General Enquiries & Emergencies
(07) 3810 6666

TTY Phone
133 677 then ask for
07 3810 6666

Accessibility Options: A A Adjust contrast


Queensland History




The world-famous Australian lamington was 100 years old on 19 December 2001.Lamington

Despite some dubious claims from New Zealand, the lamington is as Australian as meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars, ranking alongside the other true Australian icons of the pavlova, peach melba and Vegemite.

This Australian culinary icon, which consists of sponge cake dipped in chocolate and liberally sprinkled with fine desiccated coconut, was created through an accident at work by a maid-servant to Lord Lamington, the thoroughly-British eighth Governor of Queensland.

The maid-servant was working at Government House in Brisbane when she accidentally dropped the Governor's favourite sponge cake into some melted chocolate. Lord Lamington was not a person of wasteful habits and suggested that it be dipped in coconut to cover the chocolate to avoid messy fingers.

Paul Tully celebrates
the 100th anniversary
of the world renowned
Australian lamington
on 19 December 2001

Lord Lamington devoured this new taste sensation with great delight and the maid-servant's error was proclaimed a magnificent success by all!

Lord LamingtonLord Lamington was born in London, England on 29 July 1860 as Charles Wallace Alexander Napier COCHRANE-BAILLIE holding the aristocratic title of Baron Lamington. He was Governor of Queensland from 9 April 1896 to 19 December 1901.

After leaving Queensland, he went on to become the Governor of Bombay in India for 4 years. He died at Lamington House, Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1940.

According to Hansard at the Australian Constitutional Convention in Canberra on 11 February 1998, Cr Paul Tully, an elected delegate representing QUEENSLANDERS FOR A REPUBLIC suggested that his extensive research of the Governors of the 6 Australian colonies and states had produced evidence of only "one, single, solitary, positive achievement of any Governor since the First Fleet arrived in 1788" and that was Lord Lamington's contribution to the culinary delights of the Australian nation!

Lord Lamington served Queensland for 5 years but despite all of his colonial, aristocratic pomp and ceremony, the only thing which Charles Wallace Alexander Napier COCHRANE-BAILLIE will ever be remembered for in Australia is the creation of the world-famous lamington.



3 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup milk.

Beat the eggs well, gradually adding the sugar until dissolved. Add the milk and vanilla essence and then stir in the self raising flour and whip the butter into the mixture. Pour the mixture into a cake tin or lamington baking dish and bake in a moderate oven of 180 degrees Celsius for 35 minutes. Allow the cake to cool for at least 10 minutes and then stand for 24 hours preferably in the refrigerator, before applying the icing.


4 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons boiling water
3 cups desiccated coconut.

Stir the cocoa and icing sugar vigorously in a large bowl, adding the milk, butter and boiling water, warming the chocolate mixture over a very low heat until it has a smooth creamy texture. Cut the sponge cake into equal squares about 5cm x 5cm and, using a fork or thin skewer, dip each piece into the chocolate mixture ensuring that the mixture is liberally and evenly applied. Dip each piece into the desiccated coconut, allowing the lamingtons to cool on a wire tray for several hours.




Do you have an interesting historical anecdote about the Australian lamington?

Or, if you know of any untold or unusual aspect of Queensland History, please email:

or write to:




The City of Ipswich, 40km west of Brisbane, holds the indisputable record as the first place in Australia - and the southern hemisphere - to receive a television transmission. The first face on Australian television was the American movie star Janet Gaynor - not, as widely believed, Bruce Gyngell of TCN Channel 9 Sydney. 


The world's first public demonstration of television was given by the inventor of this modern medium, Scottish engineer John Logie Baird (1888-1946), in London on Tuesday, 26 January 1926.

Thirty years later, Australia officially entered the age of commercial television but that was 22 years AFTER Australia's first television broadcast and 20 years after the BBC started broadcasting its first television service in London in 1936.

TCN Channel 9, Sydney New South Wales is widely - but wrongly - regarded as holding the record for the first public television transmission in Australia. This honour actually belongs to Queensland and this significant milestone in Australian television history is shared by the cities of Brisbane and Ipswich.

TCN Channel 9, which was owned by media magnate the late Sir Frank Packer, (1906-1974) commenced test transmissions on Friday 13 July 1956 and the initial television program on the station went to air at 7.00pm on Sunday 16 September 1956. It was instantly proclaimed by the Sydney media as an Australian first.

Bruce GyngellBut the tuxedoed image of the Program Manager of TCN Channel 9 Bruce Gyngell(1929-2000) (pictured), sporting a carnation in his lapel, which is still portrayed to this day as the first face on Australian television, is a furphy. It is a legendary urban myth from the archives of the Nine Network of Australia, endlessly perpetuated for 50 years and certain to be re-invented in 2006 for the Golden Anniversary of Australian television.

When Bruce Gyngell first appeared on that mild spring evening in the unfinished studios of TCN Channel 9 at Artarmon Road, Willoughby in Sydney proclaiming: "Good evening and welcome to television", his performance before an estimated 100,000 viewers had already been eclipsed more than two decades earlier by a much less ritzy broadcast 1000km to the north.

Janet Gaynor - First Face on Australian TelevisionAustralia's first television broadcast actually occurred on 10 April 1934 - 22 years 5 months and 1 week earlier than Bruce Gyngell's perfunctory performance - when an image of the well-known and glamorous American film star Janet Gaynor (1906-1984) (pictured) was transmitted over-the-air from the heart of Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, to the provincial City of Ipswich.

This historic television transmission was sent from an experimental laboratory set up by Mr Thomas Elliott at the Old Windmill Observatory on Wickham Terrace in Brisbane to one viewer in a small cottage in Ipswich, almost 40 km (25 miles) to the west.

According to the late Joe Crombie of Woodend, an avid Ipswich electronic and amateur television expert, in The Queensland Times of Ipswich on 18 June 1984, the Ipswich person who received the very first transmission was Mr Tom Biddle of North Ipswich, a lecturer in television at the Brisbane Polytechnic.

All efforts to locate this historic site at North Ipswich of the first television broadcast in Australia have been unsuccessful.

Brisbane therefore holds the historical record as the first place in Australia - and the southern hemisphere - from which a television signal was transmitted.

And Ipswich holds the equally indisputable record as the first place in Australia - and the southern hemisphere - to receive a television signal. Janet Gaynor indisputably holds the record as the first face on Australian television.

Old Windmill Observatory, Wickham Terrace BrisbaneThe site of this historic telecast was the Old Windmill Observatory in Wickham Terrace Brisbane which was built by convict labour in 1828 and now overlooks Brisbane's Central Business District. It is Brisbane's oldest surviving building. Originally, the "Old Windmill" was designed to grind flour for the convicts of the new penal colony in Brisbane but the original design made it unsuitable as a windmill and it was converted to a treadmill.

The treadmill was operated by human convict labour - the worst punishment feared by the convicts in the new penal settlement where they had to constantly turn the mill by foot power. Sheer exhaustion or a moment of hesitation could see a convict trapped in the never ending circular motion of the treadmill and crushed to death. In 1861, it was converted to a signal station. It was also used as a fire lookout and a meteorological station. Between 1895 and 1930, the copper ball at the top was dropped at precisely 1.00pm each day as a visual signal across the heart of the city of the correct time according to the Standard Time Act 1894.


Old Windmill Observatory Heritage Plaque ©2005 Paul Tully. Picture of the Old Windmill
Observatory in Wickham Terrace, Brisbane.
Note the 4 compass points at the top of the
sandstone building, with W(est) on the far
side pointing towards Ipswich where the first
official television transmission in Australia
was received on 10 April 1934.


©2005 Paul Tully. Picture of the heritage
plaque erected by Brisbane City Council
outside the Old Windmill Observatory in
Wickham Terrace, Brisbane.


A feature article on page 2 of The Courier-Mail in Brisbane on Saturday 3 December 1955 described Australia's first historic television broadcast from Brisbane to Ipswich:


The Courier-Mail 3 December 1955Canberra says we can't have it till it's tried in the south - but . . .
BRISBANE HAD TV 21 YEARS AGO . . . And it worked

By R.W. Brown


A SWITCH clicked, electric motors whirred, mirror drums rotated, and huge valves blinked dully - and the television station was on the air.

As the T.V. transmitting apparatus steadied and equalised, a cataract of flying white dots on the screen dissolved into the smiling face of film star Janet Gaynor.

But here's the rub . . . that was not in the United States or Britain in 1955, or even in 1945. It was in Brisbane in 1935.

Yes, in Brisbane, in a lonely eyrie at the top of the convict-built Observatory on Wickham Terrace, from which pictures were transmitted as far away as 25 miles by an enthusiastic bunch of amateurs.

Yes, 25 miles away, in a little Ipswich cottage, the images of Miss Gaynor and dozens of other pictures were clearly seen through a home-made receiver.

And to think at that stage T.V. experiments in Queensland were just as far advanced as those in England, further advanced than those on the Continent. Professional television started in England in 1936, yet Australia is still waiting for it.

For the backroom boys of the Observatory their experiments were a triumph. They could lay claim to having carried out Australia's first television transmission, as early as April, 1934.

Talk to one of the men involved - Tom Elliott, now 55, and business manager of an X-ray organisation on Wickham Terrace - and you realise what a triumph it was.

The initial transmission from the old tower was made through the experimental radio station 4CM, owned by Brisbane radiologist Dr. Val McDowall.

Behind that success had been three years of intensive preparation and the amateurs spent a year assembling the equipment and learning the latest in experiments conducted abroad.

Animated pictures

And then, after months of work, they hit on an ambitious scheme. Why not send out, not only "still" pictures, but animated pictures?

Almost every night the group of men, led by Tom Elliott, tested their apparatus. After midnight, when broadcasting stations had closed, they would send out T.V. messages on the air for all who cared to pick them up.

The band of enthusiasts grew, and about a dozen people were taught how to construct simple attachments to their wireless sets to receive the images.

Then the Commonwealth Government became interested and in 1935, station 4CM was granted a licence to conduct experimental television broadcasts. Tom Elliott and his associates were by now effectively transmitting pictures of 9in. by 4in. with almost 100 per cent. clarity.

On October 9, 1935, it was announced that The Courier-Mail of that day would be used for transmission. State and Commonwealth government members and Press representatives were invited to watch.

The receiving set used was that of Tom Biddle, lecturer in T.V. at the Brisbane Polytechnic. It was a short-wave radio set with a home-made T.V. attachment. A copy of The Courier-Mail transmitted from the Observatory was clearly legible on the screen.

Transmission began with objects taken from a roll of sound film, and later, televising close-up "stills" of movie stars.

Soon the amateurs were able to provide their "televiewers" with animation.

This consisted of a standard movie projector with the intermittent sprocket of the biograph removed, enabling a continuous, instead of intermittent movement of the film.

A powerful arc lamp behind the film projected the image on to the cell of an electrically-controlled scanning disc and mirror drum, which ensured synchronisation.

Images from the celluloid film, illuminated by the whirling dots of light from the perforations which encircled the scanning disc, influenced the photo cell, and passing through the ether as light impulses, they were received and reconverted into light by the receiving sets.

The war ended their efforts
Later electronic scanning of the film was carried out.

The enthusiasts progressed up to 1939. But then, the Government withdrew licences because of the war and the "Tower boys' " efforts were disbanded.

Said Elliott sadly: "That was the end. Our work is merely a record, almost forgotten. The equipment is now in the Historical Museum in Newstead House."

But it should not be forgotten. Look at this extract from the Melbourne Herald of December 5, 1935:-

"..... a convincing demonstration of television .. Eighteen months ago Mr Elliott's 30-line (low transmission) television was being received, though in an indistinct form, in Melbourne." (926 miles away !)

Better than in Europe

"The most gratifying feature of Mr. Elliott's research is the comparison of his results with those obtained in Germany, where £1 million has been spent, and in England, where T.V. research has cost hundreds of thousands of pounds."
" . . . . While the images received aborad are shaded pink, violet, and pale green, those in Brisbane are black-and-white - the result of a lamp Mr. Elliott invented."

And on page 14 of The Courier-Mail of April 10, 1935, Mr. Elliott wrote in a special article:

"Australia can have television here and now if the authorities are willing to co-operate. There is no reason to delay. An efficient of low-definition television could be put on the air almost immediately and then Australia would, I feel sure, be practically abreast of the world in the new science."

Elliott's comment 20 years later is: "Television has made tremendous strides in its technical development since our day, and still there is the delay.

"Our experiments in 1934 showed that the best place for a transmitting station would be at the top of the City Hall, rather than on Mt. Coot-tha, because it was found there would be several 'blind' spots in Brisbane from the latter, but none from the City Hall."

Since the war, Brisbane has seen two more successful demonstrations of T.V.:

In July, 1949, using equipment worth £25,000 brought here by the Shell Company, 12 variety artists carried out a full-dress T.V. show at Lennons, under producer Frank Cave. They were viewed in the next room on a screen 8½" by 6½in.

And during the Royal Tour last year. The Courier-Mail, in conjunction with Amalgamated Wireless (A'asia) Ltd., arranged the televising of the Queen's reception and State luncheon at Parliament House. These events were watched by patients at Greenslopes Repatriation Hospital on standard screens.

Yet recently it was announced in Federal Parliament that Brisbane would not have television until it had been proved successful in Sydney and Melbourne.






Dan Kelly Cinsound 2It is widely speculated that the Ipswich General Cemetery is the final resting-placefor a member of perhaps the most notorious Australian family - the Kelly Gang.

Records show that in 1933, an elderly man (pictured at right) known as James Ryan, claimed to Brisbane's Truth newspaper that he was, in fact, Dan Kelly, the brother of Ned Kelly.

An article which appeared on the front page of Brisbane's Truth newspaper dated 13 August 1933 bore the headline:

"I am Dan Kelly, Declares Aged Bushman - Thrilling Confession of Days When Hold Up Terror Reigned".

The article recounted in graphic detail the adventures of the Kelly gang as told by James Ryan, or Dan Kelly.

According to this and other articles which appeared in the newspaper, James Ryan, or Dan Kelly, escaped along with Steve Hart from the siege in the burning hotel at Glenrowan on 28 June 1880 and headed to Queensland with nothing but a new identity.

The supposed bodies of Dan Kelly and Steve Hart were reduced to charcoal in the intense fire and were never positively identified. Speculation has been rife for over a century that Dan Kelly and Steve Hart managed to escape during the smoke, fire and commotion as Ann Jones' hotel burnt to the ground, probably assisted by a deliberately wrong "positive identification" by visiting Catholic Priest Father Gibney.

The Truth newspaper reported that hundreds of historians from all over the country and even those who had associations with the Kelly's could not disprove that James Ryan was truly Dan Kelly.

The alleged Dan Kelly travelled throughout Queensland eventually moving from Longreach to Brisbane, reputedly having served in the Boer War. For a time, he lived under the old Toombul Railway bridge in Brisbane where the Clayfield Police kept a close eye on him.

In 1934, he appeared in a Sideshow at the Brisbane Exhibition and recounted the tales of the Kelly Gang with an intimate knowledge of the Kelly family history. No one was ever able to successfully refute his claim that he was a member of the Kelly Gang.

He had came forward to the Truth newspaper in 1933, more than 50 years after the famous shootout, wrongly believing that the Statute of Limitations legally prevented any prosecution for murder after more than half a century.

He eventually settled in a small hut at Fairney View near Fernvale (between Ipswich and Esk), 40km north-west of Brisbane and was well-known in the local district.

Former Moreton Shire Deputy Chairman John Harris recalls sitting on Dan Kelly's lap as a boy and being shown the deep burn scars on the man's back which he claimed he received in the Glenrowan fire when he was pinned by a burning beam. He had the initials "D.K." branded on his buttocks. John Harris was scared of the man and truly believes that he was sitting in the lap of the real Dan Kelly.

On 29 July 1948 Dan Kelly, also known as James Ryan, was released from the Brisbane General Hospital (now known as the Royal Brisbane Hospital) after a short illness and made his way to Ipswich that afternoon.

At 9.00pm, he was walking along the main Ipswich-Brisbane railway line at the end of Wharf Street in Ipswich when he was struck by a coal train and decapitated. He was carrying a small suitcase with all his earthly possessions and ten pounds was found in his pockets which went towards his burial costs.

He was buried as a Roman Catholic in a pauper's grave at the Ipswich General Cemetery on 31 July 1948 under the name "J. Ryan" with Reverend Bergin officiating in the presence of only the cemetery sexton and the undertaker.

The Truth newspaper of 1 August 1948 front-page story reported:


On 11 November 1998, a memorial was erected on the site of the old pauper's grave in the Ipswich General Cemetery which now stands as a silent tribute to what may be the final resting place of one of Australia's most notorious bushrangers.

We may never know who the character known in Ipswich as "James Ryan" really was. But one thing is certain, in the end, the death in Ipswich of James Ryan on 29 July 1948 closed another chapter on the legend of Dan Kelly and his involvement in the infamous Kelly Gang.






20 August 1933

1 August 1948

Ipswich Burial Register



Cr Tully1

13 August 1933

Dan Kelly's reputed burnt
body at Glenrowan, 28 June 1880

Cr Tully at the grave site in Ipswichof James Ryan or Dan Kelly?

Plaque Wording

  Cr Tully2

Plaque wording at
Ipswich General Cemetery


Cr Tully views the Kelly
memorial in Ipswich



If you know of any untold or unusual aspect of Queensland History, please email:

or write to:




High Court of Australia protects historic Regatta Hotel at Toowong in 1920



Regatta HotelSlim Dusty's 1957 smash hit the "Pub with No Beer" could have been the "Pub with No Licence" except for a long forgotten decision of the High Court of Australia.

Since 1887, Toowong's heritage-listed Regatta Hotel has been a favourite meeting place for Brisbane residents and in later years for politicians, lawyers and television personalities. It boasted wild parties after the GPS Head of the River in the 50s and 60s.

It was the scene of the famous 1965 challenge by Merle Thornton and Rosalie Bognor who chained themselves to the foot rail of the public bar protesting against antiquated laws stopping women entering public bars in Queensland.

But nothing in the pub's colorful history can beat its fight to remain open which had 7 High Court judges pondering its future after World War 1 and making one of the oddest judicial rulings since the English rule of law arrived in Australia in 1788.

University of Queensland Law graduate and long-serving Ipswich Councillor Paul Tully came across the long-forgotten decision in a dusty law book during his legal research as a migration attorney. Cr Tully was well-known at the pub in the early 1970s when he was editor of the University student newspaper Semper Floreat.

In 1917, the Liquor Act 1912 gave wowser groups the power to close any pub through a local option poll of electors living with a 3-mile radius of an hotel. On 5 May 1917, the people of Toowong voted to close their local pub forever.

The pub's owner Sarah Ann DANIELL and the licensee James Patrick GLEESON immediately ordered their lawyers to find a way to overturn the poll.

Section 109 of the Australian Constitution provides that where there is an inconsistency between a Commonwealth law and a State law, the Commonwealth law prevails.

The Commonwealth Parliament had enacted the Commonwealth Electoral (War-time) Act 1917 to prevent State polls on the same day as a Commonwealth election. With that in mind, the lawyers for the Regatta Hotel seized on the fact that the Toowong local option poll had been held on the same day as a Senate election.

They tried this argument before the Brisbane Licensing Court which tossed it out as legal bunkum.

An official notice then appeared in the Queensland Government Gazette on 8 September 1917 declaring that the pub must close by 31 December 1919.

The next port of call for the lawyers was the Supreme Court of Queensland which showed some sympathy for the cause as public opinion slowly turned in favour of retaining the pub. On 3 December 1919, the Supreme Court ordered that the decision of the Brisbane Licensing Court be referred to the High Court of Australia.

On 22 March 1920, the parties put vociferous argument to the 7 High Court judges sitting in Sydney headed by Chief Justice Knox. It was claimed that the voters of Toowong had been part of an unlawful ballot as it had been conducted on the same day as the 1917 Senate election. The counter argument was that it was only a technical breach of the Constitution.

One month later on 22 April 1920, the High Court announced its decision.

By a majority of 6 to 1, the court ruled that section 109 of the Australian constitution had been breached and that the State law which allowed local option polls on the same day as a Commonwealth election was void to the extent of the inconsistency.

There were free shouts and hearty cheers all round at the Regatta Hotel that night, as news of the High Court decision was received from Sydney by telegram.

And many decades later, the Regatta Hotel still stands as one of Queensland's most recognised icons thanks to the 6 judges of the High Court of Australia and an obscure provision of the Australian constitution which the nation's founders would scarcely have thought would one day be the saviour of one of Australia's most historic pubs.




If you know of any untold or unusual aspect of Queensland History, please email:

or write to: