Sepia Saturday 251: Qld Civil Liberties in the 60s

Sepia Sat 251As happens sometimes with a Sepia Saturday prompt, I immediately thought “how can I write on this?”…  “I’ve got nothing in my family history that fits”. Turning to Trove, the Aussie genealogists’ friend, I searched for “police + chemist”. Did you notice there was a chemist’s shop in the background of the featured image?

Unidentified (1950). Police officer directing traffic on George Street, Brisbane, 1950. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Unidentified (1950). Police officer directing traffic on George Street, Brisbane, 1950. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

So far, so good. I found one in my home town in Brisbane for when I was a small girl. There was the policeman directing traffic on the corner of George St. Still this didn’t quite satisfy me so I kept hunting and found this one of a 1966 protest in Brisbane against conscription.

Garner, Grahame Onlookers on buildings during the Youth Campaign against Conscription, Brisbane, Australia. Garner, Grahame, 1966-03-24.

Onlookers on buildings during the Youth Campaign against Conscription, Brisbane, Australia. Garner, Grahame, 1966-03-24. Corner of Queen and Albert streets. http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/191086908

Immediately my story fell into place. Strangely there are some similarities to Kristin’s Sepia Saturday story on Finding Eliza. Of course much of this is personal anecdote reflecting my own experience, and Dad’s, and others may well have different perspectives.

Conscription, Vietnam and the Birthday Ballot

Back in the bad old days of Queensland, the state was held on a tight rein by the government, irrespective of which political party was in power. This was particularly the case in my teenage years when the rights and wrongs of the Vietnam War were hotly debated by students in particular. After all, they did have a vested interest, since young men aged 20 automatically went into a birthday ballot which decided whether they would be conscripted and then go off to war. Official sites, including the Australian War Memorial, state the crunch-point was for 20 year olds yet we have always believed it to be 18 so perhaps it was just the anxiety of it that made it seem that way. Of course, the friends who were keen to go were never the ones whose number came up, while those who weren’t, or indeed registered as pacifists, seemed inevitably to be called up. To an extent you were “safe” while you continued your university studies as you could defer your enlistment until they were completed, something non-students weren’t able to do.

It wasn’t until 1972 when Gough Whitlam, our former Prime Minister who died this week, rescinded the ballot and conscription, as well as Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War, that this changed. It’s also worth noting that in this era, we could not vote or drink (alcohol) until we were 21. This song by Redgum is a diversion but tells the story of “I was only 19“.

Mr Cassmob was able to avoid the conscription birthday ballot by always, and only, stating his residence as Papua New Guinea, making him ineligible. Even though he’d been in the Army cadets at school, he was in no rush to be conscripted. Frighteningly, for the first time tonight, reading the AWM link above, I’ve learned that Mr Cassmob’s birthday was drawn in the ballot for the year he turned 20.

Political Activism on Campus

A.E. Patrick (Manufacturer) (1969). Badge - Australians No Conscription, A.E. Patrick, circa 1969. Museum Victoria

A.E. Patrick (Manufacturer) (1969). Badge – Australians No Conscription, Museum Victoria

Like campuses the world over in the 60s, there was an active political scene and The University of Queensland was no exception. Led by the charismatic left-wing speakers Brian Laver and Mitch Thompson from Students for Democratic Action (SDA), students gathered at lunch time in the “Forum”, an area outside the Refec (refectory) to hear the issues of the day debated. Of course, equally typical of the era, it was a very male-dominated environment. Although the issue of Vietnam was high on people’s minds, this became overshadowed by the fact that it was then illegal to march in Queensland without a state-issued permit…and you guessed it, your chances of obtaining same were pretty much zero.

It all came to a head in September 1967, in some ways strange timing given that university exams were held annually those days in early November, so we should all have been preoccupied with study and revision. In fact my mother was given a warning by my Chem I tutor (a Professor of Chemistry) that she should get me away from the “troublemakers” I was hanging around with. Perhaps he meant the Catholic Newman Society of which I was an active member? Dad on the other hand was asked by a policeman who lived locally if I would report back to him about what was going on…he was sent away with a large flea in his ear. We were certainly aware that the Police Special Branch had officers among the crowds at the Forum. One thing that strikes me about student attire in those days was how conventionally they were dressed.

The St Patrick’s Day Railway Strike March 1948

On 8 September 1967, thousands of students gathered to debate whether to stage an illegal march into the city. There’d been a trial/temporary march down to the end of the campus a few days earlier but this was to be the real thing. It certainly wasn’t spontaneous as Dad had already forbidden me to walk in the march. He cited what he’d witnessed during the St Patrick’s Day railway strike in Brisbane 1948, not all that long before my parents were to be married. If I wanted to have children, he said, I couldn’t march. Ross Fitzgerald, a Queensland historian refers in his book From 1915 to the early 1980s: a history of Queensland[i] to “a woman demonstrator was hit between the legs with a banner…” This photo, from this book and also from DJ Murphy’s collection at Fryer Library, demonstrates that Dad was certainly in the right place on the day to know what he was talking about, in terms of things getting violent.

If this is not my Dad standing on the footpath I will give over a winning lottery ticket -everything fits.

If this is not my Dad standing on the footpath I will give over a winning lottery ticket – everything about it fits.  https://www.library.uq.edu.au/fryer/denis_murphy/historian.html

The Illegal March

Skipping forward to the meeting on 8 September 1967, staff and students debated and voted to proceed with an illegal march from the campus at St Lucia to the city, about 8 kilometres. Around 4000 people participated in the march, if current reports are accurate, and certainly the crowd was huge. We had been urged to be non-violent at all times and not to actively resist police and the watch house sheets suggest this was largely the case. Just imagine the potential for it getting completely out of hand – hardly surprising the police were nervous, especially those brought into the city for the event. You can get a sense of the crowd from images on this website. Somewhere in that crowd were two young fresh-faced undergraduates, and many (but not all) of their mates….good former Catholic school students all. An interesting article on this aspect is here.

True to my promise to Dad I became one of those who “showed their interest and support by following behind the main demonstration on the footpath”. Along the way I nipped into shops and bought cold drinks for my mates. As we neared the end of Coronation Drive, near what was then the Arnott’s factory (as I recall) we got word that the Police planned to trap the marchers in the underpass under the Grey Street Bridge (now the approach to the motorway)…the Police headquarters were in nearby Makerston St.  The march direction was then re-routed to go along Roma Street in front of the railway station and it was an impressive sight, with marchers filling what seemed the whole length of the block. When they were given the official warning to stop the march, the protesters linked arms and sat down on the roadway. And that was where the “fun” began. You can see the video here.

This Google Earth map shows the last stage of this civil liberties march and the route diversion, finishing outside Roma St Railway Station.

This Google Earth map shows the last stage of this civil liberties march and the route diversion, finishing outside Roma St Railway Station.

The Conflict

For some reason I took a slightly different path, and arrived in Roma Street (near where my father worked) soon after in time to see an ocean of blue uniforms and suits, students emerging with ripped shirts, signs being smashed, friends with blood on their faces. It really was confronting and sobering. Anecdote states that many police had removed their identifying badges on the day. Ironically a few of my relatives would have been there that day along with a new constable who we became friends with in Papua New Guinea. Even thinking of it now, my knees start to shake.

A screen dump from the vimeo video of my other half 1967.

A screen dump from the vimeo video of my other half 1967.

Eventually I found my new boyfriend, as he was then, and he was safe if somewhat shaken. Another girlfriend from school was less fortunate as she was taken to the watch house (though she’s not on the charge sheets)….she shook for days afterwards. For those with patience and interest the video of the day is now online and Mr Cassmob can be seen along with another of our mates. The original film is now held at the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra and is one of the things I hope to follow up at Congress 2015.

As if that wasn’t enough we reconvened down near Parliament House and watched as yet more protesters were thrown into paddy wagons. I still admire the restraint of the police officer who stood in front of me as I expressed my disquiet (not entirely politely)…he simply ignored me, so I was lucky not to have a trip to the watch house myself.

My diary for the day simply says MARCH!!! CCCL (CLCC)

In the aftermath, Parliament was closed to the public as the matter was debated. Somehow Dad was the only member of the public to attend, thanks to their local Member of Parliament, Manfred Cross, or so the family story has always gone from Day One.

It would take decades, and the demise of Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s reign, for the issue of civil liberties to change in Queensland. Even when I started working at UQ 15 years later, I met others who’d marched in the anti-Springbok protests of 1971. Of course by then we were living in isolated Papua New Guinea with a small child to care for…we had been “suitably” transformed into moderates…well up to a point.  The irony is that while working at UQ in the 1980s there was a student demonstration against the administration in the building where I worked….it was strange and scary to be on the other side of the fence with people yelling “at you”. The other irony is that when the political environment opened up, most students stopped caring so much about these broader issues.

Two sides to a story

This may all sound very anti-police, but as I mentioned I have police officers in my family, far and near, and I can sympathise with them on these matters…you just never know when something as large as the 1967 protest will get out of hand. At the end of the day, Police respond to government decisions and the law of the time, and in that era, the democratic right to protest was non-existent.

I wonder where other Sepians marched to with this week’s topic?

Follow up reading

Enthusiastic readers can learn more about Queensland’s Railway strike in this online edition of Denis Murphy’s book The Big Strikes 1889-1965.

You might also be interested in this blog post on the ballot and Vietnam by my late friend Catherine on her blog Seeking Susan~Meeting Marie~Finding Family.

There’s plenty for me to follow up one day in the UQ Fryer Library holdings and Hansard.

[i] From 1915 to the early 1980s: a history of Queensland. Fitzgerald, R. University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 1984, page 130-131.

Sepia Saturday (or Tuesday): Kathmandu tales

Sepia Saturday 250Funny how things turn out isn’t it? All along my plan was to write my Sepia Saturday post on Kathmandu…after all my photos fitted the theme perfectly. Then I went off the idea, and life got in the way as I worked on photo books of our last holiday.

Vegetable and fruit sellars in a Kathmandu street.

Vegetable and fruit sellars in a Kathmandu street.

The universe had other plans though, because in my virtual mail box today was an unexpected Random Act of Kindness. Robert had retouched my old, faded Kathmandu photos so they were now punchy with colour just as they were back in the day. To say I was surprised and delighted was an understatement! So of course now I have to use them even if it is now Sepia Tuesday, but then they’re not really sepia anymore either. If you want to see what an amazing difference Robert’s skills have wrought, have a look at an old post I did on my Tropical Territory blog.

Although my children know the story of our trip to Kathmandu this seems an opportunity to preserve it for posterity.

We were living in Port Moresby in the 1970s when my colleague/boss moved to Kathmandu where her husband had gained a posting in charge of the electrical division of Kathmandu airport. Both Mr Cassmob and I had always had a virtual interest in India, Nepal and Mt Everest so it was very tempting when we were genuinely invited to come for a visit. Despite the temptation, I was adamant we couldn’t go because the children were only six and four and, I thought, vulnerable to all the potential illnesses.

One of the scenes when you wish you knew what was happening.

One of the scenes when you wish you knew what was happening.

In Papua New Guinea, as part of our employment conditions we got return airfares every two years to Australia (in our case Melbourne where my husband came from). Since it cost almost as much to spend months in Australia as it did to travel overseas, you might well guess which option we took.

So it was that in late 1976/early 1977 we were planning our next leave with a trip to Europe and the UK. Of course there was no internet, and no option for online bookings, so off to the travel agent in town we toddled.

Part way through the process DD2 took off up the street for a walkabout, with Mum in hot pursuit. We returned to hear “that’s …..Heathrow to Delhi, Delhi to Kathmandu, Kathmandu-Bangkok, Bangkok-Singapore, Singapore-Moresby”. Say what? Did she say Kathmandu? Indeed she did… the wily one had taken the chance of my disappearance to sneak in the diversion via Kathmandu!

One of our favourite photos of Kathmandu - what were they looking at?

One of our favourite photos of Kathmandu – what were they looking at?

And so we found ourselves landing in Kathmandu amidst a cracking electrical storm surrounded by mountains and being rather grateful for our friend’s role in ensuring the airport’s electrics were up to par.

We had a great time staying with them, being guided round the streets and byways of Kathmandu. So much to see and even by comparison with Papua New Guinea, so much poverty and illnesses like leprosy. It’s a bit daunting seeing people missing body parts like noses, fingers etc but the kids mostly took it all in their stride. They even coped with the cows’ “right of way” in all matters…well most of the time. They were even unfazed by witnessing a cremation ceremony on the banks of the river….I was ambivalent but my friend reckoned they’d be okay and they were. The Nepali people were so friendly and less importuning than we’d experienced in Delhi as well, so that helped our appreciation of the place too.

Tinsmiths or silversmiths working their craft.

Tinsmiths or silversmiths working their craft.

One day we were lucky enough to go for a drive with our friend up into the mountains while he completed some work. We drove through villages where the road was covered in grain and the passing vehicles threshed it as they drove over. We drove on steep roads with fierce drops on the edge of the road – much scarier than parts of the Highlands Highway in PNG. I remember being asked how close to the edge we were – not the best question for a person with a fear of heights, and especially edges. Sadly, when we went to take the film out of the camera that day we’d had a blooper – no film! Most distressing I can tell you.

We even managed an excursion flight out to Mount Everest which was a super thrill for all of us, and the kids still have their certificates from the flight. We were also lucky we were staying with our friends because it meant the water was triple filtered and the fruit and vegetables always cleaned in Condy’s-crystalled-water. Almost needless to say the kids didn’t get sick…that privilege was left for their mother. As we took that Kathmandu-Bangkok leg I was violently ill …hardly surprising I’ve avoided Bangkok airport ever since.

Sari making must be a time-consuming task, requiring lots of patience.

Sari making must be a time-consuming task, requiring lots of patience.

We duly arrived in Singapore and were met by family members of one of Mr Cassmob’s work colleagues. They really couldn’t do enough for us, guiding us around town and taking us out for special meals at places we’d never have found…though they were surprised we managed to get to Sentosa Island on our own <smile>.  And then, just as the piggy bank was nearing the bottom of its resources, along came the Australian baggage handler’s strike and the cessation of flights…but that’s a story for another day, along with the theft in Amsterdam of Mr Cassmob’s passport with all its visas, and his share of the money.

Thanks Robert for this wonderful and surprising Act of Kindness!

Why not pop over and see how other Sepians interpreted this week’s image?

Shall we have goat for dinner?

Shall we have goat for dinner?

 

Men of the Queensland Bush: Sepia Saturday 249

Sepia Saturday 249This week’s Sepia Saturday is about the horse, the cart and the drivers. While my Denis Gavin from Kildare and Dublin worked as a bullocky out west when he first arrived in Queensland I have no photos of him, or his bullock dray. Many of my ancestors also rode the iron rails but today’s photo is of none of these.

This photo is one I included in my Kunkel family history. It was given to me by Dad’s cousin and shows a bunch of dodgy looking blokes hanging around the 20th century cart and horse…a truck. I know my grandfather’s brothers worked as carriers but the cousin couldn’t identify which was her father, Matthew David John (John) Kunkel. If I was guessing I’d say it was the bloke on the front right, and strangely she wasn’t sure…or perhaps he was the photographer. Actually I’d have expected John’s brother Ken to have been with him as they were very close.qld mafiosi men incl john kunkel

But isn’t it a great photo?! All dressed in their Driza-bones and wearing hats with character. The front row are crouched in the typical bushie pose that Dad always took up when waiting for something. Time was I could do it too, but sadly I’m no longer that flexible or agile. The pipes remind me of my grandad who would sit on the back steps of their house tapping the tobacco out, refilling the pipe then having a quiet smoke, looking over the back yard.

The Darling Downs is the lime green area on the bottom right.

The Darling Downs is the lime green area on the bottom right.

While these men would have probably given anyone in need a hand, you can’t help feeling you wouldn’t want to meet them on a dark night. I’d place a good bet too that many, if not all of them, were returned service men from World War I. If you recognise anyone in this group, please do comment as I’d love to know about it.

It looks to me like a silo behind the men, which would fit with it likely being taken on the Darling Downs. To the right is a typical old Queenslander house, on stilts, with its two tanks and no doubt a slow combustion stove to cope with the chilly weather typical of winter on the Downs.

Gallop over to see how other Sepians transported themselves this week.

Tents, glorious tents

Flooded GuidesGiven the propensity for front page news to be all about disasters, you might be surprised that this is my mental starting point for today’s Sepia Saturday theme. You see it was the one and only time I’ve made the front page, and in my first term of high school no less. One way to get noticed I suppose.

I’d been in Girl Guides since 1960 and passed my camping test for the first class badge on 6 June 1961…coincidentally Queensland Day. We were transported to these camping adventures by an old three-ton truck, probably an old army vehicle. Guides plus camping requirements were piled in the back tray and off we went. Can you imagine that being allowed today?

I remember going to a farmer’s property on the far edges of Brisbane where we erected those big cumbersome tents typical of the era. Digging latrines and putting up hessian-screened bathing areas was also part of the fun. Bath time involved those big round metal tubs and the toilets were dirt ditches. Each day we’d get fresh milk from the farmer, or more accurately, his cows. No nonsense about pasteurisation either. Meals were cooked in large army dixies. We’d swim in the very chilly creek and hope not to encounter any eels, water snakes etc. At night we’d have a huge campfire and sing songs. The first time I went camping with Guides my parents came out for a day visit. How that happened I’m not sure – they certainly weren’t the only ones and as they didn’t have a car, they’d have had to come with someone else. I remember I was a little homesick but so were they because for the first time the nest was empty.Guides flooded Samford

Then a few years later, over the May school holidays, we went to a different site. This one was on a rise, with a dry creek-bed on one side and a small creek on the other. Overnight it rained, and rained, and we woke up to a raging creek all around us and no hope of getting off our new island. As an adult I can only imagine the anxiety and decisions the leaders had to make. You can read the whole exciting story in the linked post I wrote a while ago. Suffice to say, thanks to the Water Police, and a courageous Guide, we made it home safely and found ourselves on the front page of the local newspaper the next day.

There was no opportunity for holiday camping in Papua New Guinea, at least as far as I know, so it wasn’t until the early 80s that we introduced our own trio of little campers to holidays under canvas. This time we had been invited to join our neighbours on a camping trip to Hastings Point in northern New South Wales. Over the years our family had many great adventures there, and you can read a little about them by clicking here.

Camping in splendid isolation with a view of the sea...that's our tent.

Camping in splendid isolation with a view of the sea…that’s our tent.

The photo above (on a grey day) is of our favourite spot overlooking the creek where it joins the surf and the Pacific Ocean. It was always an anxious moment until we crossed the bridge and checked no one had usurped “our” tent site! The next chore was to check out the changes in the creek’s path and whether the pelicans were “in town” or not. In our energetic moments we’d explore the marine park among the rocks, go swimming (convincing the girls not to swim to New Zealand), or have a game of cricket , or just loll around reading a book. The wind could be pretty fierce there and by the time this tent was retired there was nary a straight pole among the collection.
The caption on this says "our firs camping weekend, Lamington NP, Anzac weekend 1985". Both tents are ours.

The caption on this says “our first (solo) camping weekend, Lamington NP, Anzac weekend 1985″. Both tents are ours.

One of our other favourite sites was at Lamington National Park where we’d see the bower birds, noisy pitta birds, rosellas and possums. It could get quite cold up there so we had some fun times rugged to our eyebrows, toasting marshmallows and playing maj jong or card games. During the day we’d go for walks in the magnificent rainforest, and perhaps feed more birds.camping Mt Lamington

And then there was the year I decided on the spur of the moment one school holidays to take DD3 and her cousin to the snow, a mere 1500kms or so away, as I’d heard there’d been great snowfalls. By the time we arrived at a motel after dark that night I was seriously doubting my sanity, especially as the motel seemed to have a high turnover of short term stays and a lot of cars coming and going! Once we reached Kosciuszko National Park, we camped below the snowline but believe me it was pretty cold just the same. The wildlife had grown accustomed to the campers so were on the lookout for snacks, like these two fellows. An improvement on our Bicentennial camping trip when the birds had eaten all our stone-fruit which we’d foolishly left on the table under the tent’s awning. When we returned the chairs were covered in the way you might expect when a critter has eaten a surfeit of stone fruit.

But it's cold and we need a snack!

But it’s cold and we need a snack!

Although it didn’t make the front page news, I regard my Big Trip of 1994 as my most memorable. Exhausted and burnt out from a high-intensity, very political job at a research centre it was time to take myself to the wilderness for a while (have I mentioned what a supportive husband I have?). So me, my tent and all my clutter took off in the car for points south of Queensland.

That raised bonnet suggests trouble was already afoot.

That raised bonnet suggests trouble was already afoot. Mt Kaputar National Park.

My first stop was Mt Kaputar where I arrived late in the afternoon. I got set up and made sure my brick-sized mobile phone was charged and checked in with himself. In the process I turned the car engine – and again – and again…to no avail. In the morning I got someone to jump start the car and made my way determinedly down the range to the nearest town, where I foolishly turned the engine off again. One day into my trip I had acquired a faulty alternator so I spent my second day cooling my heels in a country town waiting for it to be replaced.

Once again Hastings Pt 1989, but could be any/many of our campsites.

Once again Hastings Pt 1989, but could be any/many of our campsites.

Mercifully after that the trip went smoothly and I dawdled my way to Adelaide (I guess about 3000kms away) a couple of weeks later. While I often found myself camped with only a few other tents around, I also wasn’t being foolish. At one national park I got such a negative vibe that I just turned turkey and found a motel.

Mr Cassmob met me in Adelaide and we picked up DD2 and DD3 from the airport in Alice Springs, late as it happens, but that’s another story. This was our first excursion into the Northern Territory and little did we know then how big a part it would come to play in all our lives over the coming decades. By the time we pulled back into our driveway in Brisbane we’d notched up about 14,000kms and spent more than half the time under canvas.

At the time of the Bicentenary in 1988, submissions were sought from people around the country showing their favourite places and activities. We submitted this one of DD2 washing her sister’s hair, camping style.

Two of the Cass girls, Hastings Point. Page 272, My Australia, Robertsbridge Group Pty Ltd, Sydney, 1989.

Two of the Cass girls, Hastings Point. Page 272, My Australia, Robertsbridge Group Pty Ltd, Sydney, 1989.

As you can see, camping has been a large part of our family story over several decades. We don’t get to do it as much lately  – sleeping on the ground has worn off a little, but there is something very special about being out in the bush with a blur of the Milky Way over your head. The family cycle has turned and now our children and grandchildren love to escape the big smoke and head out to enjoy the nights away as a clan with glo-sticks, sparklers, marshmellows and a roaring fire. It is certainly creating some great cousin memories which will stay with them through their lives.

A souvenir photo, taken by one of the kids, when my parents came camping.

A souvenir photo, taken by one of the kids, when my parents came camping.

And as a finale, here’s a photo of an old-style tent taken at the Colonial Queensland exhibition in Brisbane in 1986. It was at this event that I enquired about family history research and signed up with the Genealogical Society of Queensland, thereby starting me down a path which has kept me engaged and happy for nearly thirty years.Colonial Day 1986

Now you’ve reached the end of this saga, why not head over to see what the other Sepians have had to say about camping or trios. It looks like it’s been a popular topic.

Did you go camping as a child? As an adult? Did you love it or loathe it?

Skylarking in the army

Sepia Saturday 245This week’s Sepia Saturday 245 is all about men larking about, perhaps with a wee drop of whisky in the background.

army group1My images today date from a serious aspect of our nation’s history, World War II, but it’s also obvious the men weren’t on the front line and were having a fine time larking around. This series of photos is from my aunt’s photo album which I inherited. Her husband, Pat Farraher, was a cook with the Army during the War and I wrote about the serious side of his story back on Sepia Saturday 180.Pat Farraher 4

In the photos Pat and his mates are having a play stoush, doing the seemingly-inevitable rabbit ears behind a mate and generally having a light moment or two with or without the wee dram. I don’t know whether the photos were taken at Enoggera barracks in Brisbane or somewhere in Papua New Guinea, but my guess would be the former except in the final photo. Seriously, would you trust these men with the nation’s security?Army mate

I wonder how other Sepians have responded to this challenge? Do their photos reveal lurking, posing, drinking or sharing?army friends

 

This photograph has the following names on the reverse: Ned Eteell, Slim Hope, and Percy Holt. My guess is this photo is in  PNG.

This photograph has the following names on the reverse: Ned Eteell, Slim Hope, and Percy Holt. My guess is this photo is in PNG.

 

Sepia Saturday 244: Circus monkey business

Sepia Saturday 244Each week there’s a new photo theme on the Sepia Saturday blog. The idea is to post to the theme a close as possible to Saturday but for one reason and another I find myself always running late. This week I thought I’d be ahead of the game but with various other commitments here I am again, mid-week.

My recollections of my first visit to a circus are brief but have lasted through the years. Mum said I wasn’t all that young, but my feeling was that I was probably about five. Apparently Dad got cheaper tickets through the railway because the circus was set up on the park opposite the Show Ground and the Royal Brisbane Hospital: the route he used to walk daily as part of his numbertaker duties. My memory tells me we were seated on the end of a row and I remember the clown coming up to Dad and pulling out a great long string of cheerios (aka cocktail frankfurts etc) from Dad’s pocket. You can imagine that seemed pretty weird to a small girl. I also remember that someone, clown or magician or… pulled a connected string of vividly coloured handkerchiefs from his pocket….a pretty standard circus trick, but eye-popping for a young girl on her first visit to the Big Top.

MONKEY BUSINESS. (1952, April 7). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved September 4, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5031177

MONKEY BUSINESS. (1952, April 7). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved September 4, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5031177

In later years the Moscow Circus would come to town and would be so much more exuberant and exotic than Bullen’s with which we were more familiar.

Surprisingly since I’ve always loved animals I have no recollection of the monkeys, lions or other animals though they were undoubtedly there. However I did find this great story on Trove of the circus monkey to enliven this post. You have to feel sorry for the poor animal with all those kids crowded round him.

As always the Sepians have been inventive in their response to the theme. Why not pop over and see what they wrote about? I have to say I think Kristin’s poem on Jo Mendi was just perfect for the theme, but I think Deb’s cheeky and unexpected story has to be the winner!

National Family History Month Geneameme Summary

NHFM GeneamemeBack in the middle of August I asked if other geneabloggers would like to join me in a genememe to celebrate National Family History Month 2014. I called it the National Family History Month Geneameme and these bloggers decided to respond. Whenever there’s a meme doing the rounds it’s so interesting to see the commonalities between us all as well as be inspired by the way others pursue this addictive love of ours called family history.

Why not click on these links, see what they had to say, and either “like” or leave a comment. I do hope I haven’t missed anyone but please let me know if I have.

A Steely Genes Journey (Kerrie Anne)

As They Were (Crissouli)

Family History across the Seas (Pauleen)

Family Tree Frog (Alex)

Caitlin from Genealogically Speaking blog was very 2014 and presented hers as a YouTube video – do click on it to see what she had to say.

Genealogy Leftover (Judy)

Geniaus (Jill)

Jane Taubman’s Family Home (Jane)

Library Currants (Carmel)

Shauna Hicks History Enterprises (Shauna – convenor for NFHM2014)

That Moment in Time

The Genealogy Bug (Sherie)

Travelgenee (Fran)

Thanks everyone for getting involved and sharing the fun with me. Thanks also to Shauna for her inspirational work and the vast offerings that were available during the month, not to mention all the sponsor treats. I’m sure everyone has gained lots of knowledge and inspiration to carry them through another year of exciting family history.

A near miss in Coolangatta: Sepia Saturday 243

Sepia Saturday 243This week’s Sepia Saturday 243 is one of those topics where a personal theme leaps to mind. Every family has its story traditions and family anecdotes, perhaps even about get-rich schemes and near misses.

Unidentified (1914). Illustrated advertisement from The Queenslander, December 5, 1914, p. 59. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. www.trove.nla.gov.au

Unidentified (1914). Illustrated advertisement from The Queenslander, December 5, 1914, p. 59. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. http://www.trove.nla.gov.au

All my life Dad used to tell the story of “the one that got away” in our family. My grandfather who I’ve written about before, worked for the railway all his working life. At one stage, perhaps around 1900-1910, he worked on the rail line that went from Brisbane city to the interstate border at Coolangatta. I don’t know about other countries, but here in Oz, a twin town (as opposed to towns twinned with overseas), is one that has a matching town on the opposite side of the (state) border. Coolangatta is one such town, sitting right on the border of Queensland while across the Tweed River sits its twin, Tweed Heads. One of the quirks of these twin towns becomes obvious with the start of daylight saving each year. Queensland doesn’t “do” daylight saving (no, I’m not going there with that topic!) so for six months or so, Coolangatta is 30 minutes behind Tweed Head. Could be handy if you urgently need shops which close promptly at 5pm.

Tweed Heads, showing railway passengers walking down Bay Street into Wharf Street. Queensland (or Federal) Hotel, Coolangatta, is on the right. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, 1905

Tweed Heads, showing railway passengers walking down Bay Street into Wharf Street. Queensland (or Federal) Hotel, Coolangatta, is on the right. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, 1905. http://www.trove.nla.gov.au

Unidentified (1914). 18 residential and business sites at Coolangatta for sale by auction in the Tweed Heads Hall on Easter Saturday, Queensland, 1914. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. www.trove.nla.gov.au

Unidentified (1914). 18 residential and business sites at Coolangatta for sale by auction in the Tweed Heads Hall on Easter Saturday, Queensland, 1914. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. http://www.trove.nla.gov.au

Dad told me that while Grandad was working on the Gold Coast railway line they used to fish for stingrays in the river using star pickets…those long metals poles with three sides. Personally I think that was a bit unfair on the fish, to say the least, but it is still a part of local lore.

But the one that got away wasn’t a monster fish, rather the real estate deal that might have made the family fortune. The story goes that he was offered a beach front block of land at Coolangatta for a tiny sum, £100 springs to mind. Given that property on the Gold Coast now sells for seven figure amounts, we were dazzled by what might have been, not to mention the sheer bliss of living within sight and sound of the surf and the ocean. But it was not to be, and perhaps even if it had, Grandad would no longer have had the money to buy the land that our family lived on for 96 years….the turn of the fate wheel.

Unidentified (1900). Greenmount Beach, Gold Coast, 1900-1910. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, www.trove.nla.gov.au

Unidentified (1900). Greenmount Beach, Gold Coast, 1900-1910. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, http://www.trove.nla.gov.au

Coolangatta has never been the glitzy, glamour (tarty?) queen of the Gold Coast, that role was left to Surfers Paradise. That didn’t stop Coolangatta’s nearby beach, Greenmount, being a big hit with families as a holiday destination. I recall that we had only one holiday at Greenmount, compared with the several we took up the coast a little at sedate but beautiful Currumbin.

Pauleen at the Porpoise Pool, Snapper Rocks.

Pauleen at the Porpoise Pool, Snapper Rocks.

Apart from the attraction of sun, sand and surf at Greenmount, one of the big “pulls” during the 1960s was the Porpoise Pool run by Jack Evans at nearby Snapper Rock. It was de rigeur to visit the attraction and see the trained dolphins leap from the pool to catch their fish. (You can see a video here). Afterwards it was almost inevitable to have a photo taken with Sammy the Seal, another feature of the attraction. In this photo of me I would have been about 12.  I remember that rainbow top, which Mum sewed, very vividly especially the texture of the fabric.

Part of the reason our family was able to visit the border towns was because of the railway line. Dad’s annual railway pass made it possible for us to travel close to our destination – an important factor as we had no family car. The lack of a car was unfortunate also because, dare I say it as a loyal Queenslander, there’s some spectacular scenery and beaches just south of the border….an area our own family grew very fond of in later decades… I wrote this story about it a while ago.

It’s always good to know that families aren’t the only ones to have near-misses…Queensland Rail closed the line to Tweed Heads in 1961 and to Southport in 1964, no doubt due in part to the increased numbers of people who owned their own cars. Decades later they had to rebuild the same line to cope with just some of the burgeoning commuter traffic. The one that got away indeed.

Don’t forget to visit the other Sepians to see which beaches they’ve visited or how they interpreted the image.

PS: I’ve just noticed something my sub-conscious may have latched on to earlier. The man in the suit in the foreground reminds me of a photo I have of my grandfather.

 

Sepia Saturday 242: A costume fan

Sepia Saturday Aug 14Last Saturday’s Sepia Saturday 242 theme was fans, costumes etc in which host and coordinator Alan amused with his comments:I have never been a fan of fans. Whether they are slats of painted paper or those large metallic jobs that whirr around and threaten to lift your hairpiece into space, I would never volunteer to act as secretary of their fan club. 

Some of the fans I've inherited or been given.

Some of the fans I’ve inherited or been given.

Unlike Alan I live in the tropics where overhead fans are a necessary feature of our homes and any sudden absence of power makes you notice they’ve come to a silent standstill. When the humidity builds any hand-held fan works to combat the heat…beautiful hand-held ones or just a piece of paper. So I’m a fan of fans indeed.

I’m also a fan of national costumes having grown up in Brisbane with the influx of post-war migration. The annual Corpus Christi procession would see Catholics from various nations from Poland to Yugoslavia wearing their national dress proudly. Being a serious religious event I have no photos from those days.

70,000 Attend Corpus Christi. (1951, May 28). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved August 27, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50103012

70,000 Attend Corpus Christi. (1951, May 28). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved August 27, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50103012

Zurich032 copyHowever, today I want to share with you an unexpected event we encountered on our first youthful trip to Europe. We had arrived in Zurich as a natural progression in our “grand tour” and by pure chance, came across their end of winter parade in which the various guilds wore traditional dress. It was an amazing experience seeing these centuries-old traditions still in play. It was equally amazing to hear some young women backpackers, backs to the parade, bemoaning the boredom of Zurich!

Zurich020 editedAs people marched through the streets, family or friends would dash over to present them with bunches of flowers. An Aussie male in those days wouldn’t be seen dead carrying flowers but these men carried their floral gifts with aplomb.

Let me share this procession with you as a slide show – after all that’s the traditional way of sharing photos from a holiday.

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After the parade everyone made their way to a nearby park where an artificial snowman was ceremoniously burned to symbolise the end of winter. I still have the little snowman pin which I got there ….or was I given it? Mr Cassmob made friends somehow with three men from one of the guilds (blacksmiths, perhaps?) who shared their drink with him.Zurich 00snowman edit_edited-1

My poor tattered snowman.

My poor tattered snowman.

Altogether it is such a great memory of our early life together and the grand adventure of our first, but not as anticipated our last, trip to Europe. The internet tells me this festival still exists and is called the Sechseläuten festival and and the snowman is called the Böögg. It is normally held on the third Sunday and Monday in April, so if you’re planning to be in Switzerland in April sometime why not add it to your to-see list.

Why not pop over to the Sepia Saturday site to see whether others are fans of fans or costumes.

 

 

Genealogy World Photo Day Challenge

genealogy-photo-challengeBeing behind with my blog reading seems to be a chronic condition these days so I’m pleased that I spotted Alona’s post about the Genealogy World Photo Day Challenge proposed by The Family Curator. While I was there I decided to purchase Denise’s book, How to Archive Family Heirlooms, which comes with excellent reviews. I’ve got heaps of sorting to do and certainly hope it will help.

Back to the photos…the other day in my Book of Me story I’d included some “Then and Now” photos of our first home in Papua New Guinea. It reminded me that a few years ago I’d participated in a “Then and Now” activity run by our ABC when we walked the Darwin streets matching up old photos with the current image….good fun.

Inspired by all this, here are my collaged images for the Genealogy World Photo Day Challenge.

Image 1: my grandparents’ house, then (c1930) and now (2012)Then and now 29 Bally St low res

Image 2: my grandparents, Denis and Kit Kunkel, with my Dad as a boy then as a man: Then c1920s and “now” c1944.

Collage Norman Denis Kit Kunkel

Image 3: left: Mum and I in the same position, and in the same chair, near the stairs of my grandparents’ house; right: me, Mum, my great-aunt Emily, my aunt Mary and cousin Patsy, with the stairs in the background.

farrahers Kunkel Melvin

Thanks Denise for the inspiration, and fun, of this challenge!