Tuesday, 25 April 2017

John Ambertel - one of the oldest Australian South Sea Islanders in the Fraser Coast

As part of our Having a Voice oral history project we have interviewed John Ambertel,who will be 86 this year and is one of the oldest Australian South Sea Islanders living on the Fraser Coast. He has a rich memory of life as a drover, a horse lover, a car man and a cane cutter. His many fascinating stories will be uploaded on to our Youtube page found here

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Historypin and Having a Voice; Heritage Week Theme 8-14th of May

An early Labour Day procession in Maryborough, Qld. The float has been prepared by the Butchers Union with the aim to reduce hours. Hours were 77 per week.  They were reduced to 68 hours and this was in place when this image was taken. The Union  are asking  for a further reduction to 48 hour week. 
Historypin is a platform where you can share your digital images. Fraser Coast Libraries have been working with Maryborough, Wide Bay and Burnett Historical Society Inc to populate our Having a Voice collection with interesting photos. These include images relating to the Eight Hour Day, the Town Criers and the Eisteddfods. This collection includes 67 images currently and can be found here .Our Historypin chat group will be adding information to the images. This group has been researching the Eight Hour Day and the Benevolent Society for three months.

Please join and add your own images or come along to the Historypin chat session in Maryborough on the first Tuesday of the month, at 12 noon. The next one will be held on the 2nd of May in the Maryborough creative space.

Look for more displays, the Vintage film Eliza Fraser and Oral History presentation found here and here  during Heritage Festival Week celebrations between the 8th and 14th of May, 2017.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Colonel G. Birkbeck - Consecration of Colours 1928

Fraser Coast Libraries received some photos from R.A. Birkbeck (Bob) that he found in his Grandfather's belongings.  Enclosed in a letter where photos of Colonel G. Birkbeck and a Consecration of Colours event at Ululah, Maryborough, 1928.

Colonel G. Birkbeck 5th regiment receiving the Colours in Maryborough 20th May, 1928.

These are the Medals being worn by Bob's Grandfather
Consecration of Colours
Colonel G. Birkbeck passing guidon to Mayor Barker, 20th May, 1928.
General Foote and Staff taking salute at the March Past Sunday, 20th May, 1928
The Kings colours

Have you got any old photos in boxes?
Learn how to digitise them at the Historypin chat group held the first Tuesday of the month in Maryborough Library at 12 noon. The next session is May 2nd, 2017.

If you have digitised photos, you can also add them to our history pin site found here

Tags #ululah #maryborough #army #regiment

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Having a Voice

Keith and Juanita Shang, Mildred Goldsmith, Leon Johnson and Dudley Byquar have participated in our oral history recordings Having a Voice.
Keith and Juanita Shang
Keith and Juanita Shang tell a fascinating story about their life together. Keith, who turns 91 this year, tells us about his life as a Chinese Australia.  Juanita gives us her perspective as his wife and also as the descendant of a family with a very interesting history including Red Coats and overseas battles.  
Mildred Goldsmith

Ninety-six year old Mildred Goldsmith tells us about her life in the area. She remembers very clearly the way things were in her childhood and brings us through her life to her current honours as a Professor of Ikebana. We were able to capture her delight in the events of her life as she generously shared her story.
Leon and Dudley Byquar remember family members.

Brothers Leon Johnson and Dudly Byquar reminisce about life as children on Plantation Island Road. They recall the last of the original Kanaka men who lived in the area and tell us about their life going to school and later working in the cane fields of Nikenbah and beyond. 

All these oral history recordings will be available on the libraries' youtube site 

Tags #Australianchinese #Australiansouthseaislanders #plantationisland #herveybay #Herveybaylibraries #frasercoast #Herveybay #Nikenbah #Ikebana #redcoats

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Henry Stoward - Mayor of Maryborough 1867-1874

Henry Stoward left his parents home in Middlesex, England, at the age of fifteen years. He worked as a Pawn Broker's Clerk.  Having decided to make a new life in Australia, he left aboard the sailing ship St Vincent on the 13th November, 1848 arriving at Port Jackson (Sydney) on the 11th of March, 1849, a voyage that lasted 17 weeks.

Six years later he married Elizabeth Connell at Mundure, a sheep station situated in the Burnett Valley on the 17th June, 1855. Elizabeth Connell was born in Bandon, County Cork, Ireland in 1837 and came to Australia with her elder sister in approximately 1853.

Mayors of Maryborough which became the Fraser Coast Council:
1861 Henry Palmer
1861 John Eaton
1862 James Dowzer
1863-64 A.W. Melville
1864 Robert Case
1864-6 Henry Palmer
1867-8 Henry Stoward
1868-69 John Harwood
1869 Henry Stoward
1869 T.N. Milner
1870 C.E.S. Booker
1871 Charles Powell
1872 Frederick Bryant
1872 James Dowzer
1873-4 Henry Stoward
1875 C.E.S Booker
1876 William Southerden
1877 J.T. Annear
1878 R.M. Hyne
1879 Thomas Penny
1880-1 N.E.N Tooth
1882 Frederick Bryant
1883 Charles Powers
1884 Frederick Bryant
1885-6 N.E.N Tooth
1887 William Dawson
1888-9 Frederick Bryant
1890 George Stupart
1891 N.E.N Tooth
1892 J.M. Stafford
1892 William Harris
1893-4 John Bartholomew
1895 Fritz Kinne
1896-7 J.M. Stafford
1898 C.S. McGhie (Snr)
1899 J. E. Noakes
1900 John Norman (Snr)
1901 Charles Rabaa
1902 Robert Jones
1903 Andrew Dunn
1904 C.H. Johnson
1905-7 William Dawson
1908 W.S. Sim
1909 Charles Rabaa
1910 C. S. McGhie (Snr)
1911 Charles Rabaa
1912 Patrick Tuohy
1913 H. J. Hyne
1914 Andrew Dunn
1915 John Blackley
1916 H.A. Reed
1917 George Holbut
1918 H.J. Hyne
1919 E.H. Warry
1920 Isaac Bushnell
1921-4 H.A. Reed
1924-30 C. A. Adam
1930 - 33 Henry Bashford
1933-39 W.H. Demaine
1939 - 50 R.D. McDowell
1950 - 55 Cyril Tanner
1955-6 H.L. Jones
1956-64 R.A. Hunter, M.B.E., M.M.
1964-70 Ralph Stafford
1970-88 John Anderson
1988-91 R.J. Peters
1991-2004 Alan Brown
2004-2008 Barbara Hovard
2008 - 2012 Mick Kruger
2012 - 2015 Gerrard O'Connell
2015 - present Chris Loft

Do you have a favourite Mayor? What can you tell us about them?

Gietzelt. A.0. (1992) Letter to Council
Maryborough Wide Bay and Burnett Historical Society Inc A Photographic Display in the Maryborough School of Arts
Maryborough District Family Historical Society (later Mayors)
Matthews, T. (1995). River of Dreams- A history of Maryborough and District. Maryborough, Qld: Maryborough City Council.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Dorothy Dempster - a brilliant light who loved the arts

Dorothy Dempster (black dress) in a Green Room Production (photo from Maryborough Players Our Story)

Our Local History Theme is Having a Voice. Dorothy Ada Nilsina Dempster was a local Maryborough girl who grew up to help many people have a voice through Speech and Drama Lessons, Eisteddfods, and as a founding member of the Maryborough Players and earlier the Green Room Players. She was born on 14th May 1922, the second child of Walter and Dorothy Rex.

"Her passion in life revolved around the artist’s sense and sensibility" her family starts. "She could draw and paint. She loved to perform in dramas and plays. She built a professional career through speaking well. She took her first speech lesson at the age of seven". "Mum remembered the weekly pilgrimage to her speech lessons as a child. She rose at 6 am to make the trip on her bicycle to her teacher's home" reflects her daughter Julie.

After going to primary school in Maryborough, she attended boarding school in Wynnum. Whilst in Brisbane she had speech lessons with Miss Rhoda Felgate - a distinguished teacher and a founder of Brisbane's Twelfth Night Theatre.
"Mum was the youngest in Australia at that time to receive her A.M.E. B (Australian Music Examination Board) Certificate at 16 years of age. She was qualified to teach speech and drama and she returned to Maryborough and began teaching students in the back room of her family home" her family explained. An advertisement for these classes can be found here 

“During the war she worked as a Kindergarten Teacher in Atherton where she met her future husband Ron Dempster” her family remember.
Dorothy as a young woman

During the early years of marriage with a husband away at war, Dorothy formed the Green Room Players. Information about their performances can be found here:
Shakespearian recital was Fine Entertainment
Green Room Players get Instructions
Theatre Gossip

They were the forerunner to the present-day Maryborough Players, who recently celebrated over 65 years on stage. Celebrated here
Dorothy Dempster produced many Maryborough plays in the 1950s- a total of thirty in the first year of production. Some of the Maryborough Chronicle Information  regarding these can be found here
Drama was Enjoyable
Two Mrs Carrolls
Victorian Eeriness
Supper after Final Act
The Dumb Wife of Cheapside
Maryborough Players
Tonights the Night

She established a Children's Theatre on July 4th 1953. Details found here 

She worked with her husband Ron Dempster, who had a love of music, on the Choral Society’s annual Gilbert and Sullivan production.
“Mum convinced Dad to help resurrect the Maryborough Eisteddfod Society after the war” her children remember. “She also performed in, and produced a number of ABC radio plays”.  An article referring to this can be found here 

Neil recalls “For years she rode her bike down to the ABC studios and read the seven minutes to seven evening regional news on ABC radio. She was one of the first women to do so”.
She taught many people who became prominent in broadcast radio and television, including her own son Quentin. She also coached several politicians in the delivery of their speeches” the family remember.

In 1962 at the age of 40, she suffered a cerebral haemorrhage. She remained in a coma for many months. “Eventually she regained consciousness but to everyone’s horror she was paralysed down the right side and had lost the ability to speak” her children reveal. She began rehabilitation and learnt to walk again with the aid of a stick and a steel calliper. Her speech returned slowly and she returned home. She resumed speech and drama lessons before and after school and on Saturdays.
She would hold recital nights in her lounge room once a month, where her students could perform. Despite her difficulty with mobility, she would travel to eisteddfods to see her students perform and her children recall she would attend the hairdresser regularly.
Dorothy in her studio

“Dorothy was a courageous woman” her family assert. She is also fondly remembered by many students for her incredible width and breadth of literary knowledge, her tenacity of spirit, her generosity and her gift for helping them reach their potential.  “She was a brilliant light in Maryborough, who encouraged the arts in all who fell under her influence” a former student asserts. She is very deserving of a place in local history for allowing so many to have a voice.

Do you have a story about Dorothy?

Published with consent from Dorothy's family.

Tags #greenroomplayers #maryboroughplayers #theatre  #arts #gilbertandsullivan #choralsociety #eisteddfod

Wednesday, 22 March 2017


Mr and Mrs Tomson started Cotton Plantation Sundon Dundathu. 1863-64 

According to Wilson (1963) Dundathu is an Aboriginal word meaning place of timber. Originally it only applied to the sawmill on the left bank of the Mary River but the whole locality became known by this name.

The sawmill was established in 1863 by Mr Pettigrew and Mr William Sim and families. This information is found in the Maryborough Chronicle here .Mr William Sim and their two sons came from Scotland to Brisbane in 1854 and settled at Dundathu nine years later. Mr Pettigrew was a timber mill man from Brisbane. They established a direct timber trade between Sydney and North Queensland. Mr Sim supervised the building of the mill. However, he was crushed to death by a log ten years later. It appears that this was also the fate of others, a description of which is found here .

The Sim family remained living in the area and Mrs Sim died at the age of 95 in Brisbane. The Sim sons continued running the mill for twenty years before moving to Maryborough. The mill was one of the largest in Queensland. Timber from Fraser Island, Tin Can Bay and the Valleys of the Mary, Burrum and Isis Rivers were a source of hoop and kauri, with reports of some logs being two metres in width. Soft woods were grown by the mill. The Mary Ann was the first locomotive built by Walkers and hauled logs over 12 kilometres of tram line that weaved through the plantations.
Over thirty pine shingled buildings sprung up around the mill. There were batchelor quarters as advertised here .The Village School was on the hill. Mr Charles Johnson was the school teacher for many years. Mr Cooke was the last school master. The school also hosted Sunday School and Church Services. A butchers shop was owned by Mr W.H. White. 

Wilson states, (1963) there was a big Aboriginal Settlement in the area. Many members of this community were known to do odd jobs at the mill. 
A paddle-wheel steamer called Hercules towed rafts of logs from Tin Can Bay to Dundathu. It was also used to take mill families to picnics at White Cliffs.

People would row their boats to town to get food and other necessities from the shops. The Miller family delivered milk by rowing over from Walkers Point to make deliveries. 

Other industries such as the Cotton Plantation Sundon were established at the same time as the mill by Mrs and Mr Tomson mentioned in the Chronicle here . The reason cotton was grown in Dundathu can be found here .
A lovely description of Dundathu can be found here

Rowing was a popular sport on the Mary River at the time found here .Teams were entered in the four oared Champion of Queensland and included the Sim brothers.
In 1893 the mill was devastated by a flood and totally destroyed by a fire on Christmas Day of that year. The mill was not insured so was never rebuilt.

Wilson, A (1963) An address delivered by Miss Alice Wilson at the Basket Picnic at Dundathu on Sunday, 9th March, 1963.

Tags #Dundathu #timbermill #pettigrew #sim #Maryriver