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‘Moreton Bay’ was certainly a name to be conjured with among the early Australian penal stations. As well as being a forbidding secondary detention centre, it represented — both within and around itself — a microcosmic world of early colonial race and ethnic relations. For this custodial system was rudely imposed upon pre-existing and long-enduring social orders of a dramatically dissimilar kind. It intruded into human populations that greatly outnumbered its own, implanted itself and militarily usurped portions of territory in a variety of locations, occupied by and spiritually amalgamated with a substantial body of Aboriginal communities. To these people, for whom life was ‘a billowing of the consciousness of country’, it was a visitation utterly without precedent. The repercussions of its ongoing presence were largely uninvited and unrehearsed. The station's existence was at first a wonder and a puzzle, then an impediment and a curse. It greatly transformed immutable lifeways, invariably impoverishing them; it reduced social options rather than expanding them; it denuded the host culture of its efficacy; and it assailed the people's health and decimated their numbers. The familiar environment was reconstructed and the old place-names largely obliterated and changed. For the incomer, to name was to own. The many visible signs of Aboriginal material occupancy were ignored as palpable evidence of legal possession and, eventually, erased. Erased too was much of the evidence of these very acts of erasure, whether material, cultural or human. Detailed evidence of what happened — or was perceived to have happened — in the myriad interactions between Aborigines and non-Aborigines of the convict settlement between 1824 and 1842 is scanty and fragmented: staccato bursts of often-tantalising information against an otherwise frustrating backdrop of silence. Distance from Sydney as well as London was the essential buffer that nurtured this atmosphere of secrecy, feeding its potency and allowing the Moreton Bay regime to proceed virtually as a law unto itself insofar as northern frontier relations were concerned.
Writing in a book published in 1918 in honour of Jesse Jewhurst Hilder (1881–1916), shortly after the artist's tragic early death from tuberculosis, Bertram Stevens declared:
Australia may well be proud of Jesse Hilder, for he is entirely her own by birth and training. His art was intuitive; what instruction he received, and the inspiration he got from other men's work, helped him but little towards self-development. His water-colours show the strong individual note of the true romantic artist; they are not like anything done previously in Australia or elsewhere.
Olga Penton died of heart failure at her home in Sydney one evening in 1973. She was found the next morning sitting upright in an armchair, with a plate of cold chicken half-eaten on her lap, a knowing smile on her face, and looking a lot younger than her 76 years. This is an image that captures the cheerful stoicism of her last twenty years of life. Fifty years earlier, another sedentary image captures an earlier self: the image is of Olga sitting naked in a bath, presiding over an intellectual salon of writers and free-thinkers in the Brisbane flat she was sharing with her new husband, Brian Penton. It is hard to be sure whether this second image exactly corresponds to reality — neither of my informants was personally present at any of the bathroom salons, and both reported them as a spicy rumour rather than an observed fact — but whether true or not, we can say that the rumour expresses the ambience of intellectual sophistication and sexual daring that seems to have surrounded her at the time.
In 2004, the National Sea Change Taskforce (NSCT) was established in response to the way in which accelerated growth and development in sea change communities is negatively impacting on those areas' ecology, society and economy. The NSCT is a collective of more than 68 council planners from around Australia charged with working collaboratively with state and federal tiers of government to develop policies that will protect the coastal environment and establish sustainable limits to growth.
The woman who demands assistance from her husband in her home is failing in her part of the marriage bargain, and the husband who gives it is losing his prestige as head of the house.
— Letter from ‘Mother’ of New Farm, Courier-Mail, 6 February 1939, p 14
The letter from ‘Mother’ in the Brisbane suburb of New Farm endorsed the assumed and actual centrality of unpaid work within the home for most white women in Queensland — especially for wives — in the interwar years. It accepted a division of labour in which men were defined primarily as breadwinners; by contrast, and despite female participation in the formal economy, the major role for women was that of wife and mother. This allocation of responsibilities was a fundamental component of the gender segregation which characterised work and the Queensland economy in this period.
In 1949, Clive Turnbull remarked that Australian Life (1892), a collection of short stories by Francis Adams, ‘is a book that deserves to be resurrected’. While two of the radical English writer's novels have been republished over the last three decades, Australian Life — which Turnbull regarded as ‘perhaps the most noteworthy’ of Adams' works of fiction — has not been resurrected either in print or online, and is accessible only in rare book libraries. Republication here in Queensland Review of the original version of Adams' short story ‘The Red Snake’, which appeared first in the Boomerang in 1888 and was later revised for Australian Life, may help to renew interest in Francis Adams' carefully crafted but disturbing narratives of life in the Australian colonies in the 1880s.
There are two published versions of ‘The Red Snake’ by Francis Adams. The first appeared in The Christmas Boomerang, 24 December 1888: 17–18; the second in Francis Adams, Australian Life (London: Chapman and Hall, 1892, 3–24). The present edition is based on the Christmas Boomerang version. Revisions made by Adams for Australian Life have been incorporated where they correct errors or improve the literary qualities of the work, but not where their purpose is merely to remove Queensland references for an English audience. The accidentals (spelling and punctuation) of the first edition have been adopted here, rather than Queensland Review house style.