Each week there’s a new photo theme on the Sepia Saturday blog. The idea is to post to the theme a close as possible to Saturday but for one reason and another I find myself always running late. This week I thought I’d be ahead of the game but with various other commitments here I am again, mid-week.
My recollections of my first visit to a circus are brief but have lasted through the years. Mum said I wasn’t all that young, but my feeling was that I was probably about five. Apparently Dad got cheaper tickets through the railway because the circus was set up on the park opposite the Show Ground and the Royal Brisbane Hospital: the route he used to walk daily as part of his numbertaker duties. My memory tells me we were seated on the end of a row and I remember the clown coming up to Dad and pulling out a great long string of cheerios (aka cocktail frankfurts etc) from Dad’s pocket. You can imagine that seemed pretty weird to a small girl. I also remember that someone, clown or magician or… pulled a connected string of vividly coloured handkerchiefs from his pocket….a pretty standard circus trick, but eye-popping for a young girl on her first visit to the Big Top.
In later years the Moscow Circus would come to town and would be so much more exuberant and exotic than Bullen’s with which we were more familiar.
Surprisingly since I’ve always loved animals I have no recollection of the monkeys, lions or other animals though they were undoubtedly there. However I did find this great story on Trove of the circus monkey to enliven this post. You have to feel sorry for the poor animal with all those kids crowded round him.
I’ve just begun an e-book of short stories, A First Place, by David Malouf. Absorbing stories written by Australians always seem slightly disorienting, so accustomed are we (or is it only me?) to reading books whose settings are elsewhere. Which came first, the sense that “other is better”, leading to the exodus of much of Australia’s talent, or the relative weighting of other and local?
One story, A First Place, is about growing up in Brisbane and how its particular topography and lifestyle defines not only who we become as adults, but how we think. That certainly gave me pause for thought, and I can’t decide the merits of the case, but is that because it’s part of me?
Brisbane is a hilly city – not mountainous, just hilly, where travelling by car or foot anywhere involves the negotiation of hills. From a large-scale view, the hills are not so obvious, it’s when one is on the ground that it becomes so much more apparent. One of the earliest things a Brisbane learner-driver has to come to terms with is hill starts in a geared car. After nearly two decades of living in flat-as-a-tack Darwin I sometimes forget I have to change gears or use more power when going up a hill. Our geography does change our daily patterns.
Malouf posits that the topography of the city means “it shapes in those who grow up there a different sensibility, a cast of mind, creates a different sort of Australian”. The hilliness of the city means that its residents miss the long vistas of flatter cities like Adelaide or Melbourne. They become accustomed to new views at every rise, and this may make them restless in the absence of variety, as well as precluding a clear map of the mind. I’d suggest it might also inculcate a sense of mystery in the same way that a door into a garden, rather than shut you out, makes you more curious what lies behind…or is that, once again, the Brisbane girl in me? He’s certainly correct that it gives the legs a good workout, especially if you grew up relying on Shanks’ pony to get you everywhere – something that’s noticeably absent from Darwin’s flatness, and the laziness that tropical humidity generates.
He also talks about the river’s unusual snake-like twisting through the city: one of the reasons the flooding a few years back caused so much damage, as it has in the past. Add to that the relative lack of bridges forcing the traveller to negotiate twice as many suburbs as a direct route would allow. The river conspires to shut off vistas as do the hills, but I think it also opens up a sense of a city of two sides on both banks.
Now that the river has become an active character in the Brisbane landscape with the arrival of the City Cats (ferries) along with the riverside walkways, it does open up the city in a different way. In much the same way as the hills, it makes you wonder (if you don’t already), what is round the next corner. No wonder a river tour has become so popular over the past decades.
The hills and river combine in a story my father has handed down. I often wondered whether it was something he’d made up, even though it made eminent sense, until a friend whose father was also a born-and-bred old Queenslander confirmed the same story. In the pioneering days, the drays would travel across the city along the ridges of the hills when the river was in flood. My father did much the same when my cousin’s house was in imminent risk of flooding back in 1974, helping him to get his belongings up to the ceiling before the flood hit (reaching very close to the ceiling – two floors).
As Malouf says, Brisbane has a radial design, striking out from the city centre. In the days when few families had their own car, this meant that setting out on a journey could make two suburbs seem immeasurably far apart, and mystifyingly disconnected. This is how I experienced visits to my grandfather at Buranda from Kelvin Grove, or family friends at the outside reaches of Mt Gravatt. It wasn’t until we acquired a car, or until I travelled more by car, that the geography of the city started to make sense in a quite different way. The CBD of the city may be suitably laid out in grid-fashion (and flat) but not the rest of the place. Motorways (and bus lanes) cut through suburbs like knives now, but the new tunnels and underpasses generate a lack of knowledge of the landscape above, until one pops out, bandicoot-like, at the other end, hopefully in the right place, or somewhere you recognise and can navigate from.
Malouf also has a theory that Brisbane’s tree-house-like homes, built on stilts to accommodate the hills and introduce breezes, affect the psyche of those who grew up there. His argument is that their openness, with doors always ajar, introduce an element of not-seeing, not-hearing as appropriate to the circumstances. The timber of the building moves in a way that brick structures do not, and are more vulnerable to climate as well as protecting the family from it. I’m not entirely sure that I agree with his thesis on the effect of Brisbane (or more accurately, tropical, housing). It seems predicated on a particular type of house, the old Queenslander with its encircling verandahs rather even than post-war timber housing, and certainly not on the more modern brick bungalow or two-story house. On the other hand, doors are only shut here because of air-conditioning so perhaps he has a point.
“Under the house” is a different world from that above where all serious living takes place. Home of the household washing machine, tubs, wringer or boiler, Dad’s workbenches and the kids’ play area, it has a sort of wondrousness about it as well as a daily practicality. It offers the chance to explore what Malouf calls “a kind of archaeological site”, hosting as it does all sorts of odds and ends that have found their way to rest there, as well as on-going practical items. This space certainly features prominently in my childhood memories of both my own home and that of my grandparents next door. I used to love using my grandfather’s vice to crack the Queensland nuts (now known as macadamias) which grew on our tree. Usually enclosed by timber battens, “under the house” is both open and yet secure. Surely this experience is different from those for whom a basement may serve similar functions?
Malouf asks himself “what habits of mind such a city may encourage in its citizens, and how, though taken for granted in this place, they may differ from the habits of places where geography declares itself at every point as helpful, reliable, being itself a map”. I suspect it gives your internal GPS such good training that ever after you are more able to understand other places.
If a good writer’s goal is to make one think, and challenge our internal assumptions, then Malouf has achieved this for me today.
Have you thought about the impact of the geography of where you grew up? Do you think it has affected how you see the world psychologically and emotionally, your habits and sense of the world’s geography.
Book: A First Place, David Malouf. Random House 2014. A collection of personal essays and writing from David Malouf to celebrate his 80th birthday. This includes the following short story: A First Place. 1984 Blakelock Lecture.
Over the past months it often occurs to me just how much has changed in my lifetime, so I’ve been thinking about this post for a while…must be a sign of increasing age. Doesn’t mean I won’t forget something, so please add your comments at the end, or join me and write your own post on the topic as your experiences may be very different.
I grew up in Brisbane in Queensland as a number of my blogging friends did as well. I wonder how much our experiences will overlap and where they’ll differ.
Voting and drinking were illegal for us, being under 21, but our brothers or male friends could be sent to war.
Communism and Vietnam: Australia was still nervous about “Reds under the Beds” and suddenly wanted to go “All the Way with LBJ”. Universities were agitating over civil liberties, Australia’s presence in the Vietnam War and the enforced conscription of young men, who “won” the conscription lottoif their birthday was drawn out for a free excursion to the Vietnam War. Queensland was very conservative in all sorts of ways.
Multi-culturalism hadn’t been invented as a concept, though the reality had arrived with the post-War immigrants. They retained national dress, dance and language for special events, and at home. Their influence was about to be felt in the realms of food as we were introduced to garlic, olives etc.
Church: Many, if not most, people went to church regularly. Vatican II had arrived and Catholic women shed their hats for mantillas (a lace veil over the head). People started to think independently about their actions. The barriers between religions were still standing and most people were horrified at the thought of entering a different type of church.
Brown or Asian faces were rarely seen in the city as Australia’s hideous White Australia Policy was still enforced. No one admitted to having indigenous or convict blood.
Neighbours: whether you liked them or not, you knew pretty much everyone because you passed them as you walked to the bus/tram. You always said hello to those you passed.
Hospitals: Queensland had a public hospital system funded by the Golden Casket. There was no Medicare for all.
The effects of World War II were still evident around town in the men’s physical injuries – empty sleeves or trouser legs pinned up and prostheses. Their mental injuries weren’t so evident except perhaps in the occasional drunk seen on the street.
Daily Transport: we didn’t own a car until I was 20 so getting around town involved shanks’s pony (walking), bus, tram or train. Standing up and offering your seat to an adult or pregnant woman was totally non-negotiable. My Dad rode to work, hail, rain or shine, on his no-gears push-bike.
Air Travel was expensive and not available to most. I didn’t fly in a plane until I was 19 (with a friend who was a pilot), and on a commercial flight at 21. I’ve been on and off planes like buses ever since.
Holiday Transport was by intra-state train. Those taking the semi-obligatory trip to the “Old Country” for a year or two’s work experience travelled by ship. As the ship pulled away from the wharf there were streamers held by passenger and friend which snapped as the distance grew. Very symbolic.
Overseas Travel was a fantasy for most people. Only our one family of “rich relations” had travelled overseas.
Suitcases were solid, heavy and were carried, not wheeled. (What a great invention that’s been!)
Brisbane’s first Freeway was still a few years away.
Space travel was a recent competition between Soviet and America (US) astronauts and scientists. The Soviets were leading the way but the US was yet to put Apollo 11 and the first man on the moon.
The Brisbane City Hall clock tower was still holding its own as one of the highest buildings and you could read the time from it around the streets.
Shopping malls didn’t exist. You went to the city or Fortitude Valley when shopping for clothes or household goods. My mother used to like to walk the length of Brisbane from Finney’s to McDonnell & East to check the items and prices. We were “allowed” to catch the tram or bus to the city from the Valley. Going to town always involved getting “dressed up”, no informality in those days. Parcels at the good shops were wrapped in brown paper and tied neatly with string, with a loop to make it easier to carry.
TECHNOLOGY, ENTERTAINMENT & COMMUNICATION
Technology: TV and radio were our main technology. There were no cable TVs, DVDs, VCRs, fax, internet, computers, iPads, MP3s, cassette players, tape recorders, answering machines, or mobile phones. Colour TV was still on the horizon. Records were 78s or 33s (LPs) and small 45s. If you were lucky you had a record player in the house, either a family one or a portable one, which was likely a gift. My grandmother owned a gramophone which I have inherited.
Postage: If you wanted to share news with someone you had limited choices: letters for ordinary events, postcards for holiday news, and telegrams for urgent news or special celebrations. The postman (it was always a man) walked his route twice a day delivering the mail and blew his whistle if you had mail. On hot summer days it was a common courtesy to offer him a cold drink.
Telegrams were delivered to your door and if you knew it was a birthday or you were sharing exam results with people it wouldn’t strike fear into your heart as one would if “coming out of the blue”.
Entertainment: There were no multiplex cinemas and you “went to the pictures” in town or at a local theatre. Stage shows were something special. Both movies and theatre offered published programs with pictures and stories about the actors and the movie/show. There was always an interval in the movie and young women walked through the theatre selling lollies and ice-creams.
Cameras and watches were something special: reserved for adults, and fortunate children, but often to recognise a special birthday or achievement.
Food: Meals were cooked from scratched. Roast chicken was expensive, unless you had your own chooks and was often a Christmas and Easter special meal. Baking in our house was a Saturday event. The only take-away, very occasionally, was fish and chips. When I was about 18, Mum & I occasionally ventured to the Valley to a Chinese restaurant where we had exotic meals like sweet and sour pork and stir-fried rice. I don’t recall Mum and Dad ever going out for a restaurant meal, partly because of his shift work.
Ingredients: Fruit and veg were basic and chokoes were deemed to be a reasonable option for preserving or vegetables. Avocadoes, mushrooms, zucchini, unusual herbs etc were in the future. Many of these I first “met” when I worked in a fruit and veg shop as a part-time job. Bread was always white and fluffy, and also fresh from the bakery. I remember even in my 20s it was a challenge to find coconut milk in Brisbane (they had it at Toowong Woolworths).
Glad Wrap/ Cling Wrap hadn’t arrived and sandwiches were wrapped in greaseproof paper.
Telephone: Most homes near us didn’t have one. Those who did would take urgent messages for friends who lived close by, otherwise you used the local public phone or wrote letters.
Laundry Day was always Monday and was a heavy-duty workload with coppers, wringers and hand-washing. Twin tub machines were a grand invention and automatic washing machines in our future.
Corner Stores: we had a corner store for the basics and a butcher’s shop a couple of streets away. I have no idea where the groceries came from or how they were delivered. A cart came around sometimes with bread and fish.
Appliances and housework: The Sunbeam mixer, the pressure cooker, and carpet sweeper were “it” as far as appliances went. Mum was always the dishwasher, and I was the dryer. Dad mowed the lawn, looked after the garden and mended the shoes.
EDUCATION, KIDS & TEENS
Boys and girls in private schools were not permitted to speak to each other on public transport, even siblings….a fine excuse!
Make up was reserved for the mid-teens and was a ritual of passage unless you were playing “dress-ups” as a child.
Books were special purchases, usually only for birthdays or Christmas, or perhaps when you were sick because they were expensive.
Your friends lived in your own neighbourhood, unless/until you went to high school in the city. No one drove you to meet them, no matter where they lived, you caught public transport.
Universitywas a dream for many people but the newly-introduced government scholarships made it possible for working class kids who studied hard.
I met my beloved Mr Cassmob and my life changed in ways I’d never have imagined.
No, didn’t see any of those around there, even though this all sounds like light-years away. I’d love to hear your comments on whether your experience differed from mine, and in particular from younger readers.
I was mentioning last week how Dad had lived in the street in Kelvin Grove his whole life, and had memories stretching back decades. Some years ago I asked him a little about it. There was a time when he would “clam up” and not tell stories like this, but when I wrote my family history, he realised I did really want to know more about life in the suburb. I’ve used Trove extensively to see if I could track down more information on what he told me. After starting this story I also had an extensive conversation with Mum to clarify some of the comments, and she also added information.
So here are his brief reminiscences, with my own comments, or follow up research relating to it. Mum’s conversations last week are included in green.
When I was young you could catch a feed of prawns down the creek (Enoggera Creek) and when it was mullet season, you could just about walk across the creek across them.
When Pauleen was young we sometimes caught catfish in the creek. Perhaps the floods washed the creek clean in the earlier days considering there was more industrial waste going into it. Mum used to sometimes call Dad “Elastic Jack” when he started telling tall tales, like walking across the creek on the mullet.
When Pauleen was a child, the mangroves were quite dense and the wretched lantana held sway over the creek banks.
Hayes had a dairy[i] and willed all the land to the council for the public. The dairy was located where the Mynor cordial factory was (at the bottom of Gould Rd). He used to run all the cows on Ballymore where the rugby union is now and a bit over the other side of the creek. The creek used to dogleg over the road and they cut it straight for flood mitigation. There was a weir over the creek across from Ballymore until they straightened the course of Breakfast Creek (technically Enoggera Creek) after the 1974 floods. The Commonwealth paid 60% and council and states paid the rest and the council was supposed to maintain it (presumably the land).
It seems likely this was Henry Thomas Hayes as he’s mentioned in a Trove newspaper article as a dairy owner though the electoral rolls record him as a labourer of Gould Rd.
Enoggera/Breakfast Creek is tidal to the weir at Bancroft Park on Kelvin Grove Road and has a history of flooding and drainage problems that has led to flood mitigation measures including widening, straightening and dredging.[ii]
The bakery (Hassetts) in Butterfield St, was a family bakery –it was there when Dad was twelve (mid-1930s) because he went over on the pushbike.
In fact, in later years Dad and I would ride over to buy bread –the smell was heavenly and you would pull a bit out of the soft part in the middle…yum! Mum says this was often during the school holidays.
Mum remembers that someone used to come around selling clothes props.
There was a vegetable farm down where the NARM (sandshoes/sneakers factory) was, where the new Post Office depot is now. They used to call them Chinese market gardens. Mum says there was also one across the creek where it flooded as well as at Stafford.
This is interesting because a health inspection refers to the terrible conditions of Chinese abattoirs in this area.
Another dairy (was owned by) Hicks, where the baseball and Italian Clubs are now (in Newmarket, near where Pauleen used to go to Girl Guides). I was surprised to learn how many dairies were in the area, but it makes some sense in that pre-pasteurisation era. I still remember getting fresh milk from the dairy at Samford where we camped with Guides.
On the flat opposite Bally St, another bit of a dairy, owned by a couple, McShea and Vowles. In Pauleen’s time this area flooded whenever the creek flooded heavily. Mum says there were also Chinese gardens there in her time.
Mum also said that there used to be a horse track, with fencing, in the middle of Ballymore Park then in the 1950s every time you caught the bus there would be less fencing there, until it all disappeared.
Hayes used to pick up all the old produce in Roma St. One day Dad saw him with the old big draught horse pulling the dray and he (Hayes) is asleep and the horse was leading the way. At the railway the horse went straight up, round the policeman, up College St and into the railway stables, while the policeman watched with all the traffic stopped.
Johnston’s tannery was in Bishop St and there was one over in Finsbury St and another one where the retirement development is near Catholic church (in Newmarket?). This one was possibly Granlund’s.
I remember the smell of the tannery quite vividly, but not pleasantly. It was okay except when the wind came from the west.
There has been some debate about these tanneries on the various websites but Queensland Places has this to say[iii]: Away from these public uses Kelvin Grove developed a landscape of Queenslander houses, most of them within half a kilometre of the tramline. Those further away were closer to Ballymore Park. Kelvin Grove Road had shops and a picture theatre (1912) (which Pauleen remembers). There were a couple of tanneries down Bishop Street near the creek, and the area is still industrial.
Dad got in a row with the tannery and council because he couldn’t breathe – “they used to release all the muck from the tannery when tide went out. Sent a diver up the pipe to near Bancroft Park and it was that tannery that was putting the muck down the pipes so there was a big kerfuffle”.
An 1873 newspaper article praised the Kedron Brook tannery owned by J & G Harris (I wonder if these were the same people who obtained the initial land grant on the Ballymore estate?)Or was the tannery that Dad mentions a different, newer one. Either way the Council took exception as this report indicates. A 1934 newspaper story takes a different view with one MLA wondering why the tanneries had ever been allowed to empty their waste into Kedron Brook.
A fellow had a mirror factory down Bishop St for which they use cyanide to do backing of mirror. (Bishop St was hardly a salubrious place to live, and it was good thing we didn’t catch many fish!)
Finney (Isles) and Ure had a carriers where the garage is on Herston Rd (cnr of Kelvin Grove Road). There was a paddock at the endof Picot Street for the Clydesdales and they took them along the creek near the Chinaman’s gardens.
via Trove: sale of property in 1929, large house in Herston Rd, one street off Kelvin Grove tram line. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article21373382. This follows Hubert Finney’s death –papers refer to him as ex-Alderman. He and Ure were members of the Master Carriers’ Association.
Mum recalls that she was told euchre parties were held in the house across the road, to raise funds for the church and school.
Perhaps these are not profound recollections but they add some personal flavour to the local history, and offer stories that would otherwise disappear. I’m just sorry I didn’t “pump” him for more.
The Lawrence family had a tiny shop at the end of Bally St in Dunsmore St. They also ran the bus to Fortitude Valley until the Council took it over
I also asked Dad who lived in the street when he was growing up and have since compared the names with those on the electoral rolls with great success, though he add some additional snippets to add. This may be the content of a post another day. My childhood friend still lives in the street behind ours and my guess is that her family has the longest continuous for the two streets, perhaps shared with one other family. I wonder if her father passed on any anecdotes to her?
Prompt 9 for the Book of Me is all about Halloween, which is appropriate given that it occurs in week 9 of our project. This will be a traditional event for many of my fellow bloggers, however Down Under it’s been a non-event until quite recent years: another commercial opportunity or just fun for the kids? I’m so cynical.
Julie’s questions were: Have you ever participated in a Halloween event? When was it? Where was it? What did you dress as? Trick or treat? My answer to each of these is “no”.
So my first thought was to pass on this week’s prompt but wait, there’s a lateral solution.
The Story Bridge is part of the school’s geography and student memories.
Our good friend Wikipedia has an answer to what Halloween is all about. It celebrates the eve of All Hallows or All Saints, the day when the Christian churches remember their saints. It also records that the celebration initiates the triduumof Hallowmas, the time in the liturgical yeardedicated to remembering the dead, including saints(hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers.
This is much more familiar to me for a number of reasons. It was always traditional in our house to go to Mass on All Saints’ Day (1 November) and also on All Souls’ Day (2 November) to remember all our family members who had died and gone before us. Actually this makes All Souls’ Day a pretty good feast day for family historians to celebrate. No particular year stands out because going to Mass was just one of those things you did on a weekly (or more regular) basis.
All Saints’ Day or All Hallows’ Day is also important in my family history because I went to a school called All Hallows’ in Brisbane, now in its 153rd year. In fact three generations of women in my family have attended the school over many decades and given its name 1 November was of course an important day in the school’s calendar. To be honest I can’t recall that we did anything exceptional on the day (it was after all shortly before our annual state-wide exams) but we certainly went to Mass in the school chapel. By the time our daughters attended the school it had become traditional for the whole school to have the day out having fun at one of the water parks in town. I guess they probably also went to Mass in the chapel as well (must see if any of them remember)
The school chapel has an amazing atmosphere and without being spooky evokes generations of women who have worshipped there.
When I was at All Hallows’ the school’s quarterly newspaper was called The Hallowian and it was a more light-hearted reporting of what was happening in the school than the formal end-of-year school magazine.
I’ve been looking at old copies from when I was at the school and have been intrigued by the diversity of the stories from totally frivolous (and fallacious!) stories about the new prefects, in-depth social commentary, welcomes to the New Guinea students who had arrived to study there, and the usual mix of charity, drama, cultural and sporting activities. I was particularly taken with the stories about the school’s buildings and grounds, so now I’m scanning them for posterity (perhaps something for my time capsule?)
Back to the more temporal celebration of Halloween, we were in New England one year in mid-November, and traces of Halloween celebrations in garden decorations or florist’s windows. That’s probably my closest direct connection to Halloween.
Happy Halloween to all my mates and Happy All Hallows’ Day to my fellow AHS students.
A year or so ago I wrote how ice skating was one of my teenage pleasures. At the time I could find little about the origins of an ice rink that existed at Mowbray Park, South Brisbane in the 1960s. Those searches had left me unsatisfied so with today being Trove Tuesday it seemed only logical to have another trawl of Trove.
Brisbane is of course a sub-tropical city, so one might wonder when someone took on the challenge of building an ice rink. I personally knew of the Mowbray Park one which was definitely open in the 1960s, but when did it start and how long did it last? Thanks to Ice Skating Queensland I now know this rink closed in 1967.
Trove is silent on this rink other than a couple of photos hereand here (copyright and reproduction rights apply) because of course the digitised papers don’t go that far forward. The images reveal that Brian Crossland, then a recent immigrant from Blackpool, was the manager of the rink in Brisbane while fellow English immigrant, Terrance Wright, maintained over 500 pairs of skates. That’s a lot of skates so it suggests they must have been doing a reasonable business while it lasted.
I did wonder if perhaps the Mowbray Park ice rink was built on the site of a former roller skating rink that had also been in Melbourne St, South Brisbane. It could be a pretty dodgy rink at times, with strips where the ice melted regularly –rather like skating on icy corrugated iron at times.
Had Brisbane ever had an ice rink before Mowbray Park I wondered? Trove was more helpful with this query revealing there had been grand plans for an Ice Palais in Wickham St, Fortitude Valley opposite McWhirters in 1938. Trove gave me the proposed building design (above), Council approval, and an advertisement. Sydney had its Glaciarium and Brisbane obviously thought it was time to get in on the fun (or more likely the profits).
So why was Brisbane suddenly so keen on ice skating? Turns out the whole country had gone ice-mad in response to the popularity of Sonja Henie (as per this larger Trove article). Sonja was a beautiful Norwegian ice skater turned movie star. It was interesting to see her skate in this YouTube video but also surprising to see the dependence on spins and relative absence of jumps, revealing just how much more athletic figure skating has become over the years.
With Brisbane’s Ice Palais scheduled to open in April 1939, it seemed logical that the rink might have been still around when my mother arrived from North Queensland a few years later. I gave her a call, and no, it wasn’t something she could recall either. I’d been pretty astonished to read about this proposed ice rink near my old stomping ground in the Valley where we shopped regularly. If it had survived it might have been there when I was a child, which it surely wasn’t. It’s possible that the sheer cost of such an ice rink meant its construction was delayed. From this story in The Courier Mail it’s clear to see that it was a very expensive investment.
The public were still keen to get out skating and a clue in The Courier Mail’s Answers to Correspondents column gives the next clue to the Palais. (17 February 1939)
Trawling Trove month by month through 1939, I could find no further evidence of this grand plan. What happened? Could they not raise sufficient funds? If so then the declaration of war in September 1939 would likely have hammered the final nail in their plans…there’d have been no capital investment money for frivolities like ice skating rinks or Palais.
Instead the focus seems to have turned to entertainment, as it sometimes does during war-time to keep the spirits up. And one of the promotional stories provides the first confirmation that the Palais had not (yet) been built.
Ice revues were popular and just as entertainment events like Disney on Ice have especially set-up ice rinks, so did these revues held at the old His/Her Majesty’s Theatre. I thought it was interesting that the revue was timed to coincide with the annual Ekka when all the country people were in town, thereby maximising the potential audience.
And so it seems Brisbane’s hopes for an ice rink, or Ice Palais, expired for another twenty years until the Mowbray Park rink seems to have opened. In the interim, there were two proposals to combine ice skating with other sporting facilities.
Then in 1953, there was a bid for a combined swimming pool and ice rink complex at Mt Gravatt. I’m reasonably sure this never went ahead but would be happy to be corrected if I’m wrong.
After the Mowbray Park rink closed in 1967, another rink opened in the north-eastern suburb of Toombul in 1971. I did know of this rink though I never skated there (these were my PNG years), but I had completely forgotten about it until reminded by Ice Skating Queensland. My recollection now is that many (all?) of the professionals at the later rink at Acacia Ridge came from there.
Perhaps it was thanks to improved technology that made it viable to open an Olympic standard rink in the sub-tropics withIceworld at Acacia Ridge. We had not long returned from Papua New Guinea and we embraced this different and fun activity, making Iceworld our home away from home. It also has fond extended family memories as my cousin and his family joined us in our devotion to the sport. Our smallest bear spent lots of time as a toddler at the rink –she’d sit in her pram on the sidelines while I attended women’s classes, and as each woman reached that side of the rink they’d talk to her. And then there were the dawn training sessions with our older daughters until the constant recurrence of their ear infections meant we gave it up. Lots of happy memories!
As we found during a Brisbane visit, outdoor rink is set up in King George Square in June each year for their new Winter Festival. It seems to be proving very popular with lots of people having a ton of fun. (By the way, cold in Brisbane doesn’t mean much below 10C)
I still say if Jakarta, Singapore and Dubai can have indoor ice rinks, there’s no reason (other than that pesky money) why Darwin can’t! The fact that I’d probably break my neck these days is beside the point.
Isn’t it amazing how much you can learn about your home city from Trove? I picked up all sorts of clues about Brisbane’s roller skating rinks, but that’s a story for another Trove Tuesday.
Don’t you find life is full of red tape? Someone always wants paperwork from you in relation to some part of your life. How do people survive who are uneducated I wonder.
The very same red tape that we often find so exasperating in day-to-day life, is heaven-sent when we’re doing family history. Much of it is found wrapped in brown paper tied with a pink ribbon, in an archive near you. Relatively speaking little of it is available on the internet. The Beyond the Internet series is intended to highlight some of the sources you may not have thought about and which will flesh out your family stories.
I’ve put a graphic on this page to represent our exploration Beyond the Internet. The unedited version was a free clipart from Microsoft Office so I think there are no copyright issues. Feel free to put it on your blog page if you want to join in and post to any of these topics…the more the merrier. It would be great too if there was representation from different regions and countries.
In Week 2 I talked a little about the sources available off-line about the history of your ancestral homes: personal records (papers, diaries, letters); cultural heritage studies; English land enclosure maps; LDS microfilms of parish records other than registers; photos and local and oral histories; as well as land selection records for early settlers. This week my focus is slightly different though the two topics interlink. I’ll focus on four sources and illustrate how they’ve helped my family history:
1. Land titles and title certificates
2. Council rates
3. Sewerage records
4. Survey maps
Land titles documents are available from the State lands department (its name will vary depending on place and government but in Queensland is currently the Department of Environment and Resource Management). Yes, they are not free but they can also be very useful and the money well spent.
On a recent trip interstate I purchased two certificates of title for my grandparents’ property.[i] No one really knew when Grandad bought the land and built the house but these documents solved part of that mystery. The first certificate, dated 5 September 1917, showed my grandfather’s purchase of plot 31 from a David McMullen who’d bought it only a few months earlier from a James Taylor Searle. These transfers were around the time the subdivision took place. This purchase date was only a month before Grandad enlisted to serve in WWI, which tells me he was setting something aside either for his betrothed (if they were actually engaged) or his younger siblings in case he was killed. My grandfather was a steady, considered man so I have little doubt this was a planned strategy…it would be so interesting to see his military will. He’d been the eldest child when both his parents died so no doubt that impacted on his life attitudes. A few months later the title on the adjoining plots 30 and 31 were transferred to Susan Ann Easey on 23 January 1918.
But it doesn’t end there. On his return from the war my grandfather purchased plots 30 and 31 from Susan Ann Easey, stated to be the wife of Arthur Edwin Easey on 21 January 1921. Oral history also tells us that Mrs Easey is the woman with whom Grandad boarded his youngest brother after their parents’ died. Mrs Easey appears on the electoral rolls but interestingly not at this address.
My grandparents married in 1922 so my best guess at present is that the house was built between 1921 and his marriage. The house currently sits close-ish to the boundary between plots 30 and 31 but my mother told me recently that my grandparents’ house was moved a couple of metres when my parents’ house was built after their marriage. Hence my hypothesis is that Grandad built the house after he had purchased all three blocks and between January 1921 and April 1922.
Another snippet on the Certificate of Title has given me a further clue to explore when next at the Archives. His will, through the Public Curator of Queensland, was dated 15 January 1948 and as they acted as “devisee in trust”, I’m assuming the house had been left to my father but for my grandmother to have residence until her death.
I do find land records quite confusing and for New South Wales records some years ago I used a record agent to dig out the many land files for one of my ancestors. I figured it was probably worth my while and would be more efficient than me trying to get to the bottom of it all during brief interstate trips.
Even though Council rates are local government records many historic records are held at the Queensland State Archives (other states may be different and I can’t speak for that). There may also be copies held in the relevant town. After the establishment of Ipswich as a municipality, many of my ancestors appear in the records for that town’s rate payments. So what does this tell us? The value of the property relative to those nearby will give you an idea of the standard of their house. There may be maps which correlate to the land allotments allowing you to be absolutely certain where their house or business was located. This will enable you to compare that with current maps or to pinpoint the location during a site visit.
As rates are paid on all properties owned you may discover that your ancestors owned more than one property – something which doesn’t become clear from Post Office directories or electoral rolls, which are most likely to focus only on their residential property. I also made an interesting discovery that one of my ancestors changed his first name when he moved towns, probably because of a problem with the law. It makes you wonder how he came to revert to his original name and what people’s responses to that were in a small town…or was it only on the rate books that his name was different. Rate books will also give you an insight into the area –the type of housing, the area’s expansion etc.
It’s important to investigate where these sources are located. I’ve found them in the Queensland State Archives (my main haunt), local history libraries and Sydney City Archives (thanks to a tip-off from a genie-colleague). You may even find clues to assist your search you on the local real estate pages (yes, online I know!).
I followed Susie’s tip and obtained the sewerage maps for my grandparents’ and parents’ street. The map shows all the buildings at the time, their location on the block and you will see where there were outhouses (dunnies/toilets) before the sewerage was installed.
Early survey maps are so useful for learning more about the area where your ancestors lived. I look at them at the archives and the most important ones I purchase. Another source might be your Lands Department, especially if they have an historical library or such. Recently I obtained early maps of my grandparents’ and parents’ suburb (not urgent before because I was familiar with it from growing up there – or so I thought).
The maps show where the early landed “estates” were: properties with grander houses some featured on Picture Queensland. It shows a water reserve in a dip in the hilly street which my father called Frog’s Hollow (apt I think) and where there’s currently a house on the market for about $800,000. Reserves are set aside for schools and public recreation. Comparing these maps with stories published in the local newspaper (available online at Trove), brings the area to life. Each map reveals slightly different features including one showing the hilliness of the area. The names of some previously unknown homes will let me link them to the owners I researched through the electoral rolls.
These Beyond the Internet resources are, as so often, just the tip of the iceberg. I’d love to hear of other sources people have used to learn more about their ancestral homes.
[i] Certificates of title number 2228334 volume S 1319 folio 74 and 243499 Volume S 1387 and folio 239.
Yesterday I flew interstate on an unexpected trip to Brisbane. So what you might say…well, while I’ve made this journey many times, for some reason yesterday’s flight paths were out of the ordinary.
In Darwin, we took off in a westerly direction from the runway, all well and good except Brisbane is south. However the bonus was that we did a wide circuit over the harbour looking at the Wet Season green of the vegetation, the rivers and coastline fringed with white sand, the boats in the marina at Cullen Bay and out on the harbour. The sandbar near Cullen Bay was exposed, something that happens when the tide is particularly low. You could see the waterfront complex and all the new high rises in the city. As they tell you on the guided tours, Darwin harbour is about twice the size of Sydney’s world-renowned harbour so it’s impressive.
You’d be forgiven for thinking, as you look at this tropical magnificence, “oh if only I was down there swimming”. Sadly this isn’t possible most of the year and especially so in the Wet Season. Those beautiful waters are home to stingers which can kill you and they pull out about 200 crocodiles a year, bearing in mind they’re the ones they trap (and relocate). Of course there are no doubt sharks out there too but with the other two “deadlies” out there, what’s a shark between friends. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve swum in the harbour since we arrived in Darwin over a decade ago.
I had business papers to read on the flight so the 3.5 hours of the flight passed quickly among the clouds.
To add icing to the flight-path cake, on approach to Brisbane we came in from the west, which again doesn’t happen all that often. Usually the approach of Darwin flights is from the east over Moreton Island and the Brisbane river and mangrove flats. Yesterday we followed the river’s serpentine path as it flowed past The University of Queensland where I’ve spent many years of my life, parallel to the CBD with my old school off to one side a little, and the Gabba where Brisbane’s major cricket matches are played. We then angled around to come in over Teneriffe and Newstead House.
All in all a wonderful aerial tour of two cities I’ve lived in for many years, topped off by a smooth landing by the Qantas pilot.
The topic for Week 45 in Amy Coffin’s and Geneablogger’s 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History series is: High School. Describe your middle and/or high school. Was it a large or small student body? Is the school still in existence today? How has it changed since you went there?
Earlier this year I wrote about my high school, All Hallows’ School, because in 2011 the school has been celebrating its 150th anniversary. At the time I spoke about its critical role in my life and the importance of the teachers who taught me there. Equally important to attending this school, was my mother’s determination in ensuring I was accepted to the school even though my primary school was run by a different order of nuns. At a time when many working class parents either did not believe in educating their daughters to university level, or could not afford it, my father and mother committed themselves to making this possible….without this opportunity I truly believe my life would have been very different.
All Hallows’ is a reasonably large school with a student population of around 1000, which may have changed somewhat in recent years with a significant building program to utilise what is a restricted inner-city location. Inventive building strategies have been required to maximise the opportunities.
What’s changed since I went there? In my day the teaching staff were almost exclusively nuns and when we passed them we would have to curtsy and say, ever so politely “good morning sister”. These days the teaching staff are mainly lay teachers but I imagine that the students still have to be as courteous.
Our dress code was much more rigid than it is today. In some ways the school has had a more “modern” dress style than many other private schools of the day (aka public schools in the British system). However in my day, wearing stockings, gloves and hat was non-negotiable and failure to do so would generate a severe reprimand. It certainly kept the prefects busy ensuring everyone was dressed to code. And in case any wayward girl shed her gloves or hat on the way home, there’d be bound to be an “old girl” who would happily report the misdemeanour to the Principal! There are even occasions when I’ve felt like doing the same (before overcoming the urge) when their bags etc are scattered around the Brisbane mall on a Friday evening. They even have scarves to wear these days…how trendy ;-). Eating in public was a major no-no as people would apparently think our parents hadn’t fed us….not so today.
We were equally restricted in our social interaction on the way to or from school. It didn’t matter whether the boy on the bus was your brother or the gorgeous creature (usually from Churchie) that you’d had your eye on for ages….there was to be no communication…not even meaningful glances. By the time my daughters went to the same school they had a repertoire of male friends whom they met on public transport to/from school. When they were at All Hallows’ there was a visiting group of Italian students on exchange at the school…the “interpersonal interaction” on the Terrace was enough to make the deceased nuns spin in their graves!
Another significant difference, too, is that in my time we had both boarders and a primary school stream. There was always a division of sorts between the boarders and day students as we had an independence that their restricted lives precluded. I believe that the primary school has recently been reopened. The primary school strand was closed first and some time after I left it ceased to be a boarding school.
Another major difference is the view from the school up and down the river as you can see in the photos here. Taken from slightly different places near the school you can see how Brisbane has mushroomed.
The school retains its emphasis on academic, sporting and cultural achievement as well as its focus on Mercy ideals and faith-based activities such as retreats or charity and support for the less-advantaged. On Bow Tie Day this year, one class of students collected $15,800 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society from Brisbane’s CBD workers and visitors…that’s a pretty impressive contribution! I admit that when did something similar I was really pathetic at doing the collecting…left to my teenaged self they’d probably only have raised $15.80!
The style of the activities may have changed but I imagine in many ways, it would be perfectly possible for any “old girl” to slot right in. What remains for many are the bonds formed between these teenage girls as they progress through high school and into the wider world, and the knowledge that women can be independent and successful…however each young woman chooses to define it. I doubt, too, that there’d be many of us who have forgotten the spiritual presence of generations of women that you feel in the school chapel. No wonder it’s been such a success since they opened it as a wedding venue.
If you missed my earlier post , I’d love you to read it in conjunction with this story.
Monday’s task was to try to find my grandmother’s niece, Ida McCorkindale and siblings, in the newly released Commonwealth Electoral Rolls on Ancestry. I’ve looked at ERs before for her and her siblings with limited results and I was optimistic that with the wider range nation-wide she’d turn up. This time was both a win and a lose: I found Ellen Sim McCorkindale (initially Nellie) through to 1980 and the probate indexes date her death as 1981. Ida disappears around the end of the 1930s and so far I have not found her in marriage or death indexes. I also tried other subscription sites without any greater success. Brother Duncan is more confusing as there are a few possible ones including a marriage, so yet more work to do on all of them.
Next step was to have another look at Trove to see if anything new had turned up there on the family. This is when the rabbit started sprinting for the hole with me in pursuit. I came across an entry for a Mr McCorkindale drowning in Brisbane on 13 February 1896, and looked at Qld BDM online to see who he was….no entry in 1896.
One thing quickly led to another and I was soon immersed down the rabbit hole with the story of a dramatic river accident in which up to 25 people were missing or drowned, one of them Mr McCorkindale.
The essence of what happened was that the steamer Pearl was setting off with about 80 passengers, much less than its full complement to travel between Queen’s Wharf and Musgrave Wharf at South Brisbane. The river was in flood and there were eddies which the captain, an experienced seaman, said threw the boat off course so they barely avoided the Normanby, and the Pearl crossed the chains of the government steamer, the Lucinda, at which the Pearl crashed, split in two and sank.[i] Its passengers and crew quickly found themselves in the river, some being rescued quickly by the crew of the Lucinda. Others were not so fortunate and were swept away. For some time later bodies were being recovered along the length of the river. Mr McCorkindale was reported as saying to Mr Ballinger, the traffic inspector, “Goodbye, I cannot swim. Remember me to my wife”. He was not seen again and remained on the missing list throughout. When you look at the list of women among the missing, it seems likely that the heavy clothing of the time would have stacked the odds against them. While initial reports placed the missing and drowned at 25 but it has been difficult to find final numbers.
A magisterial inquiry was held a week later on 20 February 1896. One report in particular caught my attention. There had been some South Sea Islander people on board including a woman and two children, one of whom remained missing. However a Tommy Matahbelle was refused the opportunity to give evidence because he was not baptised, hence not a Christian, and therefore could not give an oath and evidence. Application for him to be allowed to provide a statement was also refused[ii]. Legal and conventional but hardly moral justice: no multi-cultural acceptance in those days.
The findings of the subsequent Marine Board enquiry were that the master of the Pearl, James Chard, displayed want of skill in navigating the vessel, and that the steamer was lost through his default. His certificate as a home trade master, and his licenses to take charge of steamers within the limits of any port, were cancelled.[iii]
While this is a sad story, significant enough to generate a telegram from the Queen and the British Prime Minister, what intrigued me was the ambiguity over the registration of the deaths. I checked the list of the missing against the Qld BDM indexes and while the uncertainty over first names made it difficult, it seems apparent that at least some of the missing may not have made it to the death registers highlighting one of the ways in which our family can cause us “brick walls”. Mr McCorkindale turned out to be Archibald McCorkindale per the inquiry reports. His death was not registered until 1922 some 26 years later. I wondered how many others were never documented. Even some of those recovered do not appear in the indexes under the names stated in the papers (eg Margaret McGhie).
Initial newspaper reports listed 25 missing and dead but progressively bodies of many of the drowned were recovered. The magisterial inquiry is invaluable in providing more detail in regard to those who drowned. Those missing, and a few of those later identified, are included here:
Mr Archibald McCorkindale, late President of the Coorparoo Shire Council.
Mrs Gould (possibly Emma Eliza 1896/B28991)
Mrs (Janet?) Wilson, wife of James Wilson, Russell St, South Brisbane. Ironically he could not swim, yet apparently she could as she tried to hold onto him until he struck something hard in the water. “I will stick to you Jim, I know you cannot swim”.[iv]
Mrs Nellie Harper,residing with Mr & Mrs Wilson, with her four children, cnr Grey &Russell Sts, body later found[v]. Nellie Harper, born England about 30 years old 1896/B28527. I wonder what happened to her children)
Mrs A B Renton (possibly Mary Jane 1896/B28470), Cordelia St, South Brisbane.
Mrs Pogson, Russell St South Brisbane (not on some lists –could this be Mrs Wilson?)
Mrs Kitty Matahbelle does not appear on the lists though she is mentioned in the inquiry. No registration under this surname.
Miss Ida Newman of Coorparoo (her death, under this name, is not registered)
Henry Archibald Jarman, nephew of Louisa Ellen Jarman (1896/B28534) Aged about 21, he had a lifebuoy which he handed over to his aunt saying “Here you take this and save yourself, I’ll be all right”
Mr H E Williams, Pastoral Butchering Company (registration not found)
Mr A G Williams (possibly George Alfred Foster Williams 1896/B29325)
Miss Marshall, Merton Rd
Harry Guzamai (also listed as Gurosomai/Guzomai). 1896/B29529. The bodies of the mother and another child, about 10 years old, were recovered. The mother was said to be a good swimmer.
Mrs Taylor (possibly missing), an old lady, licensee of the Clarence Hotel, South Brisbane.
Hugh Kerr Colquhoun Morren (body recovered, 1896/B28535. His children Martha and her brother had been returning with their father from their mother’s funeral that afternoon. Both children survived the accident. He left a large family of young children[vi]).
If any of these names are relevant to your family it would be worth checking out the stories on this tragedy to get the full picture. So many evocative stories reminiscent of 2011’s disasters.
Back to task: if anyone knows anything more about Ida McCorkindale, her sister Ellen Sim McCorkindale, or brother Duncan McCorkindale, I’d really like to hear from you. Their parents were Duncan and Ida McCorkindale.
[i] The Pearl was recovered from the bottom of the river on 5 March The Worker 14 March 1896. Image of it apparently in The Australasian. It was apparently set to be repaired.