Hello and welcome

Brisbane History West is an initiative of the St Lucia History Group, Centenary Suburbs Historical Society, Indooroopilly & District Historical Society, Kenmore and District Historical Society, Moggill Historical Society, Oxley-Chelmer History Group, Richlands, Inala and Suburbs History Group, Taringa History Group,  Toowong and District Historical Society and the Toowong History Group.

The intent of this collaboration is to provide a platform to raise community awareness and participation in the study and recording of local history, showcase current research and assist with queries. The individual groups retain their independence.

This site is self-funded and supported by the participating groups and societies which rely solely on volunteer resources.

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Voluntary Aid Detachments

Members of the Voluntary Aid Detachment at Kangaroo Point Military Hospital

On 5 December 2017 Red Cross Queensland  launched Maids of All Work a booklet that documents the history of Queensland Voluntary Aid Detachments. VADs, mainly young women (only 5% were men),  volunteered in hospitals across Queensland to do tasks such as cleaning, cooking, washing clothes, dressing injured servicemen, entertaining patients, serving refreshments and fundraising. VADs were formed by both the Red Cross and the Order of St John. The launch was accompanied by the modelling of replica VAD uniforms consisting of dress, apron and veil.

The project is the work of a group of Red Cross archive volunteers who have been researching, creating displays, organising the replica uniforms (60 No) and liaising with branches throughout Queensland to participate in VAD commemorations in 2018. The project has been supported by a grant from the Queensland Government through the Queensland Anzac Centenary programme.

If you have a story of a Red Cross VAD, the team would be interested to hear from you qldarchives@redcross.org.au

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Midnight Sun to Southern Cross – new book by Ruth Bonetti

In her new book Midnight Sun to Southern Cross  Ruth Bonetti tells of her grandfather WA Back’s role in heading Coronation Park Ltd, a syndicate of graziers and businessmen who were active in the residential development of the southern part of today’s St Lucia. In 1921 they acquired 148 acres of land and converted it into 870 lush building blocks, of which the University later resumed 200 blocks.

“From the time I first saw the beautiful hills of St Lucia I knew that one day it would blossom” Mr Back muses. “There were times though, that courage, faith – and a bundle of unwanted land – was all that we had. The subdivision had been carried out on a contour town plan system by two of the best surveyors in the business [McInnis & Manning]. We wanted to make it a model suburb; and even in the early days each sale contract carried certain development clauses. Trees were to be left intact and only houses costing a minimum of £700 were allowed to be built”…

In 1946-47 Coronation Park Ltd wound up voluntarily and the unsold land was divided among the partners. Mr Back, left with a parcel of about 40 blocks agreed to take over the sale of some of the other land of his associates. “In 1948 there were mobs of Kangaroos all over the place, dirt roads, and no worthwhile shopping facilities” he says. (WA Back interview – The Telegraph 25 January, 1948)

Born in 1886 in Finland, then a Grand Duchy under Russia, Wilhelm Anders Back escaped conscription into the Russian army by migrating to the Byron Bay area as a 16-year old. Ruth’s book outlines how he became the quintessential Migrant Made Good, building the Art Deco ‘Big House with a lift in it’ on Hawken Drive, later owned by Michael and Quentin Bryce.

What drove the wheeler-dealer Wilhelm Anders Back, known as WA, to become in his time Australia’s richest Finn? And what stirred his eccentric writerly elder brother Karl Johan, KJ, pacifist and political dissenter whose own story is told in this books predecessor Burn My Letters.

Both books are timely in the centenary year of Finnish Independence as they track the Back brothers’ flight from Russian-occupied Finland to Australia as the nineteenth century turned into the twentieth. From frozen Finland to the lush rainforests of northern New South Wales, to the dry and dusty sheep country of western Queensland, the stories follow the highs and lows of their new life. It is an extraordinary tale of success, failure, hard work and dreaming.

Midnight Sun to Southern Cross was launched by Dr Bill Glasson OA in the St Lucia Uniting Church with a recital using the organ Ruth’s grandfather donated.

Copies of the book, $28 each or $50 for both, are available from http://www.ruthbonetti.com/burn-my-letters/

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Richlands, Inala & Suburbs History Group December Meeting

Our final meeting of the year will be held at St Hughs Church on Tuesday 12 December 2017.  In addition to a short presentation on the history of St Hughs, Peter Brown will give a talk based on his research of other local places of worship in and immediately bordering Inala. Surprisingly the count is up to thirty, dating from pre-war to 2014. The meeting will be followed by lunch at the Blue Fin. For further details and bookings please contact Angela, telephone 3372 2358, or secretary@rihghistory.org.au

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Toowong History Group December Meeting

Sunday 3 December 2017. This month we will join the Friends of Toowong Cemetery for our end of year breakup. There will be a guided walk themed on ‘Christmas Shopping in 1877’, a look at some of the places and personalities you may have encountered in Brisbane during the lead up to the festive season. The tour will be followed by a get together starting at 11.30am. Please bring a share plate of nibbles. For further details  please contact marilyn.england@bigpond.com

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Brisbane’s Early Roller Skating Rinks

The now sadly empty and deteriorating Inala Sports Centre on Rosemary Street holds a special place in the memories of a couple of generations who swam, skated or just hung out there during the 1960s,70s and 80s. Developed as a speculative venture by the Boss brothers, who built over 1,000 concrete houses in the new satellite town, Jack Boss at the opening in 1959 suggested the cutting edge facility was something of a thankyou and investment in the local community. Skating particularly blossomed and Inala’s skaters competed with the best as the amateur sport developed at state, national and international level.

Inala was not alone, there were a number of contemporaries during this period, but where did people skate before these rinks were built ? Continue reading

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Taringa History Group December Meeting

2pm Saturday 2 December 2017 at Toowong Community Meeting Place, Josling Street, Toowong. Joint meeting with St Lucia History Group. Note earlier time. For further information contact Bruce Sinclair burrowes@gil.com.au

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St Lucia History Group December Meeting

2pm Saturday 2 December 2017 at the Toowong Community Meeting Place, Josling Street, Toowong. Joint meeting with Taringa History Group. Please bring a plate of festive nibbles. For further information contact Andrew Darbyshire slhgcoordinator@gmail.com (Note later time)

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