Time travel through TI cemetery

To wander through the Thursday Island cemetery is to take a 135-year time travel journey through the complex and fascinating history of the region. With a population which from 1890 comprised Europeans, Chinese, Torres Strait Islanders and Aborigines, South Sea Islanders, Malays, Filipinos, Japanese, Singhalese, Indians and a few Thais, Arabs and Africans, visits toContinue reading “Time travel through TI cemetery”

Flu threat reappeared on TI

The 1919 Spanish flu epidemic which had hit Queensland hard was all but over, when an outbreak raced through the Thursday Island population early in 2020.   Although some Islanders had been vaccinated the previous year, the original inhabitants still bore the brunt of the disease. Despite this, death tolls announcements focused on the numberContinue reading “Flu threat reappeared on TI”

From piracy to professor

Archibald Watson’s life could have been so different. The eminent Professor of Anatomy is well known for his contribution to the development of anatomy and surgery in Australia. But the man described as an ‘’erratic, histrionic genius’’  was embroiled in controversy  early on in his adult life when he took a trip on a blackbirdingContinue reading “From piracy to professor”

Premier’s grave overlooks Queensland

The grave of the seventh premier of the state of Queensland lies at the highest aspect of the Thursday Island cemetery. It looks back across the waters to the rest of the state John Douglas oversaw from 1877-1879. Aged 76 when he died in 1904, the former statesman had been Government Resident and magistrate atContinue reading “Premier’s grave overlooks Queensland”

Mercy for murder on Mulgrave

1878 – James Price was reported as “barbarously murdered’’ by natives when he was killed by a group of  blackbirded pearl divers in the Torres Strait. Price, 37, along with  “two Malays and one Chinaman”, also crew of the  pearl-shelling boat Flying Scud,  lost their lives at Mulgrave Island, also known as Badu. The remainderContinue reading “Mercy for murder on Mulgrave”

Tetanus took young missionary

Teacher-missionary Mary Earl must have been a remarkable young woman. She spent three years, from 1924-1927, in the remote Mitchell River mission in the Cape York peninsula, days travel away from the comfort she had probably grown up with. She taught 70 children from various Aboriginal groups during her three years at the mission station,Continue reading “Tetanus took young missionary”

Pugilist dies after a fight

1880 – William Brown, a 29-year-old Englishman,  was a well-known pugilist around Charters Towers. In the days before the Marquess of Queensberry rules were enforced by the legalization of boxing in the various colonies,  watching and betting on illegal bare-knuckle fighting was a popular pastime. Brown and another fighter were arrested about four miles fromContinue reading “Pugilist dies after a fight”

Violin case causes death

Hughenden, 1926 – A newspaper carried this story about an innocent bike ride to school ending in tragedy. “Ida Harrison, aged 5½ years, only daughter of Mr and Mrs T. Harrison, of the Railway Department, met with a very sad accident on the 11th instant. “She was, with her brother, riding a bicycle to school when a violinContinue reading “Violin case causes death”

One turn of the windmill

Hughenden, 1928 – Fifty-year-old Charles John Burdekin Abbott had made sure the windmill was turned off before he climbed up to do some repairs. According to newspaper reports, he and a workboy were at his neighbour’s property Wyoming. His neighbour was in hospital, so he was doing him a favour.    But a gust of windContinue reading “One turn of the windmill”

Fence the dams, the town cried

Charters Towers, 1885 – The drowning death of Nell Richards led for calls for the town’s dams to be fenced before any more children were lost. Elizabeth Ellen, known as Nell, was watching her younger sister bathe with several other children at  Mr Mill’s dam at the top end of Mosman Street. Nell was onContinue reading “Fence the dams, the town cried”