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e-BULLETIN No. 93 – 19 December 2011


Hon Editor, Dr Ruth S. Kerr






1) Australian State of the Environment 2011 report


2) Living Heritage - Australia's National Heritage eNewsletter


3) Sites for mining history research


4) Bruny Island Quarantine Station, Tasmania - management of site


5) South Gippsland black coal fields and abandoned railways


6) Heritage - Australian wartime Prime Minister's Melbourne house sold


7) Federation's advocacy role


1) Australian State of the Environment 2011 report


The five-yearly Australian State of the Environment 2011 report was tabled in Parliament on 12 December 2011. Three previous reports have been published, in 1996, 2001 and 2006. As in previous years, the report was produced by an independent committee of experts.


The report is available here:


Chapter 9 (Heritage) and Chapter 10 (Built environment) are particularly relevant to historical societies:


2) Living Heritage - Australia's National Heritage eNewsletter


Issue No. 4 of Living Heritage is now available on the website of the Department of the Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities at:


It includes the National Heritage listing of the shipwreck site of the Sirius which was wrecked at Norfolk Island on 19 March 1790.



3) Sites for mining history research


Have you found QDEX yet? Born-again mining historians probably have, but anyone who needs to research mining districts may find these digitized collections handy. DEEDI has digitized the Queensland Government Mining Journal 1900-2008 at


and the older Geological Survey Reports at 


from 1879 to 1985. The QGMJ has regular reports from the mining fields, lists of extant mining companies, technical articles, Geological Reports, and lots of lovely illustrations. The GSQ Reports talk about the geology and mines of particular fields, sometimes giving descriptions of places you can't find anywhere else, and have very useful maps.


Another handy website for mining historians is the index to mining accidents on the State Library of Queensland website These were taken from the Mines Inspectors' accident reports in the Annual Reports of the Queensland Department of Mines. The database was built with genealogists in mind so the indexing is by name, so miners who were killed in the same accident will be widely separated. Sometimes the entry will give a clue that other miners may have been involved, sometimes not. The technical terms might be a trifle bewildering to those not into mining and steam engines e.g. 'Balance weight of damper fell on the foot' and 'Fell from an old stull'.

(Source: Notes by Dr Janice Wegner, James Cook University of North Queensland, Cairns Campus in the Professional Historians Association (Queensland) E-Bulletin 30 November 2011)


4) Bruny Island Quarantine Station, Tasmania - management of site


The Bruny Island Quarantine Station site has connections with early Aboriginal occupation; European free settlement in 1856; Tasmanian State Government  as a Maritime Quarantine Station in 1884 (as a defence against infectious diseases); acquired by the Commonwealth Government c1908 and used for internment of German nationals in 1914; quarantine of soldiers during the Influenza Pandemic 1919; Plant Quarantine usage  1955 - 1971. The site was returned to State Government ownership in 2003.


In 2004 Kathy Duncombe wrote a book on 'Bruny Island's Quarantine Station in War & Peace'.


On 18th October, a new Wildcare Group – Friends of Bruny Island Quarantine Station (FOBIQS) was formed to “Support the management, conservation and public appreciation of the Bruny Island Quarantine Station.” A meeting of about 20 interested parties, including Bruny Islanders; non-residents; plus members of Parks & Wildlife and Wildcare, was held on site at the Quarantine Station, which consists of 320 acres of native bushland, plus buildings and ruins from all eras of its history.


It is hoped to set up a “volunteer caretaker program” on a rotation basis, initially using the Doctor’s House. This form of management is being successfully used on a number of other sites including Cape Bruny Island Lighthouse. The group held their first working bee at the Doctor’s House, on Sunday 20th November with nine volunteers. including two rangers.


Activities of the group can be followed on the Wildcare Tasmania site - go to groups, and FOBIQS. Members of Wildcare are invited to join the group. If not already a member you do need to join for Insurance purposes and to be active on site. 


Open Days will be held 8th January & 5th February 2012, 10 a.m. -3 p.m. which will incorporate a fully guided tour of the site, and interpretation displays, so tell your friends, pack a picnic lunch and mark it on your Calendar today. Further enquiries to either: President - Kathy Duncombe 62606287, or Secretary Peter Williams -

(Source: Friends of Bruny Island Quarantine Station – 10 December 2011)


5) South Gippsland black coal fields and abandoned railways


On 6 November 2011 several members of the Australian Mining History Association and associates of the Jumbunna Hall Committee undertook a guided tour of the abandoned railways and black coal mines in the Jumbunna and Outtrim areas. The tour was led by Mr Barry Sykes of Traralgon, who has led similar tours in past years.


The weather was kind for the excursionists. The morning was in the Jumbunna town area inspecting the sites of hotels, churches, school and shops and noting the retention and restoration work on the hall and the post and telegraph office. The site of the railway station to the east of the town was located together with the site of the coal loading stage - erected in the final years of the line's operation.


Nearby we saw the terminus of the aerial tramway, used to convey the coal here from the mine, a mile to the south, because the Victorian Railways (VR) refused to construct a railway, due to the gradient of such a line being an unworkable 1 in 20.


It is thought that this ropeway was designed by H.C. Mais who was responsible for the construction of much of the South Australian Railways network. It was constructed during 1893 by Austral Otis, an engineering firm that built a variety of items of equipment for mines about Victoria. This is thought to have been the first aerial tramway in Victoria, and certainly the only single cable version. Because of the steep 1 in 4 gradient the tramway was unable to convey the 240 tons per shift that it was designed to do. When the railway was extended further south to Outtrim in 1896, passing close by the Jumbunna mine in the process, this aerial tramway was dismantled. 


The railway from Korumburra to Coal Creek via what became Jumbunna Junction was opened on 28 October 1892. The line to Jumbunna was opened on 7 May 1894 (closed 30 September 1953) and to Outtrim on 5 February 1896 (closed 4 September 1951). The last train ran in June 1942.


The afternoon was spent walking on part of the Jumbunna to Outtrim railway and exploring the funicular tramway up from the mine to the loading area beside the railway. This black coal mine existed from 1894 until 1939; and supplied coal for both Victorian industry and the VR. It was a good quality steaming coal, and burnt cleanly, which the VR appreciated for its suburban services, because NSW coal discoloured all the line side buildings.


The town of Outtrim is located in a valley beyond the Jumbunna mine. The Outtrim mine didn't have the lifespan of its Jumbunna counterpart; only operating from 1894 until 1917. That said, each mine produced over its lifetime roughly the same tonnage of 1.4 million tons.


Unlike Jumbunna, the Outtrim mine was located directly beside the rail terminus. The Jumbunna - Outtrim railway was said to be the most expensive rural railway per mile ever built in Victoria, mainly because of the massive earthworks involved.


(Source: Ruth Kerr & Barry Sykes, Australian Mining History Association - 6 November 2011)




6) Heritage - Australian wartime Prime Minister's Melbourne house sold


A former home in Melbourne of Australia’s wartime Prime Minister, John Curtin, has been sold at auction. It is a double-fronted house in Fallon Street in Brunswick and was built in 1906. Curtin lived there from 1912 to 1915. At the time, Curtin was Secretary of the Victorian Timber Workers Union, an organiser for the Australian Workers Union and was active in Australian Labor Party politics.


The house retains many of its period features, having been owned bysame family since 1921. It is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.


Further information, including photographs , may be found at this URL:$710000/2011112852566


Curtin moved to Perth in 1917 to work as a journalist, and in 1923 he and his wife Elsie had built for them a house in Cottesloe, which remained his home until his death in 1945, shortly before the end of World War II.


In 1999, the Commonwealth and West Australian state government (at the time both Liberal conservative coalitions) shared the cost of purchasing Curtin's Cottesloe home. Restoration work (enabled by a grant to the National Trust) commenced in 2009, and in March 2011 there was a ceremony to mark the completion of the restoration, attended by the Prime Minister Julia Gillard and State Premier Colin Barnett. It is being privately-rented on a short-term basis to help fund its upkeep, and will be open to the public on select dates. The following two links are to reports of the ceremony earlier this year:


In addition to the Curtin house in Perth, three other former homes of Prime Ministers are accessible by the public: those of Joseph Lyons (Prime Minister 1932-39) in Devonport, Ben Chifley (Prime Minister 1945-49) in Bathurst, and Andrew Fisher (Prime Minister 1908-09, 1910-13, 1914-15), which was donated for historical purposes and moved to the Gympie Museum.


The following article (written in 2002) goes into more detail about Curtin's Perth home, and also contains discussion about the appropriate future use of it, from a cultural heritage perspective:


(Sources: The various links above, and the Tablelands Advertiser 25 November 2011 p.21)




7) Federation's advocacy role


In order to be an effective voice for historical societies throughout Australia, it is essential that the Federation knows what concerns / practical problems societies consider should be addressed at the federal / state / local levels. If your society wishes to enlist the support of the Federation on any issue please go to our website at and complete a form for each concern / practical problem for which you are seeking advocacy support. The form can be electronically completed and emailed to To find the form and further information, hover your mouse over the ‘Support’ button on the horizontal bar on the home page, then on the drop-down menu click on ‘Advocacy Support’.