The RAHS would like to offer condolences to those close to Queen Elizabeth II who are experiencing a profound personal loss at her death. As the longest-reigning monarch in British history, the late Queen will be remembered for her enormous dedication to the role she performed for more than seventy years.
To commemorate her passing, the RAHS has shared images and articles of the 1954 Royal Tour of Queen Elizabeth II, when the 27-year-old Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, spent eight weeks touring Australia.
The RAHS also holds a collection of 78 photographs taken of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on 3 February 1954, on what was the first day of their 58-day tour of Australia. A selection of these photographs has been compiled below.
On 10 August 1832 the Red Rover arrived in Sydney Harbour with 202 free young unmarried Irish women onboard. This ship had left Cork, Ireland, on 10 April 1832. On 15 August the young women left the Red Rover and were housed in the Sydney lumber yard, which was at the southern corner of George and Bridge streets, until they could find employment. There is now a Royal Australian Historical Society green plaque on the wall of the entrance alcove of Moran House, 13-15 Bridge Street, to mark the site of the old Sydney lumber yard. The arrival of the Red Rover young Irish women at the Sydney lumber yard was described in the Sydney Monitor on 15 August 1832. In the newspaper report, which was quite positive about the young women, it was noted that Governor Bourke and Miss Bourke ‘have paid a kind visit to these free women.’ The women on the Red Rover have sometimes been referred to incorrectly as convicts, as was pointed out by C.T. Burfitt in 1909.
DETAIL OF ‘SKETCH OF THE TOWN OF SYDNEY’ 1821 SHOWING THE LUMBER YARD [STATE LIBRARY OF NSW]
It would be correct to say that the arrival of these free young unmarried women in Sydney in August 1832 was a challenge for Governor Bourke. He knew that these young women would arrive in Sydney in 1832 and had made some provision for them on their arrival. As well as providing the Sydney lumber yard for their temporary accommodation until they could find employment, Governor Bourke had appointed a small reception committee of women to look after their welfare and guide them in finding employment. The members of this Ladies Reception Committee were the wives and daughters of leading colonists.
From the records we have, it can be concluded that most of the young women were able to obtain employment soon after their arrival. Some did return to the Sydney lumber yard due to problems with their employment, while others were sent to the country areas. By the beginning of January 1833 only one young woman remained in the Sydney lumber yard.
Tracing what happened to these young women and assessing their contributions to Australia as good servants and valuable wives is not an easy task but Elizabeth Rushen and Perry McIntyre in their book, Fair Game: Australia’s first immigrant women, have made a well-researched and balanced assessment of these young women which has also included the 200 free young unmarried women from London who arrived in Hobart on the Royal Princess on 23 August 1832. Whilst several of the Red Rover women fell on hard times and committed crimes, many others fell under the radar, with their lives only being discovered through their descendants doing family history research. Some of them lived to a good age and had large families.
After the arrival of the Red Rover in Sydney on 10 August 1832, and the arrival of the Princess Royal in Hobart on 23 August 1832, another fourteen ships would bring approximately 2,700 more free unmarried young women from England and Ireland to Australia between August 1833 and February 1837 as part of a migration scheme to correct the serious imbalance between the male and female population in the colonies. The young women who came to Australia on these sixteen ships during the 1830s were depicted as butterflies by the artist Alfred Ducote in his picture E-migration, or, A flight of fair game (1832).
ALFRED DUCOTE, E-MIGRATION, OR, A FLIGHT OF FAIR GAME, LITHOGRAPH, 1832 [NATIONAL LIBRARY OF AUSTRALIA]
The list of these migrant ships is on Liz Rushen’s website of Bounty Emigration Ships to Australia. You will also find on this website the names of the young free unmarried women, including my great, great grandmother, Mary Downey, who was arrived on the Red Rover on 10 August 1832. She lived into her 80s and had a large family. NSW State Records show that Mary Downey was initially employed by Miss Anne Bourke, Governor Bourke’s daughter. Anne Bourke was very likely on the Ladies Reception Committee for the women on the Red Rover in 1832. More information about the Red Rover women, including their initial employment in New South Wales, is in the NSW State Records.
The Australian television series, Who Do You Think You Are? which has aired on SBS TV since 2008, has also uncovered the lives of two young women who came to Australia on two of these sixteen migrant ships during the 1830s. The actor Lex Marinos’ ancestor, Marianne Mortimer, arrived in Hobart on the Princess Royal on 23 August 1832, and the actress Kat Stewart’s ancestor, Eliza Martin, arrived in Hobart on the William Metcalfe on 24 January 1837.
BENJAMIN, THE LAST THYLACINE, PHOTOGRAPHED CIRCA 1936 AT HOBART ZOO. IMAGE COURTESY TASMANIAN MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY.
On 7 September 1936, Benjamin, the world’s last known thylacine, died in captivity at Hobart Zoo from suspected neglect. Despite decades of a rapidly dwindling population, hastened by habitat destruction, disease, the incursion of introduced species, and human intervention, the species had only been declared protected two months prior. It would take fifty years before the thylacine—better known as the Tasmanian tiger after the distinctive stripes along its back—was pronounced officially extinct, in 1986. Ten years later, 7 September was declared National Threatened Species Day, to commemorate the last thylacine and raise awareness for other species facing a similar fate today.
The thylacine was once the world’s largest marsupial carnivore. That title is now held by its closest living relative, the Tasmanian devil—a species declared endangered in 2008. Characterised by its fifteen to twenty dark stripes from shoulder to tail, the Tasmanian tiger bore striking resemblance in head and figure to both dingoes and wolves, though was genetically related to neither. Scientists consider this an exceptional example of convergent evolution, in which unrelated species evolve similar physical features due to similar environmental factors.
There were an estimated five thousand thylacines in Tasmania/lutruwita at the time of European settlement. The species had previously gone locally extinct on the Australian mainland and Papua New Guinea, due in part to the introduction of the dingo approximately four thousand years ago.
Wild dogs, disease, and habitat destruction all played a part in the final demise of the thylacine, but it was hunting that signed their death warrant. Thylacines were deemed pests by local farmers, who wanted an easy scapegoat for the injury and death of their livestock—though wild dogs were likely more to blame. Bounties were set on both adult thylacines and their pups from as early as 1830 to as late as 1909. More than two thousand were collected, though it is likely more were killed. By the time zoos around the world sought their own Tasmanian tiger to display, it was too late. The wild population had been eradicated, and attempts to breed in captivity failed. The thylacine joined the more than ten percent of native Australian mammal species to go extinct since colonisation—the highest rate of mammal extinction in the world.
More than seventy percent of Australian native species are unique to our country. If they go extinct here, they go extinct everywhere. Over 518 native species are currently threatened in Australia. It is for these animals that National Threatened Species Day is held, to try and prevent another Benjamin, the last of his kind.
Daylight saving is an accepted, if confusing, part of life for most Australians. On the first Sunday in October, people living in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory set their clocks forward by one hour to extend daylight hours after the working day. On the first Sunday in April, we set them back.
The practice is a controversial one, neatly illustrated by the five time zones daylight saving creates across the country instead of our usual three. Its advocates argue for the increased availability of after-work activities and the boost in the local economy this provides. Fewer animals are killed on roads during daylight saving time, as most workers no longer drive home during dusk. Daylight saving has also been proven to reduce electricity demand in the late afternoon and early evening. Tasmania was the first Australian state to introduce the practice permanently in 1967 as an alternative to power rationing during drought.
NSW and most other states followed suit in 1971. 2021, therefore, marks the 50th anniversary of daylight saving being permanently used across most of Australia. But did you know it was originally introduced during the First World War?
The Daylight Saving Act 1916 implemented daylight-saving time on the Australian home front and was initially intended as a wartime fuel-saving measure. The practice had begun in Germany and Austria in 1916, which in turn modelled it from Port Arthur, Canada, the first place in the world to employ daylight saving time in 1908. Academics had been proposing the clock change for years, notably New Zealand entomologist George Hudson in 1895.
Despite European successes, the practice did not go over well in Australia and was repealed in late 1917. Newspapers reported, “Nothing in the long record of Parliamentary delinquency has excited more derision … than this ill-starred attempt to divert Nature from her natural course.” “It has been tried and found wanting,” another printed, “like a good many of Billy Hughes’ plans.” The practice did not re-emerge until more than twenty years later during another world war, where daylight saving time was used nationwide from 1942 to 1944. Following the end of hostilities, it fell into disuse for another twenty years.
Today’s opponents to daylight saving argue that the practice disrupts sleep patterns, leading to health risks. It may even correlate to a spike in fatal road accidents in the first few days following the clock change as people drive while tired. When implemented in Tasmania in 1967, certain professions were affected more than others: farmers, for instance, whose work depends on daylight.
The international community has recently begun to address these concerns. In 2019, the European Union member states voted to abolish the practice entirely. Countries had the option to choose whether to stick with ‘permanent winter’ (standard) or ‘permanent summer’ (daylight saving) time, though Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic have since stalled the decision.
In Australia, Queensland, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory do not practice daylight saving, despite a number of referenda and trial periods. For those living in border communities, such as in the twin towns of Tweed Heads (NSW) and Coolangatta (QLD), simply crossing the street can lead to an hour’s time difference during daylight saving in NSW. Residents have even been known to celebrate two New Year’s.
In 1970, ABC’s Four Corners aired a segment on daylight saving in Tasmania. 80% of their Tasmanian viewers were in favour of the change. Others argued the government should “leave God’s time alone.” Bruce Grundy, the host of current affairs program Line Up, had this to say: “Times change, obviously. I’m talking about changing times.”
Daylight saving seems set to stay in NSW and most other Australian states. But who knows where the next fifty years may take us? Only time will tell.
Greg Baker, ‘Daylight saving time: summer 2009-10 and autumn 2010’, research paper, Parliament of Australia, 19 November, no. 10, 2009-10.
Seungmoon Choi, Alistair Pellen and Virginie Masson, ‘How does daylight saving time affect electricity demand? An answer using aggregate data from a natural experiment in Western Australia’, Energy Economics 66 (August 2017): 247-260, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eneco.2017.06.018.
CONTEMPLATION: XAVIER MERTZ LOOKS OUT OVER THE BOAT HARBOUR AT CAPE DENISON, 1912. DRIFTING SNOW MAKES THE LANDSCAPE LOOK FUZZY. PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANK HURLEY. IMAGE COURTESY MITCHELL LIBRARY, SLNSW.
110 years ago in 1911, the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) set sail from Hobart, Tasmania, on the old whaling ship Aurora. Among the crew were a young Frank Hurley, soon-to-be war photographer; Frank Wild, English explorer and Antarctic veteran; Belgrave Ninnis, son of the Arctic explorer of the same name and lieutenant with the Royal Fusiliers; Xavier Mertz, Swiss champion skier; and Douglas Mawson, Australian geologist and leader of the expedition, six months shy of his thirtieth birthday on the day of the Aurora’s embarkation.
Over the course of their three-year journey, the AAE returned some of the most remarkable scientific finds of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, including the first meteorite discovered in Antarctica. The data from the expedition took thirty years to be published in its entirety. By the end of his Antarctic career, Mawson would claim forty-two percent of the continent for Australia—a figure which stands today. But Mawson and the AAE are best remembered for achievements of a different kind: those of endurance, and survival against all odds, in what has been called by some ‘the most terrible polar exploration ever’. 
Last month, on 25 May 2021, three new memorial plaques were unveiled at Mawson Place, Hobart Harbour, 150 metres from where the AAE first set sail. Dedicated to the lives lost on that fateful expedition, the ceremony was attended by British High Commissioner to Australia Victoria Treadell and Swiss Ambassador Pedro Zwahlen. ‘Recognition of the sacrifices of this expedition has been long overdue’, David Jensen, founder of the Mawson’s Hut Foundation, remarked in his opening speech. 
Previously, the only monument to honour the fallen polar heroes was a single wooden cross erected at Cape Denison, East Antarctica, the home base of the AAE and ‘at its worst … one of the most terrible environments on earth’.  Beset by brutal katabatic winds, hundreds of kilometres from the next outpost, very few people outside scientific circles make the trek to the memorial.
It is about time they were commemorated on Australian soil.
HAPPIER TIMES: FROM L TO R MERTZ, SECOND ENGINEER CORNER, SECOND OFFICER PERCY GRAY, AND NINNIS, EN ROUTE TO AUSTRALIA ON BOARD THE AURORA, 1911. PHOTOGRAPH BY AURORA’S CHIEF ENGINEER F. J. GILLIES. IMAGE COURTESY MITCHELL LIBRARY, SLNSW.
‘A man of character, generous and of noble parts’. ‘A fine fellow and a born soldier’. So Douglas Mawson described his companions Xavier Mertz and Belgrave Ninnis in his published account of the expedition, Home of the Blizzard.  The three men set out from Cape Denison on 10 November 1912 as the Far Eastern Party, one of several smaller expeditions to explore the uncharted polar territory. With them went seventeen sledging dogs. They made good pace for over a month, travelling 500 kilometres from base camp across glaciers pitted with hidden crevasses.
On 13 December the men made camp, and redistributed their supplies from three sledges to two. The next day began as normal, Mertz skiing ahead, Mawson following, standing on the runners of his sled, Ninnis jogging beside his and bringing up the rear. Mertz spotted a crevasse. He halted and raised his ski pole to alert the others. He and Mawson passed over without incident. Then Mertz halted again, alarmed. Mawson looked back. Ninnis was not behind them.
The two retraced their footsteps, frantic, hoping Ninnis was simply out of sight behind a rise in the snow. They found the crevasse instead, its snow cover fallen through. Crawling forward on his stomach, peering into the darkness, Mawson saw two dogs lying on a ledge far below: one dead, the other badly injured and whining. They had fallen through the snow bridge without a sound, along with the expedition’s other best dogs, most of the food and supplies, and their master, Lieutenant Belgrave Ninnis. 
Mawson and Mertz called for Ninnis for hours. The rope they carried was not long enough to reach the ledge where the dogs were, let alone deeper into the crevasse. Shock soon gave way to grief: ‘Our fellow, comrade, chum, in a woeful instant, buried in the bowels of that awful glacier’, Mawson later wrote.  In his diary, Mertz was numb: ‘We could do nothing, really nothing. We were standing, helplessly, next to a friend’s grave, my best friend of the whole expedition’. 
In redistributing the supplies the previous night, Mawson had thought the first sled would be the one to encounter any difficulty, so kept essential supplies to a minimum and hitched it to the weakest dogs. He and Mertz now faced a thirty-day return journey with ten days’ worth of food, minimal supplies, no dog food and no tent. Mawson’s diary captures the bleak situation: ‘May God help us’, he wrote. 
Belgrave Edward Sutton Ninnis was twenty-five when he died. Responding to an advertisement placed by Mawson about the expedition in London, Ninnis was hired as the minder of the fifty sledging dogs Mawson purchased from Greenland. Ninnis had no experience in dogs or polar exploration, but his military rank and family history—his father, also Belgrave Ninnis, was a prominent Arctic explorer—likely influenced Mawson’s decision to recruit the young lieutenant. 
Mertz also joined the expedition in London and was appointed to the dogs with Ninnis. Only five years older than the lieutenant, the two soon became close friends. Today the Mertz and Ninnis Glaciers sit side-by-side on the Antarctic coast.
PHOTOSHOOT: NINNIS AT THE DOG QUARANTINE STATION ON THE DERWENT RIVER, 1911, BEFORE THE EXPEDITION EMBARKED. PHOTOGRAPH BY HIS FRIEND XAVIER MERTZ. IMAGE COURTESY MITCHELL LIBRARY, SLNSW.
MEN AT WORK: NINNIS (FOREGROUND) IN THE CATACOMBS LEADING TO THE CAPE DENISON HUT, 1912. PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANK HURLEY. IMAGE COURTESY MITCHELL LIBRARY, SLNSW.
Mawson and Mertz made the decision to retrace their steps across the glacier back to camp, rather than attempt a longer route via the coast. They returned to their camp from the previous night, where they cut poles from the abandoned sledge to create a makeshift canvas tent.
The two men travelled 320 kilometres of the 500 kilometre journey together. Their daily rations were a mere 400 grams, compared to the usual 960, even supplemented by the meat from their remaining dogs—a necessity that was likely traumatising for Mertz especially, who had been entrusted with their care. Already stricken with grief, both men soon fell sick as well. Their skin and hair began to fall off; they suffered abdominal pain, weight loss, and dizziness, alongside the snow-blindness Mawson was already experiencing. The last dog, Ginger, died on 28 December. In the new year, Mertz’s condition declined rapidly. He had fever, fits, and bouts of dysentery, and died ‘peacefully at about 2 am’ on 8 January 1913. 
Mawson was now alone, ‘on the wide shores of the world’. 
MAN’S BEST FRIEND: MERTZ AND ONE OF HIS FAVOURITE DOGS, BASILISK, 1912. PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANK HURLEY. IMAGE COURTESY MITCHELL LIBRARY, SLNSW.
Dr Xavier Mertz was twenty-eight when he joined the AAE. He had a doctorate in law, was a national ski champion in his native Switzerland, and an experienced mountaineer. On board the Aurora from London to Australia, he dabbled in his hobby of amateur photography, setting up a makeshift darkroom in the bowels of the ship.
The only non-British European to join Mawson’s expedition, Mertz was a novelty for many of the men. His imperfect English and habit of yodelling whenever the mood struck both amused and bemused his companions. In her paper on Mertz in Hobart, Anna Lucas wryly describes Mertz as ‘Ever the patriot, he also wrote that he was taking the Swiss flag with him, intending to raise it at several places on the Antarctic continent (which he did)’. 
Mawson did not expect to survive the final leg of the journey back to base. But he was determined to travel as far as he could so his body, and his and Mertz’s diaries, could be found. ‘How short a distance it would seem to the vigorous’, Mawson wrote, no doubt remembering the easy trek he, Mertz, and Ninnis had undertaken two months ago, ‘but what a lengthy journey for the weak and famished!’ 
The soles of his feet had peeled off completely. Mawson smothered them in lanolin and bandaged the skin back on, but the pain made the miles twice as hard, and twice as slow, to cover. On 17 January he fell into a crevasse, saved only from Ninnis’ fate by his sledge getting stuck in a snowdrift. Mawson, at this point weighing little more than fifty kilograms, pulled himself up by his rope, hand over bloodied hand.
On 29 January at approximately two p.m., twenty-one days after Mertz’s death, Mawson spotted a cairn with a store of food inside and a note, directing him to the supply cache thirty miles from base camp. The note had been written at eight a.m. that day: Mawson had missed his companions by mere hours.
Three days later he reached the cache of Aladdin’s Cave. Inside were three oranges and a pineapple: Mawson wept, ‘overcome, he later said, by the sight of something that was not white’. 
A blizzard kept Mawson inside the cave for the next five days. On 8 February, three months after setting out from Cape Denison with Ninnis and Mertz, Mawson made it back. In the distance of Commonwealth Bay he could make out the distinct shape of the Aurora, departing base camp at last after already delaying almost a month in the hope of the Far Eastern Party’s return.
But all, for Mawson, was not lost. Six men had stayed behind, willing to brave another Antarctic winter to search for their lost companions: Bob Bage, Francis Bickerton, Alfred Hodgeman, Sidney Jeffyres, Cecil Madigan, and Archibald McLean. Mawson could scarcely believe it: ‘They seemed almost unreal—I was in a dream’. 
The AAE was the first expedition in the world to establish long-term wireless radio contact with mainland Australia. Mawson used it to send a message to his fiancée, Paquita, in those long months before the Aurora could return through the ice: ‘Deeply regret delay. Only just managed to reach hut. Effects now gone but lost most of my hair. You are free to consider your contract but trust you will not abandon your second hand Douglas’.
Paquita replied: ‘Deeply thankful you are safe. Warmest welcome awaiting your hairless return’. 
ON DECK: NINNIS AND MAWSON ON BOARD THE AURORA, 1911. PHOTOGRAPH BY PERCY GRAY. IMAGE COURTESY MITCHELL LIBRARY, SLNSW.
AT REST: MAWSON RESTING BY HIS SLEDGE, MARCH 1912. PHOTOGRAPH BY XAVIER MERTZ. IMAGE COURTESY MITCHELL LIBRARY, SLNSW.
Tramping over the plateau, where reigns the desolation of the outer worlds, in solitude at once ominous and weird, one is free to roam in imagination … One is in the midst of infinities—the infinity of the dazzling white plateau, the infinity of the dome above, the infinity of the time past since these things had birth, and the infinity of the time to come … 
So wrote Mawson in Home of the Blizzard. Despite the tragedy he had endured in the Antarctic, he was never in doubt, and remained forever in awe, of its beauty. He would return to Antarctica as leader of the British Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition in 1929.
Most of the AAE went on to fight in World War I. Some, including Bage and McLean, lost their lives. Perhaps, had he survived Antarctica, Belgrave Ninnis would have joined them. Switzerland was a neutral country in the war, but Xavier Mertz had already proven himself an adventurer. What choices would he have made, given time?
We now know that the illness both Mawson and Mertz suffered from after the death of Ninnis was hypervitaminosis A, an excess of vitamin A in the body. Husky livers contain toxic levels of the vitamin, and were consumed by both men over several weeks. Mertz, used to eating less meat than Mawson, and especially once in a weakened state, may have been given the palatable liver over the rest of the ‘stringy’ dog meat, thus explaining his rapid decline. 
We also know that Ninnis’ habit of running alongside his sledge cost him his life. Mertz and Mawson passed over the snow cover of the crevasse without incident, their weight distributed on skis and sled runners respectively. Ninnis’ weight was concentrated in a very small area, enough to break through the snow entirely. Some historians have criticised Mawson, arguing that as leader he should have insisted on skis for his men. 
But hindsight is easy, especially from the warmth, comfort, and solid ground of our own homes.
British explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s Terra Nova expedition of 1912 similarly ended in tragedy. Scott and his four companions set out to be the first to reach the South Pole but were beaten by a Norwegian team by little more than a month. All five men died on the return journey.
David Shearman, writing in 1978, compared the two terrible expeditions. ‘Scott’, he writes, ‘was defeated in his prime aim, which must have affected the high morale necessary to keep going. Mawson, on the other hand, was a scientist and he drove himself to deliver his wealth of scientific observations’. 
He succeeded. Yet it was not only scientific discovery Mawson brought back to Australia but a deeply tragic, and a deeply human, story of survival. Not only of himself, but of the memory of Ninnis and Mertz: two young, brave, adventurous, affable, devoted, capable men. Frozen in time, in photographs, in history, and forever on ice.
FAREWELLS: THE FAR EASTERN PARTY DEPARTING, NOVEMBER 1912. IT IS THE LAST PHOTOGRAPH OF MAWSON, MERTZ, AND NINNIS TOGETHER. PHOTOGRAPH BY ARCHIBALD MCLEAN. IMAGE COURTESY MITCHELL LIBRARY, SLNSW.
IN MEMORIAM: INSCRIPTION ON THE TABLET BELOW THE MEMORIAL CROSS FOR MERTZ AND NINNIS AT CAPE DENISON. PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANK HURLEY. IMAGE COURTESY MITCHELL LIBRARY, SLNSW.
 Sir Douglas Mawson, The Home of the Blizzard: Being the Story of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914 (London: W. Heinemann, 1915).
 Dash, ‘Polar Exploration’; Killick, ‘Life and death’.
 Mawson, Home of the Blizzard.
 ‘Mawson in the Antarctic’, NMA.
 Dash, ‘Polar Exploration’; Killick, ‘Life and death’.
 Wenger, ‘Great honour’.
 Mawson, Home of the Blizzard; Dash, ‘Polar Exploration’; Killick, ‘Life and death’; Douglas Mawson, with Fred Jacka and Eleanor Jacka, eds., Mawson’s Antarctic diaries (North Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1988); Elizabeth Leane and Helen Tiffin, ‘Dogs, Meat and Douglas Mawson’, Australian Humanities Review no. 51 (Nov 2011): 1; David J. C. Shearman, ‘Vitamin A and Sir Douglas Mawson’, British Medical Journal 1 (Feb 1978): 283-285.
 Mawson, Home of the Blizzard.
 Anna Lucas, ‘Mertz in Hobart: Impressions of one of Mawson’s men while preparing for Antarctic adventure’, Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 146 (2012): 37-44.
 Mawson, Home of the Blizzard; Killick, ‘Life and death’; Shearman, ‘Vitamin A’.
 Mawson, Home of the Blizzard; Dash, ‘Polar Exploration’; Killick, ‘Life and death’; Shearman, ‘Vitamin A’.
On Monday 15 March 2021, thousands of protestors attended more than forty ‘March 4 Justice’ events across the country. From Melbourne to Mullumbimby, participants rallied against the virulent culture of gendered violence, harassment, and discrimination that plagues even the highest offices of federal parliament. They wore black and carried placards denouncing misogyny, domestic violence, rape culture, and sexual abuse in the workplace. Their rallying cry was simple and became a trending hashtag: #EnoughIsEnough.
PROTESTER IN THE WOMEN AGAINST RAPE IN WAR DEMONSTRATION ON ANZAC PARADE DEMANDS TO KNOW THE NUMBER OF THE ARRESTING CONSTABLE, SYDNEY, 25 APRIL 1981. [IMAGE COURTESY GLEN MCDONALD, ACT HERITAGE LIBRARY, CANBERRA TIMES COLLECTION, 008867.]
Women’s protests have long been a vital and vibrant part of Australian history. From the turn-of-the-century suffragettes to the 2017 worldwide Women’s March, public demonstrations have proven their worth as agents of political, social, and cultural change.
It’s not just a small group of us anymore. People are educated, aware, and they’re determined. — Australian journalist Jess Hill in an interview with UTS Central News
PROTESTORS AT THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY RALLY IN MELBOURNE, 8 MARCH 1975. [IMAGE COURTESY NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF AUSTRALIA, A6180, 19/3/75/5.]
PROTESTORS AT THE MELBOURNE MARCH 4 JUSTICE, 15 MARCH 2021. [IMAGE COURTESY EDDIE JIM, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD.]
The white, green, and violet-clad suffragette was a globally recognised icon from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. Typically a middle to upper-middle-class white woman, she campaigned tirelessly for the right to vote—a political privilege that had been reserved for white men for centuries.
In Australia, the first women’s suffrage society was established in 1884 in Victoria. Women travelled door to door across the colonies, trailing petitions and distributing pamphlets. They lobbied the government, held public debates, and marched through the streets to generate awareness and popularity for their cause. South Australia led the way, granting all women—including Aboriginal women—the right to vote and stand for election in 1894. The nation followed suit in 1902, though simultaneously barring Indigenous people of any gender from voting. The ban was lifted in 1962 after further hard-fought protests.
Australia was the second country in the world, after New Zealand, to grant women’s suffrage nation-wide. Despite these early victories, it took twenty years for the first woman to be elected to state parliament, and another twenty before women joined at the federal level. Only in 2016 did Linda Burney become the first Aboriginal woman elected to the House of Representatives.
It is difficult to imagine that 120 years ago, most women in Australia could not vote. Without the efforts of such Australian suffragettes as Vida Goldstein, Mary Lee, Catherine Helen Spence, and many more, that victory would have been even longer in the making.
ROSALIE BOGNER (LEFT) AND MERLE THORNTON CHAINED THEMSELVES TO THE BAR OF THE REGATTA HOTEL IN BRISBANE IN 1965 TO PROTEST THE BAN ON WOMEN DRINKING IN MEN-ONLY PUBLIC BARS. [IMAGE COURTESY BRUCE POSTLE ARCHIVE, STATE LIBRARY OF VICTORIA.]
Gaining the vote was just the beginning. Australian women soon began campaigning for greater rights in both the public and private spheres, during what historian Marilyn Lake calls “the golden age” of Australian feminism.
Protests took the form of marches, sit-ins, rallies, and even street theatre performances. Issues included the gender pay gap—which still exists today—marriage, divorce, and reproductive rights; equality in the workplace; and the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Support for the women’s movement only grew after the Second World War, as more and more women who had enlisted in the Women’s Land Army sought similar freedoms in their civilian lives.
The so-called ‘Marriage Bar’ that excluded married women from the workplace was lifted in the education sector in 1956 and for public servants in 1966. Initial access to the contraceptive pill—taxed at 27.5% as a ‘luxury’, only completely repealed in 2018—was granted in 1961, with conditional abortion rights following in 1969.
The 1970s was home to the United Nations International Women’s Year in 1975, and saw great strides in equal pay, maternity leave, childcare, and divorce and marriage rights. The 70s also heralded the first International Women’s Day rally in Australia, held in Melbourne on 8 March 1975, two years before the day was officially recognised by the UN. Australia ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1983.
During the 1960s and 1970s, women were also vocal voices in the anti-Vietnam War moratoriums and, from the 1980s, drew attention to the gendered silences surrounding the national commemoration of Anzac Day through the Women Against Rape in War campaign. Everywhere you turn in Australian history, a woman holds her protest sign high.
‘Shatter the silence, stop the violence’
A BANNER AT MELBOURNE’S MARCH 4 JUSTICE LISTING ALL AUSTRALIAN WOMEN KILLED BY GENDERED VIOLENCE SINCE 2008. [IMAGE COURTESY ANTOUN ISSA, @ANTISSA ON TWITTER.]
Banner at Melbourne March 4 Justice listing all Australian women killed by gendered violence since 2008.
More recently, women’s protests have centred on ending sexual and domestic violence. “This isn’t new,” one protestor from Sydney’s March 4 Justice informed the camera. “It’s all the way to the top.”
One woman is killed every nine days by a current or former partner. One in six women has experienced sexual assault since the age of 15. One in two women has been sexually harassed since the age of 15. Two in five women have been sexually harassed in the workplace.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in particular are disproportionately affected, not only by domestic and sexual violence but by institutional violence in police custody.
It is no wonder thousands of Australians marched to say enough is enough.
PROTESTOR AT THE PERTH MARCH 4 JUSTICE. [IMAGE COURTESY KATY THOMSON, @DMCKATEFACE ON TWITTER.]
Protests throughout Australian history have long been forces for powerful change. Women would not have the vote, and all our legal rights since, without them. These recent demonstrations are no different. It may be bleak to consider how much work still needs to be done to secure respect, safety, and equality for people of all genders, races, sexualities, and backgrounds. As one sign from Perth’s March 4 Justice put it:
Yet so long as there are protests, there are things worth protesting, and people worth protesting for.
SENATOR LIDIA THORPE (RIGHT) PROTESTING AT CANBERRA’S MARCH 4 JUSTICE. [IMAGE COURTESY LIDIA THORPE, @LIDIA__THORPE ON TWITTER.]
‘Chained to the bar’, State Library of Victoria, accessed 23 March 2021.
The circus is a rich and vibrant part of Australian cultural history that continues to flourish in many different forms today. Some of the most famous international circus stars of the twentieth century were Australian; at the height of the industry, 17 large circuses were travelling the country at once.
Dive into the lives, travelling routes, performances and more of our country’s most celebrated circus troupes in Mark St Leon’s new website, ‘The Penny Gaff’, dedicated to the history of Australia’s circus and other travelling show people.
The Circus in Australia
From the early 1850s, travelling entertainers delivered to Australians an extraordinary diversity of culture … opera, minstrel, photographic, magic, bellringing, gospel singing, boxing, menagerie and carnival … However, the earliest demonstrable example of an Australian travelling show, and the most enduring, was the circus. – Mark St Leon, ‘The Penny Gaff’
THE HONEY FAMILY, A BRANCH OF THE ST LEONS, PERFORMING AT CONEY ISLAND’S LUNA PARK, 1926. [IMAGE COURTESY ‘THE PENNY GAFF’.]
The circus as we know it today emerged in mid-eighteenth century London, where displays of trick horsemanship—on open-air circular riding tracks each known as a ‘circus’, from where the modern circus got its name—were combined with clowns, rope-walkers, and gymnasts by former decorated cavalryman, Sergeant-Major Philip Astley.
Circus did not burst onto the Australian scene until almost a century later, when Robert Avis Radford—the ‘Tasmanian Astley’—pioneered the first successful colonial circus venture in Launceston in 1847-49. From there, the industry took flight. Henry Burton first took the circus on the road from Sydney in 1851; early travel routes carried performers between goldfields then, later, further afield. So popular was the itinerant tented circus that even bushrangers waved them through, rather than hold them up.
The twentieth century brought with it motorised transportation, alongside other challenges. The advent of cinema and later television; new municipal restrictions and unionised performers; and two World Wars in between changed the Australian circus forever. Many shut their doors, notably Wirth’s in 1963 after 80 years of domestic and international success. Performers such as the Indigenous tightrope walker Con Colleano—‘the Wizard of the Wire’—and the equestrienne May Wirth—‘the world’s greatest lady bareback rider’—found greater fame in America and Europe. By 1973, only four big circuses remained to tour Australia.
The circus has experienced a recent resurgence, adapting to the twenty-first century with such avant-garde troupes as Circus Oz, based in Melbourne, and the Flying Fruit Fly Circus, based in Wodonga. Contemporary or traditional, today’s circuses are descendants, no matter how far removed, of Astley’s great venture.
‘The Penny Gaff’
THE RIDING ST LEONS C. 1950: PEGGY ST LEON HELD BY BROTHERS LEO AND JOE, SISTER STELLA BEHIND. [IMAGE COURTESY RASHIDA JOSEPH, VIA ‘THE PENNY GAFF’.]
The ‘penny gaff’ was once London’s most popular form of entertainment. Cheap—the price of a penny—with the surprise or ‘gaff’ waiting behind canvas sidewalls, these outdoor equestrian shows birthed the modern circus as it is known today.
RAHS councillor and circus historian Mark St Leon has dedicated some 50 years to recovering the overlooked history of Australia’s circus and travelling show people, and is the author of Circus: The Australian Story (Melbourne Books, 2011). His new website, ‘The Penny Gaff’, contains a wealth of information and resources about Australian circus history. Explore a timeline and comprehensive travel route database; browse the archives of circus ephemera, portraits, film, and more; find out if your own ancestors were involved in show business.
‘The Penny Gaff’ also highlights the history of the St Leons: one of Australia’s original circus families.
Follow the long and winding road of Australian circus history here.
Australian stories flow with cricket. Perhaps none more so than Donald Bradman, whose bronze statues, street names and ubiquitous average of 99.94 are full throated in their praise. This edition of Outside Off is not. In keeping with past editions, we seek to illustrate Australian society through cricket afforded by cricket’s unique moral dimensions. One of the most complex moral dimensions of cricket and one mirrored in today’s is faith. Faith in Bradman’s heyday of the 1930s almost exclusively meant Christian, as Australia of this time was exclusive and culturally homogenous . The question then and instructive for us now was, Catholic or Protestant?
Muscular Christianity is exactly how it sounds. Physical weakness was spiritual weakness and the only cure was the Gospel, self-discipline and exercise . Cricket and Christianity were flexed with preening energy throughout cricket’s development and well into the 20th century. Writing in the late Victorian era, the Revered Edward Cacroft Lefroy provided a unique snapshot into this cultural phenomenon;
The whole edifice of Christian virtues could be raised on a basis of good cricket.”
What does this mean? Firstly, ‘good cricket’ means deference. Either to the Umpire and the Laws or to God and his Commandments, a practice of both makes them synonymous. What is not said however that it is specifically the God at the head of the Church of England in need of obeying, for Eric Midwinter so succinctly put;“If the Church of England was the Conservative Party at prayer, then cricket was the Conservative Party at play.” The ubiquity by which elites of religion, government and cricket operated in both England and in Australia is difficult to overstate. Large numbers of the MCC were amateur cricketers and members, one in three Oxbridge cricketers between 1860 and 1900 took holy orders, 59 of these played county cricket and seven became bishops. Whilst Australian cricket had diverged around class and a very limited degree race, it still bore many similarities to the top-heavy administration seen in the ‘Mother Country’. Cricket wasn’t Catholic.
“Ultimately, leadership is associated with authority, and the exercise of power, or the structures of power that enable such authority to exist.”- Jon Gemmell in Cricket’s Changing Ethos
“Don’t you worry about Don Bradman alright? Don Bradman doesn’t like people like us”. Actor William McInnes, quoting his father, 2020
ETHEL SPOWERS’ WET AFTERNOON. 1930, LINOCUT. IMAGE TAKEN FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.
Despite social instability, war trauma and economic depression there was one thing the Australian public could always rely on. Bradman scoring runs. Apart from the forever controversial Bodyline series of 1932-1933, Bradman was still a run machine whose score of 452 not out for NSW in 1930 was the highest first-class score ever. Behind the understandable adulation of a public starved of hope, Bradman cut a lonely figure who did not socialise or drink with his teammates. Even his iconic golf ball, stump and water tank Trinity is fundamentally an act of repetition without mentorship or community. This intense reservation got worse after retirement, creating something which biographer Christine Wallace called a ‘Japanese Emperor Effect’. Whereby the more reclusive he was, the bigger the interest grew and created the blank slate by which to project glory or to righteously condemn. Wallace notes the principle charge among these was that he was anti-Catholic. Evidencing that throughout a personal correspondence with Rohan Rivett (friend and fellow Mason) which spanned decades, Bradman never hinted at any religious bigotry or otherwise.
This may be so. I contend that Bradman would never be as careless to put anything of the sort in writing and counter with the fact that Bradman did voice his bigotry toward Catholicism in the form of Jack Fingleton. Fingleton before opening the batting at the SCG, had his bat blessed with holy water by a Catholic priest. He was dismissed early.
“We’ll see what a dry bat will do out here” .- Donald Bradman to Jack Fingleton after Fingleton’s dismissal. Bradman scored a century.
JACK FINGLETON AND DONALD BRADMAN. IMAGE TAKEN FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.
This quip may seem innocuous to the ‘banter’ excesses of recent years but in context of the social structure of cricket and the 1930s such a remark becomes far more serious. Furthermore, Bill O’Reilly strongly contended that he, Fingleton and other Catholic players their careers hampered and threatened throughout first-class cricket.
So, who is right?
Ultimately, we look to leadership and that the power structures that allow it to exist. For Bradman as player, selector and administrator he led and prospered. It is therefore no coincidence that greatest split between Catholic and Protestant was not between players but between players and administrators, creating an exclusive cultural elite. For this elite, simple sectarianism would not be enough but rather membership of the Masonic Lodge would fully assure a place at the table.Though at the top, protected and untouchable, Bradman was alone. Despite his endless branding as both cultural and literal commodity, he was not the hero of the Australian story.
Just who really is the hero of the Australian story? What do they believe?
SIDNEY NOLAN’S ILLUSTRATION FOR THE NOVEL MY BROTHER JACK. IMAGE TAKEN FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.
Throughout our cultural development as a centralised polity it’s clear that there are some versions more valued than others. The over saturated Aussie Larrikin, the white male between 21-35 attributable to but not limited to disrespect of authority, anti-intellectualism and misogyny. The semi-autobiographical My Brother Jack by George Johnston gives this archetype real depth and a quiet power to illustrate Melbourne suburbia of the 1930s through a fascinating duality. This duality of identity is relevant because throughout social upheaval, the chauvinist narrative of faith breaks. Put simply, people are complicated. So, whilst a carefree Jack is jealously admired by his younger brother, the narrator David, he actively rebels against his Protestant father by having a Catholic girlfriend.
“Are you out of your wits? We’re Protestants in this house. Protestants, do you understand! This is a decent Godfearing house. And I want no confounded Roman Catholics under this roof whether they’re sick or they’re not sick!”.
CLARICE BECKETT, ‘EVENING, ST KILDA ROAD‘, 1930. OIL ON BOARD. IMAGE TAKEN FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Most of the stereotypes of this novel are treated uncritically, including Jack himself. Yet, in its brutal honesty of family life during the 1930s, Johnston’s Jack rather accidentally serves to demythologise his own trope by acting against a power imbalance which directly benefitted him. This is the duality, that Jack is every bit the trope but for this moment reacts as a human being. This simple want for companionship or love may illustrate a pattern that links in Bradman. His aloofness is instructive by comparing how his some of his teammates from both faiths trained in community, from Lindwall to Harvey. Without falling into the pitfalls of unqualified Bradman psychoanalysis as rightly cautioned by Wallace, we can still make the following conclusions. The first, that sectarianism in cricket was reinforced from top-down and Bradman by his leadership position endorsed these views. The second, that reinforcing a social hierarchy based on oppression is dehumanising both in its enforcement and its victims.
A central theme about Outside Off is uncertainty. It’s in the name. The line of a ball that is just beyond off stump which being played at could result in dismissal for the batter or a cracking boundary. The uncertainty here is about stereotypes, in religion, our national figures and national stories. Basic logic is that to have uncertainty there must be certainty- there must be a line of off to bowl to. One conclusion from David Utting’s review of Australia’s Annual Report of 2017 is that there is a long way to go before that line of equity in race, religion and gender is met.
 Haigh, Gideon Game For Anything. London; Aurum Press Ltd, 2012, chap 8, Kindle
 Bateman, Anthony Cricket, Literature and Culture: Symbolising the Nation, Destablising Empire (Ashgate Publishing Company, Burlington, 2009), 1
 Jon Gemmell. Cricket’s Changing Ethos; Nobles, Nationalists and the IPL, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, 51
 Mike Marquesee. Anyone but England: Cricket, Race and Class. London; Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016 , Kindle, 105
 Jon Gemmell. Cricket’s Changing Ethos; Nobles, Nationalists and the IPL, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018,