Peter Ludlow, historian and author, has probably done more to keep the post-settlement history of Moreton Bay alive than anyone else.
A 25 minute podcast doesn’t do justice to the wealth of information Peter has about Moreton Bay, so before you read anything else, please visit Peter’s blog. He’s recently posted about a couple of the mysteries we talked about on the show – the Grand View’s lost cellar, the underground hospital at Bribie… but there are many other tales on the site, so be careful – you could be there a while!
Here’s the podcast episode:
Ian’s probably my favourite post-settlement character of Moreton Bay. Born in Scotland, he was captured by the Germans in WW1, spent four years as a prisoner of war, studied art and wandered all over the world sending pieces to galleries, with very little success.
Part of his wandering was up and down the east coast of Australia, before he ended up in Darwin, where he built a raft and set off for Bali. Two weeks later he ran aground on Rote Island, was captured by Indonesian authorities, and was deported back to Britain.
But I guess something about Australia’s coast stayed with him, because he came back here, to Bribie Island, in 1953, and stayed there, living in a grass hut at Bongaree until he was forced to move from grass to fibro.
He was increasingly successful as an artist, but he was either unwilling or unable to deal with the increased income – Macquarie Galleries even had to create a trust account for him on his behalf!
My favourite quote about Fairweather: “he resented interference with his style of life, which was reclusive, self-disciplined, austere, and determinedly unrestrained by society.” I identify with at least 3/5 of these! 😂 But I also feel a real connection with his desire to live simply, close to the earth. He may have been a “misfit” struggling with his place in the world, but he had sand under his feet and the sound of waves accompanying him to sleep.
Fairweather died in 1974. Click through some of his works at the Queensland Art Gallery / GOMA site – or even better, why not go look at them in person?
Human stories as part of the environment we live in
Apart from the many fascinating stories and tidbits on Peter’s site, I love how many comments his posts attract from people who’ve seen a reference to a neighbour of old, or a passed family member… these connections weave their way through our lives, influencing the way we walk in the world, and influencing too, the world we live in today.
The older I get, and the further I’ve gone into ecological studies, the more I appreciate those who were here before me. I recognise myself in some, and try to understand why I can’t recognise myself in others.
It might seem odd, but this is an essential component to understanding ecosystems. We still like to talk about looking after “pristine” “wilderness” but the truth is, very few terrestrial and ZERO marine ecosystems on earth are untouched by humans.
Ecology, after all, is about recognising the component parts of ecosystems – humans are just one species, going about their business as do the birds or the turtles or the fish. It makes no sense to try to address deteriorating environments without understanding the behaviours of the species that are part of the environment. That means humans too!
Much as we’ve tried in our modern world to build walls to keep the “wild” at a distance, or subjugate it to our will, it’s simply not possible. This is why more and more conservation sciences are focused on including the human component as part of their studies – not only human impacts on ecology, but on how our conservation efforts affect human concerns.
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment – a United Nations program represented a huge step forward in our attempts to quantify the relationships between the environment and human needs. What was important about the MEA was the recognition of services the environment provides us with that aren’t about food or clean air/water: services such as the maintenance of our cultures, and the provision of inspiration, recreation, or enjoyment. These are things that we all know make our lives worthwhile, but are so often left out of planning considerations.
What’s important to remember is that these relationships between human and environment are mutual and flow in both directions. If we find a place beautiful or pleasant, or if we have personal or historical connections with it, we are more likely to appreciate it. We are more invested in looking after it, and making sure it continues to provide these benefits.
It’s a cycle of appreciation and reward that keeps us and our Place healthy.
So I thank Peter for filling out the context of our Place, Moreton Bay – and I hope you get as much out of learning about these moments in time as I did. But if history’s not your thing…. remember that you’re creating y(our) own Moreton Bay history every time you’re out there.
Let’s make it a good one!