The following itinerary describes a range of sites which we plan to visit. At the time of publication (August 2020) most visits had been confirmed. While several are accessible to the public, others require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure in 2021.
The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary, together with their tour documents, prior to departure. The tour includes meals indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner.
Toowoomba – 3 nights
Day 1: Wednesday 28 July, Brisbane – Ipswich – Toowoomba
- Rockton: former home of artist, poet and playwright, Helen Haenke
- Private studio of artist Leonard Brown
- Welcome Dinner
We depart Brisbane this morning for Ipswich which has hosted numerous literary figures including Banjo Paterson and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is also the birthplace of Thomas Shapcott AO (born 1935), author of fifteen collections of poetry and six novels.
By the late 1800s the township of Ipswich boasted its own enclave of wealthy merchants, graziers and industrialists, and today the city is renowned for its wealth of heritage architecture. We begin with a visit to ‘Rockton’, a historic National Trust-listed property, and the former home of artist and writer, Helen Haenke (1916-78). Haenke is associated with the emerging vibrant cultural scene of south-east Queensland during the late 1960s and 70s. Born in NSW, she trained as a commercial artist in Sydney, and later studied painting under Max Meldrum in Melbourne. Following her marriage to Willis Lynn Haenke, she moved to ‘Rockton’ where she became an influential figure in Ipswich from the 1940s; her poetry, short stories and paintings reflect her life there. ‘Rockton’ became a regular venue for recitals, concerts and play readings, with guests including Rodney Hall, Thomas Shapcott, Bruce Dawe and Oodgeroo Noonuccal. During our visit to ‘Rockton’ we will meet with Helen Haenke’s daughter, Angela, to learn more about this prolific writer and poet.
This afternoon we meet with artist Leonard Brown at his home studio to discuss his work, and that of his friend, Sam Fullbrook. Leonard Brown is best known for his minimal abstract paintings and his Russian icon paintings created using traditional techniques. In 2011 QUT Art Museum presented Union with Reality: The Art of Leonard Brown, a 30 year survey of his work which is represented in numerous public collections including the NGA and the NGV. Leonard had a close association with Sam Fullbrook (1922-2004) who was described as the “last of the bushman painters”. Fullbrook won the Archibald Prize for portraiture and the Wynne Prize for landscape. His work will be viewed during our visit to the QAG which includes the portrait of his friend, Brisbane-born novelist Ernestine Hill (1899-1972), who shared a history of life on the land and a deep appreciation of the Australian bush.
In the late afternoon we travel to Toowoomba, capital of the Darling Downs on the crest of the Great Dividing Range. Poet Bruce Dawe (1930-2020) lived in Toowoomba in the 1970s and immortalised this dramatic location in his poem Provincial City:
Climbing the range
your ears pop like champagne…’
You can smell the peace up here.
The proportion, the narrowness…’
‘It moves, but oh so slowly
you would have to sleep years,
waking suddenly once in a decade
to surprise it in the act of change.
Toowoomba is also the birthplace of Australian watercolourist J.J. Hilder (1881-1916) whose best collection of works can be viewed at the Art Gallery NSW. Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. (Overnight Toowoomba) D
Day 2: Thursday 29 July, Toowoomba
- Cobb & Co Museum
- Lionel Lindsay Gallery and Library, Toowoomba Art Gallery
- Toowoomba Literary Society & the George Essex Evans Monument, Webb Park
Cobb & Co. was established by American Freeman Cobb and his partners who arrived at the Victorian goldfields in 1853. The first service in Queensland operated between Brisbane and Toowoomba in 1866. The journey began in Brisbane with a coach to Ipswich, then train to Bigge’s camp (Grandchester), and finally another coach up the range to Toowoomba. This morning we visit the Cobb & Co. Museum, home of the National Carriage Collection. Also on display are the two 1955 Royal Mail Cobb & Co. stamps which were inspired by Sir Lionel Lindsay’s etching (1925) that depicts the Thargomindah coach with its team of five skewbalds.
William Robert Fossey ‘Bill’ Bolton MBE, was a transport businessman and philanthropist based in Toowoomba. He founded Redmans Transport in 1935 which was later renamed Cobb & Co. Redmans Transport in 1948. Throughout his life he collected twenty-eight horse and carriage vehicles which today form the nucleus of the Cobb & Co Museum. His interest in Australian pioneer heritage also led him to form a friendship with bush balladist Will H. Ogilvie and to build an important library of journals, prints, letters and maps. This collection includes records of voyages in the Pacific, the exploration and early history of Australia, Australian art, Australian literature (including letters by Henry Lawson), and Lionel Lindsay’s own papers. The release of the Cobb & Co. stamps in 1955 inspired Bolton to make contact with Sir Lionel Lindsay. Over a period of five years, and under the direction of NGV director, Sir Daryl Lindsay, Bolton collected over 400 artworks, the majority of which were by Lionel Lindsay. The collection also included works by other members of the Lindsay family, and by McCubbin, Streeton, Roberts and Bunny. This afternoon we will tour the Lionel Lindsay Gallery and Library, Toowoomba Art Gallery which houses these great collections.
Born in 1863 to Welsh parents, George Essex Evans migrated to Australia in 1881 and settled on a farm near Allora in the Darling Downs. He became Agricultural Editor of The Queenslander and subsequently registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages at Gympie and later Toowoomba. At the same time he was writing under the pseudonym “Christophus” and became editor of the Sydney journal, The Antipodean. In 1899 he married and built a home, ‘Glenbar,’ on the eastern slope of the Toowoomba Range. Evans is credited with having published over 200 poems (many of which appeared in Australian papers), short stories, essays, humorous works and a novella. Now little known outside of Queensland, he was recognised in his time as the equal of his contemporaries – Paterson, Lawson, Henry Kendall and Adam Lindsay Gordon. His poems The Women of the West, about the women pioneers of western Queensland, and a patriotic poem titled An Australian Symphony were his most famous works. Evans also excelled as a playwright, producing works for the Brisbane Theatre including the pantomime Robinson Crusoe and Musical Whist. In 1903 Evans founded the Austral Society in Toowoomba to promote music, art, literature, science and industry.
Today we meet with a representative from the Toowoomba Literary Society to learn about the writings of George Essex Evans and Steele Rudd. We will visit the George Essex Evans Monument in Webb Park which overlooks Evan’s late home. Inscribed on the statue are verses from his poems, including the following excerpt from his poem Toowoomba:
Dark purple, chased with sudden gloom and glory,
Like waves in wild unrest.
Low-wooded billows and steep summits hoary,
Ridge, slope and mountain crest,
Cease at her feet with faces turned to greet her,
Enthroned, apart, serene,
Above her vassal hills whose voices greet her
The Mountain Queen.
(Overnight Toowoomba) BL
Day 3: Friday 30 July, Toowoomba – Jimbour – Drayton – Toowoomba
- Jimbour: Heritage Homestead & Gardens, Long Table Lunch
- Royal Bull’s Head Inn, Drayton
This morning we travel approximately 111 km north-west of Toowoomba to ‘Jimbour’, a heritage-listed homestead on one of the earliest stations established on the Darling Downs. Here we will tour the homestead and heritage gardens, and enjoy a long table lunch.
‘Jimbour’, designed for Joshua Peter Bell, politician, businessman and grazier, is the only genuinely grand country house in the English manner to be built in the state. The magnificence of this home, set on a hill overlooking the plains, has captivated many. It was a location for filming in the popular series Return to Eden. George Essex Evans wrote of it with admiration in his work The Garden of Queensland in 1898. Gertrude Bell, mistress of ‘Coochin Coochin’ station, also visited ‘Jimbour’, recording in her diary her astonishment at finding such an imposing mansion in the Queensland bush. She was given plant cuttings to take home to her own garden at ‘Coochin’.
This afternoon we return to Toowoomba via Drayton, the first town established beyond the Great Dividing Range in 1842. In 1847 The Royal Bull’s Head Inn was built and became a popular haunt for squatters and workers. We gain an insight into the early days of settlement on the Darling Downs with a guided tour of this inn whose original kitchen, rooms, and interior have been lovingly restored and preserved by the National Trust. Conrad Martens (a friend of Charles Darwin) was the only major colonial artist to work in Queensland. He arrived in Moreton Bay by ship in 1851 and set out across the range to the Darling Downs where he sketched homesteads and properties, including ‘Coochin Coochin’, in the hope of attracting commissions for paintings. By March 1852 Martens had completed over ninety drawings which today provide an invaluable visual account of the region’s history. Several of his works are in the Queensland Art Gallery. On 23 December 1852 he sketched views from Drayton Range and probably stayed at the Royal Bull’s Head Inn. (Overnight Toowoomba) BL
Lamington National Park – 2 nights
Day 4: Saturday 31 July, Toowoomba – East Greenmount – Allora – Kooroomba – Coochin – Lamington National Park
- Steele Rudd Memorial Park, East Greenmount
- The Mary Poppins House, Allora
- Kooroomba Vineyards and Lavender Farm: Lunch at The Kooroomba Kitchen
- Coochin Coochin Station
Arthur Howey Davis (1868-1935) otherwise known as Steele Rudd, was born in a slab hut on Darling Street, Drayton. When he was four, his family moved to Emu Creek (now called East Greenmount) where he attended school. Son of a blacksmith, Davis worked as a horse-breaker, stockman, and drover before moving to Brisbane where he became a clerk. There he joined a rowing club and began writing poems and sketches under the pseudonym “Steele Rudder”, later shortened to Steele Rudd. In 1899 The Bulletin published his sketches, with illustrations, as On Our Selection. Largely autobiographical, the sketches provide a humorous account of life on a plot of land ‘selected’ in the 1880s, featuring characters Dad and Dave Rudd. In 1903 Our New Selection was published, and he founded Steele Rudd’s Magazine, a popular periodical that appeared irregularly over the next 25 years. In 1908, Steele Rudd returned with his wife to the Darling Downs, later buying ‘The Firs’, a farm near Nobby. His stories have been dramatised and filmed several times. The ‘Dad and Dave from Snake Gully’ radio program which started in 1937, and featured the antics of some of Steele Rudd’s characters, aired for 16 years. This morning we visit Steele Rudd Memorial Park, situated on the original selection taken up by Thomas and Mary Davis in the 1870s. The park was established in the 1970s by Arthur’s youngest son Eric, and includes a replica shingled slab hut based on many details in the book.
From East Greenmount we continue south to the Southern Downs town of Allora. Pamela Lydon Travers OBE (1899-1996) is best known for her Mary Poppins series for children. Born in Maryborough, she grew up in the bush before going to boarding school in Sydney. At the age of 25 she emigrated to England and adopted the pen name ‘P.L. Travers’ while writing the first of eight Mary Poppins books. Saving Mr Banks, the 2013 movie staring Emma Thompson as Travers and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney, includes flashbacks to Travers’ difficult childhood in Allora which became the inspiration for much of Mary Poppins. We will visit the house where Travers spent 2 years of her childhood, and in which her father, Travers Goff, died. The heritage-listed house built in 1879, now owned by Les and Loraine Struthers, was both a home and the Australian Joint Stock Bank, where Travers’ father worked.
From Allora we continue across the Darling Downs to ‘Kooroomba’, nestled in the Fassifern Valley at Mt Alford, near Boonah. The property overlooks 6 hectares of vineyards and lavender fields with magnificent views of the Scenic Rim mountains. We will enjoy lunch at the award-winning cellar door/restaurant complex.
The Scenic Rim’s history is linked to various inspiring and charismatic pioneers, including poet Judith Wright, filmmaker Charles Chauvel and the Bell Family of ‘Coochin Coochin’. This afternoon we meet with Tim and Jane Bell to discover the fascinating history of their homestead, which is one of the Scenic Rim’s oldest homes. ‘Coochin Coochin’, (‘Coochin’ means red in the Jagera language, for the red bill of the black swans that frequented the area), dates back to 1842 when the 120,000-acre property was first established by David Hunter. In 1870 the property was purchased by Thomas Alford who moved the homestead to its existing site on a hill. In 1882 James Bell bought 22,000 acres of freehold land, and with his wife, Gertrude, and their two sons, came to live here. Gertrude Bell (née Norton), Tim’s great grandmother, had come from an affluent home at Darling Point in Sydney and at ‘Coochin Coochin’ she resumed her former social life, inviting many guests to stay. Her detailed diaries record the visits of distinguished visitors, including the Queen Mother, the Prince of Wales, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh and Agatha Christie. Agatha Christie loved her visit, was involved in a local concert and grew fond of Guilford Marsh Bell (Gertrude’s grandson) who later worked on renovations to her beloved Devonshire home ‘Greenway’. Agatha greatly admired the Australian women she met in the area and you will learn about their influence on her future life and career.
In the late afternoon we continue south to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. Established in 1926, the retreat is located in Lamington National Park which lies on the Lamington Plateau of the McPherson Range. In 1937, Bernard O’Reilly became a hero when he rescued the survivors of the Stinson plane City of Brisbane, which had crashed in the remote Lamington wilderness. Bushman and author, O’Reilly wrote three books on the theme of Australia’s Great Dividing Range including Green Mountains (1940) which includes his own account of finding the plane. O’Reilly was played by Jack Thompson in the TV movie The Riddle of the Stinson in 1987. Judith Wright’s poem, The Lost Man, was written about James Guthrie Westray, a survivor of the crash, who died after falling over a waterfall when hacking through the rainforest to seek help. (Overnight Lamington National Park) BLD
Day 5: Sunday 1 August, Lamington National Park
- Lamington National Park with zoologist, Dr Ronda J Green
- The Rainforest Works of William Robinson: talk by David Henderson
Public attention was drawn to the beauty and invigorating climate of the McPherson Ranges in the 1890s by Queensland pastoralist Robert Martin Collins. In parliament he campaigned heavily for the protection of the area. Lamington was proclaimed a National Park in 1915, two years after his death, and in 1994 the park was incorporated into the ‘Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area’. The ancient biodiversity of these rainforests was studied by David Attenborough in his 1979 TV series Life on Earth – its beech trees and bower birds were featured.
Many writers have been inspired by this region. Conservationist and author Arthur Groom (1904-1953) pleaded for the protection of the Scenic Rim in his 1951 book One Mountain After Another. In 2001, Germaine Greer’s concern over Australia’s environmental vandalism, led her to purchase 60 hectares of dairy farm at the base of Springbrook Plateau, east of Lamington National Park. The area, part of the Gondwana Rainforest, had been logged during the 19th century with only a few white beeches remaining. In her book White Beech: The Rainforest Years (2013) Greer describes the “irresistible” decade-long battle to rehabilitate the damaged forest. Judith Wright, who spent nearly 30 years at Mount Tamborine, developed a deep connection with this Australian landscape. Her growing concern about its devastation led her to co-found, and become the first President of, the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland.
We spend the day exploring Lamington National Park with Dr Ronda J. Green, Chair of Wildlife Tourism Australia and Chair of the Scenic Rim branch of the WPSQ. Ronda, who is a zoologist, studied the birds that dispersed seeds of rainforest plants for her post-doctoral research. She also attended the WPSQ Spring School during the time when it was run by Judith Wright.
The area has inspired many artists including Arthur Boyd and William Robinson. In 1984 Robinson moved from Brisbane to live on an 80-hectare property in Beechmont, a relocation that marked a critical turning point in his career. In 1994 he also acquired a rainforest studio at Springbrook. His affinity with the spectacular hinterland of verdant rainforest and dramatic mountains gave rise to a major new body of his work. Between 1984 and 2005 Robinson painted some of his most original and compelling compositions including his celebrated Creation and Mountain series. This evening David will give a pre-dinner talk on ‘The Rainforest Works of William Robinson’. (Overnight Lamington National Park) BLD
Brisbane – 4 nights
Day 6: Monday 2 August, Lamington NP – Bromelton – Tamborine Mountain – Brisbane
- Bromelton House & Gardens
- Artists and Writers of Tamborine Mountain
Rosa Caroline Praed was a novelist who produced over forty-five books between 1880 and 1931, about half of which are Australian in setting. She was born in 1851 at Bromelton, by the Logan River in Queensland. Her father was the Hon. Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior, pastoralist and politician. She was educated by governesses and her mother until the latter died when Rosa was seventeen. Rosa then ran the house in the bush and sometimes accompanied her father to Brisbane for his political business. Following her marriage in 1872 to Arthur Campbell Praed, who’d come to Australia to make his fortune as a squatter, she spent two lonely, miserable years on Monte Christo, a cattle run located on Curtis Island, near Gladstone. These experiences figure in her autobiographical My Australian Girlhood (1902) and in the novels The Romance of a Station (1889) and Sister Sorrow (1916). In 1876 the couple moved to England where she resumed writing, drawing upon her Australian experiences. In London she achieved considerable celebrity and is considered to be the first Australian novelist to gain an international reputation. Her Politics and Passion of 1881, is thought to be the first novel to make lengthy reference to Brisbane. This afternoon we visit Bromelton which is today a working pecan and beef property. We’ll tour the historic homestead which sits within two hectares of landscaped gardens, and see the large lagoon, believed by the Aboriginal people to be bottomless and the home of the bunyip. These beliefs appear in some of Praed’s writing.
Many writers and artists have been attracted by the beauty of Mt Tamborine, including William Robinson who created Storm Cloud Tamborine and Landscape with Fire on Mt Tamborine. Novelist and poet, Mabel Forrest (1872-1935) moved from the Darling Downs to Mt Tamborine in 1929. She named her home ‘White Witches’, after the tall white gums of the area, which was also the title of one her novels published in 1927. Forrest’s most successful work The Wild Moth (1924) was released as a film by Charles Chauvel as The Moth of Moonbi. Chauvel, whose family farmed at Harrisville in the Fassifern Valley, went on to make several films set locally in the Scenic Rim including Greenhide and Sons of Matthew, the story of the O’Reilly family’s settlement on the Lamington Plateau. Other writers who have been inspired by the area include bestselling author Kate Morton (b. 1976) whose family moved to the area when she was a child, and novelist and short story writer, Janette Turner Hospital (b. 1942), who described a Tamborine childhood in her novel Charades (1988).
Born at Thalgarrah, New England, Judith Wright moved to Brisbane as a young woman and there fell in love with philosopher and writer, Jack McKinney. In 1945 they moved to Mt Tamborine where they purchased their home ‘Calanthe’ (named after a white orchid which grows in the area), and shared 20 years together until Jack’s death in 1966. Judith wrote the majority of her poetry while living on the mountain. Her poem The Cycads was inspired by ancient trees on Mt Tamborine. Raymond Curtis (1932-2019) was also a key cultural figure on the mountain, along with his wife Eve. He wrote extensively about life in the region and is remembered as Mt Tamborine’s “own Poet Laureate”. In Rainforest Journal (2003) he recounts a year spent working in the mountain’s national parks. His poetry is celebrated in the anthology The View Westward: Tamborine Mountain poems.
This afternoon during our visit to Mt Tamborine with Dr Ronda J. Green, we learn how writers and artists have played an important role in conserving this precious forested landscape. (Overnight Brisbane) BL
Day 7: Tuesday 3 August, Brisbane
- John Oxley Library & The Lindsay Collection of Pat Corrigan, Queensland State Library
- Queensland Performing Arts Centre: Lawrence Daws Mural
- Queensland Art Gallery: Australian Art Collection & the Indigenous Australian Art Collection
- Queensland Gallery of Modern Art: European Masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
We begin the day with a visit to the John Oxley Library which contains collections unique to Queensland. Gertrude Bell’s three daughters, Una, Enid and Aileen, who lived and worked at ‘Coochin Coochin’, travelled the world recording their impressions in richly descriptive letters. Much of this correspondence is held in the library, together with many photographs of the Bell family and their friends. The ‘Rosa Praed Collection’ includes Praed’s personal papers, books and photos taken at Bromelton. The ‘Nora Murray-Prior Collection’ consists of 421 letters written to Rosa Praed. Nora was Rosa’s stepmother and Banjo Paterson’s aunt. The ‘Lindsay Collection of Pat Corrigan’ includes published and manuscript material written and illustrated by members of the Lindsay family as well as memorabilia, photos and more than 3000 letters between members of the Lindsay family and their associates.
Next we make a brief visit to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre to view the mural by Lawrence Daws in preparation for our journey to the Glasshouse Mountains where many of his best-known works were created. The mural affords us with an opportunity to reflect on the significance that the local landscape has had for this remarkable painter.
Following some time at leisure for lunch we visit the Queensland Art Gallery where we tour the Australian Collection which includes works by Gordon Bennett, Arthur Boyd, Rupert Bunny, William Dobell, Ian Fairweather, Ethel Carrick Fox, R. Godfrey Rivers, Sam Fullbrook, Vida Lahey and Sidney Nolan. There are also landscape paintings done by Conrad Martens at ‘Coochin Coochin’ and the nearby McPherson Range. We also view the Indigenous Collection which tells the story of Namatjira and features his early works, along with works by those he influenced.
We end the day with a visit to the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (QAGMA) to view the exhibition ‘European Masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York’. Spanning 500 years, the exhibition includes works by Fra Angelico, Titian, Raphael, Rembrandt, Turner, Van Gogh and Monet. “Highlights of the exhibition include Fra Angelico’s finely painted altarpiece The Crucifixion of ca. 1420–23; Titian’s poetic Venus and Adonis of the 1550s; the immediacy and drama of Caravaggio’s The Musicians 1597; Rembrandt’s painterly Flora of c.1654; Vermeer’s beautifully observed Allegory of the Catholic Faith c.1670-72, and Van Gogh’s idyllic The Flowering Orchard 1888.” (Overnight Brisbane) B
Day 8: Wednesday 4 August, Brisbane
- 19 Arran Avenue, Hamilton: former home of David Malouf (to be confirmed in 2021)
- David Henderson’s studio, Albion
- Lunch at the Breakfast Creek Hotel, Albion
- Newstead House
- Commercial Gallery Precinct, Fortitude Valley
Widely recognised as one of Australia’s finest contemporary authors, David Malouf was born in Brisbane in 1934. Amongst the most loved of his works are those set in his hometown including his first novel, Johnno (1975), the semi-autographical tale of a young man growing up in wartime Brisbane, and his later memoir 12 Edmondstone Street (2012) which begins at his childhood home in South Brisbane. In 1947 the family moved from Edmondstone Street to 19 Arran Avenue, Hamilton. By special appointment, we visit this house which was designed by his father, George Malouf.
When not leading tours for ASA, David Henderson is a full-time artist; his painting studio is a short walk from Newstead House. David’s response to the Queensland landscape has been informed by a multiplicity of contexts. An outback childhood, studies in architecture and training at London’s Royal Academy have all left their mark on his painting. And while Queensland-born, in the tradition of artists such as Jeffrey Smart and Justin O’Brien, he has spent much of his life in Italy. Whether painting local views, monumental urban spaces or the human figure, David’s approach can broadly be described as classical: a synthesis of light and geometry. A number of his most recent works can be viewed in his studio where he will present a brief overview of his development and working methods.
Following lunch at the heritage-listed Breakfast Creek Hotel we walk a short distance to Newstead House, Brisbane’s oldest surviving European-style home. Overlooking Breakfast Creek, this historic landmark evolved from a simple Georgian cottage built in 1846 into a grand residence following significant extensions in 1867. We will tour this house museum and view its fine late-Victorian furniture. The home is said to have taken it name from Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire, a former Augustinian priory and ancestral home of the Romantic poet Lord Byron.
This afternoon we visit the commercial gallery precinct. Our program will be determined by the schedule of exhibitions on offer at the time of our visit. (Overnight Brisbane) BL
Day 9: Thursday 5 August, Brisbane
- Fryer Library, Queensland University
- Literary Walking tour of Central Brisbane including Albert Street Literary Trail
- Old Government House: William Robinson Gallery
- Time at leisure
We begin this morning with a visit to the Fryer Library at Queensland University which contains a large selection of manuscripts, correspondence, diaries and photographs from award-winning Australian novelists, poets and playwrights, including Peter Carey, Thea Astley, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, David Malouf, Eunice Hanger, and Max and Thelma Afford. There is also an extensive collection of Helen Haenke’s writings and papers. Of particular interest is the ‘Thea Astley Collection’. Born in Brisbane in 1925, Thea Astley AO studied arts at the University of Queensland. She was a school teacher until 1967, then taught at Macquarie University, before retiring to write full time. She published seventeen novels and many short stories, and she won the Miles Franklin Award four times: in 1962 for The Well Dressed Explorer, in 1965 for The Slow Natives, in 1972 for The Acolyte and in 2000 for Drylands. Much of her writing, which draws heavily from her early childhood, is set in Queensland.
We then transfer to the city centre for a literary walking tour which also highlights some of Brisbane’s most important heritage buildings including Parliament House (Anthony Trollope visited the Legislative Assembly Chamber in 1871), the Treasury Building and the old Queensland State Library. Authors featured on the tour include David Malouf, poet James Brunton Stephens, Rosa Praed, Jack Lindsay and Thomas Shapcott. The Albert Street Literary Trail features 32 brass plaques with quotes by authors who have called Brisbane home.
After lunch we take a guided tour of the William Robinson Gallery nestled in the beautiful setting of Old Government House. Born in Brisbane in 1936, William Robinson, a figurative expressionist painter, is considered one of Australia’s foremost living artists and is recognised for his unique interpretation of the Australian landscape as well as his whimsical portraits and narrative scenes. His characterful self-portraits were awarded the Archibald Prize in 1987 and 1995. The 2009 documentary by filmmaker Catherine Hunter, “William Robinson: A Painter’s Journey”, traces the places that have inspired him. After our tour, the remainder of the day is free for you to explore Brisbane at leisure. (Overnight Brisbane) B
Noosa Heads – 1 night
Day 10: Friday 6 August, Brisbane – Maleny – Montville – Noosa Heads
- Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve & the Glasshouse Mountains National Landscape
- Free time in Maleny
- Lunch at The Tamarind, Spicers Retreat
- Private studio of artist, Peter Hudson (to be confirmed in 2021)
- The Macadamery Gardens: Former home of Eleanor Dark, Montville (to be confirmed in 2021)
This morning we leave Brisbane and travel north through the Blackall Range to the ‘Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve’, 55 hectares of subtropical rainforest which is home to a remarkable array of native flora and fauna, including 141 species of birds. Light refreshments are available at the Mountain View Café which offers breathtaking views of the Glasshouse Mountains. You may also wish to visit the Discovery Centre, take a walk along the Elevated Glider Gallery Boardwalk which showcases the rainforest mid-storey, or explore one of the easy rainforest trails.
The cluster of rugged volcanic peaks of the Glasshouse Mountains are registered as a landscape of national importance due to their cultural significance to the area’s traditional owners, the Gubbi Gubbi people. This was a special meeting place where they gathered for ceremonies and trading – many of their ceremonial sites are still present. In 1963 Judith Wright published The Day the Mountains Played, a short story in which the great mountains, which had once been men in the Dreamtime, help two boys to protect their tribe from the Doolamai warriors. The landscape has also inspired many other writers and artists including Lawrence Daws, Conrad Martens, Peter Kennedy, David Malouf and Fred Williams. On his journey to Brisbane by ship in 1851, Conrad Martens did his watercolour sketch, Glasshouses, Moreton Bay. In his 1970 poem Glasshouse Mountains, David Malouf described the view of the mountains from the Redcliffe Peninsular. From 1970 until 2010, Lawrence Daws lived at his farm ‘Owl Creek’ at Beerwah on the edge of the rainforest by the Glasshouse Mountains. Many of his best-known works were created here. Daws hosted many artist friends including Brett Whiteley who, in 1976, made several sketches of the area and wrote “the view from the Daws balcony onto the Glasshouse is one of the absolutely monumental views.” Donald Friend produced a series of red ink drawings (shown at Philip Bacon Galleries in 1983), including The House at Owl Creek. Charles Blackman and Robert Dickerson also painted the mountains when they resided nearby.
From the reserve we take a 6 km scenic drive to the delightful village of Maleny where there will be free time to explore the town’s shops, many of which offer local produce. Of particular interest is the Maleny Food & Co. Café, Store & Fromagerie.
Following lunch at ‘The Tamarind’, an award-winning restaurant featuring Asian cuisine, we visit the studio of landscape and portrait painter, Peter Hudson. Hudson (b. 1950) moved to Maleny in the 1990s where he began creating plein-air paintings of the surrounding hinterland and the Glasshouse Mountains. In his autobiography he acknowledges that Lawrence Daws, who lived nearby, was generous and influenced him greatly. Since 1998 he has divided his time between his studio work and his annual one-month painting trips either to the Northern Territory, or Northern and Central West Queensland. The Gurindji people of the Northern Territory led him to his current interest in portraiture. Hudson exhibits regularly, has won regional art prizes, and is represented in the collections of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Parliament House, Brisbane and the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.
From Maleny we travel to the neighbouring rural town of Montville where we explore the private gardens of ‘The Macadamery’. This stunning, lush semi-tropical garden includes macadamia trees from the remnant orchard, aged palms, tree ferns, golden pendas, wattle trees and a giant strangler fig. There’s also a timber boardwalk traversing pockets of rainforest. The gardens surround a 1926 Queenslander home, once owned by novelist Eleanor Dark. Born in 1901, Eleonor Dark (nee O’Reilly), spent her childhood at a Sydney boarding school. Following her 1922 marriage to Eric Payten Dark, who shared her interest in literature, bushwalking, mountain-climbing and gardening, they moved to the relative isolation of the Blue Mountains where she continued to write. Her novels written in 1934 and 1936 both won Australian Literature Society Gold Medals. Her book, The Timeless Land written in the early 1940s was made into an ABC TV series. In 1951 the Darks purchased a farm at Montville and for the next seven years came north each winter from the Blue Mountains. During her time in Montville, Dark penned her last novel Lantana Lane (1959), based on humorous characters she came to know in the Montville community. Following our tour of the gardens we continue our journey north to the coastal town of Noosa Heads. (Overnight Noosa Heads) BL
Fraser Island – 3 nights
Day 11: Saturday 7 August, Noosa Heads – Maryborough – Fraser Island
- Statue of Mary Poppins
- Story Bank Mary Poppins Museum, Maryborough
- Brennan and Geraghty’s Store Museum, Maryborough
We depart Noosa Heads early this morning for Maryborough. Our journey takes us past Mount Cooroy, painted by Sam Fullbrook in the late 1960s from his farmhouse at Eumundi. Just north of Noosa is Boreen Point where Judith Wright holidayed from 1953 until Jack McKinney’s death in 1966. Further north are the Gympie goldfields. In 1871 Anthony Trollope travelled by coach on the track through forests between the Gympie goldfields and Brisbane. “I had been very much advised against the coach”, Trollope later recalled. “I enjoyed the drive most thoroughly. It lasted three days. I had to acknowledge also the great beauty of the scrubs and found some breaks in the mountains very grand”.
Maryborough, a city in the Fraser Coast Region, has a number of heritage-listed buildings, including the former Australian Joint Stock Bank where P.L. Travers’ father, Travers Goff, worked as bank manager and where, in August 1899, she was born in a room on the second floor. We will view the bronze statue of her at the front of the building which commemorates her literary achievements. Born Helen Lyndon Goff, she lived in Maryborough until the age of five when the family relocated to Allora. Within the former bank we visit the ‘Story Bank Mary Poppins Museum’ which describes her life story and her ties with Maryborough.
Following time at leisure for lunch we make a short visit to the National Trust-run ‘Brennan and Geraghty’s Store Museum’. This charming store, established in 1871, is a rare survivor of our commercial heritage and features goods dating back to the 1890s. From the museum we continue to River Heads where we take the 50-minute ferry trip to our resort overlooking Kingfisher Bay. (Overnight Kingfisher Bay Resort) BD
Day 12: Sunday 8 August, Fraser Island
- Lake McKenzie
- Central Station and Wanggoolba Creek
- Pile Valley’s Satinay and Brush Box forests
- 75 Mile Beach
- The Maheno shipwreck and the coloured sands of The Pinnacles
- Fresh waters of Eli Creek
Known as K’gari (meaning paradise) by the traditional owners, the Butchulla people, World Heritage-listed Fraser Island has inspired many writers and artists. First published in 1964, Legends of Moonie Jarl is a selection of creation stories from K`gari, taught to Butchulla children by their Elders, which tell how the animals and plants were created. Written and illustrated by siblings, Wilf Reeves and Olga Miller, Legends of Moonie Jarl is a landmark work in Australian literary history, being the very first book of Aboriginal stories authored by Aboriginal people. Both Wilf Reeves and Olga Miller were born in Maryborough and were keen members of the Maryborough Writers Group in the 1960s. Their book, reprinted in 2015 by the Indigenous Literary Foundation, continues to pass on the stories of the Butchulla people.
Sidney Nolan lived in a ménage à trois at Heide in Melbourne with Sunday and John Reed until 1947, when he moved to Brisbane. There he stayed with his friend Barrett Reid, a Brisbane poet and the youngest contributor to the literary and arts journal Angry Penguins. With Reid, Nolan made his first visit to the rainforests, swamps, and lagoons of Fraser Island. It was here that Nolan was introduced to the historical figure of Eliza Fraser, a Scottish woman who was shipwrecked near the island in 1836. Fascinated by the story of her survival and rescue by escaped convict John Graham who had lived alongside the island’s Aboriginal people, he painted various island sites including Lake Wabby and Indian Head. His Platypus Bay, Fraser Island was purchased by the Queensland Art Gallery in 2014. Other works include a lone female or male figure in the landscape such as the famous Mrs Fraser (1947) which has long been regarded as emblematic of his animosity towards Sunday Reed, and Island (1947) on display at the AGNSW. The QAG website states “Between 1947 and 1948, Sidney Nolan painted at least 15 images of Fraser Island and Eliza Fraser. He then returned to the same theme briefly in 1952, and again during the late 1950s and early 1960s, when he produced numerous works referring, either obliquely or directly, to the Eliza Fraser story and the landscapes he had encountered on the island. Their continuing presence in his paintings, almost 20 years after his initial curiosity, suggests that the episode affected his work greatly, making Queensland instrumental in his development as an artist.”
Nolan shared his fascination for the island with his friend Patrick White, who visited Fraser in the 1960s and early 70s. White used the island’s primal wilderness as the setting for his novel The Eye of the Storm (1973), and in A Fringe of Leaves, a fictionalised retelling of Eliza’s saga. A film of The Eye of the Storm was released in 2011 featuring Charlotte Rampling as Elizabeth Hunter and Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis as Elizabeth’s children Basil and Dorothy. Other films set on the island include Eliza Fraser, the first major Australia period movie produced in 1976 by Tim Burstall.
Judith Wright, a friend of Nolan’s, argued in the 1975 Fraser Island Enquiry not only for the island’s protection on environmental grounds, but also on cultural grounds:
So many of us have as it were an inward expectation of a European landscape and therefore I think, it has been difficult for us to appreciate the subtle beauty of Australia which is very different. Painters have trained our eye much more to appreciate this beauty; our interpretation of the landscape has altered as a result of its revisioning as it were by artists and also by writers.
Australia has practically no cultural inheritance, unlike other countries which appreciate the work of their artists and the places which have been, if I must put it so, hallowed by association with great works of art. Fraser Island should be thought of as a cultural monument, because one of the greatest artists, now working overseas, Sidney Nolan, has done two series of paintings of the island and of its history, as it were, Fraser Island story, and the magnificent and major novel, ‘The Eye of the Storm’ which Patrick White published just before he got the Nobel Prize, takes for its main setting, the Fraser Island beach. Judith Wright 1975
Thanks to the legacy of environmentalists, most of the island was designated a National Park with World Heritage status. We spend a full day exploring the island’s unique landscape, including Wanggoolba Creek, which remains a crystal-clear freshwater creek running through rainforest at Central Station, just as Nolan painted it. (Overnight Fraser Island) BLD
Day 13: Monday 9 August, Fraser Island
- Whale Watching, Hervey Bay
- Afternoon at leisure
- Farewell Dinner
The calm waters of Platypus Bay off the north-western coast of Fraser Island, in the Hervey Bay Marine Park, have become world famous as a prime whale watching area. From August to October humpback whales, migrating south to the Antarctic, stop to rest, play and nurture their calves in the bay. We rise early this morning for our morning Whale Watching tour in Hervey Bay. Following an afternoon at leisure to relax and enjoy the facilities of our resort, we enjoy a final farewell meal. (Overnight Fraser Island) BLD
Day 14: Tuesday 10 August, Fraser Island – Brisbane
- Early morning Ferry from King Bay Resort to River Heads
- Tilt Train from Maryborough West to Brisbane Roma Street (1158-1450)
After an early breakfast, we take the return ferry from our resort to River Heads. On arrival we transfer to the Maryborough West Station where we board the Tilt Train to Brisbane. From our seats we will enjoy the picturesque scenery of Gympie, the Glasshouse Mountains and the Sunshine Coast hinterland. We are scheduled to arrive at Brisbane’s Roma Street Station at 2.40pm. There our tour officially ends. B