Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society

Vol 109 Pt 1 June 2023


A watercolour painting of a Banksian cockatoo which is printed onto the white cover of the RAHS journalAs the RAHS embarks on a new chapter in the history of its Journal, I want to express our appreciation for the incredible work and dedication of the previous editorial team. Adjunct Associate Professor Carol Liston AO edited the Journal from mid-2002 to 2022. Under Carol Liston’s guidance, the Journal has flourished, offering an important platform for historical research and scholarly discourse. For more than 10 years, Joy Hughes has proofread the articles, corrected historical inaccuracies, spent hours amending hundreds of reference notes and followed up elusive citations at the Mitchell Library and the NSW State Archives. Joy Hughes’ commitment and precision have left an indelible mark on the Journal, and we recognise her invaluable role in ensuring the excellence of its content. We also extend our utmost gratitude to Bruce Pollock, our Production Editor, who will be continuing in this role, for his meticulous attention to detail. We acknowledge and thank Donna Newton for her ongoing assistance in the production of the Journal over many years, in particular in locating suitable images to accompany the articles and in managing the despatch and return of the books for the reviews.

The production of this issue of the Journal would not have been possible without the support of the History House team. On behalf of the RAHS Council, I want to record my thanks to Suzanne Holohan (RAHS General Manager), Phillip Jaworski (RAHS Digital Media) and Donna Newton (RAHS Librarian). In addition, the assistance of Janette Pelosi, who has just joined the incoming editorial team as the proofreader, and Bruce Pollock is noted with thanks.

There are four refereed articles and nine book reviews in this issue of the Journal. Terry Kass discusses the War Service Home scheme operating after World War I, arguing that little is known or understood about its history, unlike that of the various soldier settlement schemes. These houses are disappearing owing to redevelopment pressures but those that remain have a direct association with the Anzacs and the current owners or occupiers often have no inkling that they are ‘directly communing with an Anzac every day they wake at dawn’.

Mark St Leon’s article ‘Beaumont & Waller’s Botanical & Zoological Gardens, at the Sir Joseph Banks Hotel, Botany Bay 1848-61’ outlines its origins as one of Sydney’s favourite outlets for public leisure and recreation and development until 1861. Beaumont & Waller’s legacies extend beyond their Botany venture. They include the foundation of the travelling shows ‘that would keep regional Australia amused until well into the 20th century’, the development of other pleasure resorts in Sydney and regional New South Wales and the eventual establishment of Taronga Park Zoo.

In ‘Ingleside Powder Works: “a curious colonial enterprise”’, Keith Amos discusses the history of the Powder Works. This was the creation of the ‘mysterious entrepreneur’ Carl von Bieren. Amos examines how this unique powder works came into being in the 1880s, only to collapse in controversy. Instead of manufacturing gunpowder for the first time in New South Wales, Von Bieren led investors deeply into debt without ever beginning production.

The Irish-born surgeon John White was one of the key figures of the First Fleet and also an indefatigable collector of Australian natural history, chiefly on behalf of one of his greatest supporters, the Londoner Thomas Wilson Esq. As a result, Wilson was the driving force behind the publication of three of the most important early Australian books, all based on White’s collections. Matthew Fishburn’s article ‘Thomas Wilson Esq and the natural history collections of First Fleet Surgeon John White’ documents this close association.

Christine Yeats FRAHS

Editor RAHS Journal June 2023

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