Triumph in the tropics : an historical sketch of Queensland

Cilento, Raphael, Sir, Lack, Clem and Centenary Celebrations Council of Queensland. Historical Committee. Triumph in the tropics : an historical sketch of Queensland. Brisbane, QLD: Smith & Patterson, 1959.

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Author Cilento, Raphael, Sir
Lack, Clem
Centenary Celebrations Council of Queensland. Historical Committee.
Title Triumph in the tropics : an historical sketch of Queensland
Place of Publication Brisbane, QLD
Publisher Smith & Patterson
Publication year 1959
Sub-type Other
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Language eng
Total number of pages 446
Subjects 430101 History - Australian
Formatted Abstract/Summary


Any history should justify itself by providing some unique contribution, however small. Apart from the factual narrative, our contribution is the story of the triumph of the white man over a tropical and subtropical environment—an environment which, until recently, was considered "fatal to the white man." It was in Queensland, lying between latitudes 10° to 29° S., that this ancient absurdity— still current in some countries—was consigned to the Limbo of exploded myths.

It has been aptly said that to study and copy the writings of another man is plagiarism, and is universally condemned; but, that to study and copy the writings of many, is research and is highly commended! In writing a history or an historical sketch, the use of earlier writings is not only commendable—it is essential.

In "Triumph in the Tropics," therefore, we have tried, by copious quotations from many first-hand sources, to preserve the words and ideas of those who actually took part in significant incidents and events, except where we could assure ourselves that they were misled by impressions that Time or more precise information has corrected. Our own conclusions are equally liable to error and are limited, as our subtitle indicates, to some aspects of the story of Queensland.

No complete history of Queensland has ever been written, though there have been many attempts, of variable quality, at incidental recording; indeed, it is impossible to write the full story of any individual or community that is still young and vigorously growing. Only the dead have a completed biography.

We felt it wiser to add our own impressions as comment, and in separate historical sketches, with a general thread of continuity, remembering that history is not a continuous story; and that human progress has often followed some local response to the spur of local adversity. Any race, place, or period may, therefore, provide the historian with a novel interest or emphasis.

There is nothing surprising, then, we believe, in the fact that our story of Queensland begins with the conflict between Christendom and Islam in the Middle Ages; that we devote some space to the Portuguese, the Spaniards, the Dutch, and others who figure in the family tree of discovery; or that Part One of this book should include some of the history of that larger "New South Wales" of Captain Cook, of which for seventy-one years (1788-1859) Queensland was an undifferentiated part, just as Tasmania (1788-1825), South Australia (1788-1836), and Victoria (1788-1851) also once were.

From 1824 to 1859 Queensland was "daughter in her mother's house"; from 1859 to 1901 "mistress in her own"; and since then additionally, a full and equal partner in the Commonwealth of Australia, established in the south-west Pacific Ocean by the Federation of all the self-governing Colonies of this continent and Tasmania, on the first day of the twentieth century of this era.

Goethe, in one of his poems, wrote what may be translated as—

"Arrow swift the Present flieth; leaden-footed comes the Future;

and motionless for ever, stands the Past."


It was decided the period up to Separation (10 December 1859) should be regarded as the "motionless past," and its biography written in the sort of affectionate detail one might devote to the story of the early struggles and small, but vastly important, achievements of any pioneer ancestor. Part I of this book is, therefore, a biography in general terms, from the earliest times to Separation (1859).

There remained the many-angled story of a living organism, flying "arrow-swift" towards its unknown but hopeful destiny. So many recognizable (and so many undetermined) factors may modify that destiny that it seemed that an outline of the "present" might best be a story lying between the episodic and the encyclopaedic—rather more than the one and less than the other.

Controversial, political and economic issues have been avoided deliberately, for there can rarely be an outline of these that is not distorted or overcoloured by local prejudice or by proximity to the personalities who, in fact, are highlighted for the moment. Policies can only be truly assessed by their effects, and these approach upon the "leaden feet of the future."

Our debt to others is great and obvious. Commencing with those historians of our schooldays (J. D. Rogers, Ernest Scott, and A. W. Jose) an attempt was made to extend our personal knowledge of Queensland by extensive reading of every available recent writer—to most of whom Queensland seemed marginal. Much interesting material was found in papers read before the Royal Historical Society of Queensland and other bodies; and also, through personal communications from those pioneers who are still living. The help of many authorities was also sought, and here we ultimately found ourselves unable to use much of the excellent material submitted to us at our request; we were embarrassed by limits set by space and cost which we had estimated inaccurately.

With deep regret, articles relating to our cultural story, institutions and heritage; religion; education, music, sport, women's activities, youth movements, memorials, pioneer families and many others were excluded. Some, like those on Queensland writers, will be available in an anthology published as a sister volume this year; others appear in "Queensland, Daughter of the Sun," which has just been published; while others again, will, it is hoped, be read before the Royal Historical Society of Queensland and will be available later in its journal. To these, as also to those whose material has been included in whole, or part, or paraphrased, we offer our hearty thanks. Footnotes or other references have been included, but, it is feared, there are many who have not been specified and our appreciation is recorded in this general note.

We acknowledge gratefully the generous co-operation of our publishers, whose advice and interest have been invaluable. Special thanks are due to Mr. Arthur Laurie who provided notes on mining and the "Black War"; and Mr. C. G. Austin, who assisted the Associate Editor in finding and checking much of the material relating to early pastoral settlement; and did the laborious work of indexing the volume—all willing donors of their scanty leisure time.

Grateful acknowledgement is made also of the excellent assistance afforded by the staffs of the State Reporting Bureau, the Centenary Office, the State Public Relations Bureau, and the Records Oj0&ce of the Chief Secretary's Department, in typing the manuscript of this History; and to the printing staff who carried out the work so well.

The excellent photography and expert advice of Mr. R. G. Millar of the State Bureau of Public Relations have been of the greatest assistance, and free use has been made of illustrations from many sources. We are indebted to Mr. C. G. Jesson for the design of the striking dust jacket of the book; and to Mr. J. J. Bergin for the map showing, admirably, land use in Queensland.

The Editor has been happy to contribute the fourteen chapters of Part One, and various chapters in Parts Two and Three, as well as the general oversight of the whole book, as a voluntary tribute, in Centenary year, to this great State of the Future — Queensland.

For factual continuity, a chronology of events has been added; this book, however, should not be regarded as a final authoritative work, but perhaps as a basement upon which later writers may continue the structure, story by story.

Keyword Queensland -- History
Q-Index Code AX
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown
Additional Notes Other Title: Centenary year, 1959.

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