boxer Ian Thomas Hamilton, threw the petrol into the foyer of the Whisky au Go Go, and set it alight.

    Billy McCulken was to give evidence he bombed Torinos nite club, on the orders of Police Inspector Murphy,

    His wife and two daughters were abducted, we say from the Wharfies Club, officially from their home at Highgate Hill, and were never seen again.

    The Coroner recommended murder charges be laid against Vince O’Dempsy, who is reputedly the proprietor of a private cemetery, and another man,

    Sam Doumany Qld Attorney General refuted his findings, because some of the evidence was hearsay and they were released from custody.

    Billy McCulken never went to court, and Murphy was promoted to inspector!

    • I think you will find it was Angelo Vasta was the AG that refused to proceed with charges against Dubois & O’Dempsey over the McCulkins kidnap / murder & Johnny paid for Finch to return from UK he stated in Whisky one night when he was with with Billy Phillips & Kelly Finta that he was bringing his Pommie mate over. He used the name ‘Trauts’ to pay for the ticket ‘Stuart’ spelled backwards.
      John Bell & I were there when he said it.
      I also have Bell on Tape repeating that and other matters about the Trial. I mention some of it in my book. Because Johnny had said ‘Pommie’ the Police originally started looking for O’Driscoll (Toe Cutter Gang) from Melbourne as his nickname was the Pommie.
      John W Ryan

  18. I still get info about Barbara and her daughters over the years most are rumour & ,urban myth but something I just received via the Courier Mail sent to me in August in Brisbane which has been passed on to me is very different.

    If you are on this blog just to let you know I am following that up.

  19. Thank you for the phone call.

    No one will ever know you spoke to me

    Now, if the person who sent me the package can now contact me we could solve a very old case I am looking into it just need a contact from you.


  20. Another book is due out soon with FACTS from files that are privy to very few by an established known Author.
    It will verify a lot.
    Only the person that spoke to me recently will know whom I have referred to .
    Guess that is hard to fathom from New farm


    • Hi everyone

      Just a reminder about the JOL Blog Comments Policy-

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      Comments will be deleted if they have content that:

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    • Im sick of every web site i look at to find information on the whiskey au go go all you ever read about is BLOODY Finch & Stewart. Try and find the names of the 15 poor souls lost that night

  21. 40th Anniversary & all & sundry handing out theories instead of Fact.
    15 Innocent Victims were murdered when it was totally avoidable

  22. The Male Victims:
    Peter Marcus *
    Darcy Day*
    Leslie Palethorpe
    Colin Folster
    Ernest Peters
    Des Peters
    Paul Zoller
    Brian Watson
    Bill Nolan
    David Green

    + Peter worked there & Darcy was in the Band Trinty

    the three victims with * I knew

    R I P I have Never forgotten

    • Hi I am the younger sister of Darcy Day. Darcy played in the band Trinity that night…40 years has passed since that tragic night and I can honestly say there isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think of him…I miss him very much…The 8th of March is a bittersweet day for me because I have 2 children born on the that date. My eldest son and my youngest daughter…So every year we celebrate their birthdays but always do I think of my brother I lost that day….RIP My beautiful brother…I miss and love you and will never ever forget you…Also my heart felt wishes goes to all the family members that lost loved ones there that night…Bless you all…xx Dianna

    • I believe Colin Folster was also a member of the band…He played Drums , I remember he was a lovely natured young man. Danny I have a letter written by John Stuart to my parents while John was in jail stamped Her Majesty’s Prison Brisbane…letter number 2295 Prisoner – Stuart J A…stating he is innocent and asking my father to keep digging in his investations…Regards Dianna

      • Dianna
        Tom & I kept in touch for quite a few years. I even still have some of his notes & highlights he made in the infamous Port News where Stokes made outlandish claims
        Tom , Dulcie & my family go back to the very early sixties when I was just aTeen.
        The crims & criminal Cops always used to place ‘fairy stories’ in the media & magazines until it was repeated enough it would become a Fact.
        That is still happening with several people. Blame is always trying to be linked to others who were responsible for other incidents that had absolutely No Bearing on the Whisky tragedy.
        The driver of the car that night & for Torinos fire was murdered to stop him talking about it just as was the McCulkins.
        Two high ranking Cops have gone to their graves without letting the truth out. Others who are still alive & know the truth & were involved will probably do the same.
        I just keep trying to bring it out & with the larger edition of my book that includes far greater detail & covers to 1962 – 1988 in Brisbane & both Coasts it will bring more discomfort to a few. I only talk about what I saw , lived & experienced because even ‘official’ diaries & records have false Fairy stories entered in them becoming fact to suit people.
        I am still very active in my profession but I will slow down in a couple of years & finish the TRUE story of it all from the ‘Bodgie’ Squad , Whisky ,McCulkins , Simone Vogel & a lot more.

    • HI John, I was a neighbour of the McCulkins and Leanne was my childhood friend. I was away with my father at the time of their dissappearance. It still haunts me that the girls have never been found. I have a few old photos of Leanne and I can scan and send them to you if you think they would be useful. One day I would like to see this mystery solved, regard, Anna

  23. Hello,

    I would love to chat to Billy Stokes if he is willing re McCulkin murders. I was told about the murders and the 2 men involved by a family member, now dead, who was with the Seamans Union in Brisbane during the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s.

  24. Hi Dianna.
    I would love to have a chat with you, as I have tried to contact your Dad Tom for many years. Can you please get in touch with Simon Farley from the John Oxley Library for my contact details.

  25. Hello again Dianna
    That was a very touching comment you made about your brother Darcy, I couldn’t imagine your grief. Your dad was always on the right track about the Whiskey debacle, and so were many others. The fact is there are still some people out there that are intent on keeping the truth out of the public arena. Some of us already know who lit the fire that night, and it wasn’t John Stuart. I would love to tell the world right now who did it, and we tried to on the 7th march this year in Parliament House, but again our efforts were shut down and covered up. My Grandmother Edna spoke highly of your dad, and she was quietly hoping he would uncover the truth back then and her son would have been a free man. I do know and have records on it that the pressure was put on your dad to back off or else.
    Looking forward to reading my uncle’s letter you have some day, As soon as my book goes to print everyone will know the truth. I have dedicated the book to the families of the victims.

  26. I’ve been reading some of the alternative theories for who was responsible for the Whiskey and was wondering if anyone could answer a query, It’s been said it was an insurance job with the Little Brothers behind it and they picked up $25 000. Little Enterprises Pty Ltd was in liquidation at the time though, meaning any insurance payment received in the course of the business of a company in winding up would have gone straight to the liquidator for ultimate distribution to unpaid creditors (along with all other assets realized). What evidence is there that the Littles directly received a insurance payout? It would have been most irregular.

  27. Similarly, I was wondering if anyone can comment on this. Another theory I’ve heard being touted is that the Whiskey was burned so another nightclub owned by the company in liquidation (Chequers) could be obtained “debt free” at a forthcoming auction. The debts of Little Enterprises Pty Ltd (reportedly $120 000) under the law were just that – the debts of the company, not sections of individual businesses operated by the company. The other point is a vendor purchasing assets of a company in wind up doesn’t have any debts associated with the business or part of it transferred to them. They take it unencumbered. The liquidator realizes all assets possible, in an endeavour to maximise the return to creditors on their unpaid debts. In rare situations, the debts are fully satisfied. More of often than not though, a percentage is received. But that’s it – there’s no carry over. I just can’t for the life of me follow this theory, perhaps someone can show me where I’m going wrong.

  28. If I haven’t made it clear enough above, if the company liquidator were auctioning off one or both of the businesses of Chequers and the Whiskey as a “going concern”, the vendors would have acquired one or both 100% “debt free” anyway without perpetrating any acts of arson. Whatever the liquidator got would have been distributed to creditors, $120 000 worth of. Incidentally, according to the RBA inflation calculator, $120 000 in 1973 terms is about $1 million in 2013 terms.

  29. I would also strongly recommend that any researcher or book writer take the time to read through the decision in Stuart & Finch v R [1974] Qd R 283, as it clarifies a number of misconceptions I’ve read recently also. In particular: 1. Finch’s five page verbal was never admitted to evidence at the trial, though the cops were permitted to refer to it when giving oral evidence in chief to “refresh” their memories. 2. Finch’s alleged confession wasn’t evidence against Stuart – its been the law since time immemorial that alleged confessional evidence of one co-offender isn’t admissible evidence against the other, even at a joint trial. 3 The undoubted prejudicial effect of such evidence however against Stuart in the jury’s mind was one ground, among many, that was used to apply for separate trials. 4. The cops had to drop a brick on Stuart as well – a long overlooked fact. For Stuart’s alleged confession, see page 355 of the above appeal. If you think Finch’s verbal sounded like nothing he’d say, the verbal on Stuart by Detective Hayes reads like something out of the Boy’s Own Paper, It really should have been prefaced with “once upon a time…….”.

  30. The comments made by George hint at the complicated mess that the Little Bros businesses were in, which we have tried to unravel. Briefly, the Whiskey WAS in liquidation, but Brian Little organised a smallish fire at Chequers and (don’t ask us how!) used that to persuade the liquidators to pass management of the Whiskey back to him and his brother. Not long after that fire, with B. Little saying how much he had lost, and would only get $25,000 for insurance. We have found no evidence on whether or not he received any insurance money.
    On the question of Finch’s “Verbal” there is no doubt. Technically the trial and the appeals courts did not challenge the validity of the “confession” and George is correct that the appeals carried through the misconceptions of the trial judge that six policemen could not jointly commit perjury. We prove that they most certainly did so.
    Remove the Finch “verbal” and he had no case to answer. And obviously then Stuart had no case to answer. As it stands, Stuart was convicted on the basis of “conspiring” with Finch. They all got it wrong. All we need now is a publisher to print our book, where we unravel just about all of this horrendous chapter in Queensland history.

  31. Thanks for the response Mr Stuart. I agree that getting down to reliable factual information on these events is very difficult. Since writing my post I made some routine searches with ASIC.

    Littles Enterprises Pty. Ltd. (ACN 009 841 936) was registered as a company on 15/07/71. According to ASIC, It was de-registered on 12/01/94 . A series of liquidators reports were filed in the early 1990s.

    I can’t work this out for the moment. I think it will be only resolved by a director search on the Little Brothers to see if mistakes have been made in reports I’ve seen that Littles Enterprises Pty Ltd was the actual entity operating the Whiskey. I suspect it couldn’t have been. Either that or the story that it was in “liquidation” just simply isn’t correct as a matter of fact. Alternatively, it may have entered into a deed of arrangement with its creditors to continue trading. I’ll try to get to the bottom of it.

    I agree that the verbal on Finch was creative fiction, my point is that you should examine the verbal on John Stuart. The Crown case required evidence against him other than Finch’s verbal as it wasn’t admissible as against John Stuart. I will post the original evidence of Detective Hayes from the trial.

  32. Transcript of evidence of Detective Hayes concerning the questioning of John Stuart from the 1973 trial.

    “When we entered the interview room I said, ‘I intend to tell you certain things, but I warn you that you are not obliged to make any statement or answer any questions as anything you say will be recorded by Detective Sergeant Atkinson in his notebook in your presence and may be given – later given in evidence. Do you understand?’ He said, ‘Yes’.

    I said, ‘Do you want your solicitor to be present?’ He said, ‘No. What have you found out?’

    I said, ‘Today James Richard Finch was located and admitted that he was imported by you from England about 10 days ago for the purpose of terrorising the nightclubs to further your plans of extortion. He has given us a record of interview and has admitted that at your instigation he set fire to the Whisky Au-Go-Go on the 8th of this month. Do you want to read it?’ and at that time I offered the accused Stuart a copy of the record of interview obtained from the accused Finch.

    He then hit his head with his both hands and said, ‘No, I don’t. I told the bastard to go through as soon as we knew 15 were dead. Now he has brought me undone. I went to a lot of trouble to set it up We didn’t mean to kill anyone.’ He then hit his head with his hands again and he said, ‘I didn’t light it. He did’.

    I said, ‘Do you wish to sign these notes? You are not obliged to.’ Stuart said. ‘No, I don’t.’ I said, ‘I am arresting you on a charge of arson and 15 charges of murder’, and he didn’t reply. We then accompanied him in to the charge section, and at this time the accused Finch was unhandcuffed. The accused Stuart said to Finch, ‘Did you tell them everything about the fire?’ The accused Finch said, ‘Yes’, and at the same time he handed him a copy of the record of interview which he had been supplied with and he said, ‘I didn’t sign it. 15 dead. 15 dead.’

    Who did he say that to? – The accused Stuart. The accused Stuart appeared to flick over and read the copy of the record of interview, and then Stuart said to Finch, ‘You were certainly loose-mouthed about it. Why didn’t you keep quiet?’

    Did Finch say anything at all? – The accused Finch didn’t reply. At about 8.35 p.m. on that date I commenced reading the charges to Stuart and Finch, and as I read each charge the accused Stuart would call out, ‘I plead not guilty to that and you’re the same Jim’, and the accused Finch would call out, ‘Not guilty, too.’ He did likewise after each charge was read.

    Accused Stuart then said to accused Finch, ‘You needn’t have told them I gave you the matches, Jim’. The accused Finch said, ‘Well, Johnny, you did, but we’ll have to try and beat these, Johnny”.

  33. Of course John Stuart was stabbed nearly to death by William Harrison in Long Bay in 1967. He refused to assist the police with their enquiries or become a Crown witness against Harrison, meaning Harrison got a very lenient plea bargain as the Crown didn’t have much of a case.

    And we’re to believe that a man like this participated in a record of interview like that above. It weren’t so serious it would be laughable.

  34. For those who may be wondering how the 40th anniversary memorial service for the Whiskey Au Go Go victims come about. ‘Which happened to be the first and only memorial to date’. Regardless of what you may have read in the media releases, I would like to make it clear that I initiated the whole process with some discussions with my Co author months earlier on the importance of this long overdue memorial. In January this year we agreed to do what we could to make this very important memorial a reality, and do what the Government has failed to do for those grieving families and friends who lost a loved one in the early hours of March eight 1973. It was I alone that contacted and arranged for Rev Len Donaldson to do the service.
    Strangely enough there was only one journalist from the Brisbane times covering the memorial, who got busy interviewing Rev Donaldson, my Co author and some victims family members. He abruptly brushed me off when I approached him and said he would get back to me at a later date, (He never did, they never do). The fact is, if my role in the memorial arrangements was made public it would have brought more unwanted attention to those who have gone to great lengths to ignore their responsibility in the Whiskey matter.
    “JOHN ANDREW STUARTS NEPHEW INITIATES FIRST WHISKEY AU GO GO MEMORIAL’. Those words if printed would cause a public outcry, then someone would have to take responsibility for the actions, and explain to the public what they need to hear. THE TRUTH!
    Danny Stuart

  35. You may have been too young Danny, there was already a MEMORIAL for the Victims Families arranged by Larry Kuhlman the Band agent assisted by many local artists including Barry Schutz of New Image & the Private Detective John Ryan , even Graham Kennedy appeared

  36. Thanks for that comment Kev,
    I was not aware there had been any memorial, it must have been soon after the tragedy, and I was on the run at that time with my old man while he was busy escaping from himself for selling his brother out for the reward money, plus pressure from some corrupt police who wanted a bit of the action . We moved a lot always, until I got away from Dad at 14.
    I remember those days and a lot earlier like they were just yesterday.
    My reason for the idea of having this more recent memorial is very personal, as I feel in someway linked to the others who lost a loved one.
    In my 30 odd years of research and hundreds of interviews, no one had ever mentioned any memorial to me. All I got was WHY hasn’t there been one.
    I appreciate you updating me on this fact, would you mind giving me the date on that first memorial.

  37. Pingback: Au Go Go Whiskey | Pamea's Blog

  38. The Original memorial Benefit was called the “Cavalcade of Stars” and we had the Trades & Labour Council donate $$ for Families of the victims and a mini Telethon. Don ‘Big Daddy’ Martin , Barry Schutze of ‘New Image’ ,John Waters , Compered by Bert Newton, Dennis Knight , Marcie Jones, heaps of people put their weight behind it .Souvenir Programmes were 50cents ( I still have mine ) and ALL funds to the Families. Senator Doug McClelland helped also. Lucky Starr was one of the first to volunteer his services
    NOTHING from the Queensland Government in the way of a Plaque. Even Now
    My father with the Stevedores and Wharfies helped also.
    Sponsors were amazing
    Done within weeks of the fire.
    You would have been too young I would expect to have had an interest or knowledge .

    Those of us that lived it have never forgotten
    AMBA – Larry Kuhlmans Booking Agency was the office for the Committee
    John W Ryan

  39. I think in this blog it’s said that O’Dempsey was charged with murder, committed for trial, and that then Attorney-General Doumany filed a “no true bill”. Is that correct – one of the 2 men charged with murder October 2014 was committed for trial in the 70s but the authorities of the day decided not to take those charges to trial? I have a vague idea that Des Sturgess refers to this – and to the Attorney-General of the day dropping the matter – in his book “The Tangled Web”.

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State Library of Queensland images on Wikimedia Commons

50,000 copyright-free Queensland images from our collections are now available through Wikimedia Commons.

This State Library of Queensland image is Wikimedia’s newest banner.Wikimedia Commons

This is the largest collection donated by an Australian cultural institution and the fourth largest collection made available on the site since the establishment of Wikimedia Commons, an online repository of free-use images, sound and other media files.  The Wikimedia Foundation has been actively seeking content from the Galleries, Archives, Libraries and Museums (GLAM) sector to provide more high quality content for the Commons to increase the quality and scholarship of other Wikimedia projects such as Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.   Other content donors from the GLAM sector include the German Federal Archive, the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

Each month, 400 million people visit Wikimedia projects providing State Library images with a major worldwide audience.   Digitised State Library content available in Wikimedia Commons provides a forum for Wikimedia community creators to use their knowledge and expertise to add value to information about our photographs and enables new content to be created from our Queensland images.

This is the first of a series of  collaborative projects with Wikimedia Foundation in 2011 exploring further opportunities to work with the Wiki community to help describe, identify and transcribe images from our digitised content.

Available on, the selected images were chosen by Foundation staff for their regional Queensland focus and to enhance the present Wikipedia content.

Wikimedia Commons

Home designs from the past online

Queensland Bungalows cover Queensland Bungalows plan 

The Queensland bungalow style arrived in Australia around the time of the 1914 -18 Great War and, aside from the occasional earlier example; our bungalow style belongs to the between-Wars period, this publication will inform homeowners about characteristic features of the interior and exterior detail of original homes.  The State Library of Queensland has recently digitised a series of publications now available online.   

See the digital copy and we would welcome your tags, comments or reviews about Queensland Bungalows.

Home Designs Queensland Housing Commission 

There are other designs created by builders, architects and the Queensland Housing Commission, which illustrates a variety of drawing and floor plans of house designs, which include post-war homes, and also housing that was available through the Queensland Housing Commission’s Home Purchasing Scheme. Take a nostalgic look back to the past and see the cost of building a home in the 1930’s and 1950’s.

View the digital copy and post tags, comments and reviews about Home Designs.

Who Do You Think You Are

Some readers might have seen the recent Who Do You Think You Are episode on the singer Tina Arena.  Tina’s father migrated to Queensland from Italy in 1955, arriving in Cairns and working as a sugar cane cutter in the area.

Queensland State Archives holds records relating to Italian immigrants in its collection.

Some examples are:

Dossiers on Assisted Immigrants 1909 to 1941: Queensland State Archives Series ID 13090

These dossiers consist of forms and some correspondence relating to intending immigrants who applied for and were granted assisted passages to Queensland. The forms consist mainly of applications for assisted migration and include personal details and advice of passage bookings with names of ships and dates of departure. They may also include related documents such as medical certificates and certificates of identity, along with photographs of the intending migrants.

Rizzo family Romano family

Examples of documents from the files for: Andrea, Pasquala, Giovannina and Maria RIZZO along with Guiseppe and Concetto PUNTURO (on Left); and Margherita, Angelo and Valerio ROMANO (on  right).

Register of firms This register records the registration of firms on the Ingham petty sessions district 1934 to 1937. Details noted include the certificate number; the registered name of the firm; full names of firm members; date of registration; fee paid; description and location of the business; private address and description of any other occupation of the firm’s members, year of registration renewal and any remarks regarding the firm, such as the dates on which it commenced and ceased business. Queensland State Archives Item ID 282270

Register of liquor licences This is one of three registers of Liquor Licences issued in the Ingham courts covering 1913 to 1974. They provide details for each licence including date of hearing; name and address of licensee; type of licence; whether the license is new, transferred or temporary; name, description and locality of premises for which the license is granted; details of previous convictions against licensee; and transfers of the licence. Queensland State Archives Item ID 282294. In this example page you can see the various Italian names listed and the associated hotels.

Niles Elvery

Manager, Public Access
Queensland State Archives

Christmas Shopping

Are you are still trying to catch up on your last minute Christmas shopping?  Why not get some inspiration from our 1921 McWhirter’s Xmas Shopping Guide?  It’s been fully digitised and we’d love to share it with you.  Just click here:

McWhirter’s, 1921 Christmas Shopping Guide  Millinery for Christmas Wear

Items to tempt you include table delicacies and delicious sweets – pure, wholesome and palatable.  There are plenty of books on offer and quite a range of children’s toys from nice dollies to splendid mechanical toys.  The ladies may be tempted by some jewellery, a handbag, a suede handkerchief case or perhaps a xylonite glove stretcher.  The men are not forgotten with a good choice of leather collar boxes, razors and shaving requisites.  Household items are on offer including fancy linens and we are assured that “a present of china or glassware, a metal vase, or a copper kettle, would please the recipient immensely.”

We wish you all the joy of the Christmas season.

Craig Munro – 2011 ‘Johnno Award’ recipient

I recently spent an enjoyable evening at the Queensland Writers Centre’s Christmas break-up. The highlight of the evening was the announcement of the recipient of the 2011 ‘Johnno Award’. This award was established by the QWC and named after David Malouf’s seminal novel. Whereas the novel brings Queensland alive in Australian literature, the award honours individuals who have shaped literature in Queensland and who have provided support to its writers.

This year the award went to Craig Munro who served as Publishing Manager of UQP from 1981 to 2005. He was responsible for attracting such influential authors as Hugh Lunn, Murray Bail, Ray Evans, Olga Masters, and Barbara Hanrahan to UQP. Craig has also mentored emerging Queensland authors as well as editors. Not least, he was responsible for establishing the QWC in 1990.

QWC Secretary, Kevin Gillespie, said that it was fitting to honour Craig with the award on the twentieth anniversary of the QWC.

Craig Munroe is honoured with the prestigious ‘Johnno Award’. Queensland Writers Centre CEO, Kate Eltham, congratulates him on his achievement.  Queensland Writers Centre CEO, Kate Eltham, congratulates Craig Munro on his achievement

During his acceptance speech, Craig expressed warm approval of the Queensland Writers Centre’s current accommodation. He said:

‘The QWC has finally found its true home – here at State Library – right in the heart of the city’s world-class cultural precinct.’ 

He delighted the audience with his reminiscences:

‘Before moving to its former Metro Arts location, the QWC occupied a decommissioned medical laboratory on Wickham Terrace, which Errol O’Neill and I remodelled with crowbars – as if editing a manuscript for publication…’ 

He recounted a favourite memory of his first reading of Malouf’s manuscript of Johnno back in 1974:

‘it had no title and David had been working on it for ten years, polishing it to perfection. Apart from the lack of a suitable title, the only problem I could see was the central character’s name – Johnny Milner. David’s novel had started life as a memoir and still featured the real name of his old school friend so I suggested changing the surname to Johnson – Johnno for short. At last we had our title . . . and a quintessentially Australian one at that.’

Editor of WQ, Jodi De Vantier and volunteer, Mel McMahon greet guests.  Editor of WQ, Jodi De Vantier and volunteer, Mel McMahon greet guests.

The evening provided a valuable opportunity to meet writers as well as QWC executive staff, other QWC members and volunteers. As usual, I took advantage of the opportunity to promote my role as State Library’s Queensland Authors Librarian. I am always keen to hear from Queensland authors who have published imaginative writing so that I can obtain a copy of their work for State Library’s Heritage Collections. My email is:

Volunteers' Christmas Lunch 2010

Today the State Library recognised the great contribution made by its dedicated volunteers by hosting a delicious Christmas lunch in The Studio to thank them all for a tremendous year.

Certificates of service were presented to a number of volunteers including the John Oxley Library’s John Wilson for ten years service and Jean Stewart for 20 years.

Chair of the Library Board of Queensland, Prof. Rolly Sussex with Mr John Wilson. Mrs Jean Stewart OAM with Prof. Rolly Sussex and State Librarian, Ms Lea Giles-Peters. Volunteers lunch 2010. volunteers lunch 2010.

John has done a lot of work making the Oxley’s photographic collection more accessible and is currently working on ordering and describing a rather large collection of Queensland related postcards. John took over the postcard project from long time volunteer Joan Miles who moved to Toowoomba earlier in the year.

Jean Stewart OAM worked as a volunteer at the State Library for 20 years. Jean was President of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland from 2004 to 2007. In 2009 she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community through the preservation and promotion of local history and heritage.

Jean has written a range of journal articles and books, including Kenmore Park: the land, the house and the people and Scribblers: A Ladies Literary Society in Brisbane. In the course of researching her book on the Scribblers Jean facilitated valuable donations of papers relating to the society to the Oxley collection.

Congratulations to all of our wonderful volunteers!

Queensland Historical Atlas

The new Queensland Historical Atlas website was launched on Tuesday night at Brisbane’s Customs House. The website is a collaborative project between the Queensland Museum and The University of Queensland. Planning began in 2006, resulting in a grant from the Australian Research Council Linkage Scheme for 2007-10.

The website contains writings about the past, present and future history of the Queensland landscape in an innovative and flexible format to provide ample scope for the varied styles and expertise of the many contributors who come from a wide range of backgrounds. the digitised primary research material is arranged in 14 broad themes with an easy to use and intuitive format. Scholars from each of Queensland’s universities contributed essays on the various themes including Quintessential Queensland, Distance, Division, Dreaming and Development. Material is presented by format essays, maps, photos, art and object, and presently includes over a thousand maps and images and over 200, 000 words of text.

To give you an idea of the breadth of the collection, the current Random Selections under maps include an 1848 Map of Mitchell’s advance to the Maranoa, return to St George’s Bridge and the quirky Tea-towel: Barrier Reef Pleasure Islands.

The current edition is the first of a potentially limitless number, with regular updates and new installments to come. The project welcomes contributions form interested participants with their own interesting or unusual map of Queensland: essays or topics suggestions can be submitted under the ‘feedback’ function on the website.

Wonderful to see the multitude of John Oxley Library images used on the site.