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John Oxley Library

Storylines Q150 digital stories: Treasure collection of the John Oxley Library

By Chrissi Theodosiou & Troy Keith, Queensland Memory | 3 December 2021

What do watermelon skiing, the Min Min lights and a ghost named Mrs Perkins have in common?  They are all Queensland stories recorded in the Storylines: Q150 digital stories project.

10085/26 Chinchilla Melon Festival, 2009. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

This story is about the Chinchilla Melon Festival, a bi-annual event that occurs in the town of Chinchilla. This festival has been running since 1994 and attracts many visitors and and a lot business to the town of Chinchilla.

10085/40 Have you see the light?, 2009. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. 

The Boulia Shire is no stranger to unexplained lights. Ever since anyone can remember, inexplicable lights have been experienced by a great variety of people. Kalinda, Maureen and Ric share their stories and theories about the mysterious Min Min light.

10085/69 Ghostly tales of Toowoomba, 2009. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. 

Don Talbot discusses his book 'Ghostly Tales of Toowoomba' and the myriad of ghostly presences wandering the streets of his town.

In 2009 Queensland marked 150 years of separation from New South Wales (1859 – 2009).

State Library of Queensland celebrated the official Q150 sesquicentenary program through the commissioning of digital stories that captured the diversity of Queensland’s people, places, and events and more importantly, provided a snapshot of Queensland stories and experiences during the 2009 sesquicentennial year.

The 87 digital stories selected for Storylines focused on the 'Queensland identity.' The digital stories also complemented State Library’s existing Oral history collections

At the time digital storytelling was a new format, an alternative to an Oral History in which an audio recording is made of people talking about their lives or experiences. Digital Stories are similar to mini documentaries in that they consist of personal narratives focusing on a central idea or topic, are 4-5 minutes in length, and combine images, music, spoken narrative and video. They can be histories, memories, yarns or dreams. 

Queensland is a huge and diverse state. Selecting which stories to capture visually was not an easy task. Initially, a list of Queensland Q150 icons was used as a rough guide to select stories which were mapped according to Queensland’s people, places and things. 

Some of the Q150 icons were so important it was essential a digital story be created about them. They include historic Yungaba and the story about Queensland’s Lucas Paw Paw ointment. Other icons provided more of a journey to a story, such as the much loved Big Pineapple in Nambour led to John Birmingham presenting a digital story about Queensland’s ‘big things’ (including the pineapple, of course). Being Queensland, there also needed to be a story that referred to our state’s love of ‘footy’ and ‘beer’, so Shane Webcke narrating a story about Queensland pubs was a match made in heaven. 

10085/13 The story of Yungaba, 2009. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

Delene Cuddihy, a member of the Yungaba Action Group, talks about the history of Yungaba, an immigration depot that was built at Kangaroo Point, Brisbane in the 1880s. She also talks about the previous uses of the building and what the future may hold for the site.

10085/61 Lucas' Papaw Ointment Always in the family, 2009. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. 

Lucas' Papaw Ointment was formulated by Dr. Thomas Pennington Lucas, who moved to Brisbane in 1885. Kevin Talbot and Lynette Swinglehurst (Dr. Lucas' great grandson and great, great grand-daughter) talk about how the pawpaw ointment was developed. They talk about Dr. Lucas' goal of preventing unnecessary surgery and how his background in botany helped him formulate the ointment that is still used today.

10085/83 Queensland's big things, 2009. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. 

John Birmingham talks about some of his own personal experiences with iconic Queensland big things such as the Big Pineapple and the Big Captain Cook, and reflects on the nature and future of Queensland's Big Thing heritage.

10085/85 Queensland's pubs, 2009. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. 

Shane Webcke talks about being a publican in Leyburn, the town where he grew up. He also talks about the role that pubs play in Queensland's social and cultural life.

The size of Queensland also acted as a guide for the project. As many communities as possible were captured, including stories from Cape York to Boulia, Blackwater and the Gold Coast, sometimes the smaller the community, the more vibrant the story! 

Ben's family had lived in Quilpie for five generations, but his digital story was so much more than a family history.  Ben’s story can be considered a genuine love of life in a small town and how much being part of the Quilpie community contributed to his quality of life.

Winton was another community with digital story possibilities around almost every corner.  Home to many of Queensland dinosaurs, Winton is also renowned for Waltzing Matilda, however it was the 2004 filming of the blockbuster movie, The Proposition that got the town buzzing. 

Storylines filmmaker, Rebecca Hassett heard some wild stories about the actors, Nick Cave and the general flurry of film activity involved many of the locals.  A great storyteller in her own right, Winton hairdresser Pinky Johnson shared her experience as the film crew’s onion ‘cutter-uppera’ in her digital story. In fact, Pinky had so many stories to share about the filming of The Proposition State Library acquired the full interview and added it to the oral history collection. 

10085/28, Living in Quiplie, 2009. John Oxley Library State Library of Queensland.

This story is about the experience of living in Quilpie. Ben Hall gives a brief introduction to the history of his family who have lived in the area for many generations, and goes on to talk about why he and his family have an appreciation for living in Quilpie.

10085/42, The Proposition's Onion Cutter-upperer, 2009. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. 

The Proposition was filmed in Winton. Lisa 'Pinky' Johnson talks vibrantly about her role as 'onion cutter-upperer' as well as the effect that the making of the film had on Winton.

Queensland’s special places feature throughout Storylines.  Peter Shepherd’s cattle station on Cape York, Bruce the Ranger talking about his love of Eungella national park to Dr Eve Fesl’s connection to the Mary River.  One of the striking things about these stories is the love people express for their environment, be it natural or built.

Whether the stories were about neighbourhoods and streets, people on their daily morning walk or a tribute to a bit of the world that is somehow extraordinary, the digital stories produced for Storylines are particularly personal and heart felt.

10085/56 Paddy Shephard Cape York station owner, 2009. John Oxley Library, State Libary of Queensland. 

Paddy Shephard's family has run Lochinvar Station in Cape York for 110 years. Paddy talks about how they used to drove cattle from the station 500 km south to Mareeba. He also discusses how hard it is now to make a living as a pastoralist.

10085/37 Eungella National Park, 2009. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. 

In this story Bruce Higham talks about the history of Eungella National Park, how the area came to be designated a national park, and what makes the area so special.

10085/65 The importance of Dala The Queensland lungfish, 2009.  John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

Dala, the Queensland lungfish located in the Mary River, is of great significance to the local Gubbi Gubbi people and to society in general. Dr. Eve Fesl, a Gubbi Gubbi elder, explains the Gubbi Gubbi belief that ancient spirits caused Dala to come out of the sea, 

So why are the Storylines digital stories a treasured collection of the John Oxley Library a decade on? It is because they reflect a snapshot in time, and are local stories produced by local people, instead of academics or historians. The stories are told by everyday Queenslanders, they are fun and they document a quirky side of Queensland, even demonstrating how diverse Queenslanders are. 

Several of the digital stories are the most viewed videos on State Library's YouTube channel, despite their age and low quality resolution. 

We hope you enjoy the digital stories and the unique qualities of what makes Queensland, Queensland!

Browse the full collection of 87 digital stories in the Storylines playlist on State Library's YouTube channel.


Read about other treasure collections held in the John Oxley Library:

  1. Margaret Lawrie Collection of Torres Strait Islands
  2. Johnstone Gallery Archive
  3. Archibald Meston Papers
  4. Mary Watson diaries
  5. Central Queensland Separation League Petition
  6. (I’m) Stranded : No Time, The Saints
  7. Real estate maps collection
  8. Portrait of an Australian Artists' Book
  9. John Watts Necklace
  10. Stable collection 1917 - 1991
  11. Tony Fitzgerald Collection 1984 - 2009
  12. Tindale Genealogical Collection 1928-1960
  13. Charles Seymour Papers 1880-192
  14. Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM Children’s Art Archive 1990-2020
  15. Bennett Family Films 1956 – 1988
  16. The Ron and Ngaire Gale Photographic Collection


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