The state of Queensland welcomes royalty in 1970 - Part 1 The Inland Tour

Royal Yacht Britannia, Brisbane River, 1970. Image courtesy of and © The State of Queensland (Department of the Premier and Cabinet) 2022. Item ID 9755. For all other uses contact the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

In this blog – Part One the Inland Tour and Part Two the Coastal Tour, we feature the 1970 tour of Queensland. To bring it to you, members of the GLAM sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) and supporting businesses have contributed their images and collection items showcasing the 1970 tour of Queensland.

The tour began in Brisbane and travelled to Cunnamulla, Longreach, Mount Isa, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns and Cooktown. The individual essays and photographs represent a record of Queen Elizabeth II’s time in Queensland, primarily focusing on her visits to the regional centres across the state.

Please note the photographs published in this blog are ‘in copyright.’ State Library of Queensland in collaboration with each organisation was granted permission to include them in the blog. Permission to re-use must be sought from the corresponding organization or private collector unless otherwise stated. 

They have arrived…

During the 1970 tour of Queensland, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was accompanied by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, and Her Royal Highness Princess Anne. They arrived on board the Royal yacht Britannia which was their base between engagements. 

1970 marked the Bicentenary of Cook’s voyage along the east coast of Australia. The Royal family arrived in Australia on 30 March and toured various states over 34 days.

The Queensland tour began on Sunday 12 April when the royal yacht Britannia entered Moreton Bay at Caloundra, sailing into Newstead Wharf by 3:00pm that same day.

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, and Princess Anne on the steps of Brisbane City Hall, 12 April 1970, Brisbane City Archives, Item ID T54-0217. Image courtesy of and © The State of Queensland. For all other uses contact Brisbane City Archives.

Map of Queensland showing flight paths and destinations across Queensland of the 1970 royal visit including Princess Anne’s detour to Cunnamulla. J 394.4 VIS Royal Visit to Queensland 1970. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland 

Her Royal Highness Princess Anne accepted an invitation to spend three days on a working sheep station in south-west Queensland. She flew to Cunnamulla on the 14 April, travelling 47 miles by road to ‘Talbarea Station’ unaccompanied.

After several days of engagements in the city of Brisbane, Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh commenced their regional tour flying to Longreach on Wednesday 15 April.

…the inland tour begins



According to Mr Ian Tonkin, local resident and young news reporter at the time, Princess Anne arrived in Cunnamulla in a government jet a little ahead of schedule which meant a handful of locals had 20mins chatting with her before the official party arrived. “She was charming and didn’t mind a bit” remembers Ian. She travelled around the district in a maroon Rolls Royce which was unloaded from the back of an Australian Air Force carrier plane.

Her accommodation at ‘Talbarea Station’ was considered very comfortable, with Princess Anne’s suite overlooking the 40ft long swimming pool filled with water from the property’s artesian bore. Mr and Mrs Parkinson also arranged for a cook and an extra waitperson for Princess Anne’s relaxing Queensland stop over.

Princess Anne was given a demonstration of sheep shearing and wool classing on the working property and was accompanied on a horse ride during her stay. For entertainment, she was introduced to several local gentlemen from the district who attended a country dance held in her honour. According to Mr Tonkin, legend has it she danced the night away with one young fellow who was considered quite dashing, more than 50 years ago.    

HRH Princess Anne observe sheep shearing and wool classing, 1970. Image courtesy of and © The State of Queensland (Department of the Premier and Cabinet). Item ID 9755. For all other uses contact the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

HRH Princess Anne riding a horse, 1970. Item ID DR9854. Image courtesy of and © The State of Queensland (Department of the Premier and Cabinet). For all other uses contact the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

On 16 April, HRH Princess Anne planted a Yapunyah tree outside the Cunnamulla Civic Centre watched on by Cr Jack Tonkin and his wife Alma, and the students of St Catherine’s Convent, Cunnamulla State School, and members of the local Girl Guides and Scout Brigade. Council still displays the silver spade Princess Anne used on the occasion.

Cr. Jack Tonkin and wife Alma observe Princess Anne plant a Yapunyah tree outside the Civic Centre, Cunnamulla, 16 April 1970. Photographer Ian Tonkin, private collection. For all other uses contact Cunnamulla Library, Paroo Shire Council.  

Mr Ian Tonkin, son of Cr. Jack Tonkin was on hand to photograph the ceremony. Ian worked at the local newspaper office in Cunnamulla, compiling the district’s news for The Watchman.

Contributors Mr Ian Tonkin, photographer, and newspaper journalist; Tammy Hickey, Paroo Shire Council Library.



Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh flew out of Brisbane on the morning of 15 April, arriving in Longreach in the middle of the day. They were met by the Chairman of the Longreach Shire Council, Sir James Walker and his wife, Lady Vivienne, The Honourable Mr W. A. R. Rae, M.L.A., Minister for Local Government and Electricity, Sir Roland Wilson, K.B.E., Chairman, Qantas Airways Ltd., and Lady Wilson and Mr R.H. McCann, Officer in Charge of the Longreach Aerodrome.  

The primary purpose for their stopover in Longreach was to visit the first operational base of Queensland’s first airline which became Australia’s Overseas Airline. The Q.A.N.T.A.S. hangar is 100 years old this year.

During the visit they viewed an exhibition of Qantas memorabilia, including a replica of the company’s first aircraft, the AVRO 504K of 1921. The occasion marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of The Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services, Limited (Qantas). Sir Roland presented Qantas associates and staff to Her Majesty during the visit. 

Left: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II commemorating 50 years of Qantas, Longreach. 1970. Item ID 1471663. Image courtesy of and © The State of Queensland (Department of the Premier and Cabinet). For all other uses contact the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

Right: Sir Roland re-introduces HRH Queen Elizabeth to Sir Hudson Fysh, one of the founders of QANTAS and his wife, Lady Nell. Image courtesy of Qantas Heritage Collection. Image ‘in copyright’. For all other uses contact Qantas Founders Museum.   

The AVRO 504K representing the first QANTAS aircraft outside the company’s first hangar. Westin View Postcard, courtesy of Tom Harwood, private collection. For all other uses please contact Tom Harwood, Qantas Founders Museum.

To commemorate the Longreach visit, Her Majesty and The Duke participated in a tree planting ceremony beside the Longreach Civic Centre. Shire Engineer, Mr A.H. Wind placed the first tree in position, handing the ceremonial spade to Her Majesty to formally complete the planting. He did the same for the second tree, handing the spade to His Royal Highness to do likewise. The royal party were then taken to a Walker family property, ‘Camden Park’, for a buffet lunch.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II plants a tree in Longreach. Item ID 1471645. Image courtesy of and © The State of Queensland (Department of the Premier and Cabinet) 2022. For all other uses contact the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Local folklore tells us somebody ripped the trees out of the ground that same evening under the cover of darkness. Council workers replaced them the next morning. It was common knowledge at the time, but old-timers are the only ones who can recall the story today. The replacement trees continue to thrive. Few people notice the plaque placed at the foot of each tree marking the occasion.

The Moreton Bay Fig Tree in Longreach, 2022 and the plaque marking the spot where HRH Queen Elizabeth II planted the tree in 1970. Photographs courtesy of Tom Harwood, private collection.    

It will interest our readers that Qantas Airways celebrated its Centenary in 2020, and the Qantas Founders Museum is one of Queensland’s most prestigious museum destinations, welcoming more than 45000 visitors each year. 

Contributor Mr Tom Harwood, archivist and historian, Qantas Founders Museum.


Mount Isa

The Royal visitors were met at the Mount Isa airport by the Mayor of the City, Mr A.J. Inch and his wife and Officer in Charge Mr B. Davis in the late afternoon, 15 April. After the Queen’s personal flag was broken, they were conveyed to “Casa Grande”, in Nettle Street, Mount Isa, which was built in 1949 for former Managing Director of Mount Isa Mines, Mr Julius Kruttschmitt II. In 1970, Mr J.W. Foots was the Manager Director.

‘Casa Grande’ was added to the Queensland Heritage Register in 1999.

Side view of ‘Casa Grande’, home of George Fisher, Managing Director of Mount Isa Mines Ltd., Mount Isa, 1954, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 201808

Later that evening they were driven to Kalkadoon Park where the royal couple witnessed a programmed event under the guidance of Ringmaster Mr. J. O’Shea. Kalkadoon Park was the original site of the famous Mount Isa rodeo.

Read more in Background to Rodeo, MIMAG, vol 17, no. 10, 1964.


Mount Isa Mines

The following day, on 16 April, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was taken on an underground tour of the mine while Queen Elizabeth stayed above ground. Archivist and Mount Isa Mines (MIM) historian Barry Merrick, selected three photographs from the collection that truly represent the mine and Mount Isa. While the MIM collection has many “meet-and-greet” images typical of any Royal tour, the images below highlight Her Majesty inspecting the mining process.

At the time of the Royal visit, MIM had four photographers on staff. They were John Shewan, Will van Oosterom, David Stammer, and Neil Hart. All were assigned to take colour photographs of the visit. Barry suggests two photographers were assigned to Her Majesty during the surface inspection and her tour of the workers’ Parkside Flats, while the other two accompanied the Duke of Edinburgh underground. 

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Duke of Edinburgh inspect Underground Machinery at R62 Marshalling Area, 16 April 1970. Image © ‘in copyright’, Mount Isa Mines. For all other uses contact Mount Isa Library. 

The Marshalling Area around R62 Shaft Winder Tower was cleaned, and a display was set up using operational mining equipment from underground so Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II could see it in action. The display was designed to demonstrate the operation of an EIMCO air powered rail mounted rocker shovel loading ore. Mine Manager Ken Findlay explained the process while Assistant Mine Manager Bob Floyd accompanied The Duke.

Ken Finlay explains the process of underground drilling methods at R62 Surface Mount Isa Mines, 16 April 1970. Image © ‘in copyright’, Mount Isa Mines. For all other uses contact Mount Isa Library. 

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II inspects an assay sample of flotation froth with Control Metallurgist Herman Dobrowolska explaining its characteristics. Image © ‘in copyright’, Mount Isa Mines. For all other uses contact Mount Isa Library. 

The process explained to Her Majesty: Lead and zinc minerals are extracted by a flotation process. The ore taken from below the surface is ground to an extremely fine flour-like grit and mixed with water and special chemicals known as reagents. Contained in a cell, low-pressure high-volume air is blown through the mix. The reagents cause air bubbles to have “stickiness" for certain minerals. The process helps determine if “tweaking” is required to improve the mineral recovery rate. The bubbly froth is extracted and dried as a concentrate of lead or zinc. The fine rock that doesn’t stick is pumped away as tailings sand.

The Mount Isa Mines (MIM) photographic collection is held at the Mount Isa City Library. Archivist Barry Merrick is currently digitising and identifying the images, which number well over 100,000. .

Contributor Mount Isa Mines (MIM), archivist Barry Merrick, Mount Isa Library. 

Postscript: Prior to leaving Mount Isa, the Royal party visited the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Mount Isa Base. They were met by Dr. T.J. O’Leary, C.B.E., Medical Superintendent. HRH Queen Elizabeth II also spoke to the children enrolled in a School of the Air session. Alice Vicary (11yrs) of Esmeralda Station, 200 miles N-E of Mount Isa responded to Her Royal Highness on behalf of the children.


…the coastal tour continues


The 1970 Royal Tour continues in Part 2 the Coastal Tour when the Royal Family visited coastal communties including Mackay, Townsville, the Great Barrier Reef, Cooktown and Cairns.

This blog has been made possible due to the collaboration of Public Libraries, Museums and business contributing their content and stories.

Anne Scheu, Collections Engagement, Queensland Memory, State Library of Queensland.

Read more blogs about HRH Queen Elizabeth II and her visits to Queensland


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