Skip to main content
state library of queensland

Extraordinary stories

Lois Schultz papers and works of art

Free showcase

Extraordinary stories

Open daily 10 am – 5 pm
Philip Bacon Heritage Gallery, level 4

Stories worth telling. Stories worth hearing. Stories worth collecting.

These extraordinary stories draw upon State Library's collection to tell us more about Queensland and the lives lived here.

Plan my visit

Currently on display

An older man using hand tools at workbench to make a bagatelle game

Frank Tunley

Richard Frank Tunley moved to Brisbane in 1884 and later established a successful manufacturing business. He was born partially deaf and was inspired to help others facing similar obstacles. Crafting his own Braille-embossed models, maps, toys and teaching aids in his home workshop, he firmly believed all children, regardless of ability, should have access to a good education.

In 1924, a year after he made his first Braille globe, he successfully campaigned to make education for deaf and blind children compulsory in Queensland. Tunley had a long running association with the Queensland Braille Writing Association and his fundraising efforts allowed it to move into a beautiful Queenslander in Annerley, where it is now known as Braille House. ‘Grandfather Tunley’ as he was known to the children at the Queensland Blind Deaf and Dumb Institution, later called Narbethong State Special School, also made many toys and aids for schools all over the world.

Frank Tunley passed away in 1968 but his legacy lives on through the organisations he was involved with and through these wonderful handmade education aids, which were generously donated to State Library of Queensland by Narbethong State Special School in 2018.

View in the catalogue

James Maccormick 

Architect James Maccormick designed the Australian pavilions for three World Expos (Montreal, Osaka and Spokane, U.S.A) and was based in Brisbane when he hatched a bold plan to host an expo in the Queensland capital, preferring Kangaroo Point as the location. After years of lobbying, he gained support from Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen who saw it as an opportunity to reposition Brisbane as a ‘new world city’.  

Maccormick went into partnership with fellow architect Graham Bligh to oversee the development of Expo 88’s masterplan. The built form of the 40-hectare South Brisbane site would incorporate eight giant ‘sun sails’, a monorail and an enormous Sky Needle, acting as both beacon and landmark.  

World Expo 88 was a phenomenal success, loved by locals and tourists alike. It exceeded all expectations and changed the built and cultural landscape of Brisbane forever. 

Read more  ·  View in the catalogue

Lois Schultz papers and works of art

Lois Schultz 

The Lois Schultz Collection documents the life and art of a creative, sensitive and intelligent person. 

She died at the age of 41 before her full potential could be realised, this potential is clearly displayed in the artworks and sketchbooks preserved in the John Oxley Library. 

They include large drawings, mostly in chalk and watercolour, along with a multitude of sketchbooks and notebooks. Schultz’s sketchbooks document the breadth of her art practice. Life drawing is a constant theme, and her large drawings have great energy and beauty of line.  

In the notebooks her life is laid out, from the mundane details of the day-to-day to her philosophy of life and art. They tell the story of Schultz’s struggle with mental illness, the anguish of schizophrenia and the dreadful fears it brought with it, but also the centrality of art to her sense of self. 

View in the catalogue

Black and white photograph of a young woman looking out the window of a brick building

Arthur McLeod

Arthur McLeod worked as an optometrist and lived in Camp Hill in the first half of the 20th century. He was a keen amateur photographer, documenting domestic scenes, recreational outings and visits to popular tourist spots such as Currumbin and Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. 

This selection of photographs, covering a period of time between 1935 and 1955 come from a broader collection of 800 acetate negatives that Arthur’s family donated to State Library.

 View in the catalogue



A still from a home movie, a middle-aged man in a dark suit smiles at the camera, holding a young child

Edgar Tolmie

Edgar Tolmie was born in Brisbane in 1910. He studied pharmacy and worked as a pharmacist in various towns around Queensland. He had a keen interest in photography and made home movies of his family and life in Queensland. His collection of motion pictures was donated to the State Library of Queensland and digitised with the support of donors through the Queensland Library Foundation Reel Rescue campaign. Edgar Tolmie's son Robert reminisces about his father's passion for photography:

"Dad's camera was always with him, even on horseback mustering cattle. Apart from his work and photography, his family was his other passion. He worked hard to provide for them and giving each of his children a start in life. He did this not just in a material way but by teaching them by example: honesty, integrity, and a strong work ethic. That legacy lives on through his children."

The Tolmie family know that Edgar would be so pleased that his life's work is now preserved by the State Library of Queensland.

 View in the catalogue

A still from a digital story, a man smilling at the camera

Uncle Bill Lowah

Uncle Bill Lowah (christened Samuel William Belza Lowah) originally from Thursday Island, however at a young age moved with his family to Machans Beach, near Cairns, where he grew up happily embedded in family and community. 

Uncle Bill became an active part of the social justice movement in Brisbane from the early 1970s and was appointed to the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation from its inception in 1991. Over the following decades he worked tirelessly with many community organisations to improve health, housing, and education outcomes for First Nations people, and helped advise state and federal governments on improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

Fluent in two Torres Strait dialects as well as English, Uncle Bill has a deep love of language and its power to move. He is a poet of some renown and is a jazz musician; continuing the strong musical traditions held in his family. Now a proud grandfather and Elder, family and friendships remain important touchstones in Uncle Bill’s life, while he continues with his advocacy and social justice work.

View in the catalogue


Golden Circle Recipe Book

Ruby Borrowdale

From the 1930s to the early 1970s, Ruby Patricia Borrowdale-Jones pioneered a new era of female ‘celebrity’ cooks, authoring dozens of cookbooks, judging baking competitions and running her own business. Soaking up influences from American and British cooking magazines, she introduced generations of home cooks to new trends in baking and cooking. Ruby published cooking columns in syndicated newspapers using the pseudonym Patricia Dale – her middle name and the end of her surname – perhaps allowing her more freedom to write about her passion for cooking outside the constraints of her commercial relationships.

Simpson Bros. Flour was her most enduring partnership, in which she ran the company’s innovative ‘test kitchen’, but she also had arrangements with margarine brands Spreadwell and Kirabelle, the Butter Marketing Board and Kingaroy Peanuts. Ruby was the first cook to feature on Queensland television introducing her to a wider audience but is perhaps best known for writing the first Golden Circle recipe book, popular with generations of pineapple lovers. She and her husband Arthur lived in Highgate Hill, Brisbane, before Ruby passed away at the age of 84 in 1997.

Promotional fashion photograph,  model wearing skirt made from  ‘Mushroom Coral’ fabric ca.1971

Olive Ashworth

Olive Ashworth was born in Brisbane, studying commercial art in Melbourne, and then running the advertising department of Burns Philp & Co. for 12 years. She established her own freelance business in 1945 and using uniquely local motifs, rather than the pseudo-Hawaiian imagery popular at the time, became known for her innovative tourism brochures created for many of the developing Whitsunday island resorts.

Gaining exposure through an important fabric design competition in 1954, Olive transitioned into textile design and eventually clothing, marketed and sold under her own label. Olive Ashworth’s abiding love of Queensland’s natural environment sustained both her artistic practice and her commercial success over decades. Her legacy is the significant contribution to Queensland’s unique visual identity.

Olive Ashworth, my grandfather’s cousin, was present throughout my childhood. She wasn’t your usual elder citizen, sought out more for her wisdom rather than her warmth. She was fiercely independent and commanded your attention and respect. Her influence on me was significant. She was interested in my creative pursuits, showing me her latest work or teaching me about paints and colour theory. Olive was an incredible woman, well ahead of her time, and will continue to inspire me and others through her archive. Liz Watson




Toowoomba Civic Square Plan

William Durack: Durack Brammer & Stekhoven architects

William Durack, who was born in 1918 to the renowned pastoral family, studied architecture in Perth before moving to Sydney to further his experience. He married his sweetheart Noni in 1945 and their young family soon moved to regional Queensland for new opportunities.

Settling in Toowoomba in 1952, William established his own practice with a strong belief in the value of arts and culture and a practical, modern take on architecture. He took on partners Frank Brammer and Ben Stekhoven, and for the next 36 years the firm played an instrumental role in the development of Toowoomba and the Darling Downs as a modern cultural region.

The perspective sketches of the 20th century, unlike contemporary computer-generated renderings, are often idiosyncratic, revealing aspects of the architect’s personality. The Durack Brammer & Stekhoven architectural archive charts William Durack’s life through to his retirement in 1988. He died in Toowoomba in 2010, survived by his wife and five sons.

You may also like

Visitor viewing the Talbot Family Treasures Wall
Talbot Family Treasures Wall
The John Oxley Library has collected, preserved and shared Queensland’s collective memory since 1934. The Talbot Family Treasures Wall features a changing selection of items from State Library of Queensland’s heritage collections. Each item reveals a remarkable story, and together deepen our understanding of Queensland’s diverse lifestyle, landscape, culture and community.
Learn more
18 carat gold swag necklace with five openwork carved gold hinged pendants
Treasures of the John Oxley Library
Discover articles featuring State Library's valuable collections.
Learn more
A crowd of people, some playing instruments, on the ground level of State Library.
What's on
Explore the latest events, exhibitions, workshops, and talks.
Learn more