What local history buffs want – survey results are in

What local history buffs want – survey results are in

The short answer is talks, walks, opportunities to participate in history projects, and good online resources.

ASHG recently conducted a small survey on what history and heritage activities and topics members and locals were interested in. Surveys were handed out at an ASHG monthly meeting, at the Annerley Festival, and at the Memories of Stephen’s conference.

The results of the survey will help us hone our aims with the history room, plan our programs and understand how best to engage people in local history and heritage.

This survey is just a starting point – a guide and point for discussion. From time to time we will check in on how we are doing, or conduct quick online polls.

Activities of interest

People rated their interest in each activity as high, medium and low. Responses were scored 3 for high, 3 for medium, 1 for low and zero if not checked.

Scores were averaged, making ‘3’ the highest possible score. Here are the things you are saying to us:

  • Tell us about the history – Guest speakers at the monthly meetings, and history talks scored the highest for everyone, members and non-members.
  • Walk us through the streets – Heritage walks rated next. ASHG’s first self-guided walk is being published next week.
  • Let us help tell the stories – people are keen to participate in heritage projects. There are many ways people can participate, through activities like:
    • researching on Trove, and other online archives
    • visiting archives – city, state and national archives, state library and specialty archives
    • taking oral histories, telling oral histories,
    • exploring family histories
    • writing about our heritage
    • digital story-telling -sharing stories through video clips, podcasts and posts
    • creating tiny exhibitions in our history room’s storefront ‘curiosity cabinet’.
  • Make our history easily accessible to us through online publications and websites
  • Teach us skills to uncover our history through skills focused workshops
  • Keep up conferences and books
Full survey results for activities – highest possible score is 3.

Topics of interest

The second part of the survey was topics of interest. These were grouped into categories of history approaches, history areas, periods, places and things and social history.

Topics of high ranking are early 20th century, women, oral history, heritage places and First Nations heritage.

Below the topics are ranked in order based on percentages of those taking the survey. Some of the rankings changed to the above as a few topics were introduced after the test survey.

That’s a quick snapshot of what people want. Our new history room at Yeronga will help us to deliver these things – ASHG just received the key!

All Gauge – many connections

All Gauge – many connections

ASHG were delighted to be invited to the 50th birthday celebration of the All Gauge Model Railway Club.

It’s quite a story of a tenacious group of people keeping the club together through many changes of clubhouse. Their history dates back to 1973. The club are publishing their history in instalments – see Part 1 AGMRC.

From the left: Cr. Johnston (Tennyson Ward), Dennis Remmer (All Gauge),Denis Peel (Secretary, ASHG), Bec Langdon (President Community Plus+), Janis Hanley (ASHG), Jeff Brunne (President, ASHG), Kragg Dixon, President All Gauge

The evening of course was a Christmas celebration as well, and was generously catered for with roast dinner – and of course the delicious birthday cake after. The champagne flowed.

A lovely connection has developed between All Gauge, ASHC and Community Plus over the years. It seems an odd coupling, but the three are about to share the new premises at the Yeronga Community Centre.

ASHG, Community Plus and All Gauge Model Railway together were the Colocators group, providing input to the needs of the three groups which will inhabit the centre.

Community Plus is the primary tenant.

The Yeronga Community Centre will be handed over to these very happy new tenants in the following week.

Very exciting times, May these connections continue to deepen and new ones be forged.

All aboard every one (I know – corny – I want to say ‘Mind the gap’ but it would be odd). All the best!

The lighting of the sparkler on the birthday cake – love the little face intently watching.

Sneak preview of our new History Room

Sneak preview of our new History Room

A walk through our new history room

Last week Jeff, Anitra and I visited our new history room in Villa Street Yeronga. Not many sleeps now until we are in! Here are images of some of the room’s features:

The whole building is bright and airy – a feel good place. Check out the spaces …

Downstairs are customer and locked car-parking areas – and our storage room.

The centre also features a large meeting area that seats around 100, and a roomy balcony space.

Really looking forward to ASHG’s move to our history room. Hope to see you there soon!

The 2023 Memories of Stephens Conference wrap-up

The 2023 Memories of Stephens Conference wrap-up

There was an engaging array of speakers last weekend, at the Memory of Stephens conference held at Our Lady’s College, Annerley. The venue was bright and airy, with food and refreshments served on the deck with stunning views of Stephen’s mountain   A student of the school, Layla Agora of the Gubbi Gubbi people conducted an acknowledgement of Country of the Jagera and Turbal people on which the conference occurred.

This post gives a brief run down of the themes presented in the papers. We eagerly await the publication of conference papers in the forthcoming, ‘Memories of Stephens’.

For the conference program and full author details on the papers refer below.

The conference did lose one of its speakers, a paper on Aboriginal Camp life in Moorooka, due to the Indigenous week of silence in response to the referendum, however, matters of First Nations people of Stephens still had quite a presence.

Dr Macklin turned the spotlight on Brisbane before the colonists arrived. At the time the Indigenous population of Brisbane was approximately 12,000, with a few hundred in the Yeronga area.  This made Brisbane the most densely populated in Australia. He also reminded us how beautiful it was along the banks of the Brisbane River: a ‘veritable garden of Eden’.  Dr Macklin emphasised how for local Indigenous people; language belonged to the land…to know the language is to know the place.

John Pearn’s paper connected in with the Stephen’s indigenous story through the story of Dr Lindsay Page Winterbottom who had a GP practice in Annerley, corner of Ekibin Rd and Ipswich Rd. He was a much-loved member of the community, often treating families for three generations. Among many other achievements, Dr Winterbottom was founder of the Anthropology Museum, at the University of Queensland. Early on he had recognised the importance of collecting and recording indigenous artefacts and languages.

Dr Bill Metcalf revisited the Aboriginal burial cave found in Toohey forest, and mentions in the paper by Ray Kerkhove, ‘Enduring Presence: Aboriginal Landscape and History in Annerley-Stephens, in Stories of Stephens, 2016. The Bones discovered in 1900 and removed from the cave were relocated in the collections of Queensland Museum. It was confirmed the bones were pre-contact.  The research continues. 

Of course, a conference about Stephens is primarily about place. And there are many perspectives across time, and through people of different cultures.

Georgina Dove gave insights into the origins of The Wilderness house and Tarragindi House, built by Marie and Esther, daughters of Benjamin Cribb of the highly successful Ipswich department store, Cribb and Foote. Once again, we encounter the naming of place, this time through the man Tarragindi. ‘Tarra’ as he was affectionately called, was blackbirded from New Caledonia, and eventually taken in by the Footes in Ipswich. So, the first major house in the Ekibin end of Annerley was built by Mary Cribb and her husband, and named Tarragindi House. Tarra was buried with Foote and Cribb family, and later the suburb would take his name.

The Cribb sisters had connection with the beginnings of the Annerley Congregational Church, the story beautifully told by Georgina Dove’s mother, Ronda Dove.

The paper by Jan Richardson and myself shifted focus to the Chinese people of Stephens.

From the 1880s through to the 1940s this research has uncovered over fifty Chinese residents in the area.

The impacts of the White Australia policy meant numbers slowly declined, however, it has left quite a trail of documents at the National Archives, which helps give names to many who lived in the area.  Jan and Janis’s research has also uncovered places they market gardened, identified through early survey maps of Norman Creek as well as the aerial photographs. More information on this work can be found at on their Facebook page, Journeys into Queensland’s Past.

Jeanette Wiley beautifully related the history of Tennyson, situated at the southwestern end of Stephen’s where the Oxley Creek flows into the Brisbane River. Many of us remember the landmark of the power station built there.  Originally named Softstone, it was renamed after the poet, Lord Alfred Tennyson, and the streets around took on names from his King Arthur poem: King Arthur terrace, Camelot, Lancelot, Merlin and so on.  Sadly, many of the grand houses of the terrace have been demolished but the suburb seems to have kept some magical qualities.

What 20th century Brisbane suburb would be complete without a local scout group. Don Marshall gave an incredibly entertaining, and enlightening talk about scouting and the formation of

Stephen’s district scout group in 1919. Don demonstrated how to swing the Billy to draw the tea – then pouring it sideways into a cup. He went on to tie a knot, a Bowline no less, behind his back! He flipped flapjacks and spoke of lavishly embellishing them with golden syrup. Cross dressing scouts got a mention as did scouts learning bomb defusing, in war time.

World War 2 of course had its impact on the people of Stephen’s, and Dianne Hacker 1942 told the moving story of the brave men of operation Jaywick, and the naval vessel, MV Krait … the ‘bloody crate’ which is now held in the collection of the Australian National Maritime Museum.

A very confronting story of WW2 was shared by Glen Dyer on a wartime tram disaster on Ipswich Rd.  After a head on collision with a US army truck, a tram was engulfed in flames on Ipswich Rd. Many on the tram were women who worked at the local munitions factory in Salisbury. Five women perished. 

The railway line has been an ever-present feature of Stephens. Greg Hallam spoke of how Queensland’s railway network origins were not driven from the city, as in the other states, but by country needs. It took ten years for the railway to open in Brisbane after the first stage of Queensland’s line from Ipswich heading west to Toowoomba was opened in 1865.

Greg has a Qld rail history podcast which may be of interest.

Finally, Tracey Oliveri and Chris Dawson Spoke on the history of the South Brisbane Cemetery at Dutton Park, partly positioned in the Stephen’s Shire when it was extended across Cornwall Street.  Sadly, a Brisbane beautification scheme in the seventies destroyed 1000 headstones. Some have been found buried on the site, but so much history has been lost. 

Many thanks to the panel chairs, Stephen Sheaffe AM, Councillor Nicole Johnston, Bec Langdon, President Community Plus, Councillor Krista Adams, Deputy Mayor.

Stephen Sheaffe and Glenda Sheaffe did a fabulous job in bringing the event together, backed by the Annerley Stephen’s History Group committee and members. We look forward to the forthcoming book, Memories of Stephens, based on these papers. 

Full list of session, papers and authors:

Chair: Stephen Sheaffe

Dr Ruth Kerr and Greg Hallam: Railways on the Southside: The South Brisbane Railway of the 1880s and early 20th century.

Dr Michael Macklin: Indigenous Yeronga 1822.

Don Marshall: Stephens Boy Scout Group 1917-2003.

Chair: Councillor Nicole Johnston

Georgina Dove: The Wilderness and Tarragindi House.

Ronda Dove: The Congregational Church, Cracknell Road.

Jeanette Wiley: Softstone to Tennyson.

Chair: Bec Langdon

Professor John Pearn: Dr Lindsay Page Winterbottom (1887-1960).

Diana Hacker: The Forgotten, Brave Boys.

Dr Janis Hanley and Jan Richardson: Chinese in Stephens.

Chair: Councillor Krista Adams, Deputy Mayor

Dr Bill Metcalf: Toohey Forest Park and Stephen Sheaffe, Bones in the Park.

Tracey Oliveri and Chris Dawson: South Brisbane Cemetery

Glen and Gail Dyer: World War II Tram Disaster.