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No. 40 – June 2014


Hon Editor, Esther V. Davies



Editor's note - and farewell


From the President


Good news stories from historical societies

….Bunbury Historical Society to put World War I stories on display

….Mudgee Historical Society celebrates its 50th Birthday


News from our constituent organisations

…. Canberra and District Historical Society - Cricket in the early Canberra/Queanbeyan region

…. Historical Society of the Northern Territory - Ancient lead cannon found on beach near Darwin linked to Spanish mine that pre-dates 1770

…. History South Australia - History SA’s new travelling exhibition “Gallantry”

…. Royal Australian Historical Society - Mt Gibraltar Trachyte Quarries

…. Royal Historical Society of Queensland - RHSQ Exhibition on Great War and Annual Seminar

…. Royal Historical Society of Victoria - Out of Adversity – rebuilding Yackandandah’s Museum after 2006 fire

…. Royal Western Australian Historical Society - From the Collection – a silver cigarette case

…. Tasmanian Historical Research Association - Recent news from the Launceston Historical Society


Can you help? - Manuka Shops History Project


Travelling Overseas - Why not visit an historical society?


Nominations for FAHS Merit Awards 2014


Please forward this Newsletter


A final quote - Michael Crichton


And just remember





Hon. Editor Esther Davies


Welcome to the 40th issue of the Federation’s Newsletter. Once more we have a great variety of stories from historical societies around Australia. It is interesting to note how many of these apparently local stories and collections have a direct relevance to the national story, such as Australian involvement in both World Wars and Australia’s early aviation history.


Sadly, this will be my last appearance as editor of the FAHS Newsletter. After eight years and eighteen Newsletters, I have finally decided to move on. Editing the Newsletter has been an interesting, rewarding and, at times, frustrating experience. I would like to thank readers, especially those of you have taken the time to contact me. It is always good to have feedback. Thanks are also due to all who have contributed to the Newsletter, including FAHS delegates and Kellie Bennett (FAHS Administrative Officer 2005-06). Lastly and most importantly, I would like to acknowledge the work done by my husband John Davies in preparing the Newsletter for publication. It would have been a much lesser product without his hard work.


Esther Davies






FAHS President Ruth Kerr


Recent weeks have provided some very heartening news for the future of history and heritage in Australia. In the recent Federal Budget, the Government announced that it will provide $1.4 million over three years from 2014‑15 to support historical and cultural groups across Australia in the conservation, development and interpretation of local cultural heritage. The program will provide $240,000 over three years to the Federation of Australian Historical Societies, $150,000 over three years to the Australian Heritage Council and grants of up to $10,000 to local historical and heritage groups ($1.0 million in total).  This measure delivers on the Government's election commitment. Further information can be found in the press release of 4 November 2013 by the Minister for the Environment, Hon Greg Hunt MP.


It is also very pleasing to report that Mr. Hunt announced, on 14 April 2014, a draft Australian Heritage Strategy. The Federation (FAHS) has been advocating such a strategy for the nation for many years. Details are available at the following site

The FAHS is also encouraged by the Commonwealth government’s establishment of a Green Army program, a hands-on, grassroots environmental action initiative that has the aim of supporting local environment and heritage conservation projects across Australia. This will include some attention to cultural heritage which we have been advocating for many years. For further details, please consult the Department of the Environment’s website


The Federation is also advocating that Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) include questions on historical societies and local museums in their surveys on cultural bodies in Australia. The FAHS proposes to submit questions to them to achieve this.


Dr Ruth S. Kerr OAM






Editor's note: It is often said that good news is not news. However, it is always cheering to hear success stories from some of our many regional and local historical stories. Here are two such stories. If your local historical society has similar good news stories, please let the Federation know.


Bunbury Historical Society to put World War I stories on display


Bunbury Historical Society president Jennifer Lee and volunteer Cathy Dixon with artefacts from the wars that will be showcased with help from a Lotterywest grant.

The Bunbury Historical Society will be able to tell the stories of World War I thanks to a state wide Lotterywest funding roll-out of $519,000. The initiative aims to help regional museums and historical societies across Western Australia explain the impact of World War I on their communities. 


The WA Museum will assist the Bunbury society by offering research assistance, organising a showcase, supplying five display panels and curatorial support. Culture and the Arts minister John Day said the Remember Them project combined expertise from Museums Australia WA Branch, the Western Australian Museum and the Royal Western Australian Historical Society to support communities in telling their stories. 


“World War I had a huge social impact right across the nation, and there wasn’t a town or a community in WA it didn’t touch,” Mr Day said. WA sent 32,231 volunteers into battle during World War I during the years 1914 to 1918. This represented 33 per cent of all men aged 18 to 41. The rate of Australian deaths in combat was 145 per 1,000 troops deployed. 


About 32 regional museums, historical societies and local government organisations have signed up to take part in the project. Bunbury Historical Society is receiving help with research, a showcase for memorabilia, expertise to design their exhibitions, pull-up banners and panels to tell the stories relevant to their community.

Bunbury Mail   Tuesday 20 May, 2014


Mudgee Historical Society celebrates its 50th Birthday


Mudgee & District Historical Society members celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Colonial Inn Museum. Pictured are (back, from left) Pauline Morrissey, Peter Francis, Lynne Robinson, Tina Smith, Owen Fitzsimmons, Fay Wells, Warwick Spies, Bob Byfield, Margaret Charlesworth, Marion Bell, Kevin Bassingthwaite, (front, from left) Thereza Wright, Fae Scifleet, Sandy Sheridan, Barry Wells, Thelma Meers (obscured) and Pauline Bassingthwaite.

The Mudgee Historical Society celebrated its 50th birthday on Saturday with poetry, live music and free admission to the Colonial Inn Museum. Members of the public trickled through the door during the afternoon event, keen to have a look at the artefacts on display, ask about their family history, and speak to members of the Mudgee Historical Society about their memories of the old inn. Guests were able to tour the museum’s many rooms, duck inside the family archives for chat with one of the historians, step inside the doll’s church and take a tour of the blacksmith’s shop and machinery sheds throughout the day. 


The aim of the day was to invite locals to come along and have a look. Historical Society member, Pauline Bassingthwaite, said the museum received more out of town visitors then it did those from the region and the open day was all about trying to change that. “We get visitors every day, all day, with a lot of them looking for family history,” she said. But for some reason it’s harder getting local people to come along and have a look.”


There was a spooky twist to the proceedings for some, with the old ghost stories coming out once more. Several guests reported feeling extra cold and getting a “creepy” vibe while touring the upstairs rooms. “There is a legend that we have a ghost or two in the museum,” Mrs Bassingthwaite said. “People have reported feeling like they’re being watched or shivering from cold even when it’s hot. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were one or two somewhere in the building,” she said. 


Acting President Barry Wells thanked those in attendance for making the day a success before cutting a massive 50th anniversary cake in front of the gathered crowd. “My thanks to the volunteers as well, not just for today but for the effort you’ve put into making the museum what it is,” he said. Mr Wells also gave a brief history of the Mudgee Historical Society and its relationship with the museum as well as discussing a few plans for the future, including the expansion of the blacksmith’s shop and associated sheds. 


Story and photograph courtesy of the Mudgee Guardian and Gulgong Advertiser, 1 June 2014





Editor's note: A small selection of news items has been chosen to illustrate the diversity of activities happening in historical societies around the nation.


Canberra and District Historical Society

Cricket in the early Canberra/Queanbeyan region

At the Society’s May meeting, members were treated to a learned dissertation entitled Alured Tasker Faunce and William Davis: The Founder and the Champion of Early Cricket in the Queanbeyan-Canberra region by Professor Thomas Faunce of the ANU.  With the names, Faunce and Davis figuring prominently in the historical records of the origins of cricket in the Queanbeyan-Canberra region, who better than the great, great grandson of the Queanbeyan’s first police magistrate, Captain Alured Tasker Faunce, who arrived in 1837? Captain Faunce had a penchant for cricket and was integral to the introduction of the sport to the Queanbeyan/Canberra region. Tragically, he actually died playing in a cricket match in Queanbeyan in 1856.


While a report of a cricket match between Goulburn and Queanbeyan in the Goulburn Herald of 2/3/1859 praises the vital role of the ‘Squire of Ginninderra’ William Davis in the development of cricket on the Limestone Plains, the even earlier role, of Queanbeyan’s first Police Magistrate, Alured Tasker Faunce, appears to have been passed over.  In his after dinner speech at Patrick’s Inn following this match in 1859, Mr Futter stated that the Queanbeyan Cricket Club existed in some form in the 1840’s and 50’s. Perhaps later writers such as Don Selth, surmised that Mr Futter’s comments on that evening were the result of too many toasts, when he maintained that the Queanbeyan Club only came into existence when William Davis got his Ginninderra mob together and challenged Queanbeyan in 1856 and that soon afterwards clubs were formed at Goulburn, Yass and Braidwood. It seems certain that Captain Faunce played in early cricket games at Hyde Park Sydney from 1832 when he arrived in the colony and after living at St Omer Braidwood and Brisbane Waters, Governor Bourke asked Captain Faunce to come to Queanbeyan. A petition organised by a Sydney newspaper had levelled criticism at Captain Faunce on the grounds that he hadn’t been a strong user of the lash. It was clear that Captain Faunce was more in favour of more positive means of social welfare and soon after his arrival in Queanbeyan in 1839, he began organising and playing cricket.


In the 1840’s and 1850’s cricket clubs in the southern districts of NSW frequently went in and out of existence and were often created almost ad hoc from available players, as time off from work, harvest, shearing etc. permitted and funds arose to meet a particular challenge. As John Gale commented, Captain Faunce introduced cricket in the area in an inclusive way and it wasn’t just for the gentry, it was used to bring people together. It was known that William Davis paid for some players, including aboriginals to play and gave them time off to do so. At a match at Duntroon, the army cadets threatened to leave the field rather than play against ‘common blackfellows.’ Fortunately good sense prevailed, not only when their undoubted prowess was discerned and the game proceeded.

We look forward to publication of Professor Faunce’s presentation in a future issue of the Canberra Historical Journal.


Tony Corp, CDHS


Another generation of cricketers- Professor Thomas Faunce with his son Blake who plays cricket for  the Queanbeyan District Cricket club's under 11s division one team.  (Photograph by Kim Pham, courtesy of Queanbeyan Age)


Historical Society of the Northern Territory 

Ancient lead cannon found on beach near Darwin linked to Spanish mine that pre-dates 1770


A 16th-century-style Portuguese cannon, discovered by a 13-year-old boy off a remote beach in the Northern Territory in 2010, has reignited the debate over who first arrived in the country.


Teenager Christopher Doukas unearthed the historic swivel gun at Dundee Beach, about 120km southwest of Darwin, four years ago, when tides dipped to exceptional lows in January 2010 meaning he could walk out a long way from shore. He saw the 107cm-long gun, an anti-personnel light artillery piece, poking out of mud, dug it out with his father and took it back to his home.


Portugal occupied Timor from 1515 until 1975 and it has long been hotly debated whether Portuguese explorers made it all the way to Australia, about 700km away.


Research by the University of Melbourne has shown that the lead in the cannon most closely resembled metal found at the ancient Coto Laizquez mine in the Andalusia region in Spain's south. The historians compared lead in the cannon to ore samples obtained from 2000 European sources and ruled out the theory that the gun was a later Asian copy of the Portuguese swivel.


A Darwin-based heritage group, Past Masters, said yesterday that the findings showed the lead in the gun was mined on the Spanish Iberian Peninsula. 'It is simply likely therefore that the gun is of similar origin. European origin shouldn't be discounted just because it is obvious'.


'This truly is the smoking gun of the Portuguese discovery of northern Australia,' a spokesman for the group, Mike Owens, told The Times.  Last year, Australian scientist Tim Stone - also a member of the Past Masters - said the find will help rewrite the nation's history. 'The cannon is one of the most significant historical artefacts ever found in northern Australia,' he said.


However, the man who tested the lead - Matt Cupper, of the University of Melbourne - said that even if it was from the Spanish mine, it remained a possibility that the lead could have been recycled from another object and used to make the gun in Asia. 'Lead objects were frequently melted down and recast, so the gun could have been manufactured elsewhere,' he said.


The cannon went on display in Darwin this week.

Story courtesy Daily Mail 24 May, 2014


Christopher Doukas with the swivel gun


Editor’s Note:  Yes, we are aware that there are differing opinions on the authenticity and possible origins of this gun. Some of these can be seen on the Web. Meanwhile, if you are visiting Darwin do go and have a look for yourself. EVD


History South Australia 

History SA’s new travelling exhibition “Gallantry”


In readiness for the ANZAC centenary, History SA has been touring, since 2012, their travelling display Bravest of the Brave which tells the stories of the South Australian recipients of the Victoria Cross during the First World War. Nicknamed ‘BoB’, its continuing popularity resulted in a second replica version being created at the end of last year and now both are booked out for the whole of 2014 and most of 2015.  It has been displayed at community museums, libraries, history groups and RSL clubs throughout South Australia.


Now a sequel to ‘BoB’ – Gallantry - has just been launched. Like Bravest of the Brave, it is a joint project between History SA and Veterans SA. Gallantry tells the stories of the brave actions of five South Australians awarded the Victoria Cross and George Cross in the Second World War and the Vietnam War. It was launched on 1 April at Adelaide’s new City Library by the Hon Zoe Bettison MP, the State Government’s new Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. The project was managed by History SA’s Community History Officers, Amanda James and Pauline Cockrill, the display was researched and written by local professional historians, June Edwards and Madeleine Regan, and designed by Emily Woods of Arketype. It consists of 10 pull-up banners telling the history of both awards, a background to South Australia and World War II and the Vietnam War and the stories of the 5 recipients: Peter Badcoe VC; Thomas Currie (Diver) Derrick VC; George Gosse GC; William (Bill) Kibby VC; and Lionel Matthews GC.  The framed replica medals and citations of each man are also included.


Some of the relatives of the medal recipients were at the Gallantry launch including the son of Lionel Matthews, David, who attended with other members of his family.  It was a poignant moment seeing David next to the family portrait taken when he was just a toddler in 1940.  The following year his father had left for Singapore never to see his family again.  Lionel Matthews, of the AIF’s 8th Division Signals was executed in a POW camp in 1944 and was posthumously awarded the George Cross for his courage and leadership in intelligence work.


Like Bravest of the Brave, Gallantry is available for free loan and is already attracting much interest in the South Australian community.


More photographs from the Gallantry launch can be seen here


David Matthews, son of Lionel Matthews standing beside the banner that tells his father's story. He is seen in the family photograph on the banner as a small boy, prior to his father going to war


Royal Australian Historical Society

Mt Gibraltar Trachyte Quarries

A little known part of our industrial heritage, the Mount Gibraltar Trachyte Quarries have recently been State Heritage listed.  In the middle of the 1800s, a deposit of trachyte was discovered on Mount Gibraltar, which looms above Mittagong and Bowral in the NSW Southern Highlands.   There is evidence that the stone was known earlier as the Gibraltar Iron Gang broke rock there in the 1830s.  Technically it is microsyenite, a dense igneous stone, very hard to work.  A few scattered houses and memorials in the Southern Highlands were built of trachyte but due to the difficulty of working the hard stone, masons found the returns for their work too meagre.  With the advent of the railway to Mittagong in 1867, the possibilities for stone quarrying for larger industrial sites intensified and the marketing of Bowral Trachyte began in earnest.  Although difficult to work, the stone has great strength and a very fine grain which takes a beautiful polish to its dark olive or grey surface.  The strength of the stone made it ideal for foundations which needed to carry a heavy load.  Due to the unique qualities it was much sought after by architects and builders, the only other source of trachyte being Russia. 


Significant buildings with Bowral Trachyte include Sydney State Library, the National Library, base courses for Garden Island seawalls, Queen Victoria Building, the first Hawkesbury River railway bridge and the twelve ton pivot stone for Pyrmont Bridge, which took a month to transport from the quarry to Bowral Station.  Earl Hopetoun stood on the “Great Commonwealth Stone” made of Bowral Trachyte when being sworn in as the first Governor General and the same stone was used as the base of the Commencement Column in Canberra when the States agreed on the site of the National Capitol.  Australia House in London has cut and dressed trachyte from Bowral as its foundation course, showing it was not only Australian architects who desired the stone.


The National Trust Industrial Heritage Committee listed the evidence of five quarries in 2008 and now, in 2014, the site has achieved State Heritage listing.  Although the quarries were operative for 100 years from 1886 to 1986, some quarrying has been allowed by the NSW Department of Commerce in recent years to repair historic Sydney buildings.


Judith Dunn, RAHS


Bowral Trachyte was used in Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building



Royal Historical Society of Queensland

RHSQ Exhibition on Great War and Annual Seminar


Our highly anticipated program for 2014 started on Saturday, 26 April, with an “At Home” comprising of the launch of our new exhibition Call to Duty: Stories from the Great War and accompanying talks.  The exhibition contains items from the Society’s collection and some private donations. It was opened by Federal Member for Ryan and Society member, Ms Jane Prentice who detailed her own family’s involvement in the First World War.  National Trust of Queensland Council member Stephen Sheaffe presented a biography of Percy George Whittall and RHSQ President Helen McMonagle presented Carolyn Nolan with a President’s Centenary Medal for her service to the organisation.


Guest Exhibition Curator and art historian Timothy Roberts with Jane Prentice MP, Federal Member for Ryan at the 'Call to Duty: Stories from the Great War' exhibition


On 21st June the Society will hold its Annual Seminar which will be broken into two sessions this year.  The morning session will be held at the Commissariat Store, with talks centering on the topic of Leichhardt in the 21st Century to commemorate the 170th anniversary of his successful expedition to Port Essington in the Northern Territory.  The afternoon session will be held at the former convict Female Factory site at Eagle Farm, and will involve lectures about the history of the site and an archaeological overview (and potentially a dig!).  The day is supported by Trade Coast Central Company and the Brisbane City Council.


The Society is continuing its conservation program of its library books following the Centenary Fund raising project in 2013, and will embark on a digitization project this year thanks to a generous grant from the Queensland Premier.


Helen McMonagle (President) and Dr Ruth S. Kerr (Hon. Secretary) RHSQ



Royal Historical Society of Victoria

Out of Adversity – rebuilding Yackandandah’s Museum after 2006 fire


Yackandandah Museum

The main building of the Yackandandah Museum, owned and operated by the Yackandandah and District History Society Inc., was gutted by fire in December 2006.  The Society at that time had a membership of about 35, with a working group of about seven.  After the fire, some of those members, for various reasons, drifted away, but that was offset by a large number of new working members joining the group.  The executive of the committee decided that, to efficiently organize the rebuild, there needed to be a series of sub-committees to cover the requirements of the re-development.  These sub-committees were: building, re-fit, display and opening celebrations.  The President was an ex-officio member of each group.  These sub-committees met regularly and reported to the Committee.


This worked extremely well and after the very successful re-opening celebrations in November 2008 it was decided to continue with sub-committees to run the newly refreshed organisation.  These comprised a Committee of four (President, Vice-president, Secretary and Treasurer) with sub-committees for research, museum operations, display, and buildings and grounds maintenance.  The convenor of each sub-committee wrote a report for the monthly committee meetings and if needed attended the meeting.  By 2008 membership had grown to about 100 and a Friends’ Group of about 25.  About 35 of these members became “working” members, volunteering for a multitude of jobs required to run a successful historical society and museum.  The sub-committee system has been regularly tweaked as needs arise and continues to evolve with a changing membership and management.


Before the fire, we opened the Museum on Sundays from 12-4pm and on public holidays and every day of the Victorian school holidays.  One person was on duty each opening and we sometimes struggled to fill the roster.  Since the re-opening in 2008 we open from Wednesday to Sunday from 11am – 4pm and the same hours for seven days a week for Victorian school holidays and public holidays.  Two volunteers are on duty for each opening.  Our volunteers now range in age and these people bring an amazingly wide variety of skills to the organization.  Some members travel some distance to volunteer in the Museum, and we have two volunteers with university qualifications in museum studies.
Volunteers are also working on the collection (cataloguing, indexing, data basing, collection care), displays, grounds and building maintenance, public programs and publishing.


Our main fundraising comes from donations from visitors, selling our own publications, a sales table stocking jams, sauces, craft items, second-hand books and plants.  In addition, we are given a small annual grant from the Indigo Shire, and apply for any grants for which we have a project.  These efforts, supported by our members, visitors and our local community, help us to be in a pleasing financial situation.


We have recently opened an extension to our conservation and storage building, completely self-funded, to cater for our ever-growing collection.  Originally built in 1996 it has been pivotal in caring for the collection, providing material for research, visiting clients, community events, publications and display.  It also played a major role in gaining accreditation, and providing us with space for working during the two years while our main building was restored after the fire.


Yackandandah Museum was first accredited in 2001 and has now been re-accredited twice.  Accreditation allows us to be measured against professional museum standards and encourages us to keep refining our policies and procedures.


Vin Reynolds, Yackandandah Historical Society



Royal Western Australian Historical Society

From the Collection – a silver cigarette case



Exterior - front


Interior - showing inscription


This sterling silver cigarette case is a poignant reminder of the hazards of early aviation. It was presented to Jim Bennett to commemorate the first flight from England to Australia. Early in its life it received a blow, enough to dent it sharply. How and why? The story takes us back to World War I and four courageous airmen.


In 1919 the Australian government offered a prize of £10,000 for the first to fly from England to Australia in 30 days or fewer. Close friends Ross Smith MC DFC and air mechanic Jim Bennett MSM AFM were joined by Ross’ brother Keith as navigator and co-pilot, and Wally Shiers as co-mechanic. They asked the Vickers Company for a plane. ‘They called us all the damn fools under the sun, but eventually said that they had a spare machine’.


The Vickers Vimy, made of wood and fabric, was fitted with two Rolls Royce engines slung between the big double wings and had two open cockpits. It was a heavy plane and could not fly above the weather, there were few firm runways to land on, and they could take only emergency rations. There were five official contestants in the race, one the Frenchman Etienne Poulet.


Bad weather beset the journey. The men found their goggles useless in the cold as they fogged up and their limbs became so numb that they could hardly operate the controls. When they were flying in cloud they could not check their maps with the territory below nor ascertain whether they were flying level. They could not fly at night.


In Cairo disaster struck, a pipe bursting in one engine. Suddenly Wally Shiers proclaimed, ‘Blimey, we have chewing gum on board!’ Wrigley’s had presented them with a supply. They chewed up the lot. Shiers wound it round the crack. They flew on.


On day 8 they flew over the desert battlefields and recognised the old landing fields they knew so well. When they saw Damascus a great shout of recognition went up. Old comrades welcomed them. But their joy was short lived. Heavy rain overnight turned the field into a quagmire. They oiled the tyres and managed to take off.


Every night when they landed, Bennett and Shiers had four hours’ work to do on the engines. At Ramadie a fierce sandstorm swept across the airfield but fifty British soldiers from a nearby camp managed to hold the plane down. Rarely did they find an airstrip which was not either flooded or unfinished with random tree stumps making it extremely difficult to negotiate.


They flew on down the wild coast of the Persian Gulf to Bandar Abbes and then the long haul to Karachi. After only three hours’ sleep they faced the non-stop nine-hour flight to Delhi where a welcoming party met them. Their flight from London to Delhi had been a world record. A day’s rest and they were off to Calcutta where a crowd of 200,000 had gathered. They were celebrities, but Etienne Poulet had departed that morning!


Two stops later when they came into Akyab in Burma they spotted Poulet on the ground. They had caught up at last! En route to Bangkok they flew blind in dense cloud over unexplored mountains, their nerves as jagged as the mountain peaks. In Bangkok they found the French team had encountered storms and Poulet had been forced to turn back. There was no one ahead of them now.


Landing in Sigora on an uncleared airstrip they damaged the tail skid. The ever-resourceful Jim Bennett found some scrap metal and mended it. Singapore racecourse was too small for the Vimy but Jim scrambled out and lay on the tail to slow the engine as they landed. They were feted in Singapore but exhaustion was setting in. They flew on – Batavia, Surabaya, Bima, Timor and then the last long stretch! Too excited to sleep they were up early to prepare the plane for the long stretch of water ahead. They were cheered on their way by sailors on the decks of the Australian warship Sydney on the lookout in case they needed help.


On 10 December, they landed in Darwin and the prize was theirs. Against all odds they had made the first flight from England to Australia. Honours were heaped upon them, knighthoods for Ross and Keith Smith and the honorary rank of lieutenant for Bennett and Shiers. But the story does not end there.


It was not long before the Smith brothers were planning a first flight around the world with Bennett as mechanic. On the morning of 13 April 1922, Ross and Jim took the new Viking amphibian up for a test flight from the Vickers works near London. 1,400 employees including Keith Smith watched as Ross waved cheerily to them. The plane climbed to 3,000 feet, came down to 1500 feet and then went into a spiral nosedive. At first the crowd thought it was part of the test but then Sir Ross could be seen making desperate efforts to regain control of the plane. It dived straight into the earth, a complete wreck. Sir Ross was found dead in his seat and Jim Bennett lived only a few minutes. In his pocket was the silver cigarette case. Over many years our silver cigarette case has borne silent witness to their story.


Sources: Meredith Hooper, God 'elp All of Us. Various newspapers – Adelaide Register, Adelaide Mail, Sydney Morning Herald, Brisbane Courier, New York Times.


June Shenton Turner

By kind permission of the author.  This article was originally published in History West, the Royal Western Australia Society Newsletter, Vol. 53 (3), April 2014.



Tasmanian Historical Research Association

Recent news from the Launceston Historical Society

The Examiner-John West Memorial Lecture


Professor Philip Payton from the University of Exeter, UK, presented the Launceston Historical Society’s 26th annual John West Lecture to more than 250 people at UTAS on Friday 14 March 2014.  His topic From Launceston to Launceston – Perspectives on the Cornish in Australia generated much discussion on the pronunciation of the town with that name in Cornwall, England. Philip’s entertaining lecture focused on the connections between Cornish visitors and migrants who came to Australia. He was introduced by Martin Gilmour, Editor of The Examiner, and Professor Michael Bennett offered a vote of thanks.


Launceston Historical Society Celebrates 25 Years


The Launceston Historical Society was formed late in 1988 to recognise both the bi-centenary of Australia and the centenary of the City of Launceston (1888-1988). As part of celebrations to mark the anniversary, the Society re-published the book History in our Streets: the origins of Launceston street names by Dr. John and Don Morris. A well-attended launch was held on 28 March 2014 in Launceston. President of the Launceston Historical Society Marion Sargent gave a brief outline of Dr. Morris’ long association with the LHS. Guest speaker, Dr. Eric Ratcliff, held a conversation with the authors. The event was organised in conjunction with the Clifford Craig Medical Research Trust.


Tony Robinson’s visit to Launceston


British TV historian Sir Tony Robinson returned to Launceston in March 2014 to film an episode of his new series Tour of Duty. Launceston Historical Society members formed part of the crowd in the Brisbane Street Mall to film the naval hero Teddy Sheean segment on 12 March 2014. A Community Day at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery at Inveresk on 15 March was a resounding success. The Society held a stall which enabled us to talk to visitors about our activities and to field questions of an historical nature.


Catherine Pearce, THRA


Tony Robinson

Image courtesy of History Channel





In October, 2013, as a part of the 2013 Centenary of Canberra celebrations, a very successful weekend street party was held of Canberra’s oldest shopping precincts.  Built in 1924 and based on Garden City principles, Manuka shopping centre is still a thriving and vibrant business district.


Early on, it became clear that the history of Manuka was integral to its character and so an important element of the celebrations was a popular display of historical material. This included unique photographs taken by Swiss born Conrad Tobler in the 1930s, short articles about the history of Manuka and a story board about the controversy surrounding the demolition and redevelopment of the much loved original Capitol Theatre. This material was supplemented by a display of several historic vehicles including a restored version of the (in)famous Wilkie’s Pie Cart, several early fire engines and Matilda, a 1949 AEC Regal omnibus.


To retain this material and to make it more widely available, it is now proposed to produce a book to celebrate the 90 year history of Manuka. The organisers are looking for any relevant historical materials. If you have photographs, programs, other items (or indeed memories), please contact the Canberra and District Historical Society at 


PO Box 315 Curtin ACT 2605 or

Nick Swain, Vice- President CDHS





Editor’s Note:  While I am aware that many Australians visit historical societies and local museums while travelling in Australia, I do wonder how many of us when faced with all the attractions of an exciting overseas destination, such as New York, would think of visiting an historical society. Should you ever go to New York here are THREE reasons to tear yourself away from the attractions of Times Square and Broadway to visit New York’s 150 year old Brooklyn Historical Society on the corner of Pierrepoint and Clinton Streets, Brooklyn. For information re hours and admission charges see their website


1 The Building   The society's headquarters building has been described as "one of the City's great architectural treasures” and the interior as "one of New York's great 19th-century interiors”.


2. The Programs   BHS offers a schedule of programs designed to engage a broad range of audiences. Programs range from topics in history and current affairs to exhibition related lectures, to musical events, walking tours, readings and plays.


3. The Collection   The Society’s Othmer Library has a vast collection of records –including family histories, maps, newspapers and a large Oral History collection. You never know you might find material relating to your family. A recent Australian visitor was able to find information about a direct ancestor and other family members in an 1851 Directory for Brooklyn in the Brooklyn Historical Society’s library.


Brooklyn Historical Society





Nominations for the FAHS Merit Awards for 2014 close on 30 June 2014.
Information about the awards (including a list of previous recipients) is available on the FAHS website:


The guidelines (in PDF format) and nomination form (in PDF and DOC format) can be downloaded from the website.


Please consider nominating a member of your society – successful nominations help raise the profile of all volunteers in local history.





Are you forwarding this FAHS Newsletter (and its sister publication, the FAHS e-Bulletin) to the members of your historical society?

The FAHS tries to send these e-mails to the current President or Secretary (if known), but it is not always easy to keep up with changes in office-bearers which may have taken place. If you are not the most appropriate person for us to be sending them to, we would be grateful if you would let us know of an alternative, so that the publications can reach as many of your members as possible.





Quote: “If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree.”

 Michael Crichton