SS Walrus: Rum on the river

The planting and cultivation of sugar cane in Queensland was paramount to a booming industry: the production of rum. In 1869 there was even a floating mill that produced and delivered rum to eager Queenslanders. The Walrus had been an unassuming sailing ship purchased by James Stewart in 1869 with plans to convert it into […]

Lightning and the mutiny

The Colonial Treasurer announced that the Queensland government would buy two gunboats in November 1882, at a cost of £60,000 (around $7.7 million today), to boost its sea-power and protect its vulnerable coastline. Armed with experience, firepower and integrity, the age of Queensland’s powerful maritime defence was about to begin. Or would have begun, if […]

Persons from New South Wales must not cross the border

In 2021, just like 102 years ago, the border was closed to protect Queenslanders from a spreading virus. Research into the archival documents reveal the decisions and actions Queensland Government took when closing the border in 1919. In an edition of the Queensland Government Gazette, from Thursday 6 February 1919, it was announced that: No […]

The separation of North and South Stradbroke Island

North Stradbroke Island, Minjerribah is Quandamooka land. The Government of Australia proclaimed Native Title to the area on 4 July 2011. Until the late 19th century, Stradbroke was a single island but both an unforeseen shipwreck and Mother Nature would change Stradbroke Island, forming twin barriers between Moreton Bay and the mighty Pacific Ocean. For […]

Moreton Bay convict settlement

This article, by Dr Jennifer Harrison, was originally published on the Queensland State Archives website, June 2012. Queensland State Archives’ collection includes significant records from the Moreton Bay convict settlement. These convict records have been officially listed on the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisations (UNESCO) Memory of the World register.  Between 1824 and 1842, a place […]

World Heritage Wet Tropics

In 2021 the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people were handed back the Daintree, Ngalba-bulal, Kalkajaka and the Hope Islands National Parks. One of the world’s greatest living museums, housing the oldest continuously surviving tropical rainforests on Earth, collectively known as the Wet Tropics, can be found between Townsville and Cooktown. Reaching across rivers, sheltering gorges and […]

Ernest Austin – the last man hanged in Queensland

Ernest Austin went to the gallows with a quiet resignation at 8am on 22 September 1913. His criminal record tells the story of a tragic life with heartbreaking consequences. Born in Victoria in 1890, Austin had been charged with stealing by the age of 11 and entrusted to the Care of Neglected Children Department. In […]

Gold at Gympie

Early in 1866, not even a decade after its formation, the State of Queensland was experiencing a recession, exacerbated by a prolonged drought. As the agricultural industry suffered, the Bank of Queensland shut its doors, the government suspended work on major infrastructure and masses of unemployed men protested in the streets of Brisbane. In desperation, […]

Mail Order Brides

Early colonised Australia began with the arrival of both convicts and free settlers, the majority of whom were men. Very few women made the long and arduous journey. By the late 19th century, this imbalance among European settlers had decreased in most regions but persisted in rural and frontier areas where men found financial success […]

Mr Fillis’ Circus

The circus was coming to Australia. On 5 July 1892 a letter of application was penned requesting that a troupe of 40 performers, as well as various exotic animals, be allowed to visit Queensland. Frank E. Fillis was born in Lambeth, London, in 1857 and arrived in Cape Town, South Africa, sometime between 1879 and […]