29 June 2018

Did Johnny Cash Play a Concert at Boggo Road?

Did the great Johnny Cash ever play a concert at Boggo Road? It's a reasonable question to raise, as I have been contacted twice during recent months by media/marketing types wanting a chat about 'that time Johnny Cash played at Boggo Road'. He had of course famously played at Folsom and San Quentin prisons in the United States, so it seemed believable that he might have done something similar here in Brisbane.

Johnny Cash performs for prisoners at the Folsom Prison, 13 January 1968. (Dan Poush/AP) 

I was well acquainted with the 'Cash at Boggo' story, having heard it from two men who had worked at the prison and went on to help manage the museum there in the late 1990s. These were my fellow Lancastrians Donny Walters and Bill Eddowes. They recounted Cash playing there in the early 1970s and practically sparking a riot, which resulted in Donny having to unceremoniously escort Mr Cash out of the building.

I was hugely impressed with this very blokey story, but it wasn't until a few months later that I started looking for more information on it. Surely there would be some mention of it in online Johnny Cash pages, or newspapers of the time, or prisoner or staff memoirs? I dug around but found nothing. I asked Donny and Bill again but they seemed a bit evasive about providing further info, so I turned to their good friend and colleague John Banks, the museum manager.

'Hey John, do you remember when Johnny Cash played that concert here?' 'What?' I explained what the other two had told me and a bit of a smile flashed across John's face. 'Is that what they told you?' 'Yeah'. John did a little 'humph' laugh. 'I think they might've been having a pull of your leg', he said.

I phoned a couple of other former officers, but neither of them had heard anything about any concert. When I mentioned this to Donny he half-heartedly persisted with the story for a few minutes before realising the gig was up, and he laughed a bit and said 'did I tell you about that time that Frank Sinatra played at Bogga Road?' I took that as a confession. His idea of humour included making up absurd little stories about prison life to trick gullible 'outsiders' like me. He had told me another one about a secret underground office in the prison, since used as a secret-document dump and then filled over with soil and rubble. That was another story that didn't hold up to inspection. Once you got to know Donny and Bill a bit better, it was easier to pick up on their tongue-in-cheek tall tales.

Donny and Bill retired soon afterwards, and sadly have since passed away. I never got to raise the subject with them again, and generally forgot about it. That is, until this year, when I got those phone calls. The men I spoke to seemed convinced the Cash concert had happened, but didn't let on who told them about it. I said I was pretty sure it did not happen, but then did some basic research and asked around anyway. I sent an email out to a couple of hundred former staff and inmates from Boggo Road, asking if anyone knew anything about this alleged concert. Over the next week I received 26 replies from men who had been there during the 1960s and/or 1970s. Every single one of them said it never happened. If it had, they would have known about it. These are people who remember just about everything about the place. If the Salvation Army band had played there in 1973, they'd remember it.

So there is nothing in the records about a concert, and people at the prison at the time denied it happened. In the absence of hard evidence - beyond a single story told by known pranksters - it is safe to say that Johnny Cash did not play at Boggo Road. It doesn't take much historical research to reach that simple conclusion.

Since starting this article, I have since seen the recent online source of the concert story, a marketing piece in which it is acknowledged there is no evidence outside what was said by Bill Eddowes (the same story told to me by Donny and Bill and then shown to be a 'joke'):
"The details are scant and hard to verify, as many prison records - such as correspondence from that era - were destroyed long ago... At this time a strict no photography rule applied inside all Queensland prisons; no known pictures exist."
How convenient. Unfortunately it looks like another case of cherry-picking unverifiable sources and ignoring better and contradictory evidence. In other words, don't let facts get in the way of a bit of marketingAny decent researcher with contacts in the field would have worked out that it wasn't a true story, and anyone who values credibility would not have shared it. And yet here we are with another bloody Boggo Road myth.

For the record, Cash played in Brisbane seven times, including during 1971 and 1973. Venues included: Festival Hall, Milton Tennis Courts, and the Entertainment Centre. Venues not included: Boggo Road prison.

13 June 2018

A History of Queensland Bunyips (Part Two): The 20th Century

By the end of the 19th century, the possibility that the mysterious 'bunyip' could be a real zoological entity had been generally dismissed, and it had taken its place firmly in the realms of Australian folklore as a mythical beast. Although there had been numerous recorded sightings of strange unidentified creatures in the waterways of Queensland since the arrival of Europeans, the descriptions varied widely and the reports were unverified (see my article on Bunyip sightings in 19th-century Queensland). There was also no biological evidence, such as skeletal remains, scat or fur, to support claims that the bunyip was a real animal. Despite this, the concept of the bunyip was established in popular culture and reports of new sightings lingered well into the 20th century.

There were also ongoing attempts to provide rational scientific explanations for past encounters. This was evident when the noted ichthyologist J. Douglas Ogilby addressed a meeting of the Royal Society of Queensland in 1904, on the subject of ‘A Chelydroid Tortoise Identified with the Bunyip’. He argued against identifying ‘bunyips’ as seals, carpet snakes or musk ducks, and claimed that the Chelodina longicollis (Snake-necked Turtle) could be involved in some alleged bunyip sightings:
‘…acknowledged retiring disposition of these tortoises and their selection as a 'dwelling-place of the loneliest and most desolate swamps - and waterholes,' from which they seldom emerge, fully accounted for the rarity of its appearance, and, coupled with superstitious fear, for the ignorance of its habits among the aborigines; while their ferocity, when cornered, which perhaps in bygone times caused the death of a chief, would account for the universal terror in which this animal was held, vivified and heightened by the glamour of centuries. Mr. Ogilby also drew attention to the curious but undeniable fact that there were many waterholes, to all human appearance similar to others in the neighbourhood, on which wild fowl refused to alight, and he deduced from this that these holes were inhabited by chelydrids, and experience had taught the birds the danger of settling thereon. Mr. Ogilby concluded with some recent stories of the appearance of the bunyip, tending to show that it is in reality a gigantic freshwater tortoise.’ (The Week, 29 April 1904)
The former politician and journalist Archibald Meston was present at this talk and congratulated Ogilby on his 'ingenious' argument, but maintained that the bunyip was no more than 'a good deal of imagination connected with the supposed presence in deep dark pools of a dangerous wild beast'. Meston had been on an expedition to the Bellenden Ker ranges, south of Cairns, in 1899 and heard Aboriginal people talk about a deep pool where a 'long-necked monster who used to swish about in the water, especially at night time'. He suggested that such a disturbance could have merely been a large fish eating a water bird.

The Bellenden Ker ranges.

So academic discussion of the bunyip around this time seemed to be concerned with finding rational explanations behind the folklore or - as such stories were called in the Brisbane Courier in 1908 - 'the equivalent of the mumbo-jumbo of Central African tribes'. Nevertheless, occasional reports of sightings continued to appear in the news, such as one near Gayndah in 1909, in which three young girls out looking for calves saw a creature 'trot or flounder along, until it took its refuge in the Baronne waterhole'. One of the children reportedly 'resorted to that feminine defence in crisis - hysterits'. The girls' parents and other adults subsequently searched for the animal and found nothing but tracks. This was enough to impress one man who maintained a nightly search for the creature. A local fisherman also claimed to have seen the bunyip, which he refused to fire at at since 'he reckons it is a spirit'. The animal was described as being 'the size of a calf with a ewe neck, and short reddish hair, resembling that of a retriever'.

This report prompted Mr F. Williams, a resident of nearby Torbanlea, to publicly recount an incident from a few years earlier. His station was home to a number of lagoons, some about 20 metres deep, and he claimed that one day his wife and 18-year-old daughter saw two creatures that looked like 'little men with longish black hair', the larger one being just over a metre tall, come out of a waterhole, run towards them for a 100 metres, then turn around and head back to the water. His three teenage sons reported seeing a very similar creature on the waterbank during the following year, and during a drought there were similar sightings at the Brushwood lagoon a few kilometres away.

Another alleged sighting occurred in 1910 at Coalstoun Lakes, near Biggenden, in the North Burnett. An amateur photographer took some shots of the lake, and when developing the film he noticed some kind of animal, which was subsequently described in one newspaper:
'Its appearance vaguely suggests a shovel-nosed shark taking - which a shark has never been known to do - a hop, step, and a jump over the surface of the water. It has a dorsal fin, a large terrifying eye, and a mottled skin. Indeed, it might be compared to a dugong, or sea cow, flying through space.' (Brisbane Courier, 19 January 1910)
'Shovel-nose shark' is an early term for 'bull shark', which are known to jump on occasion, although it would be near-impossible for such an animal to find its way to the Coalstoun Lakes from a river system.

Coalstoun Lakes National Park Queensland.

There was another sighting in 1910 when Reg Randall claims to have seen a bunyip while pig shooting on Moreton Island. No description was given, although Reg and his brother were said to have been organising a follow-up search party.

Things were quiet on the bunyip-spotting scene for some years afterwards, but talk of crocodiles in Gold Coast waterways during the late 1920s stirred up interest again. Reports soon began to emerge of strange sights and sounds in the swamps and lagoons near Merrimac. There had been stories about bunyips in this area for decades, including one from a local resident who had been shooting ducks there in 1886 and claimed to see have seen 'a monster with a very big rough mane coat and an enormous big rough long bushy tail' that dived among the water weeds near the bank. A local squatter offered £1,000 to anyone who could get the bunyip dead or alive, prompting some serious search parties. The eventual conclusion was that the creature was probably a crocodile.

The alleged Merrimac bunyip. (Brisbane Courier, 29 March 1929)

Public curiosity about the local bunyip grew during the the development of a housing estate in North Burleigh area in the 1920s. There were reports of a loud 'boom - boom - boom' noise coming from the swamp each night following the construction of the Miami Hotel (1925) and a sanitary depot in the swamp area (1930), although these sounds were sometimes not heard for 12 months before starting up again. According to one local resident, reminiscing in 1938, 'local aborigines would pull up camp when the booming noises came from the swamp, referring to the 'Debil Debil'.' This large Yugambeh camp was on the 'old Racecourse flat midway between Burleigh and West Burleigh'. 

These events prompted Fred Garland to recall mysterious happenings at Yalebone Creek, between Roma and Surat, about 60 years earlier:
'At that time the creek had an unfathomable water hole, which both blacks and whites were afraid to approach. Every night a tremendous splash, like the fall of a mountain of rock into the water, was heard, and, although venturesome persons had endeavoured to ascertain the cause of the splash, the mystery was never solved. Mr. Garland also states that the late Mr. A. Meston spent some time at Coombabah, between Brisbane and Southport, endeavouring without success to shoot a monster that was supposed to inhabit a creek there.' (Brisbane Courier, 24 June 1932)
The 290 residents of the small country town of Thargomindah (1,100 km west of Brisbane) were alarmed by reports of a strange creature lurking in nearby Lake Dynevor in the winter of 1941. News spread far and wide and for a few months newspapers around the country followed the story of this new and mysterious ‘bunyip’. A shire clerk claimed that about 20 people had glimpsed it, including a local postal inspector and station manager, who had both had chased it by boat one morning before it disappeared into some rushes. They saw the creature from about 90 metres away in weak dawn light and described it like this:
‘It was nothing like anything I’ve seen… The head was black and at least a foot long, and the animal was grunting and splashing a lot. From the size of the head I would say it was about 6 feet long. I was told that many years ago a seal was seen in the Dynevor chain of lakes.' (The Mail [Adelaide], 2 August 1941)

Lake Bindegolly National Park, near Thargominda.

Hunters and photographers searched for the 'bunyip', and travellers took time out to stop by hope for a sighting:  
‘Last week two of the animals showed themselves at the same time to a party of sightseers. ‘They were as alike as two peas, and we weren’t seeing double,’ said one of the party. ‘They were black, about 2ft. 6in. long, with heads like dogs, and very prominent ears. They swirled away as soon as they spotted us. Probably one was male and one female, but we couldn’t tell from where we were, about 50 yards away. They looked just the same.’ (Sunday Mail, 17 August 1941)
Carnavon’s Northern Times then reported another interesting description of the creature.
‘Mr. R. R. Smith, of Thyangra, who claims to have seen the ‘bunyip,’ said it was about three feet long, two feet six inches around the body, representing a football in shape, but tapering to the head and tail… The head was like that of a pug dog, but more pointed, and appeared to have strings or fibres hanging down from the upper lip. Its colour was mousy brown, with a definite polish, and it seemed to be rather inquisitive.’Sightings seem to have stopped around September 1941 and interest in the saga of the Thargomindah Bunyip soon waned. It was never seen again, and the search parties gave up their pursuit of it.
Reports of sightings died off in September 1941 and the bunyip was soon forgotten. In retrospect it is likely that what was seen there was either dingoes or foxes out to raid the nests of water birds, or other species of birds attracted by the expanded post-rain lakes. The musk duck was mentioned at the time as a likely candidate. 

Around this time, two boys saw a carcass floating floating upstream with the tide in the Mary River, Maryborough. They described it as being:
‘about 10 feet long, with a long snout, almost like a bill, about two feet long, and fitted with teeth an inch long... It was neither alligator nor dugong, although the body was similar to a dugong with large flippers. An outstanding feature was the creature's huge eyes. It appeared to have a tough hide, with barnacles clinging to it. In colour the body was greenish brown above and yellow underneath. The creature had been dead for some time.' (Maryborough Chronicle, 25 August 1941) 
This appears to have been no more than a badly-decomposed marine creature, although the 'bunyip fever' of the day prompted speculation about cryptids. The bunyip story associated with a waterhole at Mulgidie, near the tiny town of Monto (Upper North Burnett) was mentioned in newspapers a few years later, after subterranean rumblings caused nearby cattle to flee. The waterhole is just over a kilometre long and 20 metres wide, and on occasion is known to bubble and gurgle. There are stories of 'disappearing cattle and eerie sensations throughout the generations'. Some Aboriginal elders believe the hole is connected to a network of underground waterways. There seems to be little evidence of sightings, but local tradition has spawned an annual 'bunyip festival' in what seems to be an attempt to attract visitors to the area.

Bunyip figure at Mulgildie (Mulgildie Bunyip Festival)

One of the last reported 'bunyip sightings' in Queensland occurred at 18 Mile Swamp on Stradbroke Island in 1950, when four workmen heard a loud splash and saw 'something big' dive into the water. They described it as having 'a pointed snout and long floppy ears… it seemed to be four or five feet long with a thick body. It has black and had a long neck and long ears like a spaniel.' It left a large wake before emerging in some rushes and then disappearing into the waters again.

The second half of the century saw a dearth of Queensland bunyip sightings. Zoologically, the creature had its day - in mainstream science anyway - and it even lost status as a feasible cryptid as creatures such as the 'yowie' took hold of the imagination of the researchers of mythical beasts. The numerous sightings of yesteryear came to nought under the crushing weight of a lack of hard evidence. People catching glimpses of wild animals they couldn't identify are no longer prone to throwing the word 'bunyip' around, and newspapers generally lost interest in the tired cultural trope a long time ago. The bunyip did remain a character in children's media, most famously in Jenny Wagner's 1973 book 'The Bunyip of Berkeley's Creek'.

If the animal has survived as a going concern anywhere, it is in the Indigenous Australian stories that have circulated from as far back as anyone can remember. Aboriginal people around Beaudesert, south of Brisbane, continue to share their knowledge of local bunyip places with the public, giving the lagoons there an aura of mystery that would have been more common around other Queensland waterholes a century ago.

For most of the State, the mystery of the bunyip faded away a long time ago.
06 June 2018

Diary of the German Mission at Moreton Bay, 1841 (Part One)

There was a convict settlement at Moreton Bay during 1825-42, centred in what is now the centre of Brisbane, but the first permanent European settlement in the area was established at Nundah in 1838. This was a Moravian mission run by German missionaries with the aim of converting local Aboriginal people to Lutheran Christianity, and was supervised by Reverend Carl Wilhelm Schmidt and later Reverend Christoph Eipper. The mission was named Zion Hill's and in later years the local area became known as German Station.

The settlement had limited success, probably because it was too close to Brisbane to engage with surrounding Aboriginal groups, and it was closed in 1846 and four years later the area was surveyed for land sales. Several of the missionaries and their families were laid to rest in the heritage-listed Nundah cemetery.

Occasional updates on the progress of the mission appeared in the pages of colonial newspapers back in Sydney, including the following extract written in 1841. These pieces give a good idea of everyday life at Zion's Hill.

Extract from Carl F. Gerler's sketch of the German Mission Station at Zion's
Hill, 1846. (John Oxley Library)

Colonial Observer (Sydney), 11 November 1841


Extracts from the Diary of the German Mission at Moreton Bay, from the end of July to the 17th of September, 1841.

July 30 Through the kindness of Mr. Wagner, we have had the loan of a team of bullocks, and of a bullock driver, through that of Mr. Kent, since Friday last, to plough the swamp; which work will soon be completed, when the man will return to the settlement, but the bullocks are at our service 'for an unlimited period.' Mr. Tillmann and some of the brethren were engaged in making a long chain, and a harrow; they also set up the dray which had been taken to pieces, when shipped in Sydney. On the piece of ground on the opposite side of the swamp, appropriated for the use of the natives, where many trees are already cleared; away, the ground is broken up, and three huts have been completed, and will be ready to be inhabited as soon as the plastering will have dried. They belong to Parry., Biralli, and Wogan. This .place will henceforth, for brevity's sake, be called by a native term, "Girkum."

Since Friday last, there were occupied in building, clearing ground, and working it with the hoe - on Friday 6, Saturday 3, Monday 5, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 2, Thursday 3. and to-day 4 ; altogether 26 natives, who were daily fed with rice, and paid at the close of each day with potatoes. Besides these, other 26 were engaged during this week in shearing our swamp from grass and cornstalks, previous to its being ploughed, who were fed and paid in a similar way; and if to these are added 15, who were employed in jobs about the dwellings of the several members of the Mission, it will appear that 67 natives were occupied and fed in the course of this week. As there were only two or three infants present no school was kept. 

Monday, August 2. - Mr. E.* left the station with Mr. Wagner, in order to visit the Aborigines at Umpie Boonga Ninge Ninge, they were accompanied by three natives, Wunkermany, Boringayo, and Wogan. During their absence, working continued by the rest of the brethren with the natives, partly for their grounds, partly for the use of the mission. Thus; on Saturday 31st of July, four natives were engaged at Girkum, and nine for the mission generally. On Sabbath, the natives, who had been working during the week, received some food for dinner. On Monday, August 2, nine natives were employed for the mission, and Mr. Rode kept school with ten native children. 

Tuesday 3. - Twelve natives were employed for the mission, and eleven children at school. Altogether there were employed during this week 51 natives for the mission, and four ditto at Girkum, and 37 children at school.

Week from.the 7th to the 14th. - Children in attendance 95 - 48 natives employed at Girkum and 6 for the mission. Remarks. - Monday 9. - Two natives and two of the brethren were working at Girkum, to prepare the ground for potatoes; and as necessity shall require, the brethren will continue to do so, although there be no natives at work with them. The oxen had been lost since Tuesday last, and much time has been spent in seeking for them; the ploughing was consequently stopped; this evening the stockman from Eagle farm brought them back; but as the bullock driver has returned to the settlement, our brethren have now to drive them themselves. 

Week from the 14th to the 20th or August. - Children at school, 59; 49 natives were employed for the mission. Remarks. - Messrs. Eipper and Wagner returned this evening from their tour; Four tomahawks were made for the natives who had conducted them back. 

Monday 16. Logs and trees were drawn in for a new bridge, the old one having been almost washed away by the floods. Yesterday the native children were taught to repeat the Lord's Prayer, and the ten commandments, and to sing psalms. The natives could not be induced to work to-day because one of them (Pretty boy) died this morning, on account of which they made their usual howl, and cut their heads in a dreadful manner with tomahawks or sharp stones. Soon afterwards they buried him near the river. Another man, from Family Island, has also died; but we could not learn how their death was occasioned, the natives say that the Noppes, a tribe to the south, near the Logan River, had bewitched them, and so caused their death. 

Tuesday 17. - Mr. Tillman went with a native to Brisbane Town for meat.. On the road he met the widow of Presytry, who had cut her thigh dreadfully, so that even with the help of a stick she could scarcely walk; and her voice had become so hoarse with crying that she could only whisper. The brethren planted corn in the swamp. 

Thursday, 19. - Another native, Gawanbill, has left this world; he had been suffering from a consumption for a considerable time back, but latterly he appeared to be stronger again. The natives had left their camp at Girkum from fear of the devil; and he had been left behind alone, having no relations, and thus died without any one bewailing him. Messrs. Nigue and Harteristein left with Wunkermany, Jemmy Millboong, and other natives, for the Ninge Ninge. They sent word to-day (Thursday) that they had spent two nights and one day at the Pine river; and desire to have an alphabet sent for keeping school with the native children. 

Week from the 21st to the 27th August. Children at school 2; 15 natives at work for the mission. The bullocks were lost again on the 20th; Mr. Rode went in search of them on the 23rd and the 26th, but without success. The natives have left us entirely; they have partly gone to the Ninge Ninge's; but it is the fear of the devil chiefly that has induced them to change their place of abode for a season. Mr. Zillmann was lately present when a boy asserted at Girkum that the devil was in one of the newly erected huts, upon which two or three old men were immediately horror struck, none of whom could be induced to approach the hut, which Mr. Z. wished to examine, that they might point out where the devil was; but they said that the white man could not see him. On Saturday last, on his return from Brisbane Town, Mr. Z. observed an old man and some women attentively listening and looking stealthily around as they were pursuing their path; now and then they stood still, and the old man climbed upon some tree or stump and looked about in the same manner. At first they would not return any answer to his questions; but when he persisted, they said they had perceived the devil in the neighbourhood. He then wished to see him; but they told him that he would not stand his sight, but flee from him. Mr. Rode also related that his brother, Dabianioonie, had promised to stay one day with him to finish some work, but that the next morning he came in a great hurry to say that he must immediately set out for his place, for he had seen the devil's track in the sand, which was a sure sign that his wife had died. They are thus kept in terrible bondage and fear of death by this prince of darkness, who doubtless has a strong sway in a place where his dominion has not been disputed. (To he concluded in our next.)

Diary of the German Mission at Moreton Bay, 1841 (Part Two)

There was a convict settlement at Moreton Bay during 1825-42, centred in what is now the centre of Brisbane, but the first permanent European settlement in the area was established at Nundah in 1838. This was a Moravian mission run by German missionaries with the aim of converting local Aboriginal people to Lutheran Christianity, and was supervised by Reverend Carl Wilhelm Schmidt and later Reverend Christoph Eipper. The mission was named Zion Hill's and in later years the local area became known as German Station.

The settlement had limited success, probably because it was too close to Brisbane to engage with surrounding Aboriginal groups, and it was closed in 1846 and four years later the area was surveyed for land sales. Several of the missionaries and their families were laid to rest in the heritage-listed Nundah cemetery.

Occasional updates on the progress of the mission appeared in the pages of colonial newspapers back in Sydney, including the following extract written in 1841. These pieces give a good idea of everyday life at Zion's Hill.

Extract from Carl F. Gerler's sketch of the German Mission Station at Zion's Hill, 1846.
(John Oxley Library)

Colonial Observer (Sydney), Thursday 18 November 1841.

Extract from the Diary of the German Mission at Moreton Bay from the end of July to the l7th of September. 1841. (Concluded from our last.)

Week From the 28th of August to the 3rd of September. - Thirty-two children at school; twenty-three natives employed for the mission; On Saturday Mr.. E. went to the Commandant at Brisbane Town, to represent to him that we had but a small quantity of potatoes to pay the natives for the work they do at Girkun, for their own benefit, and that as it would be desirable to continue this plan; he would be pleased to furnish us with some corn-meal for the purpose of paying them for their work. In answer to this request the Commandant. immediately ordered twenty bushels of maize to be issued from the stores for this purpose.

Monday 30. The brethren Wigne and Hartenstein returned to-day rather unexpectedly from the Ninge Ninge where they had intended to stay for a month or two. The tribes had so much quarrelling with one another, and shed so much blood, that they thought it no longer advisable to stay amongst them. The hostile tribes had begun to throw womerams early in the morning, and at night, so that it became quite unsafe to reside there, and the friendly natives themselves advised them to return, promising that after the fight they would come to our station. The stockman from Eagle farm has found the oxen, and brought them back to-day ; he had to be rewarded with tea and sugar for his trouble.

Week from the 4th to the 10th of Sept. - Thirteen children at school; thirty-one natives at work. Dommi, Biralli, Debir Kallen. and the brothers Wogan, returned from Ninge Ninges, but not in good health, so much rain having fallen which always makes them look miserable; their fights, moreover, did not permit them to spend much time in procuring food, they were, therefore, half starved. Wet weather is peculiarly dangerous for them, because they are too indolent to take the trouble of making a comfortable shelter. As soon as it threatens to rain they want to go to make their huts, or they will rather carry every day a sheet of bark of ours to their camp than once for all strip bark for a good roof over their heads. We were in hope that they would now take up their abode in their huts at Girkun, but they say that that place is rendered unsafe through the devil on account of the deaths which lately occurred there; but when the flesh of the deceased has gone into corruption, and their bones are put into a dilly, then they consider the devil has no more power over them. Such dillies, with bones, skins, scarfs, and pipes, we have some times found hanging in hollow trees.

Friday, September 17. - Last week no children have been here, and only two or three natives made a short stay in passing our place. They have again changed their place of abode, as a boy named Turpy, whose leg had been ulcerated for a long time, and who at last became also dropsical had died in their camp behind our houses which, in addition to the deaths that happened before induces them to avoid our place for the present altogether. The new bridge was finished to-day, when the news arrived that two vessels from Sydney had come into the bay; As an extract of this diary will be sent to Sydney, it may be proper to observe that many other trivial things have been put down for no other purpose than to show in what way the greater part of our time has been spent at the same time it cannot be expected that a minute account should be given how every one of the brethren has employed his time. This account every one must be left to give before the tribunal of his own conscience as in the sight of God.

We think it also necessity to add the following remarks:- It will appear from this diary that much time has been spent in seeking the bullocks when lost, as well as in keeping them when feeding, that they may not run away. This time might be spent in a more useful way for the furtherance of our great object, if we had a servant to do such work. Such a suggestion does not arise from a want of devotedness to the cause but simply from a desire, on the part of the brethren, to be as nearly as possible employed in their proper sphere, that of living, working, spending, and being spent, for the benefit of the brethren, with which they humbly conceive bullock driving has so distant a relation, that another person, who knows nothing else, might with propriety be employed in it. Yet, as a team of bullocks is indispensably necessity, and the Governor having granted permission to purchase the requisite number from the government stock when it shall be sold by auction we would submit to the committee, to consider the propriety of our engaging a bullock driver who might either be hired here or sent from Sydney; and as labour is continually increasing with us, while it is necessary to direct our efforts more exclusively to the main object of our mission, we should be glad if we had also one farm servant who, with help of the bullock driver, might do the rough work, that the comfort of the brethren might be more attended to. Their rations would soon be felt to be no expense, as they would be able to cultivate so much ground as to provide our whole establishment with flour, maize, and potatoes. Our soil does not appear to be suitable for wheat, at least on the hill, and we cannot calculate that the crop will supply us with flour for one month. The flour we received from Sydney lately will last until October, at the ration of five pounds for one person per week. Under these circumstances, we shall require a supply of flour towards the end of November. If salt pork were cheap, we should prefer a supply of this article to going twice every week to Brisbanetown, and receiving the meat with which they supply us there, and for which we have to pay four pence per pound.

We would also again point out the great encouragement which it would afford our natives if we had it in our power not only to pay them for their work with food, but also to give them blankets for covering themselves. We cannot suppose that the government would refuse to put a quantity at our disposal, as they distribute blankets to the natives in the colony, if application were made in the proper season. We are happy to state that we are making progress in the language of the Aborigines. On the late journeys a great many words have been collected, and it will be Mr. E.'s business to arrange them. Finally we entreat all who may read or hear this to intercede and wrestle with God on behalf of these benighted heathen, than whom there is not a more miserable race on earth, and to pray for a blessing upon our work from the Master at whose command we have gone forth - not counting our lives dear - into his vineyard among these savages. The difficulties are great on every side, and there would not be one ray of hope were it not the work of Him who says: "To me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear by the name of the Lord of Sabaoth."

Read Part One of this series here.

05 June 2018

A History of Queensland Bunyips (Part One): The 19th Century

‘The bunyip, though its fame has spread over all Australia, and though nearly every large reedy swamp boasts of one, has never been captured; and it is regarded by most people very much in the same light as the unicorn is viewed - as a myth.’ (Warwick Argus, 14 January 1893)
By the time the country beyond the Moreton Bay region was opened to non-Indigenous ‘settlement’ in 1842, the ‘bunyip’ of Aboriginal lore was firmly established in the consciousness of non-Indigenous Australia. These mysterious water creatures had many names across Aboriginal Australia, including Mochel-mochel (Condamine River, Queensland), Moolgewanke (Lake Alexandria, S Australia), Kuddimudra (Diamantina River, S Australia), Kadimakara (Lake Eyre, S Australia), Banib (Lake Albacuytya, Victoria), Tunatpan (Port Phillip Bay, Victoria), Kajanpratic, Tumbata, Toor-roo-dun (Victoria), and Kianpratty (New South Wales). The white arrivals generally referred to them all simply as 'bunyip'.

Early Non-Indigenous Reports of Bunyips

European interest in the bunyip had been kindled - but then largely doused - by a series of fossil discoveries during the early 19th century. A reference to the creature was included in a pamphlet published in 1812 by James Ives, who spelled it 'Bahnuip' and referred to a 'black, seal-like creature that has a terrifying voice'. Large bones found at Lake Bathurst in New South Wales in 1818 were described as being much like a hippopotamus or a dugong, but the discoverer never returned to the find site. It has been suggested that the bones were similar to those of a Diprotodon. A significant discovery was made in 1830 of very large fossilised bones in the Wellington Caves, New South Wales. These were later identified as megafauna Nototherium and Diprotodon.

A bunyip as depicted by Aboriginal man in 1848.

A bunyip as depicted by an Aboriginal man in the 1840s.

One of the first recorded mentions of a ‘bunyip’ came in an 1845 Geelong Advertiser article titled ‘Wonderful Discovery of a new Animal’. This was a story about fossils found near Geelong. A local Aboriginal man was shown one of the bones and reportedly claimed it belonged to ‘the bunyip’, which he then drew. He also related a story of an Aboriginal woman killed by a bunyip, and a man named Mumbowran ‘who showed several deep wounds on his breast made by the claws of the animal’. This description was provided by the reporter:
‘The Bunyip, then, is represented as uniting the characteristics of a bird and of an alligator. It has a head resembling an emu, with a long bill, at the extremity of which is a transverse projection on each side, with serrated edges like the bone of the stingray. Its body and legs partake of the nature of the alligator. The hind legs are remarkably thick and strong, and the fore legs are much longer, but still of great strength. The extremities are furnished with long claws, but the blacks say its usual method of killing its prey is by hugging it to death. When in the water it swims like a frog, and when on shore it walks on its hind legs with its head erect, in which position it measures twelve or thirteen feet in height.’ (Geelong Advertiser, 2 July 1845)
There was an outburst of ‘bunyip-mania’ in 1846-47 after a squatter found a strange skull by the Murrumbidgee River, New South Wales. He showed it to local Aboriginal people who reportedly told him it was a ‘bunyip’. A number of experts studied the skull and by 1847 it had been identified as the deformed foetal skull of a foal or calf. Despite this, the skull was displayed to large numbers of enthusiastic visitors for two days in the Australian Museum in Sydney, prompting many of them to claim their own ‘bunyip sightings’.

The skull found at Murrumbidgee, NSW, in 1846. (Sydney Morning Herald, 9 February 1847)
The skull found at Murrumbidgee, NSW, in 1846.
(Sydney Morning Herald, 9 February 1847)

Most Europeans did not seem to take the bunyip stories too seriously, but this was - to them - a new continent and the possibilities for discovering exotic new fauna were very real. In that sense, the term ‘bunyip’ seems to have been used in much the same way as ‘Unidentified Flying Object’ was in the 20th century. The term UFO technically refers to something that has not yet been identified but probably has a rational explanation, but it also carries cultural connotations of extra-terrestrial origins. Likewise, the European use of ‘bunyip’ merely signified an unidentified aquatic animal, while also conjuring up popular notions of a fantastical and almost supernatural creature. 

Nevertheless, newspaper accounts of bunyip sightings were imbued with a strong sense of scepticism that often bordered on outright mockery. This was clearly demonstrated in 1853 after wealthy members of the New South Wales government attempted to create an Australian aristocracy with themselves. This idea was famously derided by politician and democracy advocate Daniel Deniehy as a ‘bunyip aristocracy’. The message was clear; much like the bunyip, the proposed aristocracy was a colonial fake.

A Colonial Queensland Bunyip Chronology

Waterhole at Bromelton, near Beaudesert.
Waterhole at Bromelton, near Beaudesert.

The first recorded European account of an alleged bunyip in what would become Queensland came in 1850, when a woman walking near a waterhole on the Bromelton property near the Logan River claimed to have witnessed a huge horned creature with eel-like features and a platypus-like bill. She estimated that the visible portion above the water was about 10 metres in length. She left and returned with two witnesses but they only saw the tail for a short while before it disappeared below water. She did, however, provide the most detailed and fantastical description of any ‘bunyip’ sighting in Queensland history. A fuller account of this incident can be read here.

Many other reports of bunyips appeared in Queensland newspapers over the following century, and most were unconvincing to say the least. What is noticeable about these accounts is the geographically sporadic nature of the data. Not one single location seemed to sustain a consistent record of bunyip sightings. The usual pattern was that somebody would claim to have seen ‘something’ in a particular river or waterhole, and then that alleged bunyip would never be heard of again. While this might tally with the Aboriginal concept of a supernatural being, the scattered nature of the sightings combined with the complete lack of a physical record nullify the notion of the bunyip as an undiscovered animal.

In 1868, a letter signed ‘Alex Warder, Boom Boombah’ appeared in the Brisbane Courier, telling of the bunyip tales that station workers shared with each other. He claimed that men acquainted with the Logan, Upper Mary, Fitzroy, Condamine, Laidley and other rivers all had stories to tell, and that:
‘There being so little variation regarding the bunyip in the accounts of these men, is it not reasonable to suppose that there is truth after all in what not a few only scoff and jeer at? The blacks to a man believe in the bunyip, and look horrified when it is mentioned.’ (Brisbane Courier, 12 December 1868)
In 1873 Alderman Eastaughffe of Dalby claimed that while he was out shooting ducks near a creek there, he saw what he described as a ‘huge monster, with a head like a seal and a tail consisting of two fins, a large and a smaller one.’ No further details, such as an estimated size, were recorded.

It seems to have been a commonly accepted theme among non-Indigenous writers that Aboriginal people were terrified of bunyips. An 1876 newspaper series titled ‘A Strange Exploring Trip’ mentioned this scene near the Barcoo in central west Queensland:
‘You would have been astonished if you had heard all the noises on a big waterhole like that early in the night. Such groans, harks, cackles, whistles, gobbles, and noises as never seemed to come from beast or bird. The fact is that a waterhole like that brings them all together, and in the cool of the night they have a grand corroboree. The blacks won't go to the water at night, not of the big holes, as they say the bunyip lives there. I can't say whether he does or not, as I never saw one, but he couldn't make a more terrible noise than what was going on already.’ (The Queenslander, 22 April 1876)
A stockman and two South Sea Islander labourers witnessed a strange creature while fishing in a waterhole on Gigoomgan station near Tiaro in 1877. They turned and ran, but from their descriptions it sounded like a 4-metre crocodile. It was never seen again, but a few weeks later a reporter from the Darling Downs Gazette investigated the place and:
‘An extraordinary animal was seen. It had four legs, a head, a long tail, and two humps on its back. These are undoubted facts. Now for the theory which accounts for them. The bloated carcase of a kangaroo was floating in mid-water and on the protruding surface were seated two fresh water tortoises, engaged in the congenial operation of sucking the putrid flesh. Disturbed by the human intruders, the reptilians slipped into the water, and their 'floating island' turned over, displaying its legs, and appeared to the affrighted spectators to perform a somersault and a plunge simultaneously.’ (Maryborough Chronicle, 20 March 1877)

Sketches of Australian Scenes, 1852-1853, JG Sawkins - Gigoomgan (Messers Hays)  State Library of NSW.
Sketches of Australian Scenes, 1852-53, JG Sawkins - Gigoomgan (Messers Hays),
State Library of NSW.

An article in the Queensland Figaro in 1888 referred to a bunyip sighting, although the description seems to be very much of a land animal. The name of the witness was not provided, nor a specific location apart from it being somewhere in the vicinity of the Mary River. It is doubtful that much credence can be placed on this report.
‘He saw the animal, lying asleep in the hollow end of a log. It was stretched along on its stomach, its chin resting on its paws, similar to a dog; it was, without doubt, as large as a tiger, its limbs, apparently, quite as strong, the forelegs being as thick as a man's arm, and the chest wide and seemingly very powerful. The head was nearly round, nose short - not unlike a cat's - ears short and pointed, and the mouth, which was firmly closed, was clean and beautifully formed, having no loose skin hanging from the jaws. A large brush of hair stood out from either side of the upper lip, and the eyes tightly closed, apparently, quite round. The body was clean built and very neat; the hind quarters were not so plainly visible; in fact, it could not be seen whether the animal possessed a tail - at any rate he had got it curled round by his side, as is customary with dogs, cats, &c. But the most remarkable feature in connection with the creature was its beautiful color, a deep-brown, thickly studded over with jet black spots about the size of a shilling, the hair, which was quite short, having a nice glossy appearance.’ (Queensland Figaro, 7 July 1888)
More reputable information was provided in 1891 when Dr Joseph Lauterer presented a talk about he called the Yerongpan languages of Brisbane and Ipswich to the Royal Society of Queensland. He claimed that:
‘The Yerongpan natives believe in a kind of bugbear, who kills and eats the blackfellows. They do not call it bunyip (which is an imported name) but worridziam.’ (Brisbane Courier, 16 March 1891)
This is the only reference to the word ‘worridziam’ that I have so far found.

Lake Elphinstone, about 100 km west of Mackay, was the scene of the kind of elaborate bunyip hoax that was perpetrated decades later at Lowood. A large number of police and civilians set out to investigate the lagoon after hearing new tales of a strange monster from local Aboriginal people. They claimed that a ‘huge, hairy, horned monster had risen from the lake near their camp, his eyes shone like globes of fire, and lit up the shores of the lake’.

The investigators set up an overnight camp on the banks of Lake Elphinstone:
‘At midnight the monster appeared gliding from the centre of the lake towards the shore. A thrill of horror ran through the crowd. Shot after shot was fired, but still the monster steadily advanced. They could discern his great thick horns and shaggy head, while his eyes glared as the blacks had described. A whole volley was now fired, and replied to by a peal of demoniacal laughter from the monster, who still advanced. Every man skedaddled for his life, save one Jack Fortescue, the biggest dare-devil in the north, who, without a moment's thought, threw himself on the enraged bunyip in a struggle for life or death. Jack had recognised the cackling laugh of his mate, Jim Playford, the most inveterate joker in Nebo, and penetrated the hoax. Jim had mounted the hide and bend of an old scrub.bull, carefully stuffed with straw, on the bows of a small bark canoe. Swimming behind, he pushed the canoe along in front of him, with the mock bunyip for a figurehead. The eyes of the monster were two skilfully placed bullseye lamps, highly burnished with Kangaroo Brand Alumina Polish. The little boys of Nebo now call out to the custodian of the peace, "Who shot the bunyip ?" and Bobby hangs his head and looks tired.’ (The Telegraph, 19 March 1892)

Lake Elphinstone, Queensland.
Lake Elphinstone, Queensland.
During that same year, the fishermen on the Condamine River became very wary of a spot in the river about 20 km from the town of Warwick. Several lost their lines there to an animal that was reported to ‘resemble, in appearance, a bunyip’. No further description was provided.
‘It does not roam about much, but confines itself to one very deep hole in the river. Some people here believe it to be a fresh water seal. A very strange feature is that where it habitates no fish of any description are to be found. Several people of late have tried to "sneak" on it from behind trees, while basking in the sun, but can never succeed.’ (Warwick Examiner and Times, 6 February 1892)
In a rare example of bunyip reports coming from the same region within a short time frame, fisherman on the Condamine claimed to have seen a bunyip near Darkey Flats (now known as Pratten), northwest of Warwick. They described it as being;
‘About as large as a medium-sized dog, skin covered with fur the color and appearance of that of a platypus, legs short, head shaped like a pig's, and the ears pricked and inclining forward.’ (Warwick Argus, 14 January 1893)
The reporter added that ‘…people (unscientific) are apt to class the bunyip with those visionary snakes so often seen by those that love the bottle not wisely but too well…’ It was a comment that well summed up attitudes to the bunyip at the end of the 19th century, but there would be plenty more sightings in Queensland during the decades to come...

01 June 2018

Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum (1869)

This aeticle about the 'Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum' was written back in 1869. The asylum was established at Goodna in 1865, which back then was an isolated site between Brisbane and Ipswich. Prior to this time, mentally-ill people in the region had been held in Brisbane Gaol.

The facility is now known as Wolston Park Hospital, and originally known as Woogaroo Asylum. You can read more about the history of the place here.

Brisbane Courier, 26 November 1869


Perhaps the saddest and most painful scenes it is possible to witness anywhere are to be found within the walls of a madhouse, and the man or woman who could visit an institution of this kind without being affected by the sights to be seen, must possess an unenviable strength of nerve and indifference to human suffering.

Eastern travellers report that the Turks and Arabs treat the insane with marked consideration and respect under the belief that they are divinely inspired, and it is not difficult to conceive how such a belief originated amongst an ignorant, devout, and imaginative race with respect to such a mysterious, peculiar, and terrible visitation. To see a number of fellow creatures, most of whom seem to be in the possession of robust health and all their faculties with the exception of that crowning one - reason, - to listen to their strange weird talks and observe their conduct, arouses feelings of awe and dread, of pity and commiseration, of deep humility and self abasement, which are never experienced in the same force under any other circumstances. It is a painful task to witness such a scene, and very few persons ever think of undertaking it except from a sense of duty in some shape.

This, in all probability, is the chief reason why the Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum was allowed to become such an accumulation of unutterable horrors before any effectual steps were taken to reform the abuses which had crept in. The only visitors were officials of one kind or other, who, as a matter of routine duty went through the form of an inspection at stated times, and hurried away as soon as possible from the disagreeable scene. The public left the management to the Government and the officials appointed by them, and were content to accept the word of these people that everything was being done which could be done for the unfortunate inmates until at last the horrible truth leaked out that nothing, absolutely nothing was being done for them except locking them up in a foul den out of sight, and leaving them there to their own fearful devices, until the place became more like a pandemonium than a habĂ­tation of human beings.

Goodna Hospital for the Insane (formerly Woogaroo Asylum), 1919. (State Library of Qld)

Of course it was never the deliberate intention of any Colonial Secretary or other official person that the Asylum should become such a den of horrors. Nobody was, or pretended to be, more shocked than these same officials, when the truth was at last revealed by a searching enquiry, but that miserable parsimony which was eternally be grudging any outlay or expense in connection with the institution, while hundreds of thousands of pounds were being recklessly squandered in other directions the ignorant apathy of the public and the apparent want of sufficient firmness and decision of character on the part, of those entrusted with the management, produced the result just as certainly as though it had been a carefully devised scheme from the first.

With the present Acting Surgeon Superintendent in charge, and after the public exposure which has taken place it is hardly likely that the Asylum will be allowed to again fall into such a state as it was found to be at the commencement of the present year, but the only sure mode of preventing this is, for the public to keep a vigilant watch over the institution, and make sure that it is not being neglected. The most devoted and energetic of surgeon superintendents is apt to lose heart in time if he finds himself left single handed to battle with all kinds of obstacles, and the present Government seem just as much wedded to the "penny wise and pound foolish" policy as were any of their predecessors. An over active zeal for economy by saving the 'pickings' is, unless checked, almost certain to result in the striking off of necessaries, where it can be done with impunity, rather than superfluities, which are likely to be resisted. The present Government, like all previous ones we have had in this colony, are exceedingly pacific, not to say pusillanimous and their action is influenced in a great measure by the probabilities of meeting with active resistance from any quarter - not by any simple rule of right. If the Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum is made what it ought to be and can be made, - a clean, comfortable, and healthy retreat where the insane can be treated under the condition most favorable to their recovery - it will be because the Government are urged on to make it so by the pressure of public opinion not from any voluntary action on their part.

At present the asylum is very far from being what it ought to be and already there are symptoms of peddling make-shift expedients being advocated by the Government rather than a thorough and sweeping reform-such as is needed. We paid a visit to the asylum a few days ago for the purpose of seeing what had actually been done and what was proposed to be done for the purpose of rendering the place more endurable and a more fitting hospital for the treatment of the insane. We dropped in quite unexpectedly in the afternoon, and were received very cordially by the Acting Surgeon Superintendent, Dr Challinor, and shown over every part of the buildings and grounds. The Doctor seems to take a real pleasure in pointing out what has been done, what he intends doing, and what he hopes to be able to do in the way of improvements and reforms, and he is justified in feeling a little proud of his work so far. He, at all events appears to be the right man in the right place at Woogaroo. He has evidently entered upon his duties con amore and made the treatment and care of the insane an absorbing study, to which he brings that genuine kindness of heart singleness of aim, and persistent tenacity of purpose which rendered him such an intractable politician. He also seems to have a good first lieutenant in the present chief warder Mr Jessie, who in addition to his experience as a warder in the Melbourne Lunatic Asylum, evidently possesses the qualities of kindness decision of character, love of order, and administrative faculty, so requisite in an officer of this kind. The Doctor and Mr Jessie have already effected many and great improvements, as may be seen at once by anyone visiting the place - but having, as it were, to begin with chaos, the distance from thence to perfect order is very great, and the Government are beginning to dis cover that it is also very expensive to traverse.

They have not as yet gone the length of decidedly refusing to carry out the reforms to the desired consummation which hare been commenced, but they are not showing that alacrity which the necessities of the case require, and the public will demand. The male wards are fearfully overcrowded, and although the number of patients keeps increasing, we could not see or ascertain that any provision whatever was being made, or in contemplation for providing increased accommodation for them. The building itself was not originally intended for occupation by patients and therefore can never be made a very commodious and well arranged asylum.

Still a great deal could be done to improve the accommodation at present provided. In the first place, the over crowding could and ought to be provided against without a single day's unnecessary delay. The building is a brick two story one, and the upper floor rooms are used as dormitories. These are in process of being made as comfort able as circumstances will permit. The ghastly white walls are being colored to a warm cheerful tint, and the patients are provided with clean sheets, pillow cases, and coverlets to their beds, in addition to the blankets, or fragments of blankets, which before time were their only bed clothing. But the beds themselves are so thickly placed, that it is difficult to walk between them. The occupant of one bed can, by merely stretching out his arm, reach over to the middle of the bed occupied by his neighbor on either side, and even in the daytime, when all the rooms were unoccupied, as they were at the time of our visit, those rooms in which the windows were closed to keep out the rain, had a close and sickly smell. When every bed is occupied, and the door closed, during a hot summer's night, the atmosphere must be terribly oppressive and injurious to health, not to speak of comfort.

The dormitories, four on each side, if our memory serves us correctly, are divided by a narrow corridor. Each room is crowded with beds in the manner described, some containing as many as fifteen, and there is no means of separating the noisy from the quiet patients. A sane man of nervous and exciteable temperament, doomed to pass a week in such a place, would inevitably become as mad as the maddest of his fellow denizens.

The warders an no better provided for than the patients. The chief warder, his wife and family, seven in all, occupy, and are obliged to reside, in a couple of rooms at the end of a range of wooden buildings near and at right angles to the main entrance. The remainder of the building is used as doctor's office, chief warder's office, storeroom, &.c. By taking a portion of the storeroom, the chief Warder has been able to add a small sleeping room to his quarters, and, by close packing, he and his family can now manage to sleep in the place. But the door is close to the refractory yard on the one side, and the hospital on the other, every word uttered in these places - and the language is sometimes horrible, is heard by the chief warder's wife and children, even when the door is closed, and there is no back yard accommodation whatever.

Another range of wooden buildings, running parallel to those already mentioned, forms the kitchen for the men, and a miserable little room at the end is made to accommodate four warders. The size of the beds and their closeness together reminds one of the 'tween decks of an immigrant ship more than anything else, and the proximity to the kitchen, being only divided by a wooden partition, must render the room particularly lively at night with one kind of vermin or other. The rest of the warders are accommodated in the same luxurious style inside the main building. The ground floor of the main building consists of hospital day rooms for patients, warders' day room, and dormitory for dirty patients. At present there are only eight patients required to be placed in this ward.

Under the old regime, patients were left to please themselves as to how they went to bed, and the result was that some from perversity, others from paucity of bedclothes or the like, went to bed without undressing. The majority of the patients did so, and some even carried the thing so far as to go to bed in their hats, as well as coats and boots. Now that clean sheets, pillows and pillow cases, blankets and coverlets have been provided for the beds, the doctor has had shelves put up on the corridor wall, at the entrance to each dormitory, and the patients are all obliged to undress and have their clothes placed on the shelf until morning. The poor unfortunates not only understand and duly appreciate the change, but already there is a marked alteration for the better in their habits. Cases of dirtiness are becoming less frequent, and men who would never rise to satisfy the call of nature have latterly been known, during an attack of diarrhoea, to get up four times in a single night. A few of Mr Tiffin's self acting earth closets have been supplied to the institution on trial, and are found to answer admirably. The presence of these in the rooms no doubt has added to the gratifying result. The sooner a full supply of these for every ward is provided, the better it will be.

The old hospital, a miserable little shed quite unfitted for the purpose, has now been converted into a bath and lavatory, where a certain number of the patients are once a week provided with a very comfortable plunge bath, with ample supply of soap and water, and can get an extra swill from a shower bath to wash the soap off after. Indeed baths and lavatories have now been fitted up in every ward, and in addition to a force pump, which provides a supply of water from tho creek, a new under-ground tank has just been constructed, capable of containing 32,000 gallons, to store the rain-water from the roof of the buildings, so that an ample supply of water will be provided.

The present hospital consists of three adjoining rooms at the main entrance to the building on the left hand side, they have just been conveniently furnished with half tester iron bedsteads, which are to be provided with mosquito curtains (!) in addition to the sheets, coverlets, and other luxuries of modern date. The third room is darkened, and is appropriated to the use of the patients who are suffering from ophthalmia. The hospital might be rendered very comfortable by opening a door from the first room into the yard at the back, called No. 1 yard, which cannot be used now, and erecting a verandah over a recess in the building at the part near the door. It is doubtful whether this will be done without some pressure is brought to bear in the proper quarter, the objection being the expense. The extra space and greater comfort, however, that would be thereby provided, fully justifies the outlay, which, after all, would not be considerable.

The day rooms for the patients are at the opposite end of the building to the main entrance, and open into a yard called No 2 yard. Originally this was a small place enclosed with a tall hardwood fence, which completely shut out everything except a view of the sky above. The cross fence has been removed, and the yard extended nearly to the river, so that now the poor fellows can obtain a view of the river and a portion of the surrounding country, as well as having more space for exercise, and a much better supply of fresh air. The yard is not so complete as it might be made, as it is still only provided with the old fashioned privies, the wells of which are now full to overflowing. There are half a dozen new earth closets standing in the shed of No 1 yard, apparently for the purpose of supplying the place of these privies, but they have not been put up as yet, although they have been there some time.

To the right of the main entrance is the refractory ward and yard called No 3 yard. This yard, which used to be a mud hole in wet weather, has been gravelled and made comfortable, and on the further side a lavatory, bath, and shower-bath have been provided. The tank over the bath room is capable of containing 1400 gallons of water, and once a week the refractaries are stripped to the skin and thoroughly cleansed with soap and water in the plunge bath, and finished off in the shower bath. The latter is constructed to only discharge a very small body of water, and as the operation is performed in the afternoon the water in the tank above is generally tepid, and therefore not disagreeable. The only room in the building remaining to be mentioned is the warder's day and dining room. A list is kept in this room of every patient in the hospital, and each warder has to enter a return on this list three times each day - morning, noon, and night, of every man under his charge.

All the rooms are kept scrupulously clean, the men are supplied with clean clothes, and the beds with clean sheets and pillow-cases once a week, and clean blankets, coverlets, and bed-ticks as frequently as occasion requires. How this is managed is a mystery that we shall not attempt to fathom, but we were assured that it was done, although the laundry is only supplied with two ten gallon coppers - the Government being such rigid economists. Mr. Hodgson, in the first burst of public indignation on the discovery of the state of the asylum, took it upon himself to order a recreation ground of about four acres in extent to be fenced in; this has been done, and an admirable improvement it is for the the men can and do make holiday here every Saturday, playing cricket, quoites and a number of games, to their evident gratification and permanent benefit. But there is no shady place for them to retire to except a temporary shelter contrived by the chief warder with some fragments of Osnaburg cloth-utterly inadequate for the purpose. And, what is worse, the laundry is within the fence, and the women employed are therefore subjected to some annoyance from the male patients when admitted to the recreation ground. The other available amusements for the patients are cards, draughts, dominoes, and bagatelle, most of which are impossible for want of sufficient room to play in without interruption. Mr Hodgson, before leaving, presented the Asylum with a very handsome and costly bagatelle board, his private property, but the Doctor is obliged to keep it packed up in his store, because there is no room in which it could be set up for play.

The kitchen for this division of the Asylum is large, and seems to possess ample accommodation for every requirement. The rations, too, are of excellent quality and ample in quantity, as the following dietary scale will show - Each patient receives daily, 1 lb fresh meat, 1 lb bread 1 lb vegetables, 1 oz rice, 1 oz salt, 1 gill milk, 1/2 oz tea, 2 ozs sugar, 2 ozs maize meal for hominy, 2 ozs mollasses, 1 oz soup, and 1 oz of butter to sick patients, or those who desire it. The weekly diet list is -Sunday, roast beef, plum pudding, soup, vegetables, and tea , Monday, corned meat, potatoes, pumpkins, or other vegetables, Tuesday, stew and roast beef, Wednesday, mutton, roast and boiled, soup and vegetables, Thursday, roast beef and vegetables and soup , Friday, mutton, roast and boiled, and vegetables , Saturday, roast beef and vegetables. All the men who work are supplied with tea each day, and half a pint of beer each daily.

The work for the men is road making, fencing, gardening, and other occupations of a similar character, and from a daily return of the chief warder, we found that out of 118 healthy patients the daily average number of workers is over 76, and of 54 women, 38 are employed in useful occupations of one kind or other. These facts speak volumes in favor of the new management. In fact, all that is now required to render the male portion of the Asylum very comfortable, and tolerably complete, are the addition of a cottage ward, capable of accommdating about forty patients, ten or eleven new cells for refractories, new quarters for the chief warder, better accommodation for the under warders , the removal of the laundry to a more convenient situation, and providing it with a bettor supply of utensils, and the erection in every ward and yard of the self acting earth closets. As yet, however, we could not learn that any of these improvements were likely to be carried out. Plans for the whole were prepared by the Colonial Architect, but when the estimates came to be sent in, some of the members of the Ministry shrank from the outlay, and thought it must be deferred until the public purse was better supplied with cash-an event which may happen in some succeeding generation, but is not at all likely to occur in this.

In the female portion of the Asylum a number of extensive improvements have been commenced, which, when completed, will leave little to be desired. Fortunately they were well begun before the Government were taken with their last fit of economy and retrenchment, so that they are in a fair way of being carried out. They will consist, in the first place, of a detached cottage ward, of wood, two stories in height, with eight feet wide verandahs round three sides and most part of the fourth. This building is being erected on an elevated site a short distance from the present female wards, and will command extensive views of the river, the village, and the surrounding country, including Mount Flinders in one direction - altogether a very pretty and pleasant site. The ground floor will consist of a day room and dormitory 24 feet by 40 feet, and the remainder of the available space, both below and above, is divided into lavatory and bath rooms, nurses' room, sleeping rooms, and the like. Six of the sleeping rooms will be single ones, 8 feet by 9 foot 6 inches, for quiet and convalescent patients. The windows, in stead of being barred, will be made with narrow panes in frames of wrought iron, in shape and size like the ordinary wooden sashes, from which, when painted, they cannot be distinguished. this will get rid of the prison look of the place, which is now objectionable and depressing to the patients. There will be no balcony to the upper rooms, but the windows will be fitted with Venetian shutters. The whole ward is to be fenced in with a substantial fence, so as to enclose a large recreation ground of about four acres.

Another improvement which is also in a satisfactory stage of progress consists of a large and well appointed kitchen and offices. The ground floor is about equally divided. One part of the main building consisting of a kitchen 20 feet by 20 feet, to be fitted up with a Russell stove capable of cooking for eighty persons , two large boilers and other kitchen requisites. The other part, consisting of a large room also twenty feet by twenty feet, is to be a warders or nurses dining and day room. It was originally designed to have the kitchen chimney so constructed as to admit of a fireplace for this room, but, by an unwise alteration, as we think, the fireplace in the dining room is to be dispensed with. Even in Queensland, and especially by the river side, in winter, a fire in a room is absolutely necessary to render it all comfortable, and there is no reason why the nurses should not be made as comfortable as circumstances will permit.

In addition to the rooms already mentioned there will be nurses bed rooms, store room, pantry, etc. At the front of the kitchen will be a verandah eight feet wide, floored, and at the back a ten foot wide verandah, not floored. Among the minor improvements in this portion of the institution are the enlargement of the yards and the construction of covered airing courts in the refractory yard. The main yard has been opened out nearly to the river, giving a splendid view from the upper part of it, and the refractory yard has been largely extended in the opposite direction. The covered airing courts before referred to is an excellent scheme of the Doctor's for dealing with refractories. They consist of a series of courts 7 ft 6 in wide, and about 20 ft long, covered at the top, the sides being constructed of narrow hardwood boards fixed upright, allowing small spaces between - something like an ordinary sawn wood paling fence only much higher. The boards are all nailed on from the inside, so that escape is impossible, and the inmates cannot injure either themselves or the building.

However refractory and troublesome a patient may be, all that is necessary is to put her into a strait waistcoat and lock her up in one of these courts for a few hours She is there secluded from the other patients, and at the same time has the benefit of the fresh air and such exercise as she likes to take, without the necessity of being attended by a nurse. One poor creature we saw there could never be taken out into the fresh air without two nurses to attend her until these courts were constructed. Adjoining the courts are the refractory cells, or rather they are in process of removal from their old site to the bottom end of the new refractory yard. The female ward although at present too crowded, is much better adapted for the purpose of a lunatic asylum than those occupied by the men. One half of the ground floor forms a day room or covered court, and along the sides are the sleeping rooms, capable of holding three beds comfortably, but now containing four beds each. The chief nurse's cottage is also as crowded as the male warder's rooms, but when the new kitchen and cottage ward are completed this objection will be removed.

Objection has been taken to the site of the asylum, but we cannot agree with the objectors in this particular. There are all the natural features requisite to render the site both healthy and pleasant, and by a re-arrangement of the fences, an extension of the yards, and other improvements of the kind, a good deal has actually been done in this direction already. The doctor appears to have been indefatigable in his efforts to effect improvements in this way, and has been eminently successful. Indeed the amount of good useful work which has been accomplished by the patients alone in the way of fencing, road making, clearing, and beautifying the grounds, during the last six or seven months, is really surprising. A great deal more is in contemplation, and will, we hope, be carried out, as it involves very little expense and finds beneficial occupation for the inmates. One of these is the construction of a wharf and approaches, partly done already, for the landing of Government stores and other requisites for the asylum from the river. Another is the laying out of a large garden, so that the inmates may grow their own vegetables. A third is beautify the grounds, and for this purpose Mr Walter Hill has not only promised to furnish designs, but also the requisite number of trees and ornamental shrubs.

A very popular innovation has been introduced in the shape of bi-weekly balls on Tuesday and Friday evenings, to which a few of the well conducted villagers are admitted, and all the patients who can attend. One of the patients, a warder, and two villagers, supply the music, the dancing is engaged in as heartily, and the enjoyment is as real and great as at the most fashionable ball in the grandest room in the colony. What is better still, it is found to have a permanently beneficial effect upon the health and spirits of the patients. Sometimes visitors drop in from Ipswich, although it is ten miles distant. Brisbane is almost out of the question, being fifteen miles away, and to attend one of the balls would necessitate staying in the village all night, and returning to town next day.

The general impression left on our mind by this visit to the Asylum is, that Dr Challinor is well qualified for the duty he has undertaken, is really and heartily desirous of conscientiously performing that duty both to the letter and spirit, and that he is well seconded by his present chief warder and chief nurse. That a wonderful change for the better has been effected in almost every direction, but that still more requires to be done in order to render the Asylum decently comfortable, and that the only way of securing this end is to keep public attention constantly directed to it.'