You can’t do this on Sunday!

Sundays held a special significance that went beyond a mere day of rest. The observance of Sunday, often considered a day of religious devotion and family time, was not only a matter of personal faith but a fundamental element of community life. What do hot air balloon shows, ice-cream and shooting a gun have in […]

Utopia in Paraguay

Inflamed by the imprisonments after the 1891 shearers’ strike, William Lane imagined a future where white English-speaking men could live on the land with their wives and children in equality, sobriety and social harmony. The land, however, was not to be in Queensland, or even Australia. It was to be a ‘New Australia’ in Paraguay. […]

The Black Hand Mafia

*Please note: the content of this blog post relates to historic crimes and accounts of violence which some readers may find distressing. The Godfather playing out among the cane fields of tropical North Queensland? Sounds far-fetched. But the unlikely location saw a string of unsolved murders throughout the 1920s and 1930s that baffled police and […]

skeletons – an exhibition by Judy Watson

In 2022, Queensland State Archives (QSA) worked with Waanyi artist Judy Watson and Amanda Hayman (Wakka Wakka/Kalkadoon), curator at Blaklash on the skeletons exhibition. While engaging with this content you will hear or see violent or racist content. Some content contains terms and attitudes reflective of the period in which the event occurred and may […]


Legalising condoms

Condoms became a pressing health issue in the early 1980s with the AIDS epidemic. The first case of HIV-AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) was reported in Australia in 1982. Initially thought of as a disease that only affected gay men, it was soon accepted that HIV-AIDS could affect anyone. Condoms were globally promoted as the best […]

Researching frontier violence in the archives

Dr Jonathan Richards, 2023 Archives and libraries, the places which safely store historical documents and records, are great sources of historical information about people, places and events. Different archives and libraries store different kinds of files and records, and the Queensland State Archives (QSA) at Runcorn, in Brisbane, is the main storage facility for official […]

The Swindle

A desperate man from Madrid, Enrique de Fonseca, wrote begging for help. Enrique is sick, imprisoned for treason and worried about his beautiful, teenage daughter alone in the world. Despite all his misfortune, Enrique has wealth secured in England but he needs help recovering his fortune. One of Enrique’s letters reached the licensee of the […]

Australia’s worst river disaster – the Pearl Ferry incident

The summer of 1896 had seen extensive flooding along the Brisbane River, which had seriously weakened the Victoria Bridge. Piles had been broken, the structure began to sag and all traffic across the bridge was stopped until the extent of the damage could be ascertained. In February three ferries, Alice, Young and Pearl were brought […]

Raid on the printers

There was a time during the First World War when the relationship between the Prime Minister of Australia and the Queensland Premier was so acrimonious it led to the establishment of a federal police force. Tensions had been growing for months between Prime Minister William ‘Billy’ Hughes and Queensland’s Premier Thomas Joseph ‘T.J.’ Ryan over […]

Queensland Frontier Wars

An essay by historian Dr Jonathan Richards on frontier violence in Queensland, as documented in the records at Queensland State Archives. Histories of violence Our nation’s longest war occurred during Australia’s colonial and post-colonial periods. State-sanctioned racially-based violence – an issue that many Australians are either ignorant of, or deny occurred – was often carried […]