Tag Archives: Queensland

Hidden women of history: Kathleen McArthur, the wildflower woman who took on Joh Bjelke-Petersen



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Kathleen McArthur (left) and Judith Wright (right) wildflowering at Currimundi in 1961.
Photo by Alex Jelinek. Courtesy Alexandra Moreno

Susan Davis, CQUniversity Australia

In this series, we look at under-acknowledged women through the ages.

This year marks 50 years since the launch of one of Australia’s first major conservation battles, waged against Queensland’s ultra-conservative, pro-development premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen. It was for a location few had ever heard of – Cooloola, an area that stretches from Noosa to Rainbow Beach, around 70 km north.

Portrait of Kathleen McArthur by Lina Bryans (1960).
Courtesy Alexandra Moreno

The unlikely leader of this campaign was a wildflower painter named Kathleen McArthur, who led the Caloundra branch of an environmental group the Australian newspaper called “the most militant of conservation cells”.

Kathleen, together with colleagues such as poet Judith Wright, pioneered and honed activist strategies that are still instructive today. She understood art’s ability to prompt human emotion and marshal the public support required to bring about change.

From her homebase at Caloundra in Queensland, Kathleen created nation-wide awareness of the existence of the Cooloola region, which incorporates internationally significant high dunes, coloured sands, rainforest and wallum heathland habitats. It is now part of Great Sandy National Park, but at the time was under threat from sand mining and development.

A highlight of the Cooloola campaign was the distribution of 100,000 protest cards across Australia, with at least 15,000 of them sent to Queensland’s then Premier. Conservationist Arthur Harrold described Kathleen as the “cunning mind” behind the cards.

The Cooloola campaign postcard, 1969.
Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland

Abandoning convention

Kathleen McArthur was born in 1915 into one of Brisbane’s leading families. Her parents were Daniel Evans of Queensland engineering company Evans Deakin, and Kathleen (Kit) Durack, of the Irish pastoralist family made famous via the books of cousin Mary Durack.

Christmas Bells by Kathleen McArthur.
Courtesy Hugh McArthur and the Fryer Library, University of Queensland

Kathleen had an early life of considerable privilege. However, she turned away from the conventional life of the society matron. After a well-publicised marriage to military man Malcolm McArthur, and three children, Kathleen eschewed life on military bases or the city. The family bought a modest home at Caloundra that she later named Midyim.

Discovering her husband’s unfaithful ways, Kathleen initiated divorce proceedings in 1947. By the 1950s, she was a single mother of three. She lost her parents to illness in 1951.

From then on, Kathleen forged a new life for herself, writing about and illustrating Queensland wildflowers. She began painting in part to help identify the wildflowers in her local environment, there being a limited range of books to assist with their identification.

The Bush in Bloom by Kathleen McArthur (1982).

In 1953, Kathleen set herself the task of recording all the native plants in bloom across key locations of the Sunshine Coast region. This project fed into numerous publications including weekly newspaper columns and books. This year was also notable for a wildflowering expedition Kathleen took with her friend Judith Wright to the peak of Mt Tinbeerwah, which provided the spark of the idea for a national park at Cooloola.

Judith and Kathleen were among the founders of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland, established in 1962, along with naturalist David Fleay and Jacaranda Press founder Brian Clouston. Brian offered to help their cause by publishing an educational wildlife magazine, which still exists today.

The ‘Mistress of Midyim’

A crisis point was reached for Cooloola in 1969, with mining applications pending for much of the region. Kathleen’s idea to use wildflower postcards activated the public campaign. She had been inspired by a US campaign utlising such cards and though others were sceptical, set about creating a postcard, a letter and a brochure that could be distributed far and wide. She also created wildflower cards and prints featuring her artwork, sold to help raise funds.

Just a few of the flood of letters Kathleen received during the Cooloola campaign, from the WPSQ collection held at the State Library of Queensland.
Courtesy Susan Davis

After the postcard distribution, hundreds of letters of support flowed back to the “Mistress of Midyim”. The campaign was further promoted through feature articles and letters to editors, talks, a documentary and capitalising on a web of allegiances. From early on, the Wildlife society formed relationships with scientists such as Dr Len Webb, from the CSIRO, who played a central role.

Vanilla Lillies by Kathleen McArthur.
Courtesy Hugh McArthur

Kathleen and the society communicated regularly with politicians from all sides of the house. Her local MP Mike Ahern was a Country Party member but sympathetic to the conservation agenda.

On 1 December 1969, Bjelke-Peterson issued a press release stating that “substantial areas” of the Cooloola sand mass would be set aside as a National Park. But this was by no means the end of the campaign. Six weeks later, it was revealed that applications had been lodged for sand mining leases within some areas of Cooloola. This delayed formal action on the declaration of a national park and required the campaigners to change tactics.

In the meantime, the newly formed South Queensland Conservation Council, the Cooloola Committee and Dr Arthur Harrold took on the next phase of the battle. While Kathleen gave up leadership of the campaign, she did not leave the fray entirely. As key hurdles were encountered she would return to letter writing and other forms of maintaining the rage.

Eventually, 22 years after Kathleen and Judith first stood on the peak of Mt Tinbeerwah, the Queensland parliament gazetted the Cooloola National Park in December, 1975. However Kathleen’s role is rarely mentioned in most accounts of the Cooloola campaign.

After Cooloola

Kathleen McArthur in the early 1960s.
Author supplied

Kathleen refocussed on her art, wrote a suite of books and established a series of monthly presentations called “lunch-hour theatre”. She remained involved with her local branch of the wildlife preservation society, prepared the submission to have Pumicestone Passage added to the register of the National Estate, and campaigned to protect beach dunes.
She also identified areas that should be protected as reserves, including one posthumously named Kathleen McArthur Conservation Reserve just north of Lake Currimundi. After a period of illness she died in 2000, the same year as her friend Judith Wright.

Because of the likes of Kathleen McArthur, today there are national parks, beaches protected by dunes rather than rock walls, and birds calling from humble heathlands where gentle wildflowers bloom. She is but one of a number of women from the period who could be “wild”, radical and difficult, but who was passionate about wildflowers and protecting our natural environments.

A ‘Wild/flower Women’ exhibition will be on display at the Fryer Library, University of Queensland throughout 2019, with an online exhibition to be available via their website. A public lecture and performance will be staged in late March as a part of the Fryer Fellowship program.The Conversation

Susan Davis, Deputy Dean Research, Education and the Arts, CQUniversity Australia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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How unearthing Queensland’s ‘native police’ camps gives us a window onto colonial violence



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Ammunition found at a mounted police camp at Eyre Creek.
Lynley Wallis

Lynley Wallis, University of Notre Dame Australia; Bryce Barker, University of Southern Queensland, and Heather Burke, Flinders University

In 19th century Queensland, the Native Mounted Police were responsible for “dispersing” (a euphemism for systematic killing) Aboriginal people.

This government-funded paramilitary force operated from 1849 (prior to Queensland’s separation from New South Wales) until 1904. It grew to have an expansive reach throughout the state, with camps established in strategic locations along the ever-expanding frontier, first in the southeast and then west and north. While staffed with non-Indigenous senior officers, the bulk of the force was made up of Aboriginal men and, sometimes, boys.

We have been exploring the remote Queensland outback for traces of the base camps of the Native Mounted Police. There were nearly 200 such camps. So far we have visited more than 45 of them.

Our archaeological work is revealing the day-to-day livelihoods that underpinned the chilling work of these police. This is an important part of reckoning with Australia’s colonial violence, given the difficulties in identifying physical evidence of massacres in the archaeological record, despite recent efforts to map massacre sites from oral and written sources.

Rather than maintaining order among the European population, the Native Mounted Police’s role was to protect squatters, miners and settlers on the frontier, by whatever means necessary. Their well documented method of “protection” was to mount patrols and kill Aboriginal people who were trying to protect their land, lives and loved ones. There were literally hundreds of such events.

Members of the NMP photographed on 1 December 1864 at Rockhampton. In the back row from left to right are Trooper Carbine, George Murray, an unknown 2nd Lieutenant, an unknown Camp Sergeant and Corporal Michael. In the front row from left to right are Troopers Barney, Hector, Goondallie, Ballantyne and Patrick. Reproduced with permission of Queensland State Library (negative no 10686).
State Library of Queensland

On February 10 1861, for instance, a detachment led by Sub-Inspector Rudolph Morisset shot at least four, possibly more, Aboriginal men on Manumbar Station (about 160 km northwest of Brisbane). This was in reprisal for Aboriginal people killing cattle on the run. We know about these particular deaths because John Mortimer, one of the station owners, complained in the local press about the police’s behaviour. He also gave evidence to an 1861 inquiry into the activities of the Native Mounted Police.

Around Christmas 1878 meanwhile, on the banks of a waterhole near Boulia, some Aboriginal people killed one or more Europeans looking after stock. The reprisal massacres of Aboriginal men, women and children that followed — with one, possibly two, survivors — are known from a written account, and from various oral accounts documented in the months and years after. The Burke River Native Mounted Police, stationed just outside Boulia, commanded by Sub-Inspector Ernest Eglinton, and assisted by at least one prominent pastoralist, Alexander Kennedy, were responsible for the Aboriginal murders.

Excavating the past

Similar to the forts built on the plains of North America during the “Indian” Wars, or the offices of the Third Reich in Nazi Germany, Native Mounted Police camps formed the force’s administrative backbone. More than 450 non-Indigenous officers lived on these bases, along with at least 700 Aboriginal men, through the force’s 50-year history.

Like other bureaucratic systems, their very domestic ordinariness — providing insights into what the police ate, drank and how they lived — belies the conflict that took place beyond their boundaries.

Archaeologists and students excavating at the Native Mounted Police camp at Burke River in southwest Queensland.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Schaefer.

Many camps were short-lived, sometimes being occupied for only a few months; in such cases their physical imprint is limited. In other situations — particularly where the terrain was rugged and higher population densities meant Aboriginal people were able to mount more effective campaigns of resistance — camps were occupied for longer periods, sometimes several decades. These left a clearer impression on the landscape.

Even so, what is left is not what you might normally associate with a frontier war. There are no battlefields, in the traditional sense of the word, to be seen. No victims with bullet wounds, no mass graves, and no large fortified buildings. Instead, the Native Mounted Police camps are ordinary, banal even, revealing the detritus of everyday life: stone fireplaces, segments of post and rail fences, sections of pathways, clearings and the occasional rubbish dump strewn with broken bottles.

Perhaps more telling, are the large numbers of bullets and spent cartridges from government-issue Snider rifles. These were rarely owned by private citizens but were issued to the Native Mounted Police for decades.

At each of the Burke River, Cluney and Boralga camps we have catalogued more than 100 bullets and cartridges, an unexpected situation given that most killings of Aboriginal people by the Native Mounted Police occurred outside the confines of the camps. Perhaps the abundance of these objects in the camps is the result of regular target practice by troopers, or maybe the result of having to hunt kangaroos at the local waterhole to supplement their meagre rations. Military-style buttons from uniforms – with ornate monograms, sometimes including a royal cipher and crown – serve as a bleak reminder that the violence associated with the Native Mounted Police was endorsed by the state.

An 1861 painting of the Wills Tragedy, a pivotal moment in the Queensland frontier wars.
State Library of Queensland/Wikimedia Commons

The Burke River camp

Burke River near Boulia in southwest Queensland – the base for Sub Inspector Eglinton and his detachment – was described in 1882 by a visitor as

the most respectable looking native police camp I have seen in Queensland, there seems to be a place for everything and everything in its place.

This camp sits beside a waterhole that is associated with Dreaming stories – an Aboriginal stone arrangement and the thousands of flaked stone artefacts along the edge of the watercourse are testament to it being an important living and ceremonial place. The establishment of a police camp on the site was likely to have been viewed by local Aboriginal people as both inappropriate and insulting – but of course their views were not a concern.

There are two stone buildings, likely built to house equipment, guns, ammunition and dry foodstuffs, and possibly the officer’s quarters. Further away again is a series of small mounds – so slight that unless you know what to look for you would not even see them. These mounds are a treasure trove of discarded rubbish. The fish hooks, flaked glass artefacts and animal remains we have recovered from them indicate they are likely the remains of the troopers’ huts. They serve to remind us that, despite the job they were hired to carry out, they too were just men trying to survive.




Read more:
Friday essay: the ‘great Australian silence’ 50 years on


Sites of colonial violence are difficult to locate exactly. As such, there is ongoing debate about its scale and nature. Aboriginal people have always referred to these events as a war. Such statements are often dismissed by critics as unreliable. Yet 19th century European authors also described the frontier killings as a war. The archaeology of Native Mounted Police camps is the closest material indication we have of the scale of suppression of Aboriginal people through the 19th century.

While some of these camps are recognised on Queensland’s Aboriginal heritage list, none can be found on the broader State Heritage Register – despite 200 sites that refer to the regular Queensland Police Force in some manner. We believe this should change to give more formal recognition to the dark past of the State’s foundations.The Conversation

Lynley Wallis, Senior research fellow, University of Notre Dame Australia; Bryce Barker, Professor in Archaeology, University of Southern Queensland, and Heather Burke, Associate Professor of Archaeology, Flinders University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


The violent collectors who gathered Indigenous artefacts for the Queensland Museum



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Aboriginal protectors Walter Roth and Archibald Meston between them collected over 700 objects for the Queensland Museum.
State Library of Queensland

Gemmia Burden, The University of Queensland

Europeans collected a huge number of Aboriginal artefacts during the colonisation of Australia. These include weapons, bags, toys, clothing, canoes, tools, ceremonial items, and ancestral human remains. Many institutions that hold these items are repatriating them to Aboriginal people. While repatriation is important, what often goes unrecognised is the crucial part that collectors played in the violent dispossession of First Nations people.

My research is on the Queensland Museum’s collecting networks. Formed in 1862, the museum amassed a significant collection of Aboriginal artefacts over the following 60 years. Despite countless, undocumented interactions between makers, owners, collectors and curators, many of which were no doubt benevolent, frontier violence was a crucial aspect of the museum’s collecting.

Instances of grave robbing and body snatching as methods of collecting are not specific to Queensland. Many institutions in Australia and abroad have problematic acquisition histories, particularly in relation to the study of remains.

Activists have been agitating for the return of cultural materials for decades, and museums across Australia, including the Queensland Museum, have developed repatriation programs and policies. It works closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to prioritise the return of ancestral remains and sacred objects. But much material collected through violent means is still held in its collection.

While there is no evidence of the museum being directly involved in frontier killings, the use of the police, protectors, missionaries and frontier doctors as the dominant network of collectors implicates the museum as a passive beneficiary of dispossession.

In a response to The Conversation, the Queensland Museum said: “We believe these are important stories to be told and understood, and we recognise past hurts and are actively working to address these issues.

“Queensland Museum Network acknowledges that between the 1870s and 1970s, a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ancestral Remains, Burial Goods and Secret and/or Sacred Objects were acquired without consent or due regard to traditional lore and custom.”

Illustration of the new Exhibition Building at Bowen Park, 1891.
State Library of Queensland

Dispossessing and collecting

In the 1870s, police Sub-Inspector Alexander Douglas, noted for his role in violent dispersals of Aboriginal people, sent the Queensland Museum ancestral remains and burial goods. These had been stolen during punitive raids on Aboriginal people in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The following decade, Francis Lyons, a “pioneer resident of Cairns”, offered the museum mummified remains he had stolen during a retributive attack on Aboriginal people. In his accompanying correspondence he wrote:

They abandoned everything except the [remains] … and it was not until after a long and desperate chase, and when their lives were in imminent danger that the[y] … dropped it.

In many instances cultural items – mostly weapons and bags – were purchased from Aboriginal people. The museum issued its collectors with tobacco for payment, itself pointing to the power imbalance of frontier currency. Yet as both Lyons and Douglas’s cases show, items were also removed after Aboriginal people were forcibly dispossessed from their country, taken from the surface, and at times stolen following raids.

Inside Queensland’s first natural history museum, 1872, showing Aboriginal artefacts and images on the back wall.
State Library of Queensland

Some ancestral remains held by the museum were plundered from grave sites. Remains were dug up, stolen from caves, burial trees, and bags, depending on regional customs.

While these practices may have sat outside the bounds of European expectations of death and burial, the plunderers were acutely aware of the damage they were inflicting. One correspondent informed the museum in 1880 that exhuming the remains of a recently deceased man was “too much like desecrating unless it was in the interest of science”. The idea of contributing to scientific knowledge was used to justify these actions.

Remains were also plundered from massacre sites, often decades after the event, as well as former mission sites, and sent to the museum with the sanctioning of the police and protectors.

Remains were also taken from regional hospitals, at times with the approval of the Chief Protector, the government agent responsible for Aboriginal people. Rogue doctors stole others from post-mortem rooms. In 1885, for example, the remains of South Sea Island labourers were sent from the Polynesian hospital in Mackay with specific instructions to “make them look a little ancient”.

Empire and science

The emergence of racial science in the mid-19th century, combined with the British Empire’s expansion, drove the desire for Aboriginal artefacts. Objects were collected as anything from curiosities to scientific specimens, tendentiously used to “prove” European superiority.

With an interest in the “science of man”, the Queensland Museum’s curatorial staff maintained a network of collectors across the colony through relationships forged with (predominantly) men in remote locations. They included missionaries, journalists, station managers, doctors and public servants. A 1911 request targeted these networks, stating that “every effort” must be made in “acquiring those symbols of the life of the original Australian inhabitants whose rites, ceremonies, customs and traditions are becoming obsolete and being entirely lost to us”.

Plate from The Evolution of Culture, Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers, 1906, Plate XII.

However, the most profitable collectors were the government agents regulating Aboriginal people’s lives. For example, from the 1870s, the police channelled material and information to the museum. The Native Police officers became particularly important contributors.

The museum exploited their violent methods of colonial policing and practices of “dispersal” – a euphemism for massacre – and the police themselves noted this role. Following his dismissal from the force, and five years after leading an attack on Aborignal people at Creen Creek, former Native Police officer William Armit wrote of ethnographic collecting that “no one can be more fortunately situated for such work than the Native Police officers”.

The passing of the 1897 Aboriginal Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act also led to increases in the museum’s acquisitions. Protectors, such as Northern and later Chief Protector Walter Roth and Southern Protector Archibald Meston, were active collectors. They became two of the museum’s largest donors with upwards of 700 items between them, both acquiring material through their official duties.

Collecting as violence

Apart from benefiting from the spoils of colonial violence, the act of collecting itself can be seen as violent. Structural violence – the social, cultural, legal, economic and political structures that marginalise groups – does not only cause physical harm, it also inflicts damage on the mind and spirit.

Collectors knew that taking ancestral remains from burial places would cause harm. Indeed one collector noted: “I feel repugnance to hurt their feelings willingly.” While procurement may have been void of direct violence, waiting for an old man to die in order to send his body to the museum, as in one case in 1915, was a malevolent act of indirect violence.

Taking materials from country also served Europeans in claiming possession, both emotional and physical, of the land. By removing Aboriginal people and culture, the invaders were writing their own narratives of ownership over the land. As settler colonies were built on the dispossession of Indigenous people, the removal of cultural materials became part of the appropriation of land.

The ConversationWhile repatriating Aboriginal cultural materials is undeniably important, we must also acknowledge the histories behind their collection. This is an important part of the repatriation process itself.

Gemmia Burden, Faculty Post-Thesis Fellow, Honorary Research Fellow in History, School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, The University of Queensland

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Australia: Queensland – Cyclone Mahina (1899)


The link below is to an article that takes a look at Australia’s worst cyclone – Cyclone Mahina.

For more visit:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-26/cyclone-mahina/5964342


Australia: Brisbane – Windmill Tower



Article: S.S. Maheno


The link below is to another article concerning a shipwreck, this one at Fraser Island in Queensland, Australia.

For more visit:
http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/ss-maheno


Article: Fossil Site Massive According to Scientists


A massive megafauna fossil site has been found in southwest Queensland, including fossils of Diprotodons, giant kangaroos and wallabies, a large lizard and more.

For more visit:
http://www.perthnow.com.au/lifestyle/technology/mass-fossil-site-found-in-southwest-qld/story-fn5jm47w-1226404631697


Today in History: 14 May 1943


Australia: Queensland – The AHS Centaur is Sunk by a Japanese Submarine

On this day in 1943 off the Queensland coast (Australia), the AHS Centaur is torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sunk. The Centaur was a hospital ship, with 268 of the 332 people on board killed as a result of the attack. The submarine responsible for the attack was the I-177.

For more, visit:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AHS_Centaur


Today in History – 28 April 1789


William Bligh: Mutiny on the Bounty

William Bligh was born on the 9th September 1754 to Francis and Jane Bligh in St Tudy, Cornwall. He was signed up for a career in the Royal Navy when aged 7 in 1761.

In 1776, Bligh was with Captain James Cook as Sailing Master on the Resolution for Cook’s third and final voyage during which Cook was killed. Following this Bligh served on various ships and saw military action at a number of locations including Gibraltar in 1782.

In 1787 Bligh was made commander of the Bounty. On this day in 1789, the mutiny on the Bounty took place. The mutiny was led by Fletcher Christian, Master’s Mate. Bligh and a large number of the crew were provided with a ship’s launch and a small amount of provisions and Bligh made for Timor (from near Tonga). The journey was completed in 47 days and covered a remarkable distance of 6 700km.

It is thought that the mutiny took place in order to escape from the hardline discipline of Bligh and to escape to the island pleasures of Tahiti. Evidence would suggest that Bligh was far more easy going than other captains, though the future ‘mutiny’ in Sydney (see below) would suggest otherwise. Bligh was treated well in the court-martial and was acquitted.

From the Bounty, Bligh served in various roles, including Governor of New South Wales from the 13th August 1806 to the 26th January 1808. His post ended with the Rum Rebellion, which essentially was an on land mutiny by the New South Wales Corps under Major George Johnston. He succeeded Philip Gidley King and was replaced by Lachlan Macquarie.

Bligh’s rise through the ranks of the Royal Navy continued until he was appointed Vice Admiral of the Blue in 1814, though he never again received an active command. He died on the 7th December 1817.

As an interesting side point, the current premier of Queensland (Anna Bligh) is a descendant of William Bligh.

 


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