To save this undefined to your undefined account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your undefined account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
‘Dear Mrs. Ford,’ the correspondence often begins, then follow accounts of misfortune and privation:
During the floods our home was an inch out of the water and the river four miles wide. We lost heavily in cotton but the stock are alright, though they were standing in water 3 ft. deep for a day and … 8 pigs lived on the verandah for two days.
The drought was so bad that water was scarce and baths unknown. We had to do what we could with a wet sponge. But I missed vegetables most of all. Fruit one learns to do without, but the memory of vegetables used to torture me.
We certainly had a terrible experience in the cyclone. [We] lost everything but our house. The sea rose 20 feet over high tide mark and swept through our little home, destroying everything and drowning my poultry. I took the children on to a high piece of ground and put them in the flanges of a large stump while I tried to rescue my poultry. My husband stayed at the house tying down the roof.
It's easy for a bloke to be pleasant at the factory … but pretty hard when he is pulling old Strawberry out of a bog or chasing the pigs out of the sweet potato patch. And calves! Have you ever heard the raucous, nerve-splitting, bellowing of an army of desperate little demons, who begin to scream at daylight and keep it up all through the hot day?
I'm afraid I've been a bit depressed because you see we mortgaged the place to feed our dairy herd and the little drop of rain last month killed most of those left.
One might wonder what floods, drought and hungry calves have to do with books and reading in the Queensland outback. The connection becomes apparent through an examination of the records of the Queensland Bush Book Club, a Brisbane-based philanthropic organisation that operated a book- and magazine-lending service for families living in the Queensland bush in the early twentieth century. Mrs Ford served as the group's corresponding secretary for many years, and letters detailing the hardships of life in the remote countryside ended up on her desk.
Brisbane in the 1920s certainly had its tense moments, but what struck me most forcibly in browsing the local newspapers from the period was how successfully political and social conflicts were absorbed into the peaceful, civil and law-abiding fabric of Brisbane life. World-altering events like the Russian Revolution, the Armistice and the Treaty of Versailles, the Irish Troubles and the rise of Mussolini were reported and discussed in the press and elsewhere, but matters seldom went further than that despite the real potential — given the presence of significant Russian, German, Irish and Italian minorities in the city's population — for ‘imported’ tensions. Even the momentous political developments that occurred in Brisbane in the early 1920s, when the state government's efforts to secure foreign loans were sabotaged by an opposition-funded delegation to London, and the Premier, EG (‘Red Ted’) Theodore, forced the parliamentary upper house to terminate its own existence, failed to polarise or fracture the community to any significant degree.
The establishment of higher education institutions in Australia is normally an initiative of government. However, in the case of the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, the journey towards establishment was delayed continually by a government that was either unable or unwilling to accede to the increasingly vociferous demands of its musically minded constituents. The long and tortuous journey towards its opening in 1957 was characterised by the dogged persistence of numerous individuals, who today might be termed lobbyists. Without their collective efforts, the institution's arrival might have been delayed even longer than the half-century that elapsed between the first suggestion of Queensland having a premier music school and that concept being realised. Themes of cultural deprivation amounting to a ‘state's rights’ catch-cry figure strongly in the Conservatorium's story. It also became a socio-political issue as families sent their musically talented children to study at conservatoria in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney or overseas. The stream of agitators for a Queensland conservatorium provides an interesting snapshot of the state's musical community during the early twentieth century. This article discusses the ‘power of persistence’ by a several musical advocates — some of them were well-known community leaders, while the contributions of others have faded from public memory, but were no less significant.
In the centre of the old city of South Brisbane, at the intersection of its two main streets, Stanley and Vulture, one finds a small, triangular park. Its most obvious feature is the grand set of stairs leading up from Stanley Street, near the Ship Inn Hotel. These stairs have a commanding presence, inviting the walker to ascend to an imposing edifice, but at the top they simply end. Part-way up, a couple of metres above street level, a pedestal, 2 metres high and 2.5 metres across, draws the eye upwards; it should be supporting an iconic statue, perhaps 3 or 4 metres high, but there is nothing. I've lived in the South Brisbane area for most of the past 40 years, and the mystery of the grand stairs and empty pedestal of South Brisbane Memorial Park has long puzzled me. What is this park memorialising? If a war, then which war, and why is it not known as South Brisbane War Memorial Park? These are some of the questions my research sought to uncover.
Whether it is treated as an issue for consternation or celebration, a propensity for drunkenness has long been represented as an essential trait of the Australian character. The image of the Australian drinker has remained distinctly masculine, with drinking canonised as a male pastime by Russel Ward's The Australian Legend (Ward 1958: 2). While Australian histories of inebriation have recognised the gendered nature of alcohol use, they have assumed implicitly that because drinking typically has been considered a masculine prerogative, the primary significance of liquor consumption to gender studies lies in the role it played in the construction of masculine identity. The assumption has been that because women's drinking was not conducted on the same scale as men's, the excessive drinking indulged in by a minority of females is unimportant to larger understandings of femininity. This has inhibited investigation of female drunkenness, the responses it provoked and the critical expression of power relations constituted by these reactions.