Monday, 16 January 2017

Living off the land - Ewan Rockemer is a 5th generation cattle farmer

State Library of Queensland ran a series in 2016 called Queenslanders in conversation.  This series explored our state's cultural and religious diversity and the role it plays in our identity, sense of belonging, and ultimately in advancing social cohesion.  The August topic was living off the land and can be found here
Fraser Coast Local Ewan Rockemer was featured in this series. The series highlighted that Ewan has lived and breathed farming his whole life. “It is instilled in me, the dirt is not only ingrained in my hands but it runs in my blood. It’s not just a way of life; it’s my livelihood, it’s who I am”
State Library of Queensland discovered  Ewan is a 23 year old, 5th generation cattle farmer from Brooweena, South East Queensland who is passionate about the cattle he breeds and cares for and enjoys the challenge of constantly improving and innovating new farming practices to remain sustainable and viable for generations to come.
Cow Bails

These talks were live streamed. What is coming up in 2017 at the State Library can be found here 

Live stream videos can be found here  and webcasts can be found here

This year in 2017 our local history theme will be Having a voice.

 We would love to hear your stories.

What gives you a sense of belonging?

tags #Brooweena #Frasercoast #localhistory #cattle #farming #SLQ

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Donna Suter - Community Champion and self-supporting mother part of Maryborough’s History

Donna Suter has just been awarded the Community Champion Award by the Fraser Coast Regional Council.

Madonna  Elizabeth Suter was born on the 4th May 1931, the eldest child of Frederick Leo and Mavis Lillian Barbeler (nee Weinheimer).   Timothy, Veronica (deceased), Thomas (deceased) & Joseph made up this very close knit family.

“I was educated at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Maryborough and on leaving school, having obtained my Junior Certificate; I was employed in the Forestry Department until her marriage to Kenneth Suter on the 19th June 1954.  At that time the policy of the Queensland Public Service was that a woman could not remain in the Public Service after marriage.”explained Donna. “I then took up employment at the Maryborough Dairy Company until 1957.  Ken and I adopted two children, a son in 1957 and a daughter Jennifer in 1959.  Unfortunately Ken passed away on the 19th September 1961 from Leukaemia,” she reflects.

“In 1969 following pension eligibility changes I decided to seek full time employment.  A position came up at which I felt would be suitable in view of my previous work but on being asked her age and admitting to 38 the interviewing gent said “Oh, you are over the hill”.  Needless to say I gave up the idea of working for that company. At that time Gilbert Alison offered me employment in his accountancy firm where I stayed for the next 20 years, working in his accountancy practice and then I transferred to employment as his Parliamentary Secretary during his terms in State Parliament,” she clarifies.  Donna was the first official Electorate Secretary in the Maryborough State Electorate.  The Maryborough Electorate office was chosen as the Country office when the decision was made to trial computers in the State Members offices and this was a great IT learning experience.

In 1990 Donna accepted a position as Secretary of St. Mary’s Catholic Parish and was very active in her involvement in Parish activities. “I became very active in community affairs firstly as Treasurer of the Maryborough & District Committee on the Ageing Inc., a position I held for 44 years and then accepted nomination as Secretary of that organisation, a position I still hold.”

“I have received the 1992 Australia Day Citizen Award from the Maryborough City Council” she claims.

Other community activities included;

  • Treasurer of Granville Hockey Club –  Awarded Life Membership in 1984
  • Organised the St. Mary’s Catholic Debutante Ball for approx 15 years
  • Secretary of the Bicentennial Committee in 1988
  • Secretary of the Queensland Eisteddfod in 1992
  • Assists annually at the local Maryborough Eisteddfod
  • Member of the Maryborough Senior Citizens Club

She was instrumental in U3A Maryborough Inc. being auspiced by the Maryborough & District Committee on the Ageing in the mid 1980’s and she is very proud of the success of this organisation.

“I enjoy my involvement in the community and intend to keep this up as long as possible as I consider it is the only way to keep the grey matter working.”

We are very grateful for her work in our community.

Tags #madcota #Frasercoastlibraries #localhistory #volunteer

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Cane’s labour of love for family history.

Robert and Denise Cane at the Hervey Bay Library
Denise and Robert Cane have produced a fascinating history of Robert’s family.
Denise Cane has spent many years discovering the story of her husband's relative Alf Cane. This arduous and detailed study culminated in the publication of a book called the Alf Cane story.
The Alf Cane Story 
This book traces the history of the Cane family, who were significantly involved in the early days of Biggenden.  Denise’s detective work about her husband Robert’s family has produced a fascinating story about pioneers of the local area.
Cane & Son Saddlers, Biggenden
Biggenden Butter Factory Opening

Biggenden State School Committee
Biggenden Methodist Church
Biggenden Hospital
If you are keen to find out about your family history, many volunteers on the Fraser Coast can help.

The Hervey Bay Family History Association Inc. is found in the Hervey Bay Library (07) 41974220.

The Maryborough Family Heritage Institute Inc, Maryborough  (07) 41231620 and the Maryborough District Family History Society (07) 231842 are on the corner of Wharf and Richmond Street, Maryborough.

Published with consent of Robert and Denise Cane.

Tags #familyhistory #Biggenden #Herveybay #Maryborough #frasercoastlibraries #cane

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Madame Mallalieu - a self supporting mother, virtuoso pianist and advocate

Madame Mallalieu
        at the console of the Exhibition organ (probably c.1892-95) from
Madame Mallalieu or Henrietta Percival was born in England in 1842. She migrated to Queensland in 1860s arriving in Maryborough on the ship called the “Prince Consort “ (Roennfeldt, 2015 p. 24).

She became a virtuoso pianist and established herself in Brisbane. She played often with the Jefferies Quartet and “teamed up again with the Jefferies String Quartet for a short but ‘highly successful’ concert tour to Bundaberg and Maryborough” (Roennfeldt, 2015 p. 51).

She returned to Maryborough and her Weber piano solo Polacco was very popular (Roennfeldt, 2015 p. 24). Roennfeldt (2015, pp. 139-140) claims that she visited Maryborough in December 1891 and presented two performances at the St Paul’s Anglican Church. She also played on a Manchester organ at St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church.

Some articles about her playing can be found here and here

She experienced many tragedies in her 96 years including the death of a child in terrible circumstances found here

She was a self-supporting mother for many years after her first marriage was not all it seemed. She was also an advocate for many charitable causes. The family’s Toowong home was bequested as a female music hostel.

She died on the 22nd August, 1938. Peter Roennfeldt’s book about her family, career, home and legacy can be viewed in the Local History Collection at Maryborough Library.
Newspapers Home - Trove. (2016). Trove. Retrieved 14 November 2016, from

Roennfeldt, Peter John (2015). Madame Mallalieu : an inspiring musician and her legacy for Queensland. Brisbane Q CopyRight Publishing Company Pty Ltd

Tags #music #maryborough #stpauls #maryboroughlibrary

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Joan McFie - a personal history of the bay

Joan standing on the deck of her house. Below is a picture of the same house in 1910

Joan McFie was born in December, 1928, in a house which is still at the junction of Lower Mountain Road and Scrub Hill Road, Dundowran. “Mum’s sister, Minnie Kinbacher, was the midwife” explains Joan.
Joan has shared her early life living in Hervey Bay. She begins “Dad was the teacher at the Dundowran School, which is now at the Hervey Bay Village Museum.”

Circa 1915 The Dundowran Provisional School opened in 1891, on the sloping road from the Dundowran Hall to Nikenbah, a track locally known as the 'Red Road'. The school was later shifted to about a mile from the Hall in the other direction, near the entrance to the quarry. (Information taken from: Joan Christiansen, They came and stayed, 1991). Hervey Bay Historical Village & Museum  This image is free of copyright restrictions. This image is provided for research purposes only and must not be reproduced without prior permission. Please contact Fraser Coast Regional Libraries or visit for more information.

In 1890, the parents of the small farming community at Dundowran decided they needed their own school. On May 10th 1891, the first committee was elected for the establishment of a school. On August 15th, 1891 the school was completed on five acres of land on Red Road.Water supply was a rain water tank. In August 2004 the school was donated to the Museum and re-erected on stumps near the Goodwood Railway Station. 
Hervey Bay Historical Village & Museum This image is free of copyright restrictions. This image is provided for research purposes only and must not be reproduced without prior permission. Please contact Fraser Coast Regional Libraries or visit for more information. 
Dundowran State School 1935   
“The highest daily attendance recorded at that small one-teacher was 51 in classes from grade one to eight. It was approximately three miles from where we lived and Dad rode his bike or horse or on Thursdays when Mum went to the school to teach girls knitting and fancy work, the family went by buggy.” continued Joan.
“Everybody walked to school, mostly bare foot and some lived at four mile at Craignish, on farms opposite and beyond the Country Club Golf Course which was then Campbell’s farm.”
 Joan explains “Drinking lots of water was not a big deal like it is today. Plastic wasn’t heard of, so glass jars would have been a nuisance. Teachers were required to sweep their school out each afternoon and scrub the floors every weekend. When Mum went to help with that, it was an outing for us kids, to go in the buggy and then play at the school. Teachers had to keep the school paddock clean, so on sewing days when Mum took sewing and knitting, Dad and the older students went out and grubbed suckers – about a five acre area. Dad prepared lessons for the eight classes after tea, by lamplight – no electricity. The last day of the school year, all the desks and seats were carried downstairs and all the kids had a great day, scrubbing them with Lysol and water. How deadly these days, that would be".
She reflects on how safe she felt life was then “It was always safe to ride our bikes, day or night and prop them on the kerb or against the walls of buildings and go to the pictures or a dance and the bikes would be still there untouched when it was time to go home.”
Joan reflects about her life after school. “When I passed scholarship in 1941, there weren’t any high schools in Hervey Bay, so we had to travel to Maryborough. That meant catching the Urangan to Maryborough train or rail motor at Walligan at 7am. I would ride my bike four miles from Dundowran, then leaving Maryborough at 5.30, to Walligan at 6.30, then the four mile ride home.” “We had to stay at school to do our homework until five unless we had a note from our parents to get something from the shops. Trains and railmotors came to Maryborough from all directions of the Wide Bay area, full of high school students, workers and service men and women and day trippers.”
This photograph shows Adelaide Street, Maryborough in the early 1930s. The building in the right foreground is the Commonwealth Bank. This stands on the site of the original fire station tower. This photograph was copied for the Maryborough Wide Bay & Burnett Historical Society by John Hall. 
Original photograph Maryborough Wide Bay & Burnett Historical Society 
This image is provided for research purposes only and must not be reproduced for other purposes without the prior permission of the Maryborough Wide Bay & Burnett Historical Society. Maryborough Wide Bay & Burnett Historical Society 

Joan paints a picture of Maryborough of yesteryear “Most students left school after Junior (grade 10) and started work. There were plenty of apprenticeships available and I got a job at Alston’s printers, eight  to five, Monday to Friday, 17 shillings 6 pence ($1.75 cents) a week, but I enjoyed it. Mr Sid Alston employed eight men and three women and was renowned for the excellent stationary he delivered far and wide. During the years between the mid 1940’s to the mid-fifties – the years I worked and lived in Maryborough, it had everything and very little unemployment or crime.
This photograph was donated to the Maryborough Wide Bay & Burnett Historical Society by S. Hingst.
Original photograph Maryborough Wide Bay & Burnett Historical Society
This image is provided for research purposes only and must not be reproduced for other purposes without the prior permission of the Maryborough Wide Bay & Burnett Historical Society. Maryborough Wide Bay & Burnett Historical Society
There were three picture theatres. The  Wintergarden and Bungalow opened every night and a few matinees except Sunday and the Embassy the same except the City Band ran a movie night on Sunday after Church. Then there were three sawmills, stove foundries, soft drink manufacturers, Walkers Ltd with the top shop and ship builders yard, the General Hospital with its own; kitchen, laundry, sewing room, nurses quarters, cleaners etc; employing hundreds, swift abattoirs, Reids Bacon factory, numerous hotels and smaller businesses. There were hockey fields at Doon Villa, vigoro at Kangaroo Oval where there was a cricket pitch and tin shed, rugby league, tennis and bowls, a skating rink and several dancing venues, open every night and well supported. A popular Saturday night outing was window shopping, when all the shops left their lights on until nine when a man (I think Ernie Twigg) went around with a long stick and turned switches off. The Salvation Army played outside the Town Hall Green on a Sunday night, in the middle of where Kent and Adelaide streets cross was a small mound.” 
Joan has worked as a volunteer at the Hervey Bay Historical Village and Museum and still lives in the same house that she and her husband bought in 1968. More of her reflections can be found in the Fraser Coast Libraries Vertical files.

Tags #Dundowran #HerveyBay #Maryborough #FrasercoastLibraries 

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Maryborough hosts the 2016 Small Museums Conference

The 2016 SEQ Small Museums Conference Storytelling - Reinterpreting the Museum Experience was held in Maryborough from Friday 7 to Sunday 9 October 2016.  The Community and Culture Section of Fraser Coast Council organised the event which was held at the Brolga Theatre, Maryborough, Queensland. The theme of the Conference this year was storytelling and how museums can create an experience that engages visitors, empowers discovery and ignites debate, sparking the imagination in a unique way.

Fraser Coast Council showcased the Story Trail Project.
Part of the Story Trail project which weaves through Maryborough CBD

Fraser Coast Libraries and Maryborough, Wide Bay and Burnett Historical Society Inc were invited to  present the results of their Local History, Local Music project found here 

Ken Brooks President Maryborough Wide Bay and Burnett Historical Inc in Partnership with Kathy Shilvock from Fraser Coast Libraries present Local History Local Music Historypin project.
The variety of speakers powerpoints are available here:
Tags #maryborough #storytrail #localhistorylocalmusic #historypin #smallmuseums #museums

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Johnny Anderson and the Newtown Rodeos

John (Johnny) Lee Anderson as a young man
Today is the anniversary of the passing of John Lee Anderson who is fondly remembered as a rough rider for the Newtown Rodeo and a trick horse rider. 

Newtown Rodeo Team 
Robert (Robbie) Walker
His nephew Robert Walker (Robbie) recalls helping Johnny between 1959 and 1962. “Although I was quite a bit younger, I helped Johnny with the trick roping” recalls Robbie. “We also bought 27 buck jumpers and had them in the 1100 acres which was known then as Jocumsen Paddock – it is now called Oakhurst Gardens”. Valmai Christopher; Robbie’s sister and Johnny’s niece, kept a photo album and a history of Johnny. From this we found out Johnny was born on the 24th of November, 1927, in Maryborough Queensland.  He went to Sunbury School as a child and then to the boys intermediate after which he worked for six years at Wilson Hart Sawmill. Johnny decided to buy himself a cattle truck and worked at carting livestock using an Austin at first and then a Bedford. He lived on his father’s property at Copehagen Bend called the Bar-Line until his death on November the 9th, 1997. He owned another property at Island Plantation. He worked in the collieries, did seasonal work at the Sugar Mill, worked for Matheson and Kindt on a survey team for around nine years and worked for a meat works. 
Johnny getting an award wearing the Newtown Rodeo uniform; Pioch's Paddoch, 1940s.
“Johnny won his first open bullock ride at the age of 12 years and did buck jumping” recollects Robbie. “He was a rough rider in the Newtown Rodeo, winning many ribbons and cups during the mid 1940’s and mid 1950’s” Robbie continued.
Johnny rope spinning on Trigger
“Johnny did rope spinning, whip cracking and entered a number of rides such as Bare Back Riding, Saddle Bronc Riding, Bull Riding , Steer Riding and Bull Dodging.
Johnny and Trigger with lots of happy children at the Pioch's Paddock rodeo.
He lived for his horses and loved children, putting on ventriloquist and magic trick shows,” Robbie reflects.
Although Johnny had enormous amounts of charisma he never married. He was engaged twice but both were broken off.

Johnny and Trigger
Johnny owned and trained several trick horses. His first horse was Trigger.
Johnny and Trigger
He then trained a grey called Silver.
Johnny and Silver number one.
His most famous horse was also called Silver but was a Palomino who lived until he was 27 years old.
Johnny on his second horse called Silver.
Rex was a red and white Skewbald who lived for sixteen years . He trained a Clydesdale horse call Prince for processions. As a final tribute Prince brought his casket to his gravesite for his funeral.

Do you have any memories of the Newtown rodeos?

This has been published with consent from Robert Walker.

Tags: #NewtownRodeo  #PiochsPaddock #Maryborough #Newtown #horses