Skip to main content

Special Collections Fossickings 28: Sister Alice & the Red in the Bed

Ross River Meatworks, date unknown, Townsville Albums, NQ Photographic Collection ID 4638
The tall chimney that looms over the upmarket suburb of Fairfield Waters is all that remains of the once thriving Ross River meatworks – a major local employer that began operations in 1892. Meatworks frequently became places of industrial strife and the Ross River works were no exception with a bitter, long-running dispute exploding into civil unrest and violence in June 1919.

In her book “Arctic Regions in a Torrid Zone”, Dawn May describes how, early one morning, a group of men deliberately set loose and stampeded the cattle. Following the arrest of ringleaders, Pierce Carney and Mick Kelly, their enraged fellow-workers made their way to the “Tree of Knowledge”, on the corner of Denham and Flinders Street. From here, inflamed by speeches and alcohol, they reportedly broke into a gunshop before marching on the watch house (adjacent to the present Court House theatre) where the arrested men were being held.

It was at this point that the diminutive but feisty Sister Alice – sister-in-charge of St Anne’s School – became involved. A recent publication tells the tale. In 1919 the newly-established St Anne’s (now the Cathedral School) was located across the road from the watch-house.  The Spanish flu pandemic was raging and the nuns were providing hospital care for victims, many of whom were housed on the school’s verandahs.  When sounds of protest and the singing of the Red Flag disturbed the quiet Sunday evening, Sisters Alice and Frances hurried to the school gate. Even when shooting broke out Sister Alice remained outside trying to move her patients to safety. Before long a man wounded in the conflict was brought for her care and to her surprise she learned that one of the ringleaders had already been admitted as an influenza patient. According to Sister Frances, whose narrative is included in Ray Geise’s history, this man claimed to be Mick Kelly, a fact which, if true, would give a surprising twist to the more conventional accounts of the incident.

Sister Alice, at left.  Cathedral School Album, NQ Photographic Collection ID 9303
Whoever he was, having discovered a “red” literally in the bed, Sister Alice took him into her charge. There ensued a lively exchange while each tried to covert the other to their respective beliefs. Who wouldn’t want to have been a fly on the wall that night? Clearly Sister Alice’s faith was unaffected as she continued to lead the School for a further 19 years. Whether her own conversion attempts were more successful is unrecorded. The tree of knowledge was eventually brought down by Cyclone Althea more than half a century later, and the meatworks closed in 1995. Only the chimney remains.
Flinders street in Townsville with Tree of knowledge, at right. W. J. Laurie Album, 1912, NQ Photographic Collection ID 156


Popular Posts

APA 7th: What's new from APA 6th?

APA 7 th Edition has a number of changes from the 6th Edition. Here's a quick summary to give you a running start: Authors APA 7 th has changed rules regarding number of authors. If you have three or more authors, ALL in-text citations are First Author et al. – e.g. (Brown et al., 2020). There is no longer a difference between first and subsequent citations You list up to 20 names in a citation in the reference list. If there are more than 20, you list the first 19, use ellipses (…), then the last one. Dates Date of publication: APA 7th now requires a full date if available. The format is YYYY, Month DD , or YYYY, Season . Include however much detail is available.  If the date of publication is constantly updated (such as a website that always has this year’s copyright date), use (n.d.) and include a retrieval date. Date of retrieval: Retrieval dates are required for any work that might be time sensitive, or in which the content is like

Graveyard shift continues for North Queensland authors - Anne Alloway and Roberta Morrison

Roberta Morrison and Anne Alloway in the Helen Mays reading room continuing their research into Cloncurry graves. The first visitors to the Helen Mays reading room this year were local authors Anne Alloway and Roberta Morrison who had travelled from the Sunshine coast and Hughenden respectively to use our materials. Anne and Roberta, childhood friends who both originate from Hughenden were raised on pastoral stations and hence from an early age both had a heightened awareness of the graves sites in remote areas of western Queensland.  In 2011 they decided to research and document the graves in the Hughenden area before all trace of them was lost.  This resulted in their 2012 publication “ Tales from Bush Graves ”. Anne Alloway in 2017 with her books, two of which have been co-authored with Roberta Morrison. Anne then followed up with another book pertaining to Hughenden titled “ With this Ring ” in 2015 which focused on weddings from the earliest times through to 1960.  Anne

Referencing Q&A: Referencing Vetstream

We've had a question about referencing Vetstream for assignments, and it's a bit of a tricky one so we thought it was worth a longer answer here on the blog. What's Vetstream? To start with, if you're a Vet Sciences student or staff member and you haven't been using Vetstream , you should do yourself a favour and take at look at that database. It's one of the best resources for vets that we've seen.  It's kind of like a cross between a text-book, an encyclopedia, a suite of videos, a best-practice/current awareness service and a drug database. Yes, that's right, it has drug database information for vets (look at the "Pharmacology and Therapeutics" section under each animal). It currently only focuses on dogs, cats, rabbits and horses, but most of our students and academics will work with at least three of those animals, and it's worth exploring (remember folks, these things cost money and budgets are tight, so use it or lose